Commentary: you're my lover, not my recycling rival *.

Author:Sheffield, Jennifer A.

"Want to go for a walk later?" I ask my boyfriend, Brian, who is relaxing at home and hoping the Mets will get one more hit.

"Nope," he replied. "I have to go dump your rotors."


I have a choice. I can ruin a perfect peace reciting disposal regulations, or let this moment pass, grateful for a man who fixes things when asked and gets new parts at cost. It was a lesson learned from Amy Sutherland, in "What Shamu Taught Me about a Happy Marriage," (New York Times, June 25, 2006) that kept me mum, and the mood intact: "I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't."

Brian's and my relationship regarding recycling could be summed up the same way the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority defines household hazardous products: "corrosive, reactive, flammable, and explosive." Ask any psychic what two Scorpios--much less a greenie and a mechanic--are doing living together, and you'd get a similar prediction. However, our dance of differing methods, comprised of my organics, and his loyalty to the green-colored cleaner (concentrated to combat the grease of the New York City bus garage he works in) works so well I wouldn't have it any other way.

I've learned the hard way that my compulsion to change the world, all in one weekend, ultimately pushes people away. So when Brian squirts Joy onto the sponge I'd secretly reserved for Seventh Generation, life, and our love, goes on.

Not that there weren't things, early on, that sparked debate. When I moved in, every outlet in his glowing apartment was sucking on a Glade air freshener. An argument over opening a window when I found him wiping down the walls with Windex--a blatant misuse according to product label warnings about noxious chemical combinations--was our biggest blowup to date.

Yet, some of our best moments should have, in a similar way, hypothetically killed us. There was the time we stayed in the car, bathing in the "new car smell," while watching a DVD in the Wal-Mart parking lot because we missed the late movie. Or the night he turned up the Glade in the bedroom, causing me to toss and talk in my sleep. To make it up to me, Brian took me out on his...

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