In 2013, Nigella Lawson was enjoying an outside lunch with then husband Charles Saatchi when things quickly went south. The celebrity chef claimed that she was admiring a toddler in a stroller and expressed her desire to become a grandmother when her millionaire husband leaned over and throttled her by the neck.
Images taken by a photographer showed her ex tweaking and twisting his wife’s nose, and even putting a finger in one of her nostrils. Not surprisingly, the couple later went through a very bitter public divorce which culminated in Lawson walking out of the home with only her kitchen equipment.
But it turns out lots of couples bicker in public, albeit not engaging in Three Stooges moves like choking and nose tweaking. Take Dorinda Medley and her boyfriend, John Mahdessian. They bicker in public with the added treat of cameras around.
Sheila, 35, admits to being one of those couples.
“It’s disruptive and inconsiderate for everyone around,” she admits. “However, sometimes you just have to let it out. And yes I’m embarrassed after the fact.”
Lauren, 27, an interior designer, says it all depends which partner is the one with steam coming out of their ears.
“If it’s a woman, then I just think what did he do wrong,” she said.
She also added that a public tiff “is really good entertainment for me unless it’s me angry at my boyfriend—then it’s obviously not funny at all.”
Todd, 25, a law student, had lots of dustups with his boyfriend and they usually revolved around punctuality—his boyfriend was always tardy.
“We would start arguing in my apartment and then continue the fight at the party we were going to. We would have this fake forced smiles in front of people and then shoot dagger eyes at each other when no one was looking,” he explained. “And there wasn’t even makeup sex later!”
Nancy, 50, a writer, remembers a long ago argument with her then boyfriend in New York City that got so heated a stranger interrupted them to ask if she was ok.
“We were embarrassed and said, ‘Yes, we’re fine,’ and he walked away,” she recalled. “But I have always regretted that I didn’t say to him, ‘Thank you for asking.’”
Nancy can’t even remember what the battle was about and says it couldn’t have been too serious as they’ve been married for twenty years.
Rebecca, 40, a stay-at-home mom, says that she and her husband got into a major dustup right outside the school entrance so they had to wear phony smiles while other parents walked by.
"I really wanted to say to him, ‘F**k you,'" she confesses.
Paulina, an entertainment writer, remembers seeing Harvey Keitel and his wife Daphna Kastner have an awkward dispute at the opening of the Tribeca Film Festival a couple of years ago. A reporter innocently asked Keitel a question which his wife proceeded to answer. The Pulp Fiction actor furiously pulled Kastner away and began to berate her. A scrum of reporters couldn’t hear what was said but Kastner looked miserable and close to tears.
Chelsea, 30, a publicist, hates outdoor clashes.
“That’s why I’m not in a relationship,” she declares. “Is it really that serious of an argument that you need to do this now? Take it inside.”
While Gabe, age 32, a publicist, loves watching them.
“My wife and I immediately feel better about ourselves,” he says laughingly. “I think they’re looking for attention.”
Of course not all battles end up badly. Some even have a happy ending.
Julie, 35, a French teacher, was witness to a particularly uncomfortable dinner party where the hosts bickered.
"They had a fight about whether it was a wall or a fence that they just built in their garden,” she says laughingly.
Gigi, 48, a civil servant, remembers seeing a couple have a vicious fight that ended on a happy note.
"I once watched a couple fight over the span of three city blocks with the woman screaming at her boyfriend while he walked ten paces ahead, she said. “Her anger escalated to the point that she took off a shoe and threw it at him to get his attention and missed, her shoe flying into traffic. He turned and when he saw what happened, he ran into the intersection and retrieved her stiletto and brought it back to her. Touched by his chivalrous gesture, she stopped screaming, put on her shoe and shared a demure thanks and took his hand. Seemed like Jimmy Choo mediated that argument successfully!"
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