I lunched with an old friend of many years. She looked broody, not her typical self. So I asked her what was troubling her, and the floodgates opened.
“Elliott and I have stuck out 40 years of incompatibilities. A recent vacation is a good example. He wanted a quiet hotel room. I enjoy hearing people’s voices on the street, the dumpsters being filled with crashing bottles, it anchors me to a place,” she said demolishing her cucumber sandwich.
“He likes hiking. My hike is riding the escalator at Nordstrom’s. He’s anxious if a plan doesn’t go well, although he hates planning anything. I plan things out weeks in advance so it’s clearly my fault,” she continued with a furrowed brow.
I wanted to say something but she wasn’t listening.
“He likes hot, spicy food. You’ve seen that. He douses everything with hot sauce. I like a steak and fries. He’s a clutter bug, books and magazines everywhere, and throws nothing away. I dream of minimalist spaces, preferably in a condo with zero maintenance,” she said knocking back her shot of espresso.
“He watches his favorite movies over and over. Once I’ve seen a movie I’m over it,” she said. “Just the other night he watched Bottle Shock for the trillionth time and I sat there trying to find something I hadn’t caught before. You know what?”
Finally. “What?” I said.
“I watched for timing of the scenes like I was some professional director or something,” she said.
She went on. “He must do the driving. Months go by and I haven’t been behind the wheel, but I’ve become an expert passenger. He drives too fast. He hates traffic and being stuck behind a car. He maneuvers and strategizes so he can be out ahead. For me driving relaxes me. I daydream to my destination. Driving for him is mastering the road and eliminating the competition.”
“Oh, also going for a walk is impossible. He walks too fast and I lag behind like women do from other cultures. It’s so frustrating. I hate it,” she said raising her voice. Everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. She didn’t notice.
“I love flying. He refuses to step on a plane because he’s sure he’d battle with security and they’d throw him out of the airport. We can’t take a trip anywhere. Talk about selfish.”
She finally stopped and took a breath.
Did she want a response or was this a vent session?
The waitress approached our table. She looked like Lucille Ball with 50’s glasses. “Dessert?”
My friend said almost in a growl, “Is it soaking in whiskey?”