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“You’re Ruining My Dinner.”

January 11, 2007

The other night I went to dinner with my friend Kelli. It was early in the evening and the small Italian place on 35th and 55th was not crowded. The rain was pouring down. Almost biblically so. And warm bread dipped in olive oil was the perfect start to the evening.

Immediately after sitting down at our table something was amiss. Now let me set the scene. The restaurant is quaint and quiet. Because it was early, more than half of the tables are empty. And very light diner music played in the background. To put it simply, you could overhear any conversation.

The table to our immediate left was empty. But one table over from there sat this couple in their early fifties. Directly behind the couple sat a mother with her daughter. After a few minutes deciding between the pesto and the chicken, we heard the couple begin to argue.

Woman: “I cannot believe you. I am just sitting here while you type on your damn calendar.”
Man: silence
Woman: “How slow are you with that thing? I have been sitting here for five minutes in complete silence. I have just been sitting here with no one to talk to.”

The woman continues to berate her husband for another ten minutes. The man gets a few licks in but mostly takes her punches.

At this point, I am completely uncomfortable. Which is rare for me. I love a good old fashioned fight – there is beauty in destruction. My parents had some great ones back in the day, but I never saw one that made me this uncomfortable – which is shocking because this couple wasn’t even my parents.

With every passing moment, the mother behind the bickering couple was getting madder and madder. And every time the couple raised their voice to trump each other in inane bickering, the poor daughter of the mother looked completely scared. This girl, maybe 5 or 6 years of age, twirled her spaghetti in complete fear.

At this point, the mother was absolutely livid. Her daughter was afraid to eat. And now, the couple were no longer fighting in whispers. She hit her hands hard against the table and turned around to address the couple. “Excuse me,” the mother yells at the couple, “you’re ruining my dinner.” And without missing a beat, the wife of the bickering couple says, “Well, he’s ruining my dinner.”

The restaurant became completely silent.

Without saying a word, the man got up out of his chair, motioned to his wife to follow him and they left in silence. There must have been more to her anger, than the slowness of his calendaring skills. Maybe it was the rain or the darkness or something about their jobs. But I hope they do find happiness. Maybe they do need to divorce. My parents got divorced and then reconciled… and I have never seen them happier.

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