Carol and I have been married for 32 years, have known each other for 36, and we’ve finally run out of things to talk about. Mind you, we’re not complaining — there’s less arguing and it’s opened up a lot of free time for Carol to pursue her new hobby of “felting”, where she takes several pieces of woolen fabric and binds them together in layers and patterns by manically stabbing at them with a barbed needle. Every now and then, mid-stab, I catch her stealing a look at me but I’m trying not to read anything into it.

Anyway, we were up in Maine a few weeks ago and spent an afternoon cruising through some shops in downtown Hallowell, a lovely little town on the banks of the Kennebec River, just outside of the state capital of Augusta. lt was cold, started to get dark, and since my tolerance for shopping is limited under the best of conditions we decided it was time to get dinner at a brew pub on the main drag. This is an actual transcript of our conversation after we were seated:

ME: “I’m hungry!”

CAROL: “Me, too.”

(We look at the menu for a few minutes.)

CAROL: “What are you going to have?”

ME: “Dunno – you?”

CAROL: “Not sure.”

(We look at the menu for a few more minutes. Then the waitress comes over.)

WAITRESS: “Are you ready to order?”

CAROL: “Yes… (pause). Start with him.”

ME: “I’ll have the fish and chips.”

CAROL: “Oh, I was going to order that.”

ME: “In that case, I’ll have a burger.”

CAROL: “I’ll have the fish and chips.”

WAITRESS: “Good choices! I’ll put this in right away and be back with some bread.”

Seven minutes later…

CAROL: “Where’s that bread? I’m hungry!”

ME: “Me, too.”

(A different server then brings a basket of rolls, which we immediately start to eat. There’s a couple at the table next to us with a toddler who lets out an ear-shattering shriek. We both flinch, and Carol gives them the stink-eye. The mother picks up the kid and walks with him around the restaurant while the husband stays seated and digs into an appetizer. About the time the mother and child sit back down, our meals arrive.)

WAITRESS: “Who ordered the fish?”

CAROL: “Right here.”

(Waitress then places burger in front of me and leaves. We do not see her for the remainder of our meal.)

ME: “How’s your fish?”

CAROL: “Good.”

ME: “This is a good burger, cooked just right. You want a bite?”

CAROL: “Nuh-uh.”

(We eat our dinner. A group of about a dozen people enter the dining room and sit at the long table on our other side. They are celebrating some family occasion, so there’s much chatter among them and several toasts are offered. We continue to eat our dinner. 15 or so minutes elapse, and the waitress makes a surprise reappearance.)

WAITRESS: “Are you all set?”

CAROL: “Yes. Can you box the rest of this up?”

WAITRESS: “Sure.”

(She takes our plates away and returns with Carol’s leftovers and the check. I leave cash, and we bundle up and leave for the car.)

As the car is warming up…

ME: “I’m glad that kid quieted down. If he screamed again I was going to ask to be moved to another table.”

CAROL: “Yeah, thank GOD that little shit stopped screaming.”

(We make the 20-minute drive home listening to the radio.)

Back at the house…

ME: “Back in the same day.”

CAROL: “Uh-huh.”

(Carol pulls out her felting materials and begins to stab. I read that week’s New Yorker on my tablet.)

45 minutes later…

ME: “I’m going to bed.”

CAROL: “OK. G’night.” (While I give her a kiss, she continues stabbing.)

As I walk up the stairs to the bedroom…

ME: “I’m glad that kid finally shut up.”

CAROL: “Oh, I know.”

ME: “OK – g’night.”

I sleep soundly that night, tired after our lengthy discussion about the snot-nosed brat who nearly ruined our evening out. I wake up the next morning to discover a mysterious series of pin-pricks strewn across my face and neck. I’ll have to talk with Carol about that sometime.