As many of you have noted, my husband and I have a great rapport, and are able to strike up a meaningful, loving, or silly conversation (my favorites combine all three) with little to no provocation.
I love to talk, he loves to make me laugh: it’s a recipe for nonstop chatter and it’s no wonder that we are, conversationally, so good together.
We’re bad in restaurants.
I don’t know what happens! Somehow, we sit down at the table and he immediately fixes his eyes on the menu until he’s decided what he wants to eat, then stares at the wall until the waiter appears to take that order. He stares at nothing until the food arrives (at least he doesn’t check his phone, I guess? I’m sometimes driven to it out of boredom, though) and then he eats with single-minded focus until the food is gone.
I beg for conversation, I do! I demand it, even. I can’t count the number of times we’ve been sat there and I’ve managed to insert myself into his line of sight long enough to chirp, “entertain me!” And then he reaches out to take my hands and look lovingly into my eyes… and then says absolutely fuck all.
And now, here we are. In foreign city (well, not foreign-foreign, but it’s away from home and full of people who don’t know us so it’s not like he’s looking out for friends, right?) and it’s happening and…
ME: So. Here we are.
ME: Aaand you’re not talking. Again.
HIM: The problem is that we talked so much in the car!
ME: No it isn’t.
HIM: We need to prepare some Safe Topics. For (leans in, whispers) in public.
ME: Sooo…. Religion, politics, sex, money, and gun control?
ME: K. Go.
HIM: See, gun control is when you keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire.
We discussed this image for a minute or two, with me describing it and him explaining the settings – as if I didn’t already know and couldn’t have figured it out from “pew pew” but hey, it got him talking.
Then we stalled again.
HIM: Well, we should each prepare some topics.
ME: Fine. (eyebrow swaggers into action) Fashion.
ME: I would like to hear you speak intelligently on this topic.
HIM: Ummm… okay.
HIM: So, the shoes with the red bottoms, is that lots of brands, or only Manolos?
ME: (pained twitch)
ME: Okay, it’s Louboutin that uses the red sole. Technically, anyone can color the bottom of their shoe red and play the knockoff game, but high-end designers generally respect the signature detail. And the shade of red is trademarked, I believe.
HIM: See? I thought I made sense, but you probably heard “blah blah bluh.”
ME: No… I just figured you watched more Sex and the City than I realized.
HIM: (laughing) Yup, that’s where I heard it.
ME: But not enough to notice that Carrie’s shoes didn’t have red soles.
ME: New topic?
ME: … Architecture.
HIM: … Walls.
ME: (laughing) That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?
ME: You’re not even going to wonder out loud why they call them buildings when they’re already built?
HIM: (stunned) That’s a really good question.
HIM: Seriously! A construction site should be called a building, and a finished structure should be… something else. We don’t call cars “manufacturings,” right?
ME: You’ve seriously never heard that before?
HIM: No. That’s…. huh. (ponders)
ME: (keeps credit for very old joke)
Now, the service in the hotel restaurant was painfully slow, but I can’t imagine it would have bothered me if we could get into our normal conversational rhythm.
ME: Your turn. I’m tired of coming up with new topics.
HIM: Um… What exactly does it mean when we say something’s the cat’s meow? Why is that the expression?
ME: It’s way cooler than the bees knees, but not nearly as daring as the cat’s pajamas.
ME: (blinks expectantly)
HIM: … I don’t even know.
I don’t even have an ending for you. Eventually, our food arrived and we stumbled along until we left. And immediately became an adorable, chatty couple again. Maybe I just need to give up?