They were glowing, looked well-rested, relaxed. The couple’s mutual respect was palpable. The deliberate pause between speaking and listening was rhythmic, hypnotic; it was the verbal manifestation of ballroom dancing.
The Zen of Conversation. Surreal.
Staring at their interlocked fingers, I felt myself getting sucked into their reality and momentarily forgot I had kids to tend to.
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“You don’t have kids, do you?” I confirmed more than asked.
“No, we don’t,” she answered with what appeared a self-indulgent grin that offered no explanation.
I knew it, I thought. So damn obvious. This couple is still so in love. Yeah, yeah, so am I. But who has time to show it, to feel it, to enjoy it. To patiently wait for my husband to finish a thought, for Heavens sake!
I tried to feign the same politeness with my own spouse, but failed miserably. Time and time again, I ruthlessly cut him off to finish his sentences. Besides, time was of the essence. There are windows of opportunity that close every ten minutes, and re-open sporadically, without warning. I eat the same way I speak—breathless, racing through my meal in anticipation of the imminent interruption. Uninterrupted banter with other adults is quite the commodity these days, especially when out with the whole family at a “family-fun event.”
I was embarrassed by my brashness. But when you’ve got young kids, it’s hard to mask your deteriorating social graces.
Through the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of my four year-old unassumingly ransacking the host’s dessert table.
I wanted to continue chatting. What to do?
“So sorry, but I gotta…he’s about to…” I trailed off, leaving my kind, new friend mid-sentence.
Will she understand? Could she possibly befriend the shrew I have sadly become?
The very next day another example spontaneously appeared in my world and confirmed my hypothesis. My daughter is reading a biography about the Great Harry Houdini. In the car, she was reading me passages from the love letters he would leave his wife on her pillowcase each morning before she awoke. He had written thousands of such romantic prose professing his undying love and insatiable appetite for the woman he wedded.
“Wait. Stop,” I commanded and turned toward my ten year-old as we approached a red light.
“They never had kids, did they?” I challenged with absolute certainty.
“No, mommy. They didn’t; I think they couldn’t.”
Children beautify our world, no doubt, and devoting our lives to these dependent little creatures (theoretically) helps us evolve into better human beings.
But let’s be clear about one thing: It is hazardous to your romantic life and detrimental to your personal etiquette.
**Note: If you disagree with my theory and are amongst the privileged few that have achieved “balance,” please don’t hold back. Share your tips with the rest of us!