I came across this on fb today. I have read variations of it over the years. The first time was probably in a Sidney Sheldon novel. In short, it is about 2 married people who are out for a meal and have nothing to talk. So, they either sit in silence or check their phones or talk about people on other tables.
Mr and Mrs Eliot have been married ten years and time has depleted their energies a little, causing them to take coffee breaks in between their outings. Now as they sit listlessly before their cups, they observe the comings and goings of strangers and try to reconstruct their lives. A neatly dressed young girl enters the cafe with a slightly lost look in her eyes. She is immediately greeted by a man in a green t-shirt, baggy jeans and a raggedy pair of slippers. He greets her cheerily but there is no warmth in his voice. Her acknowledgement of his greeting is also only polite. ‘They are not friends,’ Mr Eliot says. ‘Hmm,’ Mrs Eliot nods. Mr Eliot watches the man and the woman as they look at the menu. ‘There is no glue between them,’ Mr Eliot continues. ‘No warmth of old friendship or spark of love. I think this is a proposal meeting. Their parents have asked them to meet.’ Mrs Eliot shakes her head. ‘It’s not a proposal meeting. He is dressed too shabbily,’ she says. ‘Perhaps he is not interested in getting married. He is merely going through the motions to keep his neurotic mother happy,’ Mr Eliot counters. ‘But look at her. She is too relaxed and remote for a proposal meeting,’ Mrs Eliot argues. Mr Eliot considers the girl’s body language more closely and sure enough, there is a lackadaisical manner to her that seems to match the boy’s friendly sloppiness. ‘I know,’ Mrs Eliot says suddenly, in between sipping her coffee. ‘She is here to deliver a package from a mutual friend.’ Mr Eliot finds this theory interesting but hopelessly practical. They discuss the feasibility of this and other theories. The boy and the girl take their coffees from the counter and leave. As they pass, Mr and Mrs Eliot strain their ears to catch snatches of their conversation. Ten years ago, Mr and Mrs Eliot could hardly take their eyes off each other when outside. Now, they are going the way of their parents, tiring out easily after an hour’s walk in a mall and filling the gaps in conversation with fictions about the lives of strangers. Fictions that reveal more about them than anything else.
Today this mind fucked me. So, you have 2 people who have been living together for years and constantly in touch with each other. But as soon as they fall silent in public, their relationship has fallen apart? Dude, that is so messed up. This is my big problem with dumb romance shit like Mills and Boon and Danielle Steele- the unrealistic expectations. Sure, it is all chatter, chatter, fun, games, flirtation etc in the beginning. But that gets replaced by comfort, by companionable silences, finishing each other’s sentences, knowing each other’s habits and stuff.
When we go out for a meal… it is for the meal… not conversation. Why we would leave the comfort of our house for a conversation? We can just sit there in our chaddis, have a wine/coconut water and talk. Why would we want to get all dressed up, battle traffic, parking woes and bad weather for a conversation? And what are you supposed to talk after you have been together all day (assuming it’s a weekend) and talked about everything that flashed through your mind? Now, married people will get judged for their silence and the gaps they try to fill in their silence while enjoying good food?
It is not possible for anyone to stimulate intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually 24/7 for years together. And that is ok. Can I be sexy, fun, smart, non-boring 24/7? No ways. I don’t even want to be. I want to be quirky, weird, silent, boring, not well groomed most of the time… and I just want someone who can be himself with me. That’s it.