Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mature Couplespeak

Dear George,

On her web-site Oprah recently reported results of a British study of how much couples talk during a one-hour meal. Unmarried dating couples talk about 50 minutes out of 60 (munching their veggies the rest of the time). But then frequency of talk drops off steadily: newlyweds, under 40 minutes; married 20 years, 21 minutes; 30 years, 16 minutes, 50 years, 3 minutes. Three minutes out of sixty? That’s our category! I’m sure Katja and I talk more than three minutes. However, I’ll admit we are quiet a fair amount of the time. A main reason is that we’ve already covered just about every topic that might come up. But beyond low frequency, our conversations seem to differ from those we have with other people. We just seem to say whatever comes into our mind. I think it’s because we don’t feel a need to put on a show. So we don’t make any effort to be smart or sophisticated or logical or even pleasant. If you’re grumpy, then you’re grumpy; confused, confused. Stuff just sort of pops out. A while back we had a brief interchange about religion that I thought was amusing, so I wrote it down as verbatim as I could. Then I found myself adding more instances till I’d accumulated the collection below. I showed these to Katja and got her permission to reproduce them here. I wonder if a reader could guess that these people have been married quite a while?


D (driving past a church): That’s a peculiar sign – “Christ has come, Christ is coming again.”

K: Hmm.

D: If Christ has already come, why do they say he’s coming again?

K: They mean in the past. He came in the past.

D: “Has come” doesn’t sound right. It should say “Came”. If I say the mail has come, I don’t mean it came last month.

K: It’s grammatically correct.

D: O.k.

(five-second pause)

D: Christ has been dead an awfully long time.

K: Two thousand years.

D: Actually 2011 years. He probably hardly has even a skeleton left.

K: He’s in heaven.

D: Oh yeah, I forgot.


D (on New Year’s Eve): It’s 11:58. Did you make your resolutions yet?

K: (five-second pause) O.k., now I did. I made a New Years wish.

D: Well, a wish isn’t really a resolution. What did you wish for?

K: I wished that the dogs would live forever.

D: That’s not a resolution. For a resolution, you have to resolve to do something.

K: I just wanted to make a wish.

D: They don’t have New Years wishes.

K: What’s your resolution?

D: I’m not making any resolutions this year. I did so badly on them last year.

K: Oh, do you have a wish?

D: No. You’re not supposed to have wishes.


D (while driving 10 miles to Sears to buy Trashmasher bags): I wonder how we could do a better job recycling.

K: We’re doing just fine recycling.

D: I don’t think so. We don’t recycle anything you put in the Trashmasher.

K: I have that basket in the kitchen for recycling paper and bottles.

D: You put a lot of paper in the Trashmasher. It gets mixed up with the banana peels and coffee grounds.

K: Those are recyclable.

D: Banana peels? What can you recycle that into?

K: Pot.

D: Pot? I don’t think so…


K: I’m going out. I’ll be back soon.

D: Where are you going?

K: Just down the street.

D: Where to?

K: Just down the street. Then I’m driving to Rookwood Commons.

D: Are you going to Graeters (ice cream parlor)?

K: No, I have to go down the street in order to drive to Rookwood Commons. (giggles)

D: I think you’re going to Graeters. You can tell me.

K (on her way out the door): No, I’m not. I’ll see you later.

(90 minutes go by)

K: I’m back.

D: Did you have a good trip?

K: Yes, I went to Rookwood Commons.

D: Did you go down the street?

K: No. Just to Rookwood Commons. (giggles)

D (looking skeptical): Oh.


K (picking up glasses off the solarium table): Are these Donna’s glasses?

D: No, those are my new reading glasses. I bought them at the Dollar Store.

K: They look like girl’s glasses.

D (looking at the rims which are red, yellow, orange, green, and blue): No, these are my gay glasses.

K: Did you mean to buy girls’ glasses?

D: Actually I never noticed the colors before. I just bought them to wear around the house.

K: I guess when you’re married for fifty years it’s o.k. to be gay.

D: It is. I’ll just wear them around the house.


D: This is a really good hot dog. What brand is it?

K: I buy them individually at Fresh Market. They’re Smithfields.


D: Why would anybody buy hot dogs individually?

K: That’s how they sell them.

D: How much do they cost?

K: I buy them by the pound.

D: How much do they cost by the pound?

K (reading newspaper -- no response)

D (eating another bite): How much are they by the pound?

K: (silence)

D: I wonder how much a pound of these hot dogs costs?

K: ( gets up; goes to kitchen; returns with package of hot dogs)

K: They’re $4.99 a pound. I bought six for $6.14.

D: Hmm. They’re really good.


D (referring to an earlier conversation): If you join the Opera Guild, I don’t want to join.

K: Well, you would just become a member along with me.

D: They probably have dues. How much are the dues?

K: The dues are $300. But it doesn’t cost anything extra for you.

D: Three hundred dollars? What do you get for three hundred dollars?

K: I don’t know. You get to meet interesting people. Yesterday I met the wife of the Dean of the Business school.

D: It doesn’t sound worth it. Then you probably have to pay for lunch.

K: I didn’t pay for lunch yesterday. The Opera Guild members provided the lunch.

D: I don’t want to go to lunch.

K: You don’t have to. The only thing you have to go to is the Opera Guild Ball.

D: How much is that? Eight hundred dollars?

K: It’s only one hundred dollars.

D: Per person?

K: No, for both of us. One hundred dollars for the Ball.

D: I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go…

K: (stops listening)


D (near midnight): If we wanted to, how would we protect our house against vampires?

K: You put garlic on the doors. And you put silver crosses on the doors.

D: I thought it was garlic. I’d just forgotten.

K: Why are you thinking about vampires?

D: I was doing some research on the Internet. It seems that Santa might be a vampire.

K: Santa definitely isn’t a vampire.

D: There a lot of reasons…

K: Vampires are sexual beings. Santa isn’t sexual.

D: He’s in disguise. He could be sexual.

K: Besides, Santa didn’t exist until 1839.

D: I think that was the year that Dracula was published.

K: (Goes back to her book)


D (pointing to a black glove laying on the pavement in the Panera parking lot): Look! That glove looks a lot like the ones I have.

K: (silence)

D: It might be good to get it. If I lost one I’d have a replacement.

K: (silence)

D: I think I’m going to get it.

K: Don’t get it.

D: Why not?

K: Why would you want to put your hand in somebody else’s glove?

D: (no response)

K: Would you wear somebody else’s shoes?

D: Well, I used to buy shoes at Goodwill.

K: Let’s go

(30 minutes later, after eating French Onion soup at Panera)

D (pointing again): That looks like a really good glove. I’m going to get it. (Bends over)

K (pulls him by the sleeve): Just come along…

I don’t know quite what to make of this. If I look at it as an outside observer, it reminds me of some of the dialogue between Larry and Cheryl David on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. The husband’s sort of clutzy, obsessive, often seems clueless. The beleaguered wife has a sense of humor, remains unruffled, and tries to navigate her husband through life situations. I do enjoy Curb Your Enthusiasm, though I’m not sure Larry is the greatest role model. But, even if we’re a little strange, at least Katja and I talk for more than three minutes per hour.



G-mail Comments

-Phyllis S-S (1-23): Dear Dave, I love it when you have these interactions on your blog. They remind me of Matt and I and they are so funny. No one really writes about how we actually sound. But - Dave-I thought you still bought shoes at Goodwill, No? What's made you so selective? New shoes, why? A new blog? See you soon, phyllis

-Abhishek B (1-20): Well well .. people need to speak more often .. couples need it .. Your collection is impressive ..

1 comment:

  1. Well well .. people need to speak more often .. couples need it ..

    Your collection is impressive ..

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    Kindly drop in to enter the same at Another Author