A crowded seafood joint. Everyone is eating. The sound of George Jones is blasting over the speakers. There are a lot of people here who eat with their hands.
The elderly couple next to me is shouting with such strong voices that I can hardly keep my mind on my own thoughts. Both of these people are wearing hearing aids and using voices loud enough to register on the Richter Scale.
The waitress brings their food then leaves. The old man looks at his food and hollers to his wife. The conversation goes like this:
OLD MAN: Honey, I asked for this burger to be cooked WELL DONE, this is rare.
OLD WOMAN: Just eat it, Jerry. It won’t kill you. Besides, you used to like it rare.
HIM: Yeah, well I also used to like spicy food and raw oysters, but you don’t see me eating them anymore.
HER: When did you quit eating oysters?
HIM: Ever since Roger ate them and came down with the gingivitis.
HER: That’s not how you say it. It’s not gingivitis.
HIM: Whatever, I don’t eat raw oysters. They’re gross. Gingivitis kills people.
HER: It’s not gingivitis.
HIM: Well, that’s what Roger called it. His doctor said he and Shirley can’t have kids anymore.
HER: Shirley is almost eighty.
HER: It’s not gingivitis you get from oysters, you dummy. It’s MENINGITIS. Don’t you know anything? Now eat your hamburger.
HIM: It’s been thirty years since I had an oyster. My dad always said never to eat them in months that begin with “R.”
HER: There are no months that begin with “R,” Jerry.
HIM: Daddy never could spell.
HER: I think you’ve got it backwards, I don’t think the expression is about months that BEGIN with “R,” I think it says not to eat them in months that END in “R.”
HIM: So people shouldn’t eat oysters in months that end in “R?”
HIM: So then I can eat all I want in August and July?
HIM: And May and June?
HER: And March. Now eat your hamburger.
HIM: What about April?
HER: What about it?
HIM: There’s no “R” at the end of April.
HER: So what? Then I guess it’s okay to eat them in April.
HIM: But it can’t be.
HIM: Because that’s when Roger ate his oysters and got his conjunctivitis. In April.
HER: It’s not conjunctivitis, how many times do I have to tell you? It’s GINGIVITIS.
HIM: But you just said it WASN’T gingivitis.
HER: Would you just shut up? Our food’s getting cold.
HIM: I’m not eating this burger. Look at all this blood swimming on my plate.
HER: That’s not blood, that’s just the juice.
HIM: When I squeeze it, it moos at me. (Laughs at his own joke.)
HER: Don’t squeeze it then.
HIM: How am I supposed to eat it if I don’t hold it in my hands and squeeze it a little? Like this. MOOOO. (Laughs again.)
HER: Quit playing with your food. What are you, ten years old? Just eat it.
HIM: I’m sending this raw cow back.
HER: Don’t you dare embarrass me.
HIM: Where’s the waitress?
HER: Jerry, I swear to God, if you call that poor waitress over here, I’m leaving, and I’m not coming back. So help me…
HIM: Fine. Leave. See if I care. I’ll just call myself a Grüber.
HER: A what?
HIM: It’s a free taxi service, you get it with cellphones. You call them and they have to come get you. It’s the law. Just like free antibiotics and insulin.
HER: You don’t even have a phone.
HIM: I’ll borrow yours.
HER: You wouldn’t know how to work this phone if it jumped up and bit you.
HIM: I’m not eating this blood sucking burger.
—THEY STARE AT EACH OTHER—
HER: Fine. Then let’s trade plates. I’m sick of hearing you whine. You eat my shrimp salad, I’ll eat the godforsaken burger.
—COUPLE TRADES PLATES—
HIM: Wait. Don’t take my fries. I’m keeping my French fries.
HER: No hell you’re not.
HIM: But they’re mine.
HER: You agreed to trade plates, so you have to live with the consequences.
HIM: What am I supposed to do, just eat this cold salad by itself?
HIM: (Stabs salad with fork.)
HER: We traded, fair and square. It’s not right to ask someone to eat a burger without fries.
HIM: At least split them with me.
HER: Order your own fries.
HIM: Those WERE my fries.
HER: I’m eating my burger now.
HIM: What kinda salad dressing is this supposed to be? It looks weird.
HER: They call it a house vinaigrette.
HIM: I want ranch.
HIM: Can you call the waitress for me?
HER: What am I, your mother?
HIM: Just let me have one French fry.
HER: You better move that hand away from my plate, Jerry, or you’re gonna wake up with a crowd of people around you and they won’t be able to get the knife out of you without surgery.
HIM: Just one.
HER: (Raises hand and flags waitress.)
WAITRESS: Yes, ma’am? What can I get you?
HER: It’s my husband, he’s an idiot. He needs some fries to go with his salad before I gag him with a napkin.
WAITRESS: Yes, ma’am. I’ll go get some fries.
HIM: Wait! One more thing, ma’am.
HIM: Gimme an order of a dozen raw oysters, too, please.
I don’t ask for much in this life. But Lord, if you can hear me, let us live long enough to be an elderly couple.