Mr. K wrote this to me over the weekend and I asked if it could be shared here on the blog. While some of my posts have been password protected and will continue to be, this was one I thought I would share. I’m sharing it because when you have been with another person for a significant amount of time you tend to miss or forget the reasons you are with them and that they are independent of the roles they play in our lives. Don’t lose sight of the person you are with – whether it be your spouse, your child, or your friend. – Kim
Ever sit and watch someone? I mean really sit and watch! Not just any person…a random person in public would think you are some sort of weirdo. I mean to sit and take notice of someone you’ve spent a good deal of time with but have not recently noticed. Take, … ummmm, … your wife for instance. I confess that I’ve been married to her for nearly 20 years, but there are times when, for so long, I get so caught up in my own responsibilities and habits, that I fail to notice who she is. I mean, I know who she is–she’s my wife, but I’ve at times failed to notice who she is underneath the vale of wife to me and mother to my kids.
I’ve past my fortieth birthday, so my memory of details sometimes gets short circuited by worry and distraction, so I don’t remember all of the pretenses and conditions setting up what I’m about to describe, but I’ll give it my best shot. A few nights ago, I had the privilege of escaping my responsibilities as “dad” and was able to accompany the two women I respect the most to a lecture at the university. The two women were my wife and my now sixteen year old daughter. The lecture was intellectually stimulating and some of the ideas sparked the interests of my wife and daughter, but that’s not my focus–not in this little snippet. The lecture was about to be interrupted by another scheduled event so the room full of scholars was about to be relocated to yet another hall for the giving away of a couple of door prizes and further questions for the lecturer. By this time, we had had our fill and were a bit hungry so we elected to go grab a bite. My daughter Elizabeth was allowed the honor of picking the place to eat, so we ate at the Olive Garden off Airport Boulevard and Montlimar Drive.
Ok, some of you who are still reading might be disappointed with the remaining content here, but for those of you who’ve kept reading, I appreciate it. This part for some folks might not seem very important, but it is important for me, and I can almost guarantee it will be important to my wife.
After entering the restaurant, we were seated within about say, ten minutes after which I made a trip to the restroom. Upon my return, I see that the menus for dinner have been laid out. So I review all the sections in my menu as usual. Also as usual, Kim, my wife asks, “what will you be ordering?”
After a brief “not sure…”, I finally settle with a 5-cheese Ziti pasta dish after which our waitress comes around to actually collect our orders. As decided, I decided on the 5-cheese Ziti, my daughter Elizabeth, the eggplant parmigiano, and [and this is important that I remember] my wife, the ravioli dish with meat sauce. Yep, meat sauce, not marinara.
Now remember, I’m eating with the two most important women in my life, and both these women I feel like I have disappointed a great deal in the past few months of my life. I first realize how my little girl has grown into a polite, and sophisticated entity in her own right, and begin to think of how proud I was of her. But as much as I love her, my focus turned to my wife, my partner, whom I’ve known for twenty years, but haven’t always acknowledged.
When the waitress brings our salad and bread for us to have before our orders are ready, she asks, “would you like cheese grated on your salad?” As usual, I await my wife’s response, but for the first time in a long time I take notice…
“Yes please”, she responds, not rudely or not even in a demanding manner, but (how can I put it) in a way that proclaims “I want what I want, and I’m not going to be mealy mouthed about it.” My wife is a bold woman–that was one of the things that attracted me to her. She’s a bold woman, she knows what she wants, and if she doesn’t have it, she’s not afraid to go after it.
Well, I’m having a piece of garlic bread and my portion of the salad while my two ladies enjoy theirs. After a few minutes of eating, Kim passes me her black olive without warning. She just places it in my salad bowl. No, she’s not passing me her scraps and refuse. Although she doesn’t prefer the taste of black olives, she knows that I like that sort of thing. She has carefully studied my mannerisms, my likes, and my dislikes for as long as we’ve known each other; and she knows me. Wouldn’t you know it, with the simple passing of an olive, I’m reminded that I’ve not been as careful to reciprocate as she has.
What happens next is just happenstance, but it makes conditions a perfect setup for my divine revelation. The waitress brings back our food. I get my ziti, Elizabeth has her eggplant dish, and Kim…., well she gets ravioli with marinara sauce. I begin to carefully eat my 5-cheese dish and my two companions begin to taste theirs. Before I know it I’m about half done and Elizabeth has made a bit of progress herself. Kim has not made a very large dent in hers though.
When our waitress approaches with the usual, “how is everything?”, I give a nod, Elizabeth remains quiet but with an approving look, but Kim, well, she’s a bit unsatisfied but politely asks “is this your meat sauce or is it marinara?”. Sure enough, the waitress agrees that it was the incorrect dish for her.
At first my wife simply requests the meat sauce on the side, but the waitress insists that the order be remade because, “it’s not what you wanted.”
During the next few minutes, I’m able to finish my meal while carrying a casual conversation with Kim and Elizabeth, after which point, the waitress returns with Kim’s correct order. The ravioli came complete with meat sauce. Finally my wife is able to sit and eat, but now she has a free audience–me. I’ve completed my meal and aside from my water, I’ve nothing left to keep me on task. So, once again, I begin to take notice–really take notice.
With a single fork, she begins what seems like a well-rehearsed ritual that involves a blend of geometry, patience, and a nearly flawless acuity. On the side of the plate closest her, she begins to cut a perfect straight line across a chord of her circular plate, carefully intersecting each piece of pasta, cheese, and congealed sauce. After having constructed the chord across the circle of food on her plate, she begins to select in a nearly granular fashion each portion of food from that area of the circle delineated by that chord until the the morsels were fully depleted. As I anticipated, she would next begin to cut a chord parallel to the preceding chord, this time wider of course as it was nearer the center of her circle. I don’t know if she realized at the time that I was watching, but she continued her nearly linearized algorithm of consuming the plate on her food, while all the while maintaining a perfect posture and manners one would envision of royalty. Then something happened–a tiny bit of food spots her sweater. Reaching for a napkin I offer my assistance, but by the time the napkin reaches her, she’s already taken care of her problem–disturbing neither her actions, nor the fabric on her sweater. She’s a woman, an independent woman, who can take care of business, not miss a beat, and still maintain a stance of nothing short of irreproachable etiquette. For a few more minutes, I sit, watch, and listen while she casually dines and continues our conversation. But her approach remains the same–just an elegant blend of simplicity, the right amount of complexity, and the perfect touch of grace that would be characteristic of the woman I married. Kim, if you are reading, that’s one of the reasons I love you–the difference is that this time, I just happened to notice.
Written by the infamous Mr. K -