By Buffy Lawson, Relationship Veteran
I remember my first romantic date with Mister Man like it was yesterday. I teased my hair making it extra large, put on a sassy little red dress, stuffed my bra with a pair of running socks and treated myself to a new set of acrylic nails. I must have looked like Dolly Parton, looking back in retrospect. But he didn’t seem to mind. Mister Man picked me up right on time and escorted me to a lovely little French restaurant downtown. I ordered a glass of red wine and he opted for a bourbon and coke. The candle in the center of the table provided the perfect glow as we gazed into each other’s eyes. Conversation flowed freely and I was pleased beyond words with his fantastic sense of humor.
Sitting at a table beside us was an older couple. They were dressed sharply and it looked as if the woman spent as much time getting ready as I had. Although I was fairly certain she didn’t spring for the running socks. She, too, was drinking a glass of red wine and her husband appeared to be sipping on a scotch and rocks. I did note that for the entire hour two hours that we sat side by side, the couple barely spoke. They didn’t look angry or frustrated; it just appeared that they had nothing to say.
Based upon their ages, it was entirely possible that they had been together for fifty plus years. Quite an accomplishment! But I was certainly taken by the lack of conversation. They did look at one another sweetly and when she stood to go to the power room he pulled her chair out and tucked it back in upon her return. But why didn’t they speak I wondered?
The after dinner coffee finally broke their silence. “Excellent coffee,” uttered the woman. “I was thinking the same thing.” replied the man. And that was it.
Perhaps years of life together, took away the words. Perhaps they simply knew each other so well that little was left to say. Was this a good thing or bad I pondered?
Mister Man and I have been together exclusive since that first date. A few months back he took me to the same little French restaurant for the first time in many years. My hair was not quite as tall as it had been that first evening and I opted for a nice shirt and jeans. Needless to say, I left the running socks in the drawer where they belonged. I ordered a red wine and he chose iced tea. The food was just as good as I remembered.
Half way through our fabulous dinner something very alarming occurred to me. Our conversation was quite sparse. Particularly compared to the young couple sitting beside us who were talking a mile per minute. They were clearly fascinated by each other and information could not come fast enough.
At first I felt envious and downright concerned. But it also occurred to me that I felt strangely comfortable with the silence. Perhaps just being in the company of the man who knew me better than anybody was enough. It felt peaceful, safe and actually refreshing. With incredibly busy schedules, meetings, and phone calls, I realized that sometimes the closest you can feel to someone is in silence.
I pointed out the young couple to Mister Man. “Do you remember when that was us?” I asked. “Do you miss those days?” “Sometimes, I suppose.” he replied. He continued,”It was like having a beautiful present that was to be carefully unwrapped.” “Does anything in particular stand out to you about that night?” I asked. Mister Man began laughing. Literally almost snorting with laughter. “What!!” I sharply replied. “What is so funny!” He finally gained his composure. “The socks.” “Huh?” I had forgotten about the running socks. “Well, one of them was…uhhhh, peaking out all evening.” I was mortified. We both laughed for the duration of the dinner, reminiscing the early days of our relationship.
Although the newness had worn off, it was replaced by something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Time. We were on our way to earning what that sweet old couple had. Perhaps another forty years down the road we might not even need the words. We would just know. And I was determined to embrace each moment of conversation, laughter…and silence.