In our home we celebrate birthdays (and the day before birthdays because we just can’t wait another minute) with candles and cupcakes. And, sometimes, with some remarkable (read “out of left field”) conversations. Yesterday, the day before my big day, was no different. To wit:
Me: Will you still feed me?
He: (distracted as he preps for class) Hmm … what?
Me: I said, will you still feed me?
He: Didn’t we just eat lunch a couple of hours ago?
Me: (sniff) I guess that’s a “no.”
He: (putting down his notes because clearly I am not letting him get anywhere until I get the answer I’m looking for) Do you not feel like cooking tonight? Let’s order in.
Me: (sniffling about to turn into ugly crying) You don’t get it.
He: Probably because you’re not telling me what “it” is.
Me: You don’t need me anymore.
He: (totally perplexed – and rightfully so) I don’t need you anymore?
Me: I knew it!
He: (thinking he’s got to proceed very delicately through this minefield) Because I suggested we order in? My position has never been that I need you to cook for us. If neither of us wants to cook, we can either graze or order in. Pizza or Chinese?
Me: I’m too old for you.
He: Too old for me – what? We’re the same age!
Me: I’m nine months older.
He: Who cares?
Me: Aha! You don’t care about all of this.
He: (thinking he’s entered the Twilight Zone and starting to look around to see if there’s a wormhole he can escape through) No, really, what?
Me: I’m turning 64 tomorrow.
He: Right, but I always count myself the same age as you once your birthday comes around.
Me: (sighing) Nice try.
He: Honey, I’ve known you since we were 17 – I’ve probably been in love with you since then too. What, exactly, do you want me to say here?
Me: (brightening) Really? You’ve loved me since then?
He: (seeing a possible way out, although still not knowing what I’m talking about) I guess, as much as my 17-year-old self knew it.
Me: (gloomy again) But it’s not the same.
He: What. Is. Not. The. Same.
Me: I’ll be 64 tomorrow.
He: (head in his hands) Yup. You said that already. What’s your point exactly?
Me: I guess I need to spell it out for you.
He: Oh, could you?
Me: Don’t be a smartass in my moment of crisis.
He: (looking for that wormhole, a little more desperately this time) O-k-a-a-a-a-y.
Me: It’s the song.
Me: The Beatles. Will you still need me, will you still feed me –
He: (realization dawning in his eyes) – when I’m 64.
Me: (crumpling into my chair) Exactly.
He: (cracking up)
Me: You think this is funny?
He: No, I think you’re funny. In fact, I think you’re being ridiculous. Where do you come up with this stuff?
Me: We used to laugh at this song when we were 24 and 34 and 44 and even 54 – and now I’m there!
He: Mmmm. You’re right. You are.
Me: You said we were the same age!
He: (enjoying the moment) Yeah, well …
Me: “Yeah, well..?” Seriously?
He: Sweetie, I loved you then, I love you now, I’ll always love you.
Me: (somewhat mollified) Me too.
He: Sure, we laughed at that song then. But we get to live it now. And there’s no one I’d rather live it with than you.
Me: (looking at him adoringly) Really?
Me: (snuggling in for a hug)
He: Okay, now?
Me: Let’s order in Chinese.
Me: (doubt creeping onto my face) But right after you turn 64, I’ll be looking at 65 and –
He: Dumplings or won ton soup?
Me: But 65 –
He: Give it a rest, okay? Just let it be. Get it?
I do. Four ever.
©2022 Claudia Grossman