After 40 blissful years of marriage, I can say without exaggeration that Eric has taught me a thing or two. That's saying a lot, especially if you consider how little I actually listen to him. But we think so differently, that occasionally his logical brain, employing the time-tested steps of the scientific method, stumbles on a good idea that is actually useful in my everyday life. His rules and suggestions can be annoying on first hearing, not to mention the endless repetitions he feels are necessary to make sure I heard and understood, but a few ideas stand out as winners.
For instance, back when we were courting, he criticized my idea for how to spend that New Year's Eve. We were on a chaperoned ride in the family buggy with Old Bessie in the harness, when he said, "New Year's Eve is amateur night. Let's stay in and watch movies on the Betamax." After all these years I may be getting the details a little mixed up, but his idea was that thinking people stayed off the roads when non-thinking people were out drinking and driving. Even though that ruined my plans, it began a sacred family tradition of living through another year, DUI-free, that we still enjoy today.
Another law he laid down early in our marriage is "Don't buy crap." Now this was very hard for me to understand, because I grew up under rather modest circumstances (read: "poor"), and I had spent many years perfecting my ability to be thrilled with anything cheap. So acquiring a husband who thought differently led to some pretty unpleasant misunderstandings:
Me: How do you like the steak?
Him: It's terrible.
Me: But it was only $2 in the "last week's specials" bin...
Him: Take me to the emergency room.
And I have made many mistakes in the gift-giving department, particularly when I shop for small electronics. We have a Rubbermaid tote filled with off-brand junk and factory-reconditioned devices that I once considered great deals - the tote is labeled "gifts that died." In the accumulation of the crap in that tote, I began to understand why he called me "penny-wise and pound-foolish." Eventually I began to accept the rule "don't buy crap."
But another rule that reared it's ugly head recently was his admonition, "Never go to a new restaurant until it's been open for a few months." His thinking is that a new place needs to work out the kinks - why waste money when the outcome is uncertain? Of course, I thought it was just another way he tried to keep me from spending money. Checking out new restaurants was always a treat back in the good old days (after Prohibition was repealed). I spent many years as a waitress and bartender, and considered it my professional responsibility to sample and critique my competitors. It didn't matter that it had been decades since I'd hoisted a tray to my shoulder and sauntered across the terrazzo in chunky white shoes - it was my duty to rush over and check out new eateries post haste. So that rule stung, but being the ever-obedient wife, I meekly smiled and agreed, while collecting glass shards for future grinding, if necessary.
Last night, after a trip to the bookstore that got shortened because they don't carry several things I was shopping for (I go there once per week - why did I think they had Wii games?), my friend announced she was starving and croissants and coffee weren't going to cut it, menu-wise. So we looked out the door and the nearest restaurant was a new Mexican place right across the street. Neither of us knew anything about it, (cue scary music), but hunger and convenience prevailed, so what's the harm? It's just one of my husband's silly rules. I can hear you out there yelling: "Don't go in! It's new!"
In the hope of keeping the attention of those who don't like long blogs (too late now!), I won't mention every single thing that was wrong with our dinner. It's a painfully long list. (You're welcome). Suffice to say that, when I did finally complain about my watery salad, and our mystified waiter left (presumably to confer with the manager) and came back, his explanation was that "Taco salad is one of our greasiest dishes." Well, didn't I just feel chastised! Somehow I missed the "Greasy" category on the menu - it must have been right under the "Canned" entry, where they probably listed the queso my friend ordered. She was not impressed, and by the time I sampled it, the cold cheese had a thick layer on top, generally indicative of microwave heating. Now I happen to like that layer, but it really shouldn't form on a $5 dish of queso ten minutes into the meal. And I have to mention that our waiter, in response to our request for separate checks, charged each of us for "0.5 queso." Have you ever? I thought it was hilarious, but my dinner partner insisted that he put all 1.0 queso on her check, so the poor guy had to go figure it all again *big sigh*.
Now the waiter was poorly trained, and would have benefited in the long run if we'd politely made an issue of the problems with our dinner. But he was so earnestly off-the-chart bad that I knew he wouldn't learn anything from my on-the-spot advice. And I wasn't in the mood to go all Dorothy Parker on him, because I'd had a lovely weekend of being a kind, thankful person and I just couldn't work up enough righteous indignation to launch a complaint.
I didn't penalize him with a bad tip, because I intend to call the manager and bend his/her ear for some minutes explaining the shoddy food and treatment we received. Hopefully they will all learn a valuable lesson from me, Mrs. Anonymous Patron, when I get around to calling. Incidentally, I don't want to name names or hurt their business, but the restaurant is named after a condiment one often dips tortilla chips in, so consider yourself warned.
Anyway, the experience comprised all the problems you'd expect at a new restaurant. Some of those issues will probably be resolved in the coming months, especially if knowledgeable busybodies such as I take the time to call management. But the biggest lesson is much harder to swallow.
My husband was right. Again. Two times in forty years. It really pains me to admit that.