A crowded seafood joint. Everyone is eating. The sound of George Jones is blasting over the speakers.
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. It won’t kill you. Besides, you used to like it rare.
HIM: 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 Collins 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. His doctor said he and Shirley can’t have kids anymore.
HER: Shirley is almost eighty.
HER: And it’s not gingivitis you get from oysters, you dummy. It’s MENINGITIS. Don’t you know anything?
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. And the expression is about 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: Roger ate his oysters in April and got his conjunctivitis.
HER: It’s not conjunctivitis, how many times do I have to tell you? It’s GINGIVITIS. 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?
HIM: I’m sending this raw cow back.
HER: Don’t you dare embarrass me.
HIM: Where’s the waitress?
HER: 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.
—THEY STARE AT EACH OTHER—
HER: I have an idea. 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. It’s not right to ask someone to eat a burger without fries.
HIM: At least split them with me.
HER: Order your own dang 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. Just one.
HER: You better move that hand away from my plate or you’re gonna wake up with a crowd of people around you. They won’t be able to get the fork out of your backside without performing surgery.
HIM: Just one little fry.
HER: (Raises hand and flags waitress.)
WAITRESS: Yes, ma’am? What can I get you?
HER: It’s my husband. I am about to gag him with a napkin. Can you bring him an order of fries?
WAITRESS: Yes, ma’am.
HIM: Wait! One more thing, ma’am.
HIM: Gimme an order of raw oysters, too, please.
Dear God, let us live long enough to be old folks.