Do you and your significant other divide your friends into “my friends” and “his or her friends?”
I have friends, my wife has friends. They occasionally overlap. But when I say that someone is “my wife’s friend” it means they are not my friends. It doesn’t mean I dislike them, but it does mean I don’t actively desire to socialize with them. I’m often mystified by my wife’s choice of friends; she doesn’t use the same set of standards as I do. However, I'm sure she feels the same way about my choice of friends. We often refer to these kinds of friends publicly as “our friends,” because usually there is no outright animosity.
Last night, my wife, my daughter and I had dinner with my wife’s friends, A* and B*. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but they had arranged to get together to celebrate my wife’s birthday. So I couldn’t excuse myself, though I wanted to.
We went to Chili’s and were told there would be a 35-minute wait. While we were waiting for our table, B* became upset with me because I was unaware that the University of Central Florida had just won a decisive victory, which would very likely propel them into the Liberty Bowl. “It’s national recognition!” he sputtered, offended by my indifference.
A couple left the restaurant, and the woman recognized A*. They exchanged pleasant greetings, and A* asked how she was doing. The woman responded, “My doctor thinks I have Lupus,” which cast a pall over the evening for everyone.
And so, in this awkward atmosphere, we waited and waited and waited, long past the 35-minute mark, at which point my wife became irritable, because in her opinion, that 35 minute wait was a promise, a guarantee. But we were 5 people and restaurants are set up to seat 2 or 4 with only a few tables capable of seating larger parties. Eventually, we were informed that we could be seated at a 4-person booth with a chair placed at one end, and we took it.
Guess who got the chair. The aisle in which we were seated seemed to have one of these “extra chair” booth arrangements at every other booth, forming a slalom course for the wait staff. I sat in the end chair, with no knee room, as waiters flew by holding trays full of sizzling fajita platters over my head. Before long, I was praying for a painful, disfiguring accident that would enable me to sue Chili’s for enough money to live out the rest of my life in comfort.
The place was incredibly loud, full of boisterous UCF fans reveling in their excitement. The waitress came over and asked us all individually if we wanted drinks. When she got to A*, A* said, “What did you say? I can’t hear you.” The waitress repeated herself, and A* said, “I still can’t hear you.” There is only one thing the waitress could possibly be asking; they always take your drink orders first. Because I was stuck on the end chair, it somehow became my responsibility to shout the waitress’ inquiry to A*.
When the waitress returned with our drinks, she asked if we wanted any appetizers. A* said, “I can’t hear you.” It went on like this all evening.
During the meal, someone mentioned going to a concert and individuals began to reminisce about the concerts they had attended in their youth. This turned into a game of one-upsmanship, where each person tried to trump the previous person, claiming to have seen a more famous band. My wife “won” with Elvis Presley. B* came in a close second with Jimi Hendrix. I stayed out of it, except for mentioning that I had seen blues legend Albert King perform with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, something I knew nobody else at the table could possibly have seen.
At one point, B* got into a mildly heated discussion with my wife over the correct spelling of “chipotle.” Because I was stuck on the end chair, it became my responsibility to get up and retrieve a menu so that we could prove to B* that he was wrong. “It’s misspelled,” he grumbled, unwilling to concede defeat.
Eventually, we finished our meals and left the restaurant. I’m grateful that my wife only has one birthday a year.