It’s no secret that my husband and I are different. Opposites attract, as we all know. But nowhere is this more apparent than in our approaches to what we do in our spare time. My husband has prepared a Powerpoint presentation on “The Origins of Life,” which he totes around with him on his laptop and extols to unsuspecting people he invites out for coffee. Charlie ponders what motivates people to do the things they do. I like to read a lot of books, but I don’t particularly want to be in a book club. I don’t like to overthink things.

Charlie likes people who have vast compendiums of knowledge. When asked a “yes or no” question, he always answers by saying “Well, there are a number of issues involved.” Charlie likes to go to plays and then discuss their ramifications afterwards. I like to leave at intermission and get a good night’s sleep.

We once met a couple who both had their doctorates in some sort of ancient, historical or mythical subject matter. To add to their cachet, they hardly spoke English. We spent an evening with them eating wonderful food, but discussing something that sounded to me like sacrificing goats and then roasting the meat. Charlie just loved these people. He has wanted to have them over for dinner for the longest time. I just saw a “SOLD” sign in front of their house. I am ecstatic.

In restaurants, we can never place our order the first time the waitress asks, because Charlie STUDIES the menu. He orders exactly as listed. For instance, I order “The fried fish.” He orders “The fresh Tilapia, dusted with cornmeal and lightly fried, with sautéed apples and freshly baked biscuits.” For crying out loud, there is only one fish choice on the menu! Then he asks what kind of COFFEE BEANS they use. Sounds like a real epicure, right? But this is at THE CRACKER BARREL.

Charlie is intrigued by “BEAUTY.” It’s not what you think. He wonders what it is that triggers someone to call a thing beautiful, when that same thing might be uninspiring to somebody else. He tries to engage me in this subject:

HIM: Do you think that rosebush is beautiful?

ME: Sure.

HIM: No, really. Look at the composition of the rosebush juxtaposed with the fence.

ME: It’s fine.

HIM: But what IS beauty? Do you think there is a kind of beauty in ugly things, like that tractor over there?

ME: What tractor? And by the way, you can speed up; the speed limit along here is 65.

HIM: But what is beautiful to YOU?

ME: Getting home quickly. I have to pee.

Slow married fast. Deep married shallow. The long of it and the short of it got hitched. Chalk and cheese have managed somehow to stay together for forty years. Charlie is preparing a Powerpoint presentation on the subject–care to have coffee?

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