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Opinion: Standing up for lunch

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Now that Mary Ellen has retired and I’m significantly cutting back on work, we’ll end up being home together around noon. Mary Ellen and I have never shared a real lunchtime. For all of our marriage, we weren’t ever both home during the workweek, and on weekends I usually went to Costco and snarfed up free food samples.

I have been home recovering from knee surgery, so Mary Ellen suggested we start having a noon meal together. The blood drained out of my head. I started to perspire. A twitch developed in my right eye. I had to be careful or she was going to know that I was not happy with the suggestion.

How do you tell someone after 37 years that you really don’t want to have lunch together? When you are used to eating alone, you develop a few habits that will be hard to break. My wife, who shares a significant DNA strain with Miss Manners, would never understand. Maybe you will.

Mary Ellen will want to have lunch at noon. When I worked at home alone, I would sit down for lunch sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Wait, that is a total lie. I have never actually sat down for lunch at home in my adult life. I slapped a sandwich together while standing at the fridge, then ate it on the way upstairs to turn on a cable news show.

I just knew that Mary Ellen was going to want to actually sit for the meal. And we’d have to use utensils, like forks and spoons. And have conversations. I even had nightmares about it. I love my wife, and I love to talk to her. But not in the daylight. Not during the week. Conversations are OK at dinner; so are napkins, utensils and chairs. But not at lunch. Not starting after 37 years.

The other day, Mary Ellen prepared a meal at noon. When I walked in the kitchen, she said, “I can’t believe what you are wearing. Sweats and a dirty T-shirt? You can’t sit down for lunch looking like that.”

Music to my ears. So I stood up, just like the good old days.


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