Setting genuine relationship goals is quite different than saying a celebrity couple is #relationshipgoals. My first relationship goal (I’ve taken a full inventory of them) is to have a relationship. That’s followed by achieving a level of comfort in said relationship that allows for sitting on the same side of the table at a restaurant without fearing that our connection might dwindle if we lose eye contact.
This seating arrangement, where a couple shares the same bench of a booth, was introduced to me when I was a restaurant server by an older couple who I will refer to as “Stan and Judy.” Every Saturday, Stan and Judy would traverse all three stop lights in my hometown and arrive at our Italian café at 6:43 p.m. They’d wave to the kitchen and proceed to seat themselves in the dining room, amid a parade of bubbling tomato pies, on the same side of the corner booth that had a clear view of the other tables that were filled with people from town.
Stan and Judy’s parallel outward gazes appeared ready to plunge into the personal business of these other regulars, such as the church organist, the swingers who took turns at tipping and their clumsy waitress with a wandering eye. Never did they once force a smile upon one another to assure that they were having a good time, nor did they press for mundane conversation about how nice the candle holders were. Social media and cell phone usage did not interrupt their meal either. While the pies of other plugged-in couples grew cold, Stan and Judy ate together and they thrived.
It was as if they knew how to satiate their hunger and enjoy the company of each other in silence because they had sat at so many tables together prior to this one in our restaurant. They had conquered their first date — which is never easy, no matter how much wine you order — their second, their third, their rehearsal dinner, their wedding reception, their first dinner as a family of three, their first dinner as empty nesters. Corner booths were just for snooping and sharing fried calamari.
It’s hard to break past the appetizer round of a relationship and achieve a dinner date ambiance that’s as comfortable as theirs appeared to be, but to hope for a Stan, who impulsively asks for a separate plate for his onions because he knows that they give me indigestion, can’t be a pipe dream. Until I find someone like him, I’ll just eat around the rings.