remember you asked me if I knew a good place for brunch?" I say to my
sister on the phone. "How about the Fog City Diner? Yeah. Off the Embarcadero."
My husband, Henry, groans. "You're recommending
that place?" He's sitting across the living room on the BarcaLounger.
"Yeah, it's a great little place." I say
"Great?" says Henry, "You're exaggerating.
It's not great. Good, maybe. Not great."
I put my hand over the mouthpiece and whisper,
"I'm on the phone, Henry."
"But the lemonade was off," he says.
"It parched my throat. And the risotto? The rice was rancid."
"Maybe you shouldn't order risotto, Roz."
Henry picks up the remote and turns on
"No," I tell her, "I didn't have risotto.
Henry did. I had roasted eggplant which was great. Henry had 'off' lemonade
and rancid risotto and he says the food was not great."
"It wasn't bad," says Henry.
"Good. He says good. You think you'll pass,
Henry laughs, "Now, that's a great idea.
I glare at him, "You don't want to take
any chances, Roz?"
"Tell her, Sylvia."
"Well, it's up to you, Roz." I hang up,
dejected. "Listen, Henry," I say, "soon as I get on the phone, you plop
down on the BarcaLounger and pretend to watch TV. I know why you 're really
there; to spy on my conversation and correct me."
"So? Can I help it if I can listen to two
things together? Are you making a federal case? I've always done it. It's
a little thing."
"I'm pissed in spades about that little
"You know I'm a stickler for accuracy."
"Then mind your own accuracy."
"Been listening in past thirty years now."
Thirty years? My God. I've put up with
this thirty years? I ask myself.
"I'm not a boozer. I don't snort cocaine.
I don't womanize..."
What's kept me here? I wonder.
"Good food is not great food." He glances
at his watch. "When's lunch?"
Embarrassment, I tell myself, that's
why I haven't filed for divorce.
"It's seven after twelve, Sylvia."
I can hear our friends tittering; Did
you hear? Sylvia walked out on Henry because he wouldn't stop correcting
"Twelve-ten, Sylvia. You know I get a sour
stomach if we eat off-schedule."
Daddy would be crushed. The first divorce
in the family.
"It's a mitzvah to be orderly. My office
nurses compliment me on my drawers. The hospital honors me for my excellent
"Are you giving me that 'holier than thou'
shtick again? I know you reek with virtue, Henry; but you confine your
fussiness to petty things: alphabetizing cans of Campbell's soup, pencils
lined up according to size, proper dishwasher loading, careful coffee
"Your coffee is too strong, Sylvia."
"It comes out in my dreams."
"Even a teeny sip is getting hit with an
"I woke last night with a jolt, Henry.
My heart was pounding. I was drenched with perspiration."
"Strong coffee is not good for you, Sylvia.
Gives you palpitations."
"I dreamt I strangled you, Henry..."
"Half a cup and my hands shake all day."
"With the yellow cloth tape measure from
my sewing box. Your face turned blue. Your tongue hung out, swollen..."
"Three measures to four cups is too much."
"I awoke. There you were, peaceful as a turtle..."
"Two to four is better."
"With that smirk on your face."
"I said level, Sylvia. Not heaping. By
the way, where's the TV Guide? It's not on the coffee table where
"Don't you know, Dr. Know-it-All?"
"The kitchen? The bathroom? If you put
things back where they belong..."
"Don't you know everything?"
"'A place for everything, and everything
in it's place,' to quote my mother. A lot you care about order, Sylvia.
It'll probably turn up in my sock drawer."
"I'm married to His Majesty of the Little
"Or the washer, spinning around with a
"The International Authority on starched
underwear, hospital corners, and all the other earth-shattering matters."
"Maybe it's floating in a pitcher of iced
I fall to my knees. "Oh, my King of Trivia,
Guru of sparkling crystal, Ayatollah of the mundane, of perfect spelling,
comma placement and double dashes. Hail, Master, I worship at your feet.
I am your humble servant." I bow at Henry's feet.
"Not like that, Sylvia. Women don't bow.