• Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

EAT, WRITE, DIGEST: Dinner Out

The Tuesday Night Dinner Project Sometimes nothing that’s scheduled stays put. At least, that’s how it feels. Shipments don’t come on time, someone throws their back out, snow arrives and mucks up everything, cell phones break, and cars need attention.

Yes, that would be my list for the week. So far. The shipment that failed to arrive is the wood for our new floor that includes our living room, dining room, and hallway – nearly half our house. The back that went out was mine, so add several physical therapy appointments to the mix (I shall become stronger! Charge!). The snow, well, that’s just winter. Winter is sometimes thoughtless and interrupts when others are talking. The cell phone? That was my daughter’s and, as a college student, is one of her lifelines. So, on the day with the worst driving conditions (back to winter and its thoughtlessness), I mushed my vehicle to her dorm, picked her and the broken phone up, then slipped and slid to the nearest T-Mobile store to verify that her warranty was still in effect and a new phone would be sent to us tout de suite. Driving the next day was much calmer, but my trusty vehicle and I were, by that time, at the Mitsubishi dealership getting much-needed maintenance. That was when I learned I needed new tires. And, with a four-wheel-drive vehicle (it allows for that aforementioned mushing), that means all the tires have to be replaced at the same time. This is always followed by the sound of a cash register – ca-chink!

Did I mention that the car maintenance meant I did not have my granddaughter Camille with me this Tuesday? Yeah, there was that. It was supposed to coincide with the floor stuff that didn’t arrive. So my schedule woes oozed into my son’s family’s schedule.

Usually, all this would be my cue to go cook something incredibly comforting, like brownies because, you know, we could live on those. But my usual cue-and-response mechanism was all used up. So, dinner out it was.

My partner Mick is easy to talk into going out. His Tuesday alone had been pretty hectic. He gave a lecture to high school students in the far western suburbs, gave another lecture to graduate students at the University of Minnesota, forgot his computer cord in the lecture hall on the campus where his office was not. Given all that, I only said two words when I saw him at the end of our very long Tuesday: pub grub. We put on our coats.

Technically, it was a sort of upscale neighborhood bar/restaurant and, again, technically it wasn’t exactly grub. But I like the rhyme.

Anyway, our neighborhood Chianti Grill has a very nice bar that eventually yielded a very nice booth (who knew they would be packed to the gills on a Tuesday that was not Valentine’s Day?) and we ordered wine, flatbread pizza, and salad to share. 

And we breathed. Then sipped. Then breathed and then sipped some more. 

We eased into conversation without the distraction of a television in the background (well, there was one in the bar but we couldn’t hear it) or dogs hoping we’ll drop a morsel of food or the landline that unfailingly rings at dinner time because a telemarketer somewhere has our number on the call list. We actually had time to get past the daily stuff and dig into other things we’d been thinking about. 

And I am struck by how long it took us to get to that level of conversation. It doesn’t necessarily get easier to converse on a deep level the longer a couple is together. In a way, it gets easier to let that piece slide because you figure the other person will always be around and you’ll get to it later. There’s no rush. 

Except that there should be. I love these times when Mick and I can dig into each other’s thoughts and talk about what our hearts say versus our heads. And there really is no guarantee that either one of us will be around tomorrow, which we all know but ignore on a daily basis. 

Come to think of it, that rudeness I accused winter of having because it doesn’t wait and interrupts everything might just be the biggest cosmic nudge ever.


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