“A New Level of Maturity”

“At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.” ― P.G. Wodehouse, Uneasy Money

Tonight I went out to dinner with my wife and her 89 year old mother. It was a pleasant experience and unusual because my mother-in-law is usually cranky and argumentative, which in turn rubs off on my wife who becomes ultra-sensative and morose for an hour or so. But not tonight; on the way home after dropping off the non-cranky and easy to get along with mother-in-law, my wife looks at me lovingly and says…”You reached a new level of maturity tonight”. “How so?” I asked, not having any idea what she was going to say. “We have been together twenty seven years and tonight, for the very first time in memory, you ordered what you wanted instead of settling for a second choice. Good for you to finally have something you wanted”. What her statement refers to is my total stubbornness of not ordering the same entree in a restaurant that my wife orders. Sometimes we order differently, but as the years go by, it seems our meal preferences parallel each other almost exactly. For example, I mentally pick out a dish to order, say lamb chops, and then I hear her tell the waiter she will have “the lamb chops”, exactly the same order I was going to offer. Well, then, if she is having what I wanted, then I have to look at the menu again to choose something else. My philosophy is to try different dishes. The chef has worked hard to create specials, and if everyone is going to order “lamb chops”, than who is going to order the probably delicious “Dover Sole”? Silly issue I know, but important to me none-the-less. Now that you understand my position, here is what happened.

Tonight my mother-in-law ordered bouillabaisse (my second choice); my wife ordered medallions of duck with cherry sauce (my first choice). Uh oh, I had to stall while trying to decide what would be my third choice on the menu. After speed reading the menu again, I decided on beef bourguignon. “Thank you waiter, I will have the duck”. (What did I just do? My brain meant to say “beef” and my heart jumped in and blurted “duck”.) I smiled confidently hoping my wife would not look at me askance and when the duck eventually arrived, I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner, without adding any personal psychological breakthrough to the behavior.

Continuing the drive home, I felt slightly guilty not telling my wife I ordered the duck involuntarily and without acknowledgement of ordering something I really preferred. It would have been cruel to dispel her belief I had attained a new (and obviously pleasing to her) level of maturity. However, I do think my response was mature…”Thank you honey; I’m glad you noticed”.



About Alan G Billingsley

My career has been varied, including time as a newspaper deliverer, lifeguard, bubble gum maker, door-to-door detergent promoter, telephone book proofreader, short order cook, private employment agency counselor and owner, office and credit manger, infantryman, pots and pans salesman, Chinese restaurant cook, Chinese restaurant owner, public employment counselor, budget analyst, tax analyst, grant administrator, radio announcer, radio and television show host, disk jockey, automobile valet, child advocate, and now retiree. I've seldom been bored.
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