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Some might say being married is just forever texting each other, "do we need anything from the store?" And that's not true.

Being married is forever texting each other, "what do you want to eat?"

Glad I could clear that up for you.

As a hardened veteran of being married, I can tell young couples they'd be amazed by the amount of time and conversation devoted to what couples are going to eat, where it's going to come from and who is going to get it. Or they might be terrified. But amazed is nicer.

Marriage counselors will give young people all sorts of techniques and processes for either avoiding or managing conflict (yeah, the longer you're married, the more you lean on the latter). They'll tell you to never go to bed angry, or to go to bed angry right away because you'll both fall asleep, wake up and probably not remember why you were mad in the first place.

What they should give young couples is the one ironclad rule for solving the Great Food Debate: the second time one of you says, "I don't know, what do you want?," you have to go to a certain red-and-white fast-food restaurant specializing in chicken and order salads.

I mean, judging by the drive-through, it's where everyone is going to wind up anyway, so you might as well get ahead of the crowd. You want to argue? Lime Avocado Ranch dressing vs. Lite Balsamic. There, feel better?

Adopting this simple rule will avoid the combination of three-dimensional chess, game theory and a dinner theatre version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" that trying to decide where to eat can become.

In the Smith All-Night Diner and Sushi Bar (or at least what sushi would be if you cooked it), our dinner debates are formed over two great conflicting views: The Lovely Mrs. Smith is an outstanding, creative cook who appreciates the craftsmanship of a well-prepared meal and is more than capable of generating something of like or better quantity herself. And there's me: I don't care about food.

Yep. Not at all. I'm like those science fiction villains whose nerve endings have been blasted so they don't feel pain. In my case, it was the taste buds, blasted a mother who made sure everything was cooked to briquette-like status to kill any semblance of a germ and by having to prepare my own meals -- a personal specialty consisted of cream of mushroom soup, hamburger and rice. I used to call it "glop" because of the sound it made when it hit a plate.

OK, it's not exactly a super power. But hey, we all can't get bitten by radioactive spiders.

All of that means is, when The Lovely Mrs. Smith says she doesn't care when the question of dinner comes up, she actually does. And when I say I don't, I really, really don't.

So the conflict, such as it is, arises when she actually has some place in mind, but doesn't want to say it because she thinks I'm just being nice and not interjecting where I want to go. Now you'd think after 30-plus years, she'd have figured out I really don't care and am not that nice, but ...

To our credit, we haven't sunk to into patterns that are equal parts passive-aggression and a childlike belief in a magical "other restaurant" we know doesn't exist but keep on expecting to crop up if only we wish hard enough. You know, the place where food is wonderful, service is incredibly fast and desserts have no calories. That place you're really mad your spouse doesn't know the exact location of, even though you really kind of know that location might as well be "somewhere over the rainbow."

And so we beat on, boats against the culinary current, borne back ceaselessly into ... two salads and, if we want to go crazy, an order of waffle fries we'll split.

If, after all these years, I could impart two great lessons from all of this, the first is that it really doesn't matter so much what you're eating as who you're sharing it with. And if you want to fight about tacos instead of pizza, well, you probably really just want to fight, and that's another issue altogether.

And don't forget the red, crumbly things on the salad. The make all the difference.

Commentary on 05/26/2017

Print Headline: Who's for dinner?

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