After over twelve years together, last week Llew and I discovered something else we have in common. It had never really come up before, but last Friday night circumstances revealed that neither one of us is a bench person. As in park bench. Maybe this is why I walked out of Forrest Gump. Gump was definitely a bench guy. He loved that bench. I, on the other hand, honestly could not tell you when I last sat on a park bench. You should see me sitting here, concentrating hard. Hmmm… when was I last sitting on a bench… Nope. I’ve got nothing for you. I’m drawing a total blank. And Llew – for those who doubt the existence of soul-mates – is not a bench person either.
We discovered this because our determination to see Australia on the big screen meant that Friday night was really our last window. The session started at eight, and the movie was over three hours long. What were we going to do about dinner? I get the hungry crazies if there’s any kind of delay between one meal and the next, I really froth at the mouth and become a danger to myself and others, so there was no way I was going to be subdued by the promise of popcorn and Choc-Tops alone. That’s not dinner. That’s dessert. The cinema where the movie was still showing was in a total dead zone, and nothing was open except the supermarket. We didn’t have time to get back in the car, so we decided to get some stuff from their deli section and have an impromptu picnic in a very un-picnicky place. But at least there’d be food. In the end we did very well: a salad with spinach and ricotta ravioli, a “German-style” potato salad (as opposed to…?), half a roast chicken WITH stuffing, and a couple of fresh rolls from the bakery. But now what? All loaded up and nowhere to eat.
In the same part of the complex as the supermarket, we found a perfectly serviceable indoor area filled with little bistro tables and chairs – everything was closed for the night, but it was fine. Beggars could not be choosers and we were on the clock. We made ourselves comfortable and ate our meal. Walking briskly back through the abandoned complex to reach the cinema on the other side, we passed through an open air courtyard, and I said to Llew, “This might have been a nice place to eat. Birds are singing, you’re under the night sky, the fountain’s trickling…” but he looked around, clocked the only seating in the courtyard, and shook his head. “I’m not really a bench kind of guy,” he said.
I looked around then too. There were no tables and chairs in sight.
“Oh my god, you’re right. I’ve never even articulated this before, but I don’t sit on benches either. And I certainly wouldn’t eat on one with my food resting on my knees. That always freaked me out on Sex and the City, actually. They were always wearing couture and high heels while they were hunched over their lunch sitting on park benches. It’s just not right.”
After exchanging the appropriate approvals – I knew I liked this guy for a reason! – from there it didn’t take long for our conversation to become:
“There are two types of people in the world. Park benchers, and non-park benchers.”
“What about the walking eaters?” I wanted to know. “I am not a walking eater, either.”*
“No,” agreed Llew. “Walking and eating at the same time is o-u-t.”
“I’m just never in that much of a hurry. I want to enjoy my food.”
“What about hanky carriers and non-hanky carriers?” Llew said.
“That’s a good one! We’re non-hanky people! And then there’s the old favourite: coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers. It completely freaks me out that two of my closest friends don’t drink coffee. I don’t understand how I let that happen.”
Llew reeled back.
“I know about S, but who’s the other one?”
I shook my head sadly.
“T,” I said. “Never has, never will.”
“T doesn’t drink coffee?” Llew was incredulous. “Wow. I did not know that. Never? Really?”
I could see him thinking it through; it might subtly change things between them. He’s as suspicious of non-coffee drinkers as I am.
We were inside the cinema queuing by this stage, which was a shame, because I think both of us could have happily continued this conversation all night. By the way, just so you know, we’re butter people. I don’t know what the hell margarine is, but I am not putting it in my mouth, and neither is Llew.
*Strolling home last night in the heat, we realised there was a very important exception to the walk and eat rule, and that’s ICE CREAM!! Surely the ice cream cone was invented to promote portability? We l-o-v-e ice cream, and we love taking a turn along the beach promenade with a couple of cones.