They were there again last Wednesday night, at Mosaic Cafe—the crossword couple. We first encountered them about a year and a half ago, when we managed a Friday night dinner without our kids. They sat at the table next to us. An older couple, perhaps in their late 50s. Intellectual looking, serious. Could be college faculty. (Every third person in town is a college professor. The other two are social workers and therapists). As they waited for, and ate, their meals, they silently worked the New York Times crossword puzzle, each with their own copy.
Near the end of our meal I couldn’t help but ask: “Are you doing the same puzzle?” Suddenly friendly and outgoing, they filled us in on their game. They bring copies of the same puzzle and they race to see who finishes first. I wanted to ask who wins more often, or what the stakes are, but it felt too nosy. Maybe next time.
I like to imagine Fred and I this way in 15 years. The kids are off creating their own lives: Chuck as an artist, Ted as lead clown in the Ringling Bros. Circus. We’ll go out to eat whenever we want, with regular appearances at Mosaic for their Moroccan tea and their crepes. We’ll bring the Times crossword puzzles. Except Fred doesn’t do crosswords. So he’ll draw in his sketchbook instead. And I can’t go that long without chatting. But we’ll be just like this couple. In spirit, at least.