In town yesterday, I noticed a middle-aged couple sitting in the sun, eating lunch. Or rather, the woman was eating lunch – a rather nice-looking salad – while the man was scrolling down his phone.
Now I do understand that every relationship has its arid patches. It is not always easy to be passionately interested in everything one’s partner has to say. But- call me old-fashioned – and definitely call me parsimonious, if you are going to spend good money on eating out with a companion isn’t it worth making an effort to converse? Apart from enjoying a good meal, isn’t that the main reason for going out? I could almost have understood if both man and woman were on their mobiles – perhaps their reason for eating out was a mutual hatred of cooking – but, no, the woman, who looked very nice, also looked pretty unhappy while she munched her salad in silence.
To be fair to the man, there might have been good reasons for his behaviour. Perhaps his partner had just told him she was having an affair with his best friend and he looked at his phone in an effort to manage his rage. Perhaps their son had fallen from a cliff and was sending him desperate texts. The man did not have the look of a cuckolded husband or a desperate father. I suppose he might have recently given his wife a phone and was busy arranging her contacts for her which could be considered as caring by some, and controlling by the rest of us. To be honest, I’m not convinced by these explanations. I think he was just rude, and if I were the nice woman, I wouldn’t eat out with him again.