On Poker and Publishing

So, Hubs and I do this thing that I’m wondering if other couples do it too — we allow each other to bore each other with our favorite subjects. I like to talk about publishing, and he likes to talk about poker, and no one besides ourselves wants to hear what we have to say about each of those subjects, because we go into minute detail that would make friends and other family members swallow poison, gladly, just to make it all to stop. “New amazon review rules … blah“, “the guy sitting next to me had two kings … blah, blah,” my publicist hasn’t called back yet, and I need to ask her… blah, blah, blah,” “Never got a bad beat like that in my life … blah, blah, blah, blah.”

But we need to talk about these subjects, and with whom better than a devoted (long-suffering) spouse? And here’s how we do it: When it’s the one’s turn to speak, the other keeps his/her eyes focused on the one, as though they’re really listening, as though the words coming out of the one’s mouth are as intriguing to the listener as they are to the speaker. We nod in what seems to be an appropriate place, while letting our minds wander freely as the one drones on.

For me, personally, words and phrases seep through, and they’ve now become imprinted in my brain, almost by osmosis — “the river,” “he mucked,” “big blind,” “fish …” though if pressed, I might not be able to define the terms and slang that’s been spoken at me for the past ten years.

He does the same. I have never seen a non-writer look so fascinated by discussions of the changing book industry while at the same time I know what he’s really thinking is, “I hope she wraps this up soon — it’s almost time for my peanut butter sandwich.”

We even respond to each other, and we have those responses down to a science: repeat the last thing you heard — “two kings, huh?” “haven’t heard back from her yet, huh?” — or, judge by the tone — jubilant, whiny — and either say, “That’s great, hon,” or “Gee, hon, that’s too bad.”

We know that this is what we’re doing, and yet, somehow, we each walk away from these “conversations” lighter, relieved. We feel heard and cared about, even though we know the other spouse couldn’t repeat what they heard if it meant life or death.

And I realize, after all these years, that this is a perk of a solid relationship — you can talk each other into a coma and somehow feel that it’s romantic.

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