Where did I go wrong? I remembered our anniversary. I made reservations at her favorite Italian restaurant. I pre-ordered the best wine. I wrote something nice on a card. I took a shower, flossed my teeth, trimmed my beard so it didn’t tickle her and I wore the shirt she bought me for my birthday even though the stripes sometimes gave me vertigo if I saw my reflection.
I didn’t wear my favorite shoes because she didn’t like their tendency to squeak. I even bought new ones that matched the color of my belt, one of her pet peeves, my lack of coordinated accessories.
I arrived on time. The truck was taken to the best car wash and given the full treatment including the Lotus Blossom air freshener. I even removed the gun rack.
Maybe it was my choice of opening conversations. I had made a list of topics that I thought might interest her. And since she liked to chat, I started with the breath-taking news flash that I had just picked up on my quick-burst receiver thanks to the new 50 foot antenna I had installed over my vacation bunker in the New Hebrides, not that she knew about that since it would only “vex” her. According to her I could be very “vexing,” especially my “blitherings” about potential doomsday scenarios. I was “too negative” she said.
However I was working on that problem area. So back to my chat agenda. “Dear,” I said after she had finished her second glass of wine and I thought she was more receptive. “Dear, did you know that just today scientists in Moldavia overheard two atoms chatting with each other? Of course, it was actually magnetic quantum interactions, but I guess if you’re an atom, it’s chatting. In this case it was two titanium atoms a nanometer apart hooking up so to speak, the eavesdropping by way of a scanning tunneling microscope. Think about all the atoms in the wine glass you’re holding now chatting away to each other, a group chat as it were. But instead of discussing the merits of the ’76 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, they’re exchanging quantum information…in the form of a spin, a tiny magnetic moment when they actually feel each other unbound by space or time.
Yes, dear, I know you’re thinking the same thing I am…atoms love each other.”
When she didn’t respond and instead called the waiter to order another bottle of wine, I realized I had to take another tact, make another selection from my prepared list of topics. Since she did favor her wines, I thought it dove-tailed nicely into my mentioning of the recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences regarding the detection of prebiotic ethanolamine in a molecular cloud near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, i.e. our home galaxy. So I took a breath and broke the ice again, beginning with, “Dear, did you hear about the discovery of the galactic appearance of the amino acid that may have contributed fundamentally to the development of life on Earth?
“In fact, it may finally reveal why life came to exist here in the first place, since we really have no explanation. This amino acid is the building block of protein. We are carbon based of course but couldn’t exist without proteins. We’ve also found this ethanolamine in meteorites which could account for the emergence of life on our planet and countless others, evidence of panspermia permeating the universe, and all thanks to a whiff of interstellar alcohol. Call it the galactic love potion if you will.”
That did it. I finally struck the right chord. Because, a second later, my dear looked me straight in the eye and murmured, “I’ll drink to that.” And she did, nicely draining the full glass, then seamlessly refilling it again. I held my glass up as well and said, “I’ll drink to that, too.”
She finished the newly re-filled glass, placed it on the table and with one finger plinked it over. Then she sighed and said, “Must you copy everything I do and say. Do you lack all originality?”
I was stumped for a reply. I felt something tingly and wiggling deep down my throat. I think it was panic clawing its way up my esophagus. Were all my efforts to repair our relationship going to naught? I tried one last item from my list of conversation topics.
“Dear, I do have something totally original to reveal to you.”
“I’ve invented a transmutation device that will revolutionize our lives as we know it. It can turn the hardest, coldest stone to the warmest gold.”
I think she actually laughed but I wasn’t certain. It could have been a belch. Undeterred I pressed on. From my coat pocket I brought out the small white box with a red ribbon and placed it on the table in front of her.
She stared at it for a moment, then used her fork to bring it closer to her. Using her knife, she cut the ribbon. She looked up at me. I smiled. She looked back at the box and with the knife popped off the lid. Then it seemed Time stood still.
She stared into the box. Then it came. A tear. Then another.
She looked up at me, her face reddening. She slowly turned the box over. The rock rolled across the table and stopped right side up. In gold letters, it read “I love you.”
I smiled, then said. “Dear, it’s a meteorite and I painted the words in real gold leaf. Can we agree that it’s very original?”
“Diamonds are original,” she hissed and in a flash she was gone but not before she “returned” my present. Now I sit here holding the napkin over my throbbing eye, just waiting for the bill.