Apparently you can lose at the fill-in-the-blank game

Burt's Eye View

Long-married couples have a knack for finishing each other’s sentences. Terry and I do that.

It’s too bad that we’re never talking about the same thing when we do.

You’ve seen those creepy couples. They’ll be all smiles and doe-eyed as they carry on coded cut-off conversations that would confound James Bond, Ethan Hunt and Harriet the Spy.

“Sweetheart, would you…”

“… pass the salt? Absolutely. Oh, may …”

“… I already cut another slice for you. It’s on…”

“… the third shelf of the refrigerator in the blue bowl. Sweetie, you’re…”

“… the best thing that’s ever happened to you, I know.”

It’s enough to make a real person gag on whatever salted slices of whatzit that’s in that blue bowl.

Terry and I are not that couple. Our tied-the-knot telepathic togetherness talk goes more like this:

“Did you stop at…”

“Yep, right after I…”

“So we have the…”

“Ready to go…”

“That’s a…”

“… relief, I know.”

The next day, I find Terry halfway burrowed into the refrigerator. “Where did you put them?”

“Put what?”

“The eggs. The ones that you got at the store yesterday.”

I scratch my head. “What store? I didn’t get any eggs.”

“I asked you yesterday if you stopped at…”

“… the garage to have the oil changed and I told you that I did.”

Terry extricates herself from the crisper and whips around. “Oil change? We can’t eat an oil change. I wanted eggs.”

We’re great at reading each other’s minds — if by “reading” you mean the words are printed in a foreign language, leaving us with absolutely no clue what the other person said.

I never was all that great with the fill-in-the-blank game. My answers tended to be a little more creative than the lector meant. So it’s safer not to finish her sentences for her. But if I don’t…

We’re both in our 60s now and we tend to forget what we were saying halfway through. We just sort of trail off as our brains scramble madly for any hint about what we started to say.

The other day, Terry pawed through a stack of newspapers on the couch and said, “Have you seen my…”

That was it. “Have you seen my?”

Her what? Keys? Latest patch of gray hair? Rogue monkey that ran off with her brown shoes? Alien visitor from a galaxy far, far away bent on stealing all the paper clips on planet Earth? Fire extinguisher because a swarm of lightning bugs flew in and set the mattress on fire?

There’s no hope of me finishing her sentence to mean what she meant. So I don’t try.

I watched her check the magazine rack, swish through the table toppings, fling open cupboards, peer behind the armchair, poke through the compost pail, and crawl down the hallway.

“You know,” I ventured, “you could see whatever you’re looking for better if you slid those glasses off the top of your head and put them on.”

“What?” She snatched the spectacles out of her hair. “Why didn’t you tell they were there?”

“You didn’t ask.”

“I most certainly did. And you just sat there like a…”

I suppose I could finish that sentence. But after further consideration…

• Complete Cole’s thoughts at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.


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