Love Spoon

Jens Laloire
Love Spoon
Yesterday I accidentally ran into an old college friend of mine downtown, whom I had not seen for years. Back then we spent hours hanging out in local dives brooding over projects or telling each other about our mostly pitiful experiences with ladies, but after graduating we began to, little by little, lose touch with one another.

Now he was standing in front of me again, yet my excitement in seeing him was somewhat clouded by him getting me wrapped up in quite peculiar appearing small talk. After some minutes of digging through the superficial, he finally got to the point and announced proudly that he had actually gotten married just a few days earlier. “really fit each other like a glove,” he said, “At breakfast, we both use an extra spoon for the jam.”

I paused. In all of my years of looking for a partner, I had concentrated on criteria such as character, intelligence and humour, beyond that other things such as eyes, hair or body often influenced my attraction – but the use of an extra spoon for the jam had never played any role.
Somewhat confused, I commented on my friend's sentence merely with a weak, “Uh huh”?; I really didn't know what else to say. For my friend, that did not seem to be an appropriate reaction; he scrutinized me briefly, then announced that he had to hurry on, at which point he turned around and walked away.

I slapped myself in my thoughts for my lack of sensitivity. If only to show a glimmer of empathy after the fact, I sought to paint the situation of my old friend in a kind of thought experiment in which I imagined the following scenario:

A couple freshly in love after a night together, still love-drunk and tousled, sit at their first breakfast together at the kitchen table. They blow kisses, pass pieces of freshly-baked, still fragrant bread and gush about how beautiful life is. Then she reaches for the glass of jam, does not notice the teaspoon that he had placed beside it on the tablecloth, and dives her butter-smeared knife into the raspberry jam. He shivers and stares with tear-filled eyes at the darling creature who was currently mixing the jam with the butter-laden knife.

“Everything ok?,” she asks, noticing his disbelieving gaze. He swallows. “No, no! Everything is all right!” he replies, a few minutes later grabbing the glass to fish out with a spoon the lingering remains of butter. Things like these can happen, he thought to himself, pardoning his lover and stroking her hand that had shoved the butter-smeared knife in the jam glass as a sign of forgiveness.

At their next breakfast together, they again sit closely beside one another, petting and kissing, feeding one another and gushing over the happiness of love. In order not to endanger this joy, he was prepared this time and had filled the jam in a dish with a spoon sticking out ready to be used. Yet, in reaching for the dish, she simply ignores the spoon sticking out and dips her knife in the jam leaving thick traces of butter.

He swallows, stares at the tracks of butter, arches his back, coughs and says, “Honey, there’s an extra spoon in the dish for you to use.” He pats her left hand at the same time.

She pulls her hand away, glares at him with irritation and asks, “Why should I use a spoon?”
“Why, because of the butter on the knife! It gets into the jam, as you can see for yourself.”
He takes the dish and holds it under her nose.
She leans back away from him and shakes her head, “You're not serious, are you?!”
“Of course! Why should I not be?”
“You are so square!”
His eyes open wide and he replies insulted, “That has nothing to do with being square.”
“Not at all – right, what else then?!”
“It's about mold! The butter could mold and spoil the jam.”
“That's bunk!”
“That's not bunk at all!”
“Of course it's bunk!”
“No, it's not!”

So it goes back and forth for 10 minutes until both are silently sitting further apart, brooding and half-heartedly chewing their bites of bread, which suddenly does not smell at all as fragrant as freshly-baked bread should, but rather seems to stick to their gums like pappy mush.

The appetite for snuggling and the joy of love is gone; instead, as both realize on their own, silently and for themselves, that this other person whom they had been blindly in love with until mere moments ago, this other person had some quite questionable aspects of character. Traits which needed to be looked at much more closely in the coming weeks – after all, one does not want to bind oneself frivolously for the rest of one's life to another who is really - at the very most - deserving only of being a temporary partner.
And while they chew in silence they both ask themselves: that glorious, intoxicating feeling of love's bliss – where did it go? Was life not just a moment ago so light, fluffy and sweet as raspberry jam?

Translated from German by Shan Wardell

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