Couple Goals at the IHOP

The internet (and probably your mother) can provide you with any number of suggestions to include in your list of couple goals. These range anywhere from putting each other first to knowing each other’s love language to traveling together without killing one another. Some suggest only speaking positively about each other (good luck with that) and talking about your relationship often (yikes!). In the age of Instagram and “perfect” relationships on constant display, finding that groove with your significant other can sometimes seem, well, less than perfect. After my recent trip to the local IHOP, I have a fresh take on my couple goal.

I went to IHOP because they have a new dish, Caramel Apple a la Mode Pancakes. This is exactly what it sounds like, and trust me, it is delicious! But while there, a middle-aged couple was seated next to my table. They both seemed perfectly happy with no argument in sight, and they were both on their phones (gasp!).

I know this image makes some people cringe. People spend too much time on their phones these days. Kids are becoming zombies to the screen, and people aren’t talking to each other anymore. There are games or dinner protocols to try and curb the trend of mealtime phone use. Some groups all put their phones face down on the table, and the first one to look has to buy everyone dinner (talk about having rich friends). Other people won’t allow phones at the table at all. All of that sounds great for most people, but this couple had it figured out.

They looked up to order and then went back to being on their respective phones and didn’t put them down until their dinner came. They sat next to each other rather than across from each other; losing that bit of real estate allowed them to reach out often to touch hands or lean over to place a head on a shoulder. Sometimes they would nudge the other and then share their phone to watch a quick video or read a meme and laugh together. It was adorable, really. And what I strive for in a relationship. No chit-chat. No small talk. Just enjoying each other’s company while perusing memes, scientific journals, craigslist, or whatever. Sounds absolutely pleasant, doesn’t it?

I’m sure we’ve all had that experience of being around an arguing couple. The tension so thick in the room it feels smothering. The animosity between the couple so heavy it weighs down the conversation around them. Snarky comments and disdain sucking the air out of the room. Fun times, right?

What about the couple that’s all goo-goo for each other? The over-the-top Instagram-ready interactions are hard to take seriously. Pet names, baby talk, and constant touches that border on inappropriate in the company of others. I’ve always found there to be a certain inauthenticity to those couples.

Sure, there are many different types of couples, or even the same kinds of couples, but in different moments. We are human and subject to the chaotic fluctuations of emotions when sharing the intimate aspects of life with someone. But seeing this couple at IHOP has offered me new inspiration in what it can look like to couple up with someone.

You may be one of those people that thinks phone use at the table is inappropriate, that it stifles conversation and erodes the foundations of intimacy. But conversations are overrated, and intimacy is displayed in many ways. Give me a partner who loves caramel apple pancakes with a thread of funny memes on the side and the occasional touch of affection. That’s my new couple’s goal.

New Year’s Resolutions? What New Year’s Resolutions?

Another year has passed us by and the year coming… well, let’s just hope for the best, shall we?

They say you should welcome the New Year with a resounding declaration of “a new year, a new me!” This is excellent advice and I just want to take a moment to share my reflections on the past year and the personal changes I have in store for the coming… oh, who am I kidding?

My Wish for You This Christmas

Many of us will return to our childhood homes to celebrate the holidays or at the least will be surrounded by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and countless cousins — some of whom we haven’t seen since last Christmas, or if we’re lucky, back before the pandemic took hold.  I always envision these gatherings as being somewhat reminiscent of the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a disparate group of individuals thrown together through a random gene pool and forced to celebrate holidays for life.

Of course, if you’re like many families, you always have to keep a sharp eye out for flare-ups throughout the evening due to in-fighting; made worse by close quarters, chit-chat with other family members, and the old reliable: alcohol. Cousin Elle isn’t speaking to Aunt Ida because of something that went down 20 years ago but no-one quite remembers what happened except it had something to do with a silver set or perhaps a dog or maybe it was a chicken.

Uncle Bill, oh good grief, don’t even get him started on the JFK conspiracy (the original conspiracy, that is, not the most recent nonsense) because he’ll never shut up, and he gets quite irate at no one in particular so therefore, everyone. You’d think that something like that just wouldn’t come up in conversation but somehow it always does. It’s uncanny really.

Then of course you have Aunt Joan who lets her children do everything (the word no doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary) and her polar opposite, Cousin Bette, who doesn’t let her child do anything. Poor Cousin Bette ends up heavy sighing a lot (very dramatically I might add, she should get herself an agent) as Aunt Joan’s children run mad circles around the house in full-on manic mode. I have to give Bette credit though, the “Sweetie, you shouldn’t do that,” she uses to correct Joan’s children as they’re climbing the bookcase with the cat is a lot nicer than the admonishment that would be falling off the tip of my tongue.

Uncle Larry? Well, he knows everything, so if you want to know something, just ask. Or don’t. He’ll probably tell you anyway. Really loudly. More than once. He likes to repeat things. In case you didn’t get it the first time.

Ahhh… family. Just because you’re family doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get along. I think in some respects family can drive us crazier than anyone else. They’re talented like that. Especially during the holidays.

So. Here’s hoping we all survive our holiday get-togethers with our families…. or at the very least let there be copious amounts of alcohol to help us through with a sense of humor. Or bail money. That’ll work too.