Our youngest daughter and her husband received an invitation to a marriage conference, one of those weekend gatherings where someone talks about improving communication — like finding a sweet way for him to tell her that she has morning breath and how she can gently let him know that if he cracks his knuckles one more time she may go ballistic.
Naturally, I asked how long the conference leaders had been married. I wasn’t talking degrees and alphabet soup behind a person’s name; I was curious as to know how long the conference speakers have been married, when their last argument was, what it was about and how they resolved it.
Our daughter said she didn’t know how long they had been married. Then she said — and this is the absolute truth — “With as long as you and Dad have been married, you could probably lead a conference.”
It was a lovely compliment. It was so lovely I considered asking her to repeat it so I could record it on my cell phone, but decided that would not be showcasing good communication skills. We were deeply touched — especially considering that she lived under the same roof with us for the first 18 years of her life.
The husband and I then had a misunderstanding regarding an event on the calendar. It wasn’t a terse exchange, but perhaps somewhat business-like, not particularly dripping with honey.
She then announced that maybe we might be more suited for leading a workshop.
One minute we’re conference leadership material and the next minute we’re downgraded to workshop leaders.
The husband then returned to his computer and began humming. I asked him to please stop humming. I’m not against humming, but when he hums it is never a real song or a full song, so the humming sounds like someone a few crayons shy of a full box.
She then offered that maybe we’d be best at leading a breakout session. A breakout session is usually cobbled together at the last minute for people who failed to sign up for the workshops before they filled. It was a definite downgrade.
Forty years of marriage and all we could qualify for is leading a breakout session. Maybe.
The husband asked what was for dinner and I said, “Chicken.”
“Again?” he asked.
There was an edge to his voice.
I heard it. She heard it. The chicken heard it.
She then suggested we might be suited for working the refreshment table.
“We could,” the husband said, “if they don’t mind chicken.”
He went back to humming and I started preparing the chicken.
“Know what your father and I would really be good at doing at a conference?” I asked, dousing the chicken in olive oil. “Parking cars!”
The husband jumped up from his computer and we high-fived each other. We may not be communication experts, but we know how to have fun.
We’ll be the ones wearing orange safety vests in the parking lot.