Bernard is the only guy I know who still buys a No. 2 pencil. He never uses it to write. Instead, he uses it to twirl the bottom half of his bagel. "I don't need the carbs of a whole bagel," he explained one day. "Plus, I never liked the bottom half. I chew on them and I'm afraid I'm gonna lose a tooth."
This morning, I was pretending to read my paper while watching him twirl the bagel, idly wondering how one could ever describe the path it made in its mad wobble.
"People make marriage too complicated," Bernard volunteered.
"It is too complicated," I replied.
"No," Bernard said as he stared at the wall behind me, his bagel at rest. "Marriage is very straightforward: you find an adorable woman and then you adore her."
"That simple, eh?"
"That simple and that hard."
"So how do you find an adorable woman?" I ask, curious as to whether he had more.
"They're all adorable, you twit."
"Of course. You just have to pay attention to the details of a woman to see that. Crowds and mobs are shaped by gross generalities. Women are shaped by fine details. Just pay attention."
"Well, if they're all adorable, how do you make marriage work? How do you adore just one woman?"
"Ah. Two mistakes men make. One is to try not to adore other women. This will only confuse your heart."
"Well, Bernard, it sounds to me like it would confuse a marriage pretty badly if you actually tried to adore other women."
"What? You're going to turn yourself off from half of humanity? That's good for your heart? That kind of stragegy will just make you repressed and boring. But you didn't ask about the second mistake."
"What's the second mistake?"
"Not taking out all this adoration on your wife. You hold her responsible for all that's adorable in women."
"That's it?" I asked. "That's all you're going to explain about it?"
"What?" Bernard bristled. "You want stock tips too?" He began again to twirl his bagel. "This is enough. Take this to heart and it'll keep you busy for decades."
As it turns out, Bernard is a romantic. It suddenly occurred to me the path his wobbling bagel followed was that of a heart.