Elmore Leonard cautioned us never to open with the weather, but sometimes I get reckless. The chilly blast that swept through the coffee shop foretold summer’s end and perhaps a final farewell to flip-flops for my aloha-attired friends. The young couple that entered wore jeans. One of them was shod in orange high-tops, the other in ornately tooled cowboy boots. Dropping the hoods of their sweatshirts, they ordered two “tall” (i.e. short) coffees.
“Hey,” Pat called out. “Over here.”
“Well, congratulations. Please join us,” I said. “Uh, is that Aaron with an A or Erin with an E?”
“It’s A-E-R-O-N. It’s a Welsh name — for either men or women,” Lee offered unhelpfully. (Sorry, Elmore; I broke two rules with those last two words.)
“Lexie’s a word freak; maybe she can help us with our whatchacallit problem,” Chris said.
“Yeah, you know, how we refer to each other. ‘Partner’ is so cold and businesslike. ‘Boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ sounds a bit juvenile for people of our, uh, maturity,” Pat said.
“Boyfriend OR girlfriend,” I thought. The Snooper was still stumped.
“And we’re married now. But ’spouse’ is so bureaucratic,” Lee said, flipping a ponytail.
“And ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ carry some baggage.” Aeron slicked back close-cropped hair.
I rattled the ice in my drink. “How’s that?”
[To be continued.]