If my wife and I have learned anything during our nearly 34-year marriage, it’s our need for interaction with others.

Although we think the two of us make a good team, we benefit greatly from being with other folks. In addition to our incredible family, we are blessed to have a solid network of relationships from our various walks of life, some of which go back many years and some more recent.

We get together annually with a group of folks back in Arkansas we got to know during our pre-married and early married days. We spent Memorial Day weekend with a group of my college friends.

We make these longstanding friendships a priority.

And we do the same locally. We recently joined a new dinner group called “simple suppers” where we meet monthly with a few other couples for an informal meal and conversation, alternating hosting duties in our homes.

It’s called simple because it’s supposed to be more about the interaction with each other than the food (although at the two gatherings we have had thus far, the food has been excellent).

At our most recent get-together, the host couple had a game for us to play. I don’t recall the name of it, but the concept is a person draws a card with a question and answers that question. The questions are designed to give rise to deeper discussion.

Well, theoretically. I have a bad habit of not fully cooperating in these types of situations, although it is not my intention to be difficult.

For example, one of the cards I drew asked if I had ever had something happen in my life that seemed bad at the time but turned out to be good. In the spirit of “simple suppers,” I simply answered, “yes,” and passed the box of cards to the next player.

There was a time when this would have caused a look of exasperation in my spouse, which would have been directed at me, but after almost 34 years she has come to know and accept my reluctance to go very deep when I am not comfortable doing so. And while others around the table laughed and good-naturedly tried to coerce me into sharing about such a situation (something bad that turned out good), she smiled sweetly as I confirmed my belief that my “yes” answer was adequate (after all, I answered the question).

(I might add that one of the joys of a long marriage is the way we no longer sweat the small stuff with each other, and how so much of it is just that – small stuff. I guess it’s kind of like choosing your battles and she decided a long time ago not to choose this one).

Some of the questions were not nearly as probing, such as where one might travel if money were no object, or a favorite vacation spot. On one of my subsequent turns (yes, they continued to let me play), the question on the card was about a goal I might have for the year. I was happy to talk about a piano composition I had memorized as a young person that I wanted to re-learn.

I could have also easily talked about a vacation destination – either one I have visited or hope to visit one day. I could have spoken endlessly about favorite books if there had been a question about that.

I guess there is enough superficiality in those inquiries that I don’t break into a sweat over them.

But putting me on the spot about bad situations turning out good, or the keys to a successful marriage, or where I might see myself ten years from now – those are a little much for spontaneous question answering, thank you very much.

One of the questions, on a card I did not draw, concerned seasons of the year, and I could have certainly addressed that had I drawn the card. It was something along the lines of whether you would like to live in a place that has the same climate year-round. My answer to that would be no. Even though I detest the heat with a vengeance and have already been whining about it this summer, I think living somewhere with no climate change, after a lifetime of doing so, would play with my psyche — not in a good way.

I couldn’t imagine getting to October and not anticipating the changing leaves and cooler temperatures, or spring without seeing buds and blooms after months of bare branches. At my age, I am very much attuned to the four different seasons of the year, and I think I had best keep it that way.

Also, I don’t think I would do very well living in a place like Seattle where there is so much rainfall.

I remember when I moved to this area in the summer of 1997, it was an unusually wet summer, and I found myself being sad due to the sky being gray so much of the time.

Because just ask my friends who know me best — I’m nothing if not self-aware. (Although that’s getting a little deep).

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at

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