Hanging on

I have two friends who work for this chain of newspapers that publishes my weekly blather, and coincidentally these two journalists and my sister Karen are the only three peo-ple in their 50s I see regularly who are still married.

Among the five middle-agesters fellas I have regularly walked Green Lake with, played golf every Sunday with and had dinner with once a weekend since returning from Hawaii in 2002, there are no marriages remaining.

That fact is a bit misleading: only two of the five were married when I returned from the islands, two of the fellas are lifelong bachelors and the fifth is a midlife-crisis guy with two girlfriends.

Recent studies allege that four-and-a-half of every 10 marriages entered into in King County eventually end up in divorce.

All of this saddens me because I am, in addition to being a rabid cynic, a hopeless romantic.

You may say, "This can't be; you are contradicting yourself." I can only answer the contradiction charge with another statement: I am Pro-Choice and Pro-Death Penalty and pro-Moderate (not prohibitive) Gun Control. I live amid contradictions.

And I am still saddened by this societal trend.

Smarter and more scientifically minded people than I have talked about the peril marriage lately seems to be in. More choices for women have been mentioned. More opportunity for women, too. My mother, 88 now, married for 27 years to my dad until he died and then, after a decent interval, married 23 years to my step-father until his death, said once when asked if she ever considered divorce: "Murder yes, divorce never."

My mother's people, the Depression babies, were by and large a tougher, more responsible breed, I guess.

There is no denying the fact that my generation, the Baby Boomers, hasn't been good at marriage as a group.

I guess that should be no surprise since we are the folks who sang, "If it feels good, do it," and "Love the one you're with" - not exactly anthems of stability or responsibility.

And yet the dream of a lifelong union with one other person, however unlikely for many of us marital losers, is a dream that dies hard.

I have a very pretty woman friend in her early 40s who has tried and failed at marriage three or four times, and yet she is still looking. Her catalogue of dating misfortunes, told with the wry humor she has gained through hard experience, alternates between making me laugh and making me cry.

Yet I understand. After taking a year or so off from dating, I am at it again. However unrealistic expecting lasting happiness with, by or from one other person is, it is a dream, like the Seahawks winning a Super Bowl as long as Mike Holmgren coaches, that will not die.

THE RESTAURANT business is one of the hardest businesses going. I learned this by living with a woman who owned the then-only destination restaurant in an Idaho ski town in the early '90s. Whatever problems can crop up in any business seem to be multiplied in the restaurant world.

Servers not coming in, or coming in tipsy or angry. Chefs, some very temperamental folk, having meltdowns just as the dinner orders start coming in. Purveyors who deliver late or deliver wrong. Customers who expect the world for $20. Too many competitors within a small area. Bad weather.

It all can and does happen.

Want proof? Banjara Cuisine of India, Pete's Pizza, Q and the recently opened (six months ago) Gorditos are all gone from the top of Queen Anne Hill.

If you like a place, go there and eat on a regular basis. Pete's for me will be especially missed, and yet I didn't get up there at all last year. I'm feeling a little guilty.

Don't be like me.
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