Odd Couples

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Peter was so offended by loose political talk—every “issue” to him was a severe social crisis; Alan, however, sighed whenever “All Things Considered” came on—and tried to turn the station when Peter wasn’t looking. (The problem was, he was always looking.)

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Joanne offered an expression of consolation to all her friends’ daily anecdotes, whether tales of office frustration or routine inconvenience; Paul, at parties, noshed snacks straight-faced and really only replied to jokes, and then with a punning zinger of his own. It made Paul seem unsocial to some, but a select few of their friends recognized it as a benevolent effort—Paul never worsened the situation when a gripe overtook conversation, and his remarks did, in the end, lighten the mood.

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You really were in an unenviable position as a passenger in Herb’s Toyota Corolla—wedged between the file folders, gym bag, and candy bar wrappers; being picked up in Laura’s CL350, however, you would have thought she’d driven straight from the showroom floor—and she always grabbed a chilled Evian for whatever friend or colleague she was to chauffeur to their hotel.

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Mark was always the guy at the restaurant asking if the fryer used vegetable oil or canola, whether the tortillas were gluten-free, if he could have the dressing on the side; Rosalyn, though, had been known to spoon away little pimples of mold from a jar of tomato sauce, using it, with a shrug, anyway.

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Bob’s idea of a dream holiday was romping over a wood terrain in a Yamaha 4-wheeler, a downed 12-point buck strapped to the rack, a quiver of arrows on his back, swigging from a bottle of Old Bay spiced rum; Wendy, unlike her husband, was saving for the 5-night package stay at Serene Hollow luxury resort, where she’d bathe in the Napa Valley’s finest sparkling wine.