Stephen has been collecting a few dialogues between us, which he calls “Katie koans.” I don’t know anything about the Zen tradition—or about any other spiritual tradition, for that matter—but he says that these delight him like the dialogues of the ancient Chinese Zen masters. He loves being the “straight man.”
Once, shortly after he met me, Stephen was returning to our restaurant table from the men’s room.
Katie: Did you have a wonderful time?
Stephen: (Silence, dumbfounded, dazzled.)
Out walking on a spring day in Aspen, Colorado.
Katie: Don’t you love what the wind says as it moves among the branches?
Stephen: What does it say?
Katie: Nothing. That’s what I love about it.
Introducing him to a friend:
Katie: This is my husband, Stephen. He still thinks he’s Jewish.
(Stephen breaks into a smile.)
After we both got pneumonia vaccine shots, I read to Stephen a flyer that warned, “As with any medicine, there is a very small risk that serious problems, even death, could occur after getting a vaccine.”
Stephen (smiling): I hope you don’t die.
Katie: You don’t ever wish me well, do you?
Stephen: I’m so selfish.