29: Incompatible

29: Incompatible

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!


Music is what life sounds like.

~Eric Olson

It’s 3 a.m. and I’m lying in bed beside him thinking how totally incompatible we are. We went to a brilliant play this afternoon — Brief Encounter — with some of the most creative staging I’ve ever seen, and he thought it was “boring.” And we came home and watched a gripping Brothers and Sisters episode on television, and at every commercial he switched to the Knicks game. How could he not be able to sit through one of my TV shows once a week without interrupting it with bits and pieces of a basketball game? What ever made me think we were suited to each other?

A song begins to run through my mind… “Incompatible… that’s what you are; Incompatible… though near or far…” What was that song and who sang it? It suits us to a “T.”

“Are you awake?” he asks.

“Yes, and I’m trying to think of a song that goes tum de dum de dum, that’s what you are…”

“What time is it?” he asks groggily.

“Three a.m. and what is the song that goes tum de dum de dum… that’s what you are? It was sung by a famous black singer… I can’t think of his name.”

“Are you trying to think of his name or the song?” he says, beginning to come awake.

“Both. Tum de dum de dum. His daughter sang it with him after he was dead.”

“Um, yes. I’ve got it. Cole Porter.”

“Cole Porter was not a black singer and his daughter didn’t sing with him when he was dead.”

“How could she sing with him if he was dead?”

“Never mind that. She just did. All right. I’ll tell you the words and they apply to you. Incompatible… that’s what you are…”

“You’re lying there in the middle of the night and singing a Cole Porter song that says I’m incompatible?”

“It’s not a Cole Porter song… it’s this famous black singer….”

“Should we get up and look it up on the Internet?”

“At three o’clock in the morning you want to get on the Internet? Yes, I think we should.”

We get out of bed and feel our way into our office, each going to our own computers.

“How do you look up tum de dum de dum?” he asks.

“No, look up famous black singer.”

“I think his name is Cole something.”

“He’s not named Cole. Whose daughter sang with him after he was dead? Look up that! And then look up the name of the song… “Incompatible… that’s what you are!” I sing it again for him. “I will go crazy if I don’t think of the name of the song and the singer.”

“Are you sure it’s not “Uncompatible… that’s what you are?”

“It’s IN…” I scream. “In-compatible!”

“Is it Nat King Cole?”

“Yes, that’s it. That’s it! That’s it!”

“And his daughter Natalie?”

“Oh, yes, yes. Thank God, that’s it!”

“And was the song ‘Unforgettable… That’s what you are?’”

“You’ve got it! You’ve got it. You’re wonderful. Amazing!”

“And not ‘Un-compatible?’” He leaned across to my computer and kissed me.

“In-compatible. No, you’re incredible.”

He sings, “It’s three o’clock in the morning. Can we go to bed now?”

I follow him back to the bedroom and I curl around him, spoon style.

“Am I still incompatible?” he whispers.

I think for a minute. Who else would get up at three o’clock in the morning and look up a black singer whose daughter sang with him after he was dead?

“No, you’re unforgettable! Go to sleep.”


~Phyllis W. Zeno

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