Sophie and Andrew had discovered a great method for solving arguments. If ever they sensed a disagreement coming on, they would put down whatever they were doing and head to the kitchen where they could channel their vexation through bags of flour, instant coffee, overcooked spaghetti, or eggs. It was great for their relationship.
But Sophie and Andrew always took things too far. Their first public food fight was at a close friend's house party. It was the sort of party that was likely to go on until 9am, and there had already been wine spillages. So a few scoops of hummus and taramasalata thrown across the kitchen at 3am hadn't been all that shocking. They tidied up their mess afterwards and everyone, including the host, agreed that it had been quite entertaining.
The second public fight took place in a restaurant. They were asked to leave and had to pay damages for dry-cleaning.
They should have established a rule then, that food fights were to remain within the confines of their home. But while they both thought this, neither of them said it.
It might be surprising to learn that Sophie and Andrew both had that quality—or affliction—known as eagerness to please. Also, they loved each other. Though they bickered and sometimes doused each other in sticky, savoury sauces that might take hours to wash out, their respect for one another was absolute.
Perhaps both felt the other was more invested in food fights than they themselves were, and to reject the concept or to even to hint that they no longer enjoyed them as much, would be to offend or shame the other.
So, they found themselves in a strange situation where pelting one another with sausages at a gallery's private view was expected, but for either of them to say "maybe this is getting silly now, how about we stop" would have been completely taboo.
It reached the point where they were no longer invited to people's homes, and every time they went to a restaurant, they ended up in a police cell.
One night they were put in opposite cells. When they asked for some dinner they were given plain rolls without butter, and whole raw carrots. They stood at their cell doors, holding their meagre ammunition and looking at one another. They could have thrown their carrots through the vertical bars of the doors, but it all seemed a bit pathetic. Ravioli might have been worthwhile, but carrots and plain rolls just felt pointless.
As they stood and looked at one another, they understood that the food fight chapter of their relationship was over.
After they were let out they, they spent a month making grovelling apologies to all their friends whose dinner parties they had ruined. They paid for any damages and bought presents. Most of their friends forgave them. Some admitted they had found it amusing, while others said it had been childish and irritating, not to mention a selfish waste of police time.
They couldn't help agreeing with their critical friends and cringed at the memory of the people they had been.
Next month, in need of a new, cleaner method, they took up chess.