"How do you pronounce that?" The question was thrown at me by a guy cute enough to make me feel dirty for thinking he was cute, considering I've probably got ten years on him. He was pointing to one of those caramel-filled Cadbury eggs, and his model-gorgeous girlfriend was giggling. It was obvious, as they both turned to see what I was going to say (and how I was going to say it) that this was a serious point of contention.
"Car-mel." I blurted out.
The guy turned to his girlfriend. "See?" He said triumphantly. "I was right. It's car-mel."
This is when the cashier stepped in to even out the numbers. "It's spelled "car-a-mel" and that's how I've always pronounced it." She enunciated every syllable and the girlfriend jutted her chin out at her boyfriend. Score one for proper pronunciation.
The couple had already completed their transaction, but with no one else in line and the promise of more fuel for the We're So Cute Together We Need to Make Up Reasons to Fight conversation, they lingered. Amused beyond words, I jumped back in.
"Yes, I said as the cashier rang me up, "but think of words like 'Phoenix.' Is that pronounced 'Pu-ho-en-ix' or 'Fee-nix?"" I smiled conspiratorially at the boyfriend, who in turn added another point to the tally he was most likely keeping in his head for future antagonization (I just made it up, so shut up, spell check) of his girlfriend, who's only crime was that she was happy to put up with his I Am Always Right Or At Least Think I Am attitude.
"Ha! Pu-ho-en-ix? That's awesome. I totally win. Right there. Right?" It was the boyfriend who was talking, but my eyes were on the light dancing in the girlfriend's eyes. She was having just as much as fun as he was, even if she wasn't as vocal about it.
I could imagine the debate, fueled with plenty of playful jabs and stolen kisses and surprised strangers brought into the conversation to see who would win the next round. And as I fell asleep that night, wishing The Husband was curled up next to me instead of working the midnight shift, I imagined her wedding dress...and the smile on his face the moment he saw her walking down the aisle.