"You never listen to me," she says.

"You never listen to me," he says.

"I listen to you," she says.

"I listen to you," he says.

I'm listening to both of them and feel a withering optimism I will survive this subway ride. The thirtysomething couple, GAP stylish, sit across from me on the subway. It's 9:30 p.m. But it feels like 9:35.

"You listen but you don't listen," she says.

"I'm listening."

"But you're not listening."

"I'm listening," he says.

"Okay, what did I just say?" she says.

"That I'm not listening," he says.

"No! That you're not listening," she says.

"I meant listening."

"This isn't gonna work," she says and turns away. He slumps forward, elbows on knees.

"So it's over." he says.

"It's not gonna work," she says.

"So it's over," he says.

"You're not listening, I said it's not gonna work," she says.

"So it's not over," he says.

"Can I be any more clear? It's not gonna work," she says.

"But it's not over," he says.

She looks at him. He looks at her. She looks at him. He looks at her.

This couple has obviously reached the stage in relationship commonly known as Absolute Stalemate. Game Theorists have run millions of simulations on relationships in Absolute Stalemate. Like Mutual Assured Destruction, in the end, nobody wins.

My subway stop is coming up. I should leave. Step away. Not get involved. But this week is the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In October 1962, the world was on the brink. Fifty years later, this couple is on the brink. If we don't learn from history...

I cross the aisle and sit near them. They follow me with their eyes like I'm a flying spore.

"My subway stop is coming up so I really don't have a lot of time. Both of you are in Absolute Stalemate. I understand this." I look at the guy. "You seem to think the relationship is over...Soviet missiles in Cuba." I look at the woman. "You say the relationship isn't going to work...American missiles in Turkey. The solution is simple. You remove your missiles from Cuba. In return, you remove your missiles from Turkey. What do you think?"

They stare at me for a long time, exchange a look, return focus to me. "I don't like Cuba," the guy says. "We were at Varadero Beach last winter and the food was terrible." The woman agrees. "I agree," she says. The guy continues. "Why can't my missiles be in, like, Aruba? My friend Jason says the beaches are awesome."

"Because it wasn't the Aruba Missile Crisis," I say. I look over at the woman whose brow is furrowed. "So? Can you take your missiles out of Turkey?" I look over at the guy. "And can you take your missiles out of Cuba?"

They exchange a look. "Who are you?" she says.

"I ask myself that every morning," I say.

The subway stops. I get off. They continue staring at me as the subway continues into the tunnel.

I wonder if the broccoli in my fridge is still good.