This One?

There is nothing like the beach for one’s health, so that is exactly where I asked Dearly Beloved to take that annoying dog of ours so that I could stay here and sleep through the night and get rid of my creeping crud.

The final straw in her nighttime annoyances routine happened when I had to take her outside at 3 AM and I heard voices from across the street.  Earlier in the week it had been five ladies jogging, but this time, three teenaged boys in hoodies were walking down the block, laughing and talking.  While I thought of calling the police, I did not.  They weren’t being furtive or casing the neighborhood as far as I could tell.  I don’t know whether we have a curfew or not, so the only obvious charge I could think of was “poor parenting.”

The next morning I asked Dearly Beloved to think about getting Miss Piggy out of the house for a few days.  Nudged into selflessness by the sunny, low 70’s weather reports on the coast, he agreed that a trip to the beach–theirs–might be good for me.

Thoughtful husband that he is, DB assembled the supplies he thought I might need before he returned:  he brought down the Christmas decoration boxes from the attic and set up the ironing board for me.

DB and Miss Piggy hit the road, I slid the boxes under the ironing board, then plopped on the sofa, and everybody was happy.

A couple of days after they left, I roused myself, thinking to at least set up my mother’s old ceramic tree with the lightbulb inside.  I picked through the boxes, looking for the “FRAGILE” marked box.  When I couldn’t find it, I called DB.

He said he’d probably left it in the attic–he could picture it in his mind now, straight ahead if I went up the steps.  Normally, I don’t “do” attic stuff, so I said I’d wait until he got back.  However, even I got a whiff of wussiness from myself, so as a matter of pride,  I pulled down the old disappearing stairs to find the darned box.

Those suckers are into their seventh decade and “glide” isn’t a word that came to mind during my efforts.  In previous houses, it was a one-motion thing… pull down the door, unfold the steps, and start climbing.  THIS contraption has a latch at the base of the stairs which has to be undone in order to release the actual stepladder.  There is no folding.

I wasn’t expecting that, so I was pulling on a wooden stairway that refused to move.  In the meantime the entire heavy door contraption is sort of, well… dangling.  Finally I noticed the latch and with some effort, popped it to unleash the stepladder.

By that time, the door had been at so many angles, I didn’t know which one was the correct one.  It didn’t seem to have a set point.  I tried the steps at several different points on the floor before they felt sturdy enough to climb.

I was about 2/3 of the way up when I heard a loud pop and something metal made a spinning noise.  I’m not sure exactly why I climbed UP the Hindenburg instead of going back down. I quickly plopped on the attic floor with my feet hanging into the hole to assess the situation.  It was possible I could be there awhile. Days, even.

I looked around and saw the ceramic tree box right where DB had said it would be and crawled over to pull it toward me.  I noticed a box of old framed photographs and pulled it back to the opening with me also. I lost myself in old family pictures, delaying my er… departure.

The phone rang.  I decided not to chance a quick descent to get it.  In fact, I was none too sure about a slow descent either.

I saw a small metal pulley jiggling on the left side, the source of the POP,  and could see a broken rope hanging down. That didn’t look like something that would make the whole thing fall, so I decided to make a run for it.  At first I wanted to take both boxes, but the mental picture of myself going down with boxes in each hand wasn’t working for me, so I abandoned the idea and carefully climbed down with only the tree in hand.

I set down the box, shoved the steps back into place, then pushed the doorway toward the ceiling.  It rose like an elevator, then stopped… about 18 inches shy of the ceiling.

I wiggled the door slightly, then pushed again.  Nothing.

This is embarrassing, but my solution was to e-mail my knitting/reading group for advice, as none are short of opinions.  The best one this time was, “Call a neighbor.”   However, among the immediate neighbors, it’s usually DB that gets called.

I did, too.  I took photos of the dangling rope, the jiggling pulley, and the gaping attic door and e-mailed them to DB.

He knows me.  He really, really knows me.  He called and told me to make certain that the springs on either side of the steps weren’t catching on anything to impede closure, then asked, “Could you have left a box close enough to the opening that the stairs can’t lie flat?”

Gulp.

“UM… maybe.”

I told him I’d go check on that and get back with him later.

“Ohhhh no,” he said.  “Take the phone.  I want to go with you.”  

Of course the box of pictures was directly in the path of the staircase, so I pushed it to the side, descended the steps, and sure enough the door closed smoothly and tightly.  Never again!

Then I remembered the phone– still lying on the attic floor. I had to open the door, remount the steps, and grab the cordless phone.  DB was still on the line, of course.

When I wrote the post recently about DB’s shopping experience–the one where he kept phoning me from the store for instructions–he called from the beach and said drily, “You know… that’s not the story I expected to read.”

Might it have been this one, DB?

Only one pulley pulling...

L, My Name Is Loopy

When our kids were young, we used to play word games at dinner.  I’d unearthed my old box of vocabulary cards from Jr. High and we’d attempt to learn a new word together each day.  (The success of that one came and went, to be honest.)  More likely, we’d get silly and play alphabet games.  I still remember our son struggling to think of a food that began with the letter X.  He came up with Xavier Cugat-prepared salad which sent us all howling.  I can’t imagine that he had any idea who Xavier Cugat was, as DB and I barely knew ourselves.

We’d also toss out alliterative adjectives to go with our first or last names.  I remember coming up with Marvelous Mary. That one didn’t catch on.

Occasionally, I still dust off some of those silly names, batt my eyes, and use them with Dearly Beloved.  I did so last week when I forwarded to him an article I’d found online.

I wish I hadn’t.

Since I am the Neighborhood Watch coordinator for our area, my computer is loaded with several hundred e-mail addresses of people I don’t actually know–police, college officials, city council people, as well as friends and neighbors, not to mention that string of names which stick when someone sends me a group e-mail without using the BCC feature.  I try to be extra observant when sending e-mails because sometimes my computer auto-fill sneaks in names that definitely aren’t the intended recipients.

I fear that’s what happened to the article meant for Dearly Beloved.  He’s checked his Inbox several days now and it simply isn’t there.

Even though I don’t recall what it was that I sent nor have any idea who might have received it, I do have a searing recollection of the name I filled in as Sender:

Perchance, did any of you receive a mysterious forwarded article from someone named LUSCIOUS…?  

So Soon?

Last week one of our daughters sent out a family e-mail asking did everyone want to get together for a family vacation… rent a large house together at some fun destination.

The last time we did that was in 1997.

We’d found a large rental house in the mountains… plenty of bedrooms and “breathtaking views,” according to the rental brochure. The guys planned to hike on the Appalachian Trail, play golf, and watch sports, while the girls and I looked forward to browsing the town shops and relaxing in the cool mountain air.

With daughter Pogo (then a college student), Dearly Beloved and I arrived a day ahead of the rest of the family. That evening, after we’d unpacked and made the beds, we were tired but not ready for sleep. Pogo joined us in our king-sized bed to watch a TV show, thirty toes lined up across the foot of the bed.

The show was interrupted with news of Princess Diana’s auto accident in Paris.  Transfixed, Pogo and I watched throughout the night, long after Dearly Beloved had drifted into sleep.

The next morning Pogo and I planted ourselves in front of the downstairs TV, absorbed in the story.  The rest of the family arrived that afternoon and daughter Boo, tissues in hand, claimed a spot on the sofa with Pogo and me, watching with us.

The guys were really ready for the all-day hike they had planned.  Watching three women snivel and snort was not what they had signed on for.  DB had selected a 13-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They would hike all day and we’d pick them up eight hours later at a pre-appointed time and place.  We held a dry run to make sure there was no confusion about the pickup spot:  left side of parkway,  overlook, big rock, Appalachian Trail marker.

Yeah, yeah, we’ve got it.    

The next day, we drove the hikers, their belts clinking with water and energy bars, to their starting point, headed to town for our own adventure.  Boo had just announced she was pregnant (our first grandchild) and we couldn’t wait to look at baby items.

That afternoon, we drove back to retrieve the hikers as scheduled.

Big rock, trail entrance sign, left wide of the Parkway, check. We parked and waited.  And waited.  Pogo even walked a ways up the trail, listening for them.  It began to rain.  We sat in the car and discussed possible scenarios.  Lost… sprains… broken bones… bears… slides….

Finally, we drove back to a Ranger station we’d passed, described our hikers, and left a phone number should someone report… um…  remains.  In case they were able to crawl out into civilization,  we drove Son’s battered old car out to The Spot and left it, unlocked, key under the mat– one of the upsides of having a car not worth stealing.

When we could think of nothing else to do, we returned to the house to await the grim news from the trail while we watched the grim news from Europe.

We heard the old car about two hours later.  The hikers emerged– wet, grim-faced, and exhausted.  Perhaps it was our demand of “Why isn’t one of you limping?” that set their jaws permanently and set their temple veins to pulsing for the rest of the week.

I will not divulge the “discussion” which ensued.  Too soon.  But WHO KNEW there could be another big rock, trail marker, parking on left side of Parkway very similar and only two miles before the … um… CORRECT spot?

We’d sat for two hours at the wrong spot while they’d waited on the side of the road for two hours.  They began to walk back to the town, a distance considerably longer than the original hike.

They came upon the car two miles into their trek, another upside of having the most beat-up car around.  Had we parked it two miles past the meeting place, however, there might have bodies after all.  Ours.

The rest of the week we tiptoed around one another.  The “completely equipped” kitchen turned out to have two pots–a small saucepan–no lid– and  a pasta pot of a size suitable for bathing a Golden Retriever.  The coffee maker didn’t have all of his parts.  There weren’t enough drinking glasses.  It rained some more.

The “breathtaking view” from the deck was blocked by a stand of scraggly sweetgum saplings, but it didn’t matter.   Fog hid even the saplings.

The sad reports from Britain continued the rest of the week.   The girls and I watched on the upstairs television, having decided it best to surrender the downstairs TV.

No one lamented not being able to stay for a second week.

Did the news of the Royal Wedding trigger some niggling memory in daughter’s brain without a full recall of why?  Will she rescind her suggestion if a picture of Diana flashes in her mind?

Our daughter-in-law, new enough to the fold that she may not have heard of That Vacation, volunteered to look into destinations.  I offered that we could all rent RV’s and meet someplace, circling the wagons so no one could escape.

DB and I think it would be grand.  With five grandsons now in the mix, we’d love any chance to see them together.

One of the sons-in-law mentioned Team Skydiving and in response,  I volunteered to head Team Diarrhea… on the ground.

Daughter mentioned the beach as one possibility, bantering that her husband “looks fantastic in a Speedo” and that she herself is “a blast to be around.”

Silence from the rest of the family on the idea.

Perhaps they’re thinking. . . so soon?

When Stomping Means I Love You

When my mother’s cousin wrote recently, lamenting the fact that many of the houses on my long-dead grandmother’s street had been torn down,  I wasn’t upset.  The city probably took action to prevent the spread of crazy cooties.   The street seemed a haven for the oddball, the eccentric, and the bat-sh*t crazy.   They swept their sidewalks, held down jobs, and fed their children.  Beyond that, raising kids meant sending them outside to play.  And we could stay out long after dark.  No wonder I liked staying there.

Valentine’s Eve was a big deal.  The tradition was to deliver valentines after dark, depositing the little cards on porches, stomping on said porch, then running away before anyone could get to the door.  Sure, there were doorbells, but jumping up and down was more fun.  We had Valentine boxes at school, but ‘hood deliveries had intrigue.

I’d hear the stamping feet and turn on the porch light, scamper out, and pick up the white envelopes.  I’d made my deliveries early, so as not to miss any of my own.

One of the stomps was always by the much older Barker twins, who lived in the next block.  Valentine’s Eve was their one foray into pretend sociability.  The twins were from one of the “not right” families.  They never played with the other kids and it was rumored that their daddy beat their momma with his wooden leg.

Their card was easy to spot–it was never in an envelope–and the string they’d tied to it was visible.  I knew they planned to yank it out of reach as soon as I went for it.  I could have simply ignored it and gone back inside, leaving them squatting in disappointment in the hydrangeas, but I didn’t.  I’d reach for that valentine and they’d jerk the string and laugh in the darkness as they ran up the street to the next sucker.  I’d go back inside, wishing I’d tried to step on it instead.

Other than on Numnut Avenue,  I never knew any other children who followed that custom.   Was it a holdover from Victorian times or a sneaky custom followed by Romanian gypsies?  On that street, it could have been either.

NPR had a segment yesterday about “The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day” and it made me think of the Barker twins.   More aptly, their daddy, since one of the traditions involved beating women with animal skins.

Much more fun to think about today is the six-word love story challenge offered by the NYTimes and Smith Magazine.  Darn it, “Love’s like chocolates.   Picked, processed, pooped.” has already been submitted.  Got one of your own?  Spill it, clever ones!  Here’s a link to the story in case you’d like to send it in to the Times, but do share it here, too!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/whats-your-six-word-love-story/

High Notes

Good grief.  Dearly Beloved just returned from walking the dog with music blaring from his pocket again.  Of all the tricks he has learned to do with his birthday iPhone, I find this the most annoying.

“Did you really walk around the neighborhood like that?”

“Yes.  I didn’t want to wear earbuds.  I wanted to be free.”

That’s the same reason that Grandson #2 gives for not wearing underwear.   Still, echoing sassy grandson’s words saves DB from being moved along my C-scale.  Currently, I have him lingering between Cute and Curmudgeon.  It’s a precarious position, for he’s been complaining about his sore back for a couple of weeks now and it’s getting r-e-a-l old!

C – SCALE

Cute – Curmudgeon – Cantankerous – Codger

However, today is Oldest Grandson’s birthday, so it is of him I sing.  DB and I are now officially Grandparents of a Teenager.   Here he is on Halloween, coiffed as Justin Bieber.  That’s younger brother, Mario, beside him.  

If you, like me, are among the decidedly uncool, I am including a photo of the teenybopper heartthrob. There are actually biographies of this kid on store bookshelves!

Back to the birthday boy, who has gone from being an under five-pound preemie to Really Neat 13-Year-Old in what seems like a couple of years.   Each time they get together, he and his granddad “work on something”–a baseball move,  a football spiral, a basketball shot.  DB has always been a very good athlete and has insights he loves to share with the grandsons.

Last spring, they were playing baseball with a group at a nearby park and Grandson hit the ball hard.  Granddad, playing shortstop, didn’t reach it before it dropped in front of him.

On the way home, Grandson pulled his bicycle alongside his grandfather at a corner and, as if he’d been thinking about it for some time,  said quietly, Granddad, you would have caught that ball if  it hadn’t had so much backspin on it.”

His grandfather grinned and said, “Nice try… but you would have caught that ball.”

Grandson looked thoughtful for a few seconds.  “I guess.”

DB told me the story later, telling me that both of them realized the significance of the moment. . . one slowing down, the other growing stronger and taller each day.

Yes, Granddad is slowing down and Grandson is growing up.  Did I mention that Oldest Grandson is a really nice kid?

I want everyone to smile on his birthday, so here’s a story I heard on NPR, in case you’re grumpy today.  A couple of weeks ago at a Norfolk Admirals minor league hockey game, 8-year-old Elizabeth Hughes stepped out to sing the National Anthem after winning in tryouts.  Her sweet soprano voice was gaining confidence with every note until the microphone suddenly went dead in the middle of the song.

She faltered, unsure of what to do.  She knew that no one could hear her.  There was one snicker of laughter from the crowd, then something pretty special happened.  Watch.

Michele Norris interviewed Elizabeth on All Things Considered and when the little girl expressed disappointment that she didn’t get to hit her high note at the end, Michele gave her the opportunity to do exactly that.  If you want to hear her grand finale,  NPR still has the story on their website.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/01/13/132906064/this-time-you-can-hear-her-finish-the-national-anthem

Happy Birthday, Oldest Grandson.

Locked In Out There

Cable channels may flunk “unbiased news,” but in my book, they do surprisingly well with their drama series.  I like the way they infuse them with a bit of comedy and don’t try to gross me out with crime scenes.  One of them, Memphis Beat, takes me back to our years in that city: Beale Street, Mud Island Park, the Mississippi River with Arkansas on the other side,  the Peabody Hotel, the funky restaurants.

When we moved there, people assumed we would want to live the suburbs.  They have Macaroni Grill, but not Rendezvous Ribs.  No comparison.  We decided we wanted to be part of the progress of a re-energizing city and the diversity therein, so  we bought a house in Midtown, where purple hippy houses and stately old mansions intermingled and the people were as eclectic as the housing.

The late Howard Lee was a puppy then and he and I took long walks through the neighborhood.  Sometimes I wrote articles for the paper about our excursions. Recently I found one of those old clippings– about life on the balconies of those homes (by then many had been converted to apartments)  because they reminded me of the way folks used their front porches in the small Southern town of my childhood.   Here are some excerpts:

Yesterday I was serenaded on my walk by a young man accompanying himself on his guitar.  He sang lustily to the treetops, over the jackhammer noises of the utility repair crew on a nearby street.   It seemed so normal I barely glanced up at him.

Further along on my walk, I was called to look up, however, although it took a minute or so for the voice to separate itself from the book on tape I was listening to on my Walkman.

“Ma’am?  MA’AM?  Up h-e-e-e-r-e!”

Finally I saw her, waving frantically from an upstairs porch a half block ahead.  Howard and I walked to a spot underneath her balcony and looked up at her.

“THANK GOODNESS you saw me!  I’ve been trying to attract someone’s attention for an hour!  I’m locked in up here!”

She was dressed quite neatly and looked sane, if a bit frazzled.  To attract the attention of a woman in baggy sweats, walking a 100-lb. gum chewing dog (he’d picked it up in the grass somewhere) she had to be desperate.   I was a bit leery.

“The iron security door is locked downstairs and I don’t have the key.  I wonder if you’d go to the main door and get my landlord.  I’ve got to catch a plane in 30 minutes!”

No one answered the bell or my shouts and knocks, so I returned to the sidewalk to break the news to Rapunzel.

“I’ve GOT to catch that plane!  I’ve been looking to see if I thought I could jump.  Do you think it would ruin my luggage if I threw it down?”

It was a very high porch with no soft landing spots–just shrubbery and concrete.   And she was worried about her luggage?

She paced from one side of the porch to the other.  Howard continued to watch her and chew his gum thoughtfully.  My neck was getting tired from looking up.  I glanced up and down the street.

At the intersection where the jackhammer was still tunneling to Beijing, several utility trucks flanked the temporary tent covering over the hole.  I found a Bell South worker in back of one of the trucks and pointed out the damsel as I explained her situation.  He did not look the least bit surprised by my story, at my dog still making smacking noises with his gum, or at the woman waving from the balcony in the next block.  It was,  after all,  Memphis.

Strangely, he never said a word to me, just nodded as to accept the baton I passed to him, so I waved to the woman and continued on my walk.  I looked back once to see him carrying an extension ladder up her sidewalk.

Returning to my own house, I heard the neighbor’s parrot belting out O Sole Mio from their balcony across the street.  His knowledge of opera, I realized, was far superior to mine.  He stopped his aria and squawked out an inquiry about my health as I climbed the front porch stairs.

Just another voice from an upstairs balcony on a spring day in Memphis.

Did You Hear What I Heard?

Some of the most beloved Christmas tales I read in childhood always made me cry.

The Birds’ Christmas Carol was one of my favorites.  This story by Kate Douglas Smith (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm) of the frail, sweet child named Carol and her Victorian era parents and rambunctious brothers was so lovely that I never read it without crying, even though I considered them tears well-spent.  That didn’t stop me from writing a happier ending in my head though.

When The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen was presented as a drama on television in the 50’s,  I sobbed.  I had read the book, but seeing that poor, wretched little girl in the doorway. . . oh, the pain of it!  There are several animated versions online now and even this one from 1954, but I don’t remember it as being the one I saw.

The Gift of the Magi frustrated me.  I understood the beauty of the giving what was dearest, but I couldn’t get past the tragic irony to agree with O. Henry that the two lovers were magi.  She could grow more hair, but he wasn’t going to get his watch back, I thought.

Why the Chimes Rang by Raymond Macdonald Alden, the story of two poor brothers who made the magnificent church chimes ring by their acts of selflessness and generosity was much more satisfying.  It was achingly beautiful and sweet, I thought.

Do children read these tug-at-the-heartstrings stories any more?  Rudolph’s red nose pales in comparison!

So if I knew all these beautiful stories, which did we read aloud to our children each Christmas Eve?  (sigh) None of the above.

The Night Before Christmas and the New Testament story of Christ’s birth were mainstays, but beyond that, I blame my husband for the literary void.  He was, after all,  the one who introduced them to the one they always asked to hear… Ogden Nash’s poem about Jabez Dawes,  The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.

If you missed any of these as a child, or want to share them with your children or grandchildren, consider the links my gift to you.

And Merry, Merry Christmas!

Granddog Ivy as The Little Match Girl.

Inconspicuous

Last week, we left the unusually cold weather of North Carolina and headed for Indiana to see daughter Boo and her family.  Snow, winds, and brutally cold weather hit the Midwest about the same time we did.  I have been shivering for days and can say for a fact that cold weather does not freeze your butt off.

It was worth a try.  (sigh)

At the moment we’re in an inn in West Virginia and for the first time in over a week, my computer is  finally allowing me to reconnect to civilization.

When we first began our trip,  I could receive e-mails but not send them.  Then I had no internet at all.  Not that I had time to mess around with the computer.   We spent some delightful days with Boo, our son-in-law, Dude, and two grandsons.   Basketball and more basketball.   Hey–it’s an indoor sport;  I’m not complaining.   I may have bleacher butt, but at least it’s not frostbitten.

When we learned that Oldest Grandson would be playing the Postlude at their 11 AM church service, we wanted to attend.  We were totally unprepared, wardrobe-wise, but Boo assured us that we wouldn’t be conspicuous in our casual clothes because “anything goes,” as far as acceptable attire at their church.

I turned off my cellphone.  Would that Dearly Beloved had done the same with his watch, which beeped at 11:45.   It does that every day–twice a day.  The only reason I’ve ever gotten is “to aggravate you.”   In fact, he has become so accustomed to the beep that he was oblivious to the noise until he noticed people staring at him.

(Kudos to me for not standing up and announcing, “It does the same damn thing at 11:45 PM!”)

So much for “inconspicuous.”

Modestly, I must report that Grandson’s  piano solo was wonderful.   Almost the whole congregation sat still for his performance instead of leaving during that time as is customary.  By coincidence, the nurse (now retired) who tended him as a preemie in the hospital nursery sat in front of us and had tears streaming down her cheeks.   It was right off a Hallmark commercial.

His younger brother–Soccer Boy–had been drafted a few minutes before the service started to do a reading during the lighting of the Advent Candle so we got to see his performance, also.   Since I had run out to Target early (we always forget something)  I hadn’t been at the house when they left for Sunday School.  I was thrilled when he stood up to do the reading (excellently, I might add!) and I saw that he was wearing the sweater I had knitted for his October birthday.

He likes it! He really likes it!

DB leaned over and whispered in my ear that Soccer Boy had come downstairs wearing it without any prodding from anyone.  REALLY?!!   I beamed.   A young man of taste and style!

DB nodded in agreement, then added, “But his mom did make him take off the long basketball shorts he was wearing and put on long pants.”

Just Getting Started

Another anniversary.  We’ve been married so many years that I now have to tell people we married when I was ten.

We’d do it again in a heartbeat.  Sooner.  Maybe in the womb.  Once I heard an author say, “I loved him before I was born.” I knew exactly what she meant.

Here, once again, is another telling of  That Day.  Tissues ready?

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

“Why am I referred to as Dearly Beloved?”

Hotlips in his 30's.

Gee, he must have looked at my blog because this is the only place I ever call him that.  He never reads it.  Since he’s retired and home all the time,  he assumes that he can’t be missing much.

True enough.

Well, because when she said, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here. . . “ you were the only other person there besides me.

He shrugs.  “I knew where it came from;  I just wondered why you picked that.”

He would prefer Handsome or Studmeister, but it’s no big deal.  He settles in to read the paper and I am left thinking that my statement about the day is not exactly true.  We were definitely not alone;  there were throngs of people there that day.

DB has a romantic streak but sometimes it goes very wrong.  Dreadfully wrong.  Like the day we were married.

Neither of us wanted the hassle and stress of a big wedding.  I mean, just how many crazy relatives would we dare to invite?   I still had some he hadn’t met and was hoping to keep it that way as long as possible.  (He was definitely not ready to visit the cousin with the huge “Jesus Died Here” neon sign on a pole in front of her  house. )

We weren’t really eloping; we just decided on a quiet civil ceremony. . . just the two of us.   He would plan everything.

At first he was talking “cruise” which sounded perfect to me.  A wedding on the high seas?  YESSSSSS!!!  I fantasized about it for some time, but then he said he’d nixed that and  was thinking “beach resort.”   (Read “golf resort” because that’s what he was REALLY thinking, although I was clueless back then.)  That cruise had really sounded nice, but okay, this option was fine.

That he had to move his golf clubs around to get my suitcase in the trunk of his car when he arrived at my house that morning should have been a hint.

We stopped for breakfast at a diner  in the middle of nowhere,  our dress-up attire and my corsage looking odd among the bibbed overalls and jeans.  He spilled tomato juice on his pants.

“We aren’t going to be able to get married ON the island,” he clarified.  “The county seat is on the mainland and that’s where the courthouse is.  We have an appointment there at 1.”

The trip took several hours,  but I felt like we were flying.  I kept braking involuntarily on the passenger side, trying to slow the breathtaking speed.   I needed some more time to make sure about this, needed time for second thoughts.  I looked over at the speedometer. . . 50. . . 45.    I looked at his face.

Serious and pale.  Very pale.

We found the courthouse in the tiny county seat without any difficulty.  Old it was… scenic, it was not.  Pickup trucks and cars were parked all over the courthouse grounds and people–mostly men– were milling outside.  What was this–a hunt club?   Everyone there had at least one dog by his side.

Then we saw the sign:  RABIES CLINIC 1 – 4 PM.

Picture it, please. . . the two of us:  I in the new dress I’d accidentally hemmed too short,  he in his spiffy blue blazer and tomato juice-stained pants,  walking through what seemed the entire county citizenry and their critters.   The bib overall industry continued to thrive in this neck of the woods.

The judge, a woman, had apparently decided against separation of church and state and had written her own ceremony,  for she proceeded with vows to delight the most devout Baptist congregation.   What we both remember most about the ceremony was being mesmerized by the ceiling fan directly above us.  It seemed to be lowering ever so slightly with each  s-l-o-w  revolution.   Edgar Allen Poe had surely overseen its installation.

We departed as newlyweds, walking out through the two lines of dogs and owners,  most of whom were enthusiastically supporting the tobacco industry.  Blowing smoke, not throwing rice.

At least it wasn’t a spay/neuter clinic.

I was thin then (really!) but as he carried me over the threshold and up the stairs,  he accidentally hit me in the mouth when he tried to kiss me.   My lip deteriorated from “normal” to “beestung” to “Lucky you’ve still got your teeth” in seconds.  He staggered  from bedroom to bedroom,  still hauling me around, trying to decide…. It seemed that the four bedrooms in the deluxe villa were all furnished with twin beds.  Even the master.

We slept on a single twin bed the entire time.

Dinner in the candlelit restaurant was embarrassing:  we could barely eat our steaks with one hand, but it seemed the polite thing to do, since our matching gold bands gleamed so brightly we feared they would disturb the other patrons.  We kept our left hands in our laps.

The next day,  we walked along the beach and I waded out to sit for a moment on an unusual large rock in the surf.  He stood facing me as the waves lapped around his calves.   Years later  he confided that he’d  looked at me at that moment and seen a complete stranger.

He said, “I was thinking,Who IS this girl?” and asked if I could recall that moment.

Oh yes, I remembered.

I was thinking,  “What have I done?  Who IS this guy?”

Have we figured that out yet?  Maybe.

This I know:  he is, indeed,  my Dearly Beloved.

Five grandsons later, wearing Boo's pink glasses.



In our 30's at an outdoor restaurant in Mexico, he's wearing the same blue blazer.
Christmas Eve, 2009... still dating after all these years.

Overhauling My Wardrobe

Magazines like Real Simple send e-mail teasers to get me to subscribe again.  It isn’t that I didn’t like that one; I did.  That was the problem;  I couldn’t bear to toss them, so they’re still stashed away somewhere.  Better to remain clueless than to resubscribe and supply fodder  for the paper mites, I decided.  Of course, that was back in the days when I believed in paper mites–like, last week.   Never mind; dust mites, alas, are real.

(Further evidence (sigh) that God is not a woman.)

Today’s Real Simple tease was about 18 Fashion Mistakes You Might Be Making because of things your Mom told you.  The first one–pants or skirts?-– was silly.  The clear answer is, “whichever makes my butt look smaller.” The second one discussed whether or not we need to match socks to pants.  Passé, they said, and hinted that socks themselves aren’t currently that hot.  They offered no opinion as to whether or not socks need to match skirts.

(If you think women don’t wear socks with skirts and pumps, then you don’t read knitting magazines or blogs.  Knitters don’t want to knit socks on needles the diameter of toothpicks, then hide them under pants.  My skill level is not up to the SOCKS chapter, so this is not an issue about which I’m passionate.)

Usually,  I don’t read so much as a teaser about fashion, but I’ve been feeling pretty “with it” these days, since a friend informed me that I am a trailblazer in the latest hot trend.

What retro-style decade would that be?

“Overalls,” she told me, backing up her words with this article from the Los Angeles Times.

Whazzat?

The overalls I bought at the Kidney Foundation secondhand store to wear once for a fun event  do still get frequent use.  The bib part of the overalls lulls me into thinking that I can go braless and no one will notice that my boobs are in free fall.

I wore my pair to the supermarket last week, waiting for all the skinny women in tennis outfits and golf skirts to fawn over them.  The ones modeled in the LA paper have holes in them and are worn with 4″ heels and fancy accessories. My subdued look–understated, but no holes in mine, thank you very much, surely dazzled the Botox Babes.  They weren’t able to show expression to confirm their approval, I guess.

Last night I checked the internet for further confirmation of  my fashion forecasting  and sure enough, overalls were right there in a feature on Blue Collar Chic.  The date was 1999.

Looks like just me and a few Hollywood Hotties are the only ones in on this latest trend revival.

Try to catch up, will ya?!