Mary and Matt C., a friend of ours at the Writer's Institute at the University of Wisconsin. She's just told me to lie down by my dish.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
GO TOWARD THE LIGHT...
A GOOD TROPHY WIFE IS HARD TO
FIND KEEP TALK TO
Many people have met me and then met my wife Mary and the reaction is always the same.
I understand. They wonder what an ugly guy like me sees in a beautiful woman like her. We’re kind of the “Lyle Lovett-Julia Roberts” of our set. I’ve tried to figure it out myself and the best I can come up with is… a case of extreme nearsightedness on her part.
It’s like how we met. We were both sitting there, minding our beeswax, in the reception area of the Witness Protection Program office, sitting on their plush faux-Corinthian leather couch. Waiting to be called in to get our new identities and we struck up a conversation. Just idle chit-chat, like where are you from, what’s your major, what was your crime, what’s your sign.
I never did find out exactly what Mary had done to earn entrance into this prestigious program, but I know it had something to do with large numbers of sheep and Black & Decker power tools. Once I knew that much, I decided not to press her for details. She might have told me.
All I know is she never wears wool.
The only other clue I have to her past existence is that whenever we go to church, she has to find a seat with her back to a wall. I do the same thing in bars, so it gives me a pretty good idea what kind of environment she came from.
I think what attracted her to me was my sense of humor.
Like the time we moved into a new neighborhood and I told all the neighborhood kids that Mary had been in a horrible, disfiguring accident and as a result she had a steel plate in her head, a wooden leg, and a glass eye. “No!” they said, about the glass eye, and then I bet them that if they could guess which eye was the fake one, I’d give them a dollar. “She’s been bugging me for a new one,” I told them, “but those suckers cost about eight grand. I don’t think anyone can tell it’s glass.”
“We can’t drive near junkyards,” I also informed them. “Because of that darned steel plate in her head. Those big magnets they have will just suck her out of the car window. Fwoop! and she’s gone.”
After I challenged them to figure out which was her glass eye, all of them came back and told me it was the left eye and I kept my word and paid them each a buck. A few minutes later, I heard a loud shriek and saw Mary crumple to the ground on the far side of the yard. Turns out one of the little rascals believed me about her wooden leg and decided to check it out for himself and had launched his field goal kicking technique on it. “Wrong one,” I told him, and: “If you like those pricey chicklets in your mouth you better run for home. She gets up, you’ll be sucking your steak out of a straw.” The wannabe-football player ran away on sturdy eight-year-old legs, yelling for his mama. After Mary calmed down and rubbed the cleat marks on her non-wooden leg, she saw the humor in it, and she was even laughing out loud when she told me I’d be allowed to spend the night on the couch and not have to go to a motel. “Don’t even try to sneak upstairs,” she said. “I’ve put my gun under my pillow with a full clip and one in the chamber.” She’s a riot!
Or, the time we went to the mall with our boy Mike and Mike and I played our dressing room game. It’s where one of us goes into a dressing room in a clothing store and the other one waits outside until some shoppers wander by, and gives the signal, usually a series of coughs. The one in the dressing room then yells out, “There’s no damn toilet paper in here!” Mike and I love doing this as often as we can. The first time we did that when Mary was along, she didn’t grasp the humor of it, but later, when we were retelling it to friends, I saw her smile.
We have some zany times at our house! Like one time, when Mike was six and he was laying in our bed with Mary, just bonding with his mom. He was watching an X-rated movie on TV and she was reading. I walked in and just stood there at the foot of the bed, and when they both looked up, I said in complete somberness, “Mike, there’s something I have to tell you. Your mom and I have talked about this for years and can never figure out how to break this to you, but you just keep getting older and time slips away more and more, and I’m just going to tell you.”
I paused and swallowed hard.
“Mike,” I said. “You were adopted.”
Well, his jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out. I waited a few seconds and then said, “But they brought you back.”
Humor is all over our house! In every corner!
When Mary and I first started dating, I didn’t have a car. It blew up in the incident that got me into the Witness Protection Program and due to what I was told was a budget crunch, they didn’t spring for a new one. So, Mary drove.
When she picked me up, I asked her to just cruise a few feet in front of me so I could chase the car for a block or so. It was part of the exercise regimen I was on to lose a few pounds.
Well, with her fine-tuned sense of humor, she turned that on me. Whenever we’re out and I say something she takes exception to, she just turns to me and says, “Lie down by your dish.”
“That’s not mean,” she explains to the others. “When we first started dating, Les would chase the car. And then, he always wanted to hang his head out the window and feel the wind on his face. He understands about the dish thing.”
This next one is a true story. Not that the above stories aren’t true; this is just truer. When we were dating, I kept thinking she’s the one, but I wasn’t quite sure. So I decided to give her the “test.” It was mid-December and I took her to a movie in the Northcrest Shopping Center. It was a popular movie and there was a long line which we slipped into. About half way to the ticket booth, I performed the test to see if she was worthy. What’d I do?
I cut a fart. A very loud one. Immediately after it cleared my buns, I turned to her and said, “I’ll take the blame for that.”
She didn’t say a word. Just turned and walked toward the door.
She passed! She handled it! I knew then she was the girl for me.
We’ve had a great run. Lately, though, she’s been doing something I don’t quite understand. Lately, at night, just before I drop off to sleep, she gives me a gentle kiss on my forehead and just as my peepers are starting to close, she whispers in a barely audible voice:
“Go toward the light.”
What the heck does that mean?