A Sticky Situation & Bazooka Bubble Gum

My wife and I are actually very happy, despite my more-often-times-than-not cynical nature. According to everything we hear, read and watch; we’re “normal.” We’re just like everyone else our age… in our “situation.”

But to say that we’re in a situation implies that something’s wrong, does it not? I mean, that word is not very readily used to describe things in a positive light. When you hear, “we have a situation here,” that usually means someone on a plane somewhere has a bomb strapped to his chest. Crisis negotiators talk people OUT of “situations” every day.  Situations are peculiar. Situations are tough. Situations are usually difficult. Welcome to marriage.

But, alas, my situation is a happy one. I think because there is love involved. If we didn’t have love… that’d be a “sticky situation.”

*****

It took a long time for her to say “I Love You.” For me, it was easy. I’m just that kind of guy. I jump head-first into things before knowing what waits for me at the bottom. Plus, she’s pretty. Really pretty. And, therein lies her reluctance, I think. She’s been pretty all her life. She’s never really HAD to say the words.

Pretty people are a different breed. Charmed? Maybe. More like afflicted, I think. Maybe that’s just something I tell myself to get over being so very “average.” Pretty people are always teachers’ pets—the kids who get called on for all the easy questions… “What’s 2 times 2?”

I was the average guy in the back… “What’s 369 times 7?” The answer, damn you, Mrs. Harper, is 2,583.

“Pretties” are always the first children chosen for school plays. My wife played “Mary” in her 4th grade theatrical presentation of The First Christmas. 268 miles away, I was in the same play. I was a goat.

Bygones.

Pretty people—the poor things—find it difficult to “feel.” They don’t have to. They don’t get the chance. They’re pulled in every-which-direction imaginable. Strangers come up to them in shopping malls, at swimming pools, museums, restaurants and bars. They never get to start a conversation… unless they are playing a game… “Do you know how to make Sex on the Beach?”

She wins.

But average people love ALL pretty people. “Pretties” get to choose. I think the mere fact that I’m only OK-looking, and I’ve always been simply adequate at just about everything I’ve done has made me the blubbering “feeler” I am today.

But it took her a while.

*****

There are certain things at certain times that have a certain appeal to certain people in not-so-certain ways. These “things” are indescribable, but we all have them. For some, it’s the smell of cut grass. That flirtatious glance from a co-worker. The feeling you get when you walk into a Cathedral for the first time. Wildflowers on the side of the interstate. The taste of Bazooka Bubble Gum. Even the sound of a doorbell or a beep from the microwave. Some might call it a sort of déjà vu. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s something that takes you some place else… if only for a split second.

Father’s “thing” was the first day of any college football season. It happened every year—He’d lock himself in the playroom or basement and go “there” all alone. After a while, we’d watch together: Vanderbilt v.s Ole Miss. Tennessee v.s Wyoming. North East Missouri State v.s Po-dunk Community Technical College for the Criminally Insane. It didn’t matter. That was HIS “thing.”

My “thing” is music. Not all music, mind you, but there’s something about a guitar or a piano and a voice, and the feeling I sometimes get when the two compliment one another just right…

I think each of us has something that can somehow speak straight to our hearts—as if that’s the language that our heart understands better than any other. For me, it’s music: Bob Dylan. John Denver (kaput!). Joni Mitchell. David Wilcox. John Hiatt. Eddie Vedder. Allison Krauss. Paul Simon. John Lennon (kaput!). Neil Young. Shawn Colvin. Stevie Wonder. The Indigo Girls. Bono. Eric Clapton. John Lee Hooker (kaput!). Eva Cassidy (kaput!). Ben Harper. Sting. Leadbelly (kaput!). Jimi Hendrix (kaput!). Nanci Griffith. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Ray Charles (kaput!). Willie Nelson. John Gorka. Muddy Waters (kaput!). Stevie Ray Vaughan (kaput!). Hank Williams, Sr. (kaput!).

Even Neil Diamond takes me “there” on occasion.

Bygones.

*****

When I noticed father’s health declining for the first time, John Denver was playing “This Old Guitar” on the AM radio of father’s Jeep. The top was down, and we were both singing at the top of our lungs: “This old guitar taught me to siiiiiiiing a love song…”

I looked over at father—seeking the words to the next verse—and saw his left hand resting, lifeless, in his lap. It took the form of an Orangutan’s mitt… large, crooked and frozen in time: “…taught me how to laugh… and how to cryyyy.” He continued singing, alone.

That song will forever take me “there.” My point is that everyone has that “thing.” However silly or irrelevant or embarrassing it may be. We’ve all been “there.”

Except for my wife. She has no “thing,” and she cannot think of a single instance when she’s been taken “there.” I am not certain of whether or not this is true… Perhaps she’s just forgotten about the taste of Bazooka. I can’t be sure. But I don’t blame this on the fact that she’s pretty.

It does, however, explain a little about why she had a hard time saying “I Love You”.

But she did. And she does. And I love her back—with every ounce of my heart and every breath of my every day.

15. Joy Follows Sorrow.

16. I Am The Greyhound.

 

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