I’m hoping to score with this gal named Lisa. But Lisa makes a mistake . . . she brings Garsy with her.
Lisa and I had met at an InterVarsity gathering the first week at college. I apparently impressed her with my ability to chug a root beer float in less than twenty seconds. We chatted afterwards in that awkward way you chat with someone you’ve never met before but sense right away there may be more brewing than just friendship. So one night I get up the nerve to call her and invite her to the quiet floor for further chatting. She shows up with Garsy in tow. Garsy remembers seeing me at the same gathering, recalls the frothy root beer dripping down my chin and collecting on my shirt collar, and says it was cute.
Whatever it takes to make a first impression.
Lisa eventually splits. Perhaps she notices that Garsy and I have hit it off and doesn’t want to be the third wheel bogging down our nonstop conversation. Perhaps she meant to hook us up all along. Whatever the case, we all stayed friend and the subject just never came up. Perhaps that’s a good thing.
I walk with Garsy back to her room that night and she digs out some pictures of her family. There is her Grandma Ida, displaying her classic, cheeky grin. There are her brothers and sisters, all five of them younger, and all of them looking rascally and rambunctious. And her mom and dad, their faces beaming brightly, way beyond what can possibly be expressed on cheap photo paper. She loves her family and I feel honored to be a shoulder she can lean on as she realizes how much she misses them already. I somehow make it back to my room, already in the autopilot mode that kicks in when all you can think about is the one you’re falling for.
Three days later I manage to work up the nerve to take her hand in mine, during a Billy Idol video, and tell her how much I like hanging out with her. The next day we kiss for the first time as Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” plays on the campus radio station. She makes me promise I’ll never hurt her; she’s been down that road before and has no interest in travelling it again. I tell her I’ll do my best, and I guess that’s good enough.
A few nights later we go out for pizza at Itza Pizza, our campus’s little hangout complete with a giant rear-projection TV, fading leather benches around chipped and gum-spotted tables, and reasonably priced, fresh baked . . . pizza. (Duh!) We watch videos on MTV, do a bit of homework for our PSNS class (that’s college-speak for a large, theater-sized classroom where Physical Science for Non-science Students is taught by this huge guy resembling Grizzly Adams who likes to give “quizzies” whenever he gets tired of talking), and then hold hands as we wait for our grub. It finally comes and, being famished and a hearty eater at the time, I quickly grab a slice and dig in. Only the pizza is hot as hell. (Though my mother, the ultimate example of patience, had tried for years to teach me this simple lesson, “Food is generally hot when it comes out of the oven,” I am apparently a slow learner.) I yank it out of my mouth. Only I forget to quit biting down first so I drag the cheese and flaming tomato sauce off the crust. Only I have quick reflexes back then, so I go to catch all that steaming goodness with my left hand. You know how adrenalin works, right? Momentum takes over and I cram the whole shooting match up my nose. Now I’m suddenly in serious and acute pain, so I blow it all out. Sauce nearly reaches the TV. Pizza is everywhere; on every square inch of my face, on the coffee table in front of me, and down my shirt. All this transpires in less than about two seconds. And as the blisters are forming on my nose, there’s Garsy laughing, a hearty belly laugh that shakes her glasses, sends her into a rocking fit and gets the attention of everyone in the place. Somehow, although perhaps I should be, I’m not really embarrassed. She doesn’t abandon me to my sorry state or try and cover up the fact that I’m an idiot. She just laughs, even as she grabs a napkin and helps me clean it all up.
That pretty much sums up my wife’s attitude toward life. It’s all funny, not meant to be taken too seriously, and when shit happens it’s best just to clean up and move on. It’s an attitude that’s kept her by my side for almost twenty years as my wife.
Twenty (!!!) exciting and wondrous years this coming June. Happy anniversary a bit early, my love. You still make me smile . . .