Tuesday, September 9, 2014
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with a person, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” — Billy Crystal
The most important day of my life was the second Sunday in September 1964--the 13th. I was a beginning sophomore in college in a very conservative West Texas town. There were three colleges there, but they were Southern Baptist, Church of Christ, and Methodist. It was a dry county. You couldn’t buy a Playboy magazine and had to drive ten miles out of town just to have an impure thought. So, the only parties were church parties, and I had a friend drop me off at one (since I had no car). I saw a girl sitting in a corner and I slipped a rubber band over her thumb, the back of her hand, and then over her pinkie finger. I bet her she couldn’t take it off without using her other hand. Now this was my one and only pick-up line and it had failed about seven times in a row. She just smiled and in a couple of seconds handed the rubber band back to me. She did ask my my name and later we left together since she had a car. I didn’t find out until years later that another boy had brought her to the party and she just dumped him there. We drove to a drive-in hamburger stand called Mack Eplens where I had a cherry phosphate and kissed her for the first time. She told me I didn’t know how to kiss properly, but she might teach me. Then she took me back to my dorm. A month later she invited me to her sorority’s hay ride, and I accepted. It was a wonderful night and the beginning of our dating. Then, a month later, on a Friday night, I asked her to wear my fraternity pin (in those days you “went steady”, “were pinned” and then engaged), so it was a pretty serious question. She told me she couldn’t answer me until Sunday night, and I went away disappointed, hurt, and confused. It turned out she had a date for the football game the next night and she had never broken a date and wasn't about to start. My roommate and I ended up sitting right behind her and her date in the stands at the game. I don't know if she was embarrassed or not, but she spent the entire game in the ladies room. The next night, she agreed to wear my pin. I went home for Christmas vacation and had all my wisdom teeth out in a hospital in Louisiana and then flew back in January to begin the spring term. She picked me up at the airport, and there, in the airport parking lot, with my swollen cheeks making me look very chipmunk like, I asked her to marry me. To my delight, she said yes. Apparently, my kissing lessons from her had helped me a lot. We were married in June, five months later, so yes that’s nine months from meeting to marriage (and no baby, either, not for another two years). In five days, it will have been fifty years since I boldly dared that pretty girl to get a rubber band off of her hand without using her other hand—which she did. It’s a good thing, since that’s the only pick-up line I ever had. I can’t remember why I go into the kitchen now, but I remember those days like it was yesterday. I later learned that a year before, she had seen me on campus and told a friend of hers that she was going to marry me—this a year before I met her. Seems like she chased me until I caught her, and what a happy day that was. We will have been together a half a century in a few days and meeting her and marrying her remain the best things I have ever done in my life. She swore she would never marry a preacher, and she didn’t. I swore I would never be a preacher and look where that has gotten us. We have had a wonderful, eventful, and memory-filled life, with three wonderful sons, two sweet daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren. Try that rubber band thing, see if you can do it, and then see if you can find someone with that stupid line. I think it only works once a century, but I am eternally happy it worked that night. The picture is of our wedding day, June 5, 1965. We are now just nine months from our Golden Anniversary. Glad I learned how to kiss.