Wearing His Heart On His Sleeve

by Calendar Hacksaw

With Valentine's Day bearin' down like a brake-deprived J. B. Hunt rig headin' for the runaway truck ramp in a tule fog, ol' Betty's all over me to write something "romantic" about our lengthy relationship. As if stackin' fresh cowpies all around the outhouse to improve the smell wasn't enough, now I'm expected to go rootin' through my seriously eroded memory for some shred of evidence that'll support our quality of time as husband and wife. I'm not very good at this, which might become evident somewhere in the course of this column.

You see, young Walker Basin couples have got to come to understand that there's a lot more to love and devotion than just makin' sure your wife has 50-cents with her to tip the restroom attendant at the Twin Oaks General Store (side note to TOGS management: last time I was there, your men's room fella seemed kinda put-off when I dropped four bits on him).

I recollect way back in the early Sixties, Bob Dylan tried to teach us something about romance when he wrote "Love Minus Zero/No Limit." Perhaps you'll recall these lyrics:

"People carry roses/And make promises by the hour/My love, she laughs like the flowers/Valentines can't buy her."

Well, I took ol' Dylan's message literally, and figured it meant I didn't have to throw away anymore hard-earned money on Valentine's Day cards, chocolates, roses and such. Needless to say, Betty straightened me out quicker than a roadrunner on a springtime rattler.

When we first bought our place up here on the mountain, I correctly surmised that personal hygiene would figure high on Betty's list of priorities, and willingly dropped my last three bucks on a slightly used solar shower bag. Not being able to afford a bath stall, though, meant ol' Betty would have to just stand out in the wide open under an oak tree when the time came to freshen up a bit. I would be lying my teeth off if I did not admit that I looked forward to Betty's shower time a lot more than she did; a whole lot more. Heck, I'd die a happy man with that image forever seared into my memory.

I always thought one of our most romantic times together involved conceiving our first child, Alpo. What made it so darned romantic was that it occurred in a California State Park. I later met another fella who did the same thing somewhere else, and subsequently named his son "Bodie" in recognition of the place and the event. But I just couldn't see saddling my progeny with something as cumbersome as "Montana de Oro."

Some years later, while I was in Arizona attending a Rural Columnists' conference, me and another loser wandered down to a place called "Hooters." The waitresses there looked simply lovely wearing abbreviated hot-orange tank tops emblazoned with the establishment's name. Imagine my surprise when I learned that for just $9 I could buy one of these lovely garments for Betty to wear!

And much to ol' Calendar's surprise, Betty did wear it. Once. Over a long-sleeved, black turtleneck.

I guess if I had to admit it, another of our most romantic forays was our 7-day luxury cruise on the Mexican Riviera. It was our Silver Wedding anniversary. As you cruise veterans know, dinner seating is assigned, and you learn right away who you're going to be spending most of your time with, like it or not.

We shared our table-for-six with an elderly unmarried couple from Newport Beach who engaged in the business of staging huge bridal extravaganzas for potential newlyweds. Their idea of "romance" was spelled with thousand dollar bills. The other couple had escaped from Fontana in order to put behind themselves all memories of the recent and highly successful drive-by shootin' of the woman's sister. Imagine our surprise on "Day One" when they arrived to dine wearin' matching lavender T-shirts artfully spray painted with tender remembrances of the recently departed. Funeral shirts; a sign of the times.

But it's said that cruises are romantic, and we can attest to that. In our cabin, the quarters were so cramped that even a simple "good morning" involved intimate physical contact of one kind or another, usually another. Each of us took turns leaving the room just so the other could enter. Using the toilet was a team activity, and rollin' over in bed required a two-thirds vote. Getting dressed for dinner was total comedy, and the end result led other passengers to think the cruise costume party was underway.

For reasons we've never completely understood, our reading material for the cruise consisted of two independent biographies of Geronimo, and our ensuing discussions during infrequent meetings served only to confuse and annoy those around us. It's hardly any wonder why we were never invited to sit at the Captain's table.

Yes, our time together has been pure magic and beyond words; who would have ever thought we could cram so much togetherness into a mere 30 years? But we're not done yet; not by a long shot! I just picked up a bigger solar shower, and Betty's designin' our funeral shirts!

Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are <calendar@usa.net> and <twistedsisters@hotmail.com> and he'd love to hear from you. He and Betty have recently taken up a unique form of stargazing, and tonight's his turn (twinkle, twinkle).

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