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
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
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 <email@example.com> and <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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).