Friday, August 28, 2009

Rope A Doping

Act III, Scene 3

Making the necessary adjustments and compromises in our marriage was just like the game of "Battleship"...a series of hits and misses. There were skirmishes and major battles, but in the end, a peace treaty was negotiated and a bond formed. Not that it was all smooth sailing or that we never fought again. He and I had some major differences to overcome and we both knew it would take time, but since we had both promised "till death do us part", we knew had plenty of time to get it right...hopefully without ending up on the ten o'clock news.

At the end of the movie, "Sweet Home Alabama", there is a scene where the wedding cake topper is replaced with "Rock 'Em, Sock "Em" robots. We quickly realized that's what should have been on the top of our cake. That would be us for the next 36 years battling it out until one of our heads popped up declaring a victor for that round and then getting to make up where the clinches really mattered. It got to where we didn't even see the arguing as necessarily a bad thing...just another way of communicating. We learned not to bottle things up until it festered into a ugly fight, but just to go ahead and say what was on our minds. This would take years of practice to get right and not be just a means of sucker punching the other, but a real way of expressing our needs. There would, however, have to be unspoken rules involved for it to work. There was never any hitting below the belt or going for the jugular...only constructive jabs to prevent irreparable damage to the marriage with a promise to never go to bed angry. Marriage is a fragile thing, tenuous in its beginning and to deliberately go for the other's vulnerable spots only speeds up the end of it. Cruel words can't be taken back or repaired with a band aid. Another unwritten rule was we never did it in the company of others. Public humiliation would never be forgiven either. If there is no mutual respect there is no marriage. Arguing with just a dash of humor, provided an outlet that kept molehills from becoming mountains. A disagreement is just as private as what goes on in the bedroom and should be treated as respectfully. To maintain a healthy perspective of who's right or wrong....there should never be witnesses to take sides...especially if it's a mother-in-law!

With the Marquess of Queensbury rules in place, the marriage was starting to take shape and we were able to settle into a comfortable routine. One night in early December, I came home a little late for work. He was sitting in his chair waiting on me. I thought he was put out with me for working overtime on a Friday night, but that wasn't the case at all. He was just anxious for me to get home and more than a little concerned about the road conditions. Seems he had gotten off early and had been doing a little shopping. As I sat down on the couch, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a jeweler's box. Talk about a sucker punch...I didn't see that coming at all! He didn't open it...just handed it to me. I opened it to find my rose wedding rings. Seems he had never stopped looking for them...or at me...not even while driving down the road.
(And they lived happily every after!)


Epilogue: In the 36 years of marriage, those two rings have only left my finger for hospital stays and I have the permanent indention to prove it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Act III, Scene 2

After waking with a head as big as Texas and a backache from sleeping on the cold, hard floor, I managed to stumble out of the bathroom. He was waiting for me and immediately began apologizing for his lapse in good judgement. Not wanting the trip to be a total bust, I accepted his profuse apologies with his promise it would never happen again. My mother had passed on much of her wisdom through her "pearls" of advice and I remembered her telling me I would have to learn to pick my battles otherwise marriage was just one big fight. I decided this was not the time for a war since I couldn't have won a battle of the wits with my hangover. In the interest of brevity, I caved and forgave him!

When we returned to Dallas, we moved into the strangest little house. It was a rental and not much to look at, but at the time, I thought it had charm. Who cared if a quarter, dropped on the floor, would roll all the way to the back of the house in a minute flat or that all the closets were in the laundry room? That just made it easier to put away clean clothes! It was our first home and I was happy as a pig in sunshine!

I didn't return to school, but got a job instead. Between the two of us, we were bringing home $160 a week and thought we were stepping in high cotton. Neither one of us realized we were just a step above poverty level! I had failed to mention, and he hadn't asked, one little thing...I couldn't cook. Rather than starve, I quickly mastered five meals to get us through the week. I figured on the weekends, we could just eat out. I could make spaghetti, tuna casserole, scrambled eggs, tuna salad and of course, that culinary masterpiece...Wolf Brand Chili! Every week it was the same thing with just a little variance on the chili and every week he ate it without complaining. It was a good thing that I was proficient in other ways to use a dinner table or he might not have been so easy to please!

We quickly learned that in every successful marriage there is a period of adjustment. We're all unique in our daily habits and compromises must be made to get along. He had a hard time understanding my shoe fetish...I didn't understand his need to watch TV while in a prone position. Before marriage, we were out dancing every weekend...after the "I Dos" he didn' that is. Suddenly he was too tired or some other lame excuse not to go. I liked "order" in the house...he thrived on "disorder". I was a night owl and couldn't go to sleep before 11:00 at night. He had to be at work at 6:00 a.m and went to bed no later than nine. I was a chatterbox...he, a man of few words. I loved fishing and being at the lake...he was afraid of the water. He loved dirt track racing...I couldn't wear Candies in the dirt! My daddy had always taken care of things like the garbage, car repairs, mowing, etc....his mother had taken care of everything! That was the biggest adjustment for me. I had to break a lot of bad habits instilled by a mother who thought a man only had to go to work and the woman should do everything else!

Imagine a world where all that was expected of you was to get up in the morning, go to work and on Fridays pick up your check. Your clothes were magically cleaned, pressed and waiting in the closet for you. Your underwear neatly folded in a drawer ready to grace your royal butt. Meals on the table at five o'clock awaiting your return from a hard day of slaving. A refrigerator never empty...seeming to replenish itself on demand. Grass needs mowing? Not to worry...elves would take care of that while you are at work. What garbage...there was never any garbage to be disposed of when you were the king! What? Your mother called and she had made your favorite meal with chocolate pie for dessert. Why by all means, stop by and don't bother to call. As long as it makes you happy...the chili will wait. That's what I'm here make the king of the castle happy!

And so began the first "picked" battle!

(to be continued)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Party Of The First Part

I'd like to start by saying I am including a disclaimer with this post. I want y'all to remember that I was only 22 when I got married and I'm sure y'all did some dumb things when sowing the seeds of youth! Please do not judge me by what you are about to read...I like to think I've matured (and got even) over the years!

Act III, Scene 1

We were on the road early the next morning and when he stopped to fuel up, I was never so glad to see a Shell restroom in my life. Hallelujah, a door and it locked! We drove straight in to Crockett, but he wanted to stop by his uncle's ranch before getting a room. His Uncle Cecil was something out of a John Wayne movie. Picture Ben Johnson and Gabby Hayes all rolled into one. He had worked on a ranch his whole life and he was old! His skin looked like something sold out of jar off the Shell station counter we had stopped at. Bow legged didn't even begin to describe his walk. Too many years in the saddle prevented his knees from ever being on speaking terms again. He wore a beat up old cowboy hat, sweat rings and all, spurs tarnished from years of use. Grizzled and worn, with hands that could take a finish off a table top in 60 seconds flat, he had a smile that said he loved his life more than breathing. Never been married...a confirmed bachelor married to the horses he broke for a living. He was the baby of the family and his older sisters adored him...I did too! He served us up some coffee so strong that it stood on its hind legs and barked. When we told him we couldn't stay long, that we needed to find a room for the night, Uncle Cecil said he wanted to make arrangements for a special dinner that evening so I could meet the rest of the family and with a okay to that, we hit the road again.

This time, my cowboy found a nice modern place to stay for the night and I felt like things were starting to smooth out. Around noon, he said he thought he would run over to a cousin's and see if dinner was still on. He thought I might like a little time by myself to rest and get all spiffed up to meet the family. At one, I was enjoying my solitude, but by four, I was beginning to have my doubts. When five o'clock rolled around, I knew I would be dining out of a vending machine. That's when I noticed he had a "bottle" packed in his suitcase and I thought that would be perfect to wash down a Butterfinger supper...just a few sips to relax me...what would be the harm? By the time six arrived, I could have cared less what time it was or if he was even coming of one in room 126! I had managed to "sip" half that bottle down and was feeling no pain...chocolate and Jack make a really good cocktail!

When he came tooling back around seven, I decided to get even and hide! I went into my favorite room...the one with the lock...and did just that...locked it! When he couldn't find me, he tried the bathroom door. By that time I was half passed out on the floor in front of the door! He couldn't get it to open and I wouldn't unlock it. Even if I could have, I don't think he would have been strong enough to push the door open with my numb body blocking it. He started in apologizing about how time had got away from him. I didn't want to hear it and fell asleep! As he tried to explain it to me the next day, seems that his cousin had just made a pot of butter beans and he stuck around to eat his share. Oh well...Of course I could see how that would take precedence over a honeymoon! Nothing will deflate an ego quicker than playing second fiddle to a legume!

It also seemed that in keeping with the "party theme", ol' Cuz had made a quick trip to the local bootlegger for jugs of shine! Not wanting to appear ungrateful for not joining in the toast to himself, they must have toasted 'til all those mason jars were empty and they weren't!

When I awoke the next morning on the cold hard tile, at first I couldn't quite remember why I was there. Then it all came back!

Looking back now I ask myself two questions. One...I married him why? did we ever manage to have children?

(to be continued)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

No Tell Motel

Act II, Scene 3

In spite of not having the ring of my dreams, everything else seemed to fall into place. Mother wanted me to "borrow" her engagement ring for the ceremony which I was honored to do. So with something new and dress and something old and borrowed...her ring, I was ready. The day came and I started second guessing myself. I was convinced he had been slipping something in my drinks for the past two months in order to get me to this place in time. What was I thinking? I was only 22...I had only known him three months...was I throwing my life away? Several times I looked at the window longingly, wondering how long it would take to be missed if I just quietly slipped out it. I figured I would have at least an hour's head start before anyone came looking for me! Daddies must come with a second sense when it comes to their little girls because mine told me that it wasn't too late to call it off. He would just send everyone home if that's what I wanted to do, but I think that's what he wanted me to do. It's funny...he had sent me to college to find a rich husband, but when I had found one (albeit a poor one)...he was the one with cold feet!

With the ceremony happening without a hiccup, (for once my cowboy was sober) it was time for photographs, cake cutting and the toast. All of this went off very normal (except for one guest remarking she'd give it 30 days!)which made me a little nervous. Nothing about our relationship had been "normal" and I found this a little disconcerting to say the least. I shouldn't have been too worried though. We still had the honeymoon to get through!

We were married in Plano at my grandparents' home and were just going to take a short trip to East Texas to meet more of his family. We left that evening heading east and at Kaufman, he pulled off the highway into a motel parking lot. If you know your Texas geography, this is only about 45 miles give or take one anxious bridegroom breathing like he'd just run the Boston marathon. Eager? I should say so, but when we walked into the room, I thought I would die right there on the spot! Where there should have been a bathroom door....hung a plastic shower curtain!

My cowboy had ran the rodeo circuit and worked a lot of out of town construction jobs so where they would stay was never an issue. The idea that me, being a woman, would find our accommodations less than thrilling, truly never entered his mind. There was a shower, a sink, a toilet and a bed...what else could I need? A DOOR! I wanted a bathroom door...with a lock! I had never shared a bathroom with a man and I wasn't about to start now. There are just some things between a man and woman...especially newlyweds...that should remain private. On top of the ignominy of no door, my nerves suddenly got the best of me and I knew that bathroom was going to be new my best friend for the next few hours. I used every excuse I could come up with to get him out of that room. I'm hungry...I'm thirsty...I want a Twinkie...I think I left my birth control pills in the truck! Bless his heart, every time I asked for something, he went and got it. I don't think he ever realized what was going on as soon as that door shut behind him! "Oh thank heaven for 7/11" was my personal mantra all night!

Somehow, some way, we made it through that first night without me calling a lawyer and started out for deep East Texas the next morning where more motel fun was waiting. It's kind of sad...that funny little motel is gone from Kaufman now. He likes to say it had to be torn down after one night of us! I like to say it should have been demolished before we ever got there!

(to be continued)

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

Act II, Scene 2

My last name...oh no, he didn't! There wasn't time to spare to get mad as my parents were coming towards us through the restaurant. I only had a moment to either tell him my last name or to go to hell! I figured I could get angry with him later for not remembering my name. I was pretty sure he had asked and more than certain I had told least I thought I had! I mean, who asks a girl to marry him without knowing her last name? After introductions and dinner with a cocktail for courage, he asked Daddy for my hand in marriage. My sweet daddy was impressed at how earnest he was, but being a father he had to give a lecture on the serious side of marriage. My cowboy told me years later that before our ceremony, Daddy had set him down and informed him that if he ever mistreated me to watch his back! Daddy also told him to never get so full of himself that he hurt me in the process and the last thing Daddy told him was that I would always have a place to come home to if he didn't make me happy! Mother and Daddy really thought I was too young, but they knew I was stubborn and since I was old enough to marry without their permission, they gave us their blessing.

With my family's sorta-kinda blessing, we began to make plans. We decided on a fall wedding in late October. I had never been one of those girls who dreamed of a big wedding with 50 bridesmaids in ugly dresses. A simple ceremony was all I wanted, so a small home wedding was the easiest decision I had to make. We'd have our close friends and relatives as guests and a big reception after we came back from the honeymoon. Since this was late June, I thought I would have plenty of time for such a small affair, but I didn't count on this boy's impetuosity. First he talked me into an earlier October date...then he talked me into late September. Next thing I knew, he was talking about early September. He/we finally agreed on August 10th. I think if I had said~let's just go to the J.P. and straight to look at that toolbox~he'd a jumped on it and me before a cat could lick his tail!

My poor Mother...we were out of the chute like a couple of tornadoes trying to get everything arranged and find the perfect dress for me, while he was on the quest for my wedding rings. Though I had never cared anything about a big folderol wedding, there was one thing I had always dreamed of. Years ago I had seen in a Seventeen magazine an engagement ring setting that looked like an antique rose. I had dreamed of that ring for years and when he asked what kind of ring I wanted...that's the one I told him about. He was still rodeoing during this time and one weekend he drew a really rank horse and was bucked off. He injured his leg and had to use crutches to get around, but that didn't stop him from trying to find that ring. He limped and hobbled around to every jewelry store in Dallas, trying to find that rose for me, but by the time August rolled ring. He never asked me to settle for anything else, just kept looking for what he knew would guarantee him a great wedding night!
Later, when we met with the minister to discuss the wedding details, the preacher man asked us if it was going to be a one ring or two ring ceremony. My cowboy just looked at him and said, "How 'bout a no ring one?"!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Indecent Proposal

A Tale Of The Texas Two Step

by Talking Trash

Act II, Scene 1

"How 'bout 'bout it?"! Good grief...what the heck did that mean? That could be anything from "how about taking a look at that new toolbox now?" to "how about some popcorn from the snack bar?". I must have had a strange look on my face because he told me that I knew what he meant. At that particular moment, I truly didn't and told him so. He was going to have to be a little more articulate for me to understand what he was asking me. Being a man of few words, he seemed to have a hard time putting into words what he wanted to ask. Finally I just asked what was it he was trying to say and he replied, "You and 'bout it?". Huh? You and me what? (My only thought was that he had better be talking about going dancing because that would be the only do-si-doing we'd be doing!) Ducking his head, he replied " 'bout it?". Stunned would be an understatement. I was flabbergasted. We had only known each other for six weeks and really didn't know a thing about each other except that we seemed to get along. I told him I would have to sleep on it and I would try to give him an answer in a couple of days.

The next week was tense. He wanted an answer and I thought he was rushing things. I didn't see the necessity of messing up the start of a nice relationship, but then a few days later when we were going out to dinner, I had the strangest feeling of being watched. I turned and he was just staring and smiling at me kind of like the Cheshire Cat....while driving down the highway! He'd stop when I would catch him, but the minute I looked away, he'd be doing it again. I just knew he was going to rear end someone. Finally I told him to stop it before we had an accident. He looked so sad when he said he couldn't help it. Right then and there I knew I had to marry him. What's a girl to do? Where would I ever find anyone else who would look at me that way if I were the most beautiful woman in the world ! Later that night when for the umpteenth time he said "how 'bout it?" I replied, "How 'bout yes?"!

There was one other small detail that we had to take care of before officially becoming engaged. I had met his parents, but he hadn't met mine. We arranged to meet Mother and Daddy for dinner at the old El Fenix restaurant in downtown Dallas. As we were sitting at the table waiting for my folks to arrive, he leaned in to me and whispered, "By the way, before your parents get here, what is your last name?"!
(to be continued)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Over The Dashboard

I wanted to explain a few things about Cat Daddy before starting on the third scene of Frick and Frack's rough stock romance. First, before you start getting the idea he was some kind of "loser" on the make, he wasn't. He is just very single minded in his pursuit of what he this case, me! Second, it wasn't that he was a push over either...he is and always will be, 100% peacock. He struts with the best of them and isn't going to be led around by the nose by this case, me!

I feel much better getting that off my chest and now it's back to the Paso Doble of our courtship!

Act I, Scene 3

With that last phone call, I knew this was a man who knew what he wanted and wasn't afraid of going after it. I had been pursued before, but never with quite so much intensity. I suppose that was what frightened me so about him. I knew in my heart of hearts where this was leading and where it was going to end.

I agreed to go out with him again and with a few ground rules (like keeping his hands in his pockets!) in place, we began to see each other on a regular basis. I was still dating a few others and I thought he was too. Only thing is...I was wrong about him. He had been seeing someone pretty regular before meeting me that Friday night at the Palms and she was seriously serious about him. She caught me out one night with my friends and proceeded to give me a piece of her mind...which in my opinion she didn't have to spare! (She let him get away, didn't she?) I was shocked to say the least. I had no idea he had dumped her when we started going out, but he had very strong convictions about dating two women (especially one he wanted to throw a loop over) at one time. Seems he considered some things deal breakers and along with not putting your hand over your heart during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, this was one of them.

I let her have it right back, reminding her that he wasn't married or even engaged to her. If he wanted to continue seeing her, that was his choice, not mine. If she had a problem, she needed to take it up with him and leave me the heck alone. It seems she had already taken it up with him and he had told her Adios! She thought if she could just get me out of the picture, everything would resume to her version of normal. Of course, the quickest way to make a man look more attractive is to have another woman want him and thanks to her...I wanted him!

So with the cowgirl tart out of the way, I felt I needed to halt any further dating of other people on my end. It only seemed fair. He had never told me not to (smart man), but I knew it was time to quit playing games and get down to business. We discussed it and he told me that he didn't need to know about my past. What he had done in the past was his past and what I had done was mine. Done, over, forgotten...strictly don't ask/don't tell! I knew then, this was someone who could make me happy!

Even though we had only known each other a few weeks, we were out together almost every night. If we didn't go out, he'd call and we'd talk until he fell asleep with the phone in his hand. After about four weeks, he began doing the proposal polka. He would dance all around the question, never asking, just doing a little fancy two steppin'. Finally after about six weeks (again at the drive-in, no less), he turned to me and said, "How 'bout it?"

(to be continued)

Talking Trash

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Doing The Tango Texas Style (Persistence, Thy Name Is Cat Daddy)!
I'll try to add photos this afternoon. David had a great suggestion and I'm working on it as you read this latest installment of my Texas Two Step Love Story.
Act I,Scene 2
I got in bed late that night (ALONE!) after my first experience at a Texas honkytonk. To say I was tired was an understatement, but I knew I would be going back and soon. The Palms Danceland was nothing like anything I had ever experienced. Their "hook" was being open in the afternoon for the T.I. employees who worked the late night shift and a great house band. What does that tell you? This was no "Billy Bob's" or "Gilleys", but a true juke joint! I was getting to walk on the wild side and I was digging it, even if I did stick out like a sore thumb with my bell bottoms and clogs! The next morning (well more like afternoon since I slept until noon) the phone rang. It was Mr. Cowboy asking for a date. I had no idea how he had gotten my phone number. I certainly didn't remember giving it to least I didn't think I did. I hemmed and hawed and really couldn't think of a reason not to accept...besides the fact that he scared the living fool out of me. My friend kept urging me to say yes, that he was a nice guy, safe, etc.!!! Finally after much hesitation, I said I'd go.
That Friday when he picked me up, he looked totally different in the light. He cleaned up real nice like and was able to stand upright without swaying. I thought he looked really sharp in his Stetson Silver Belly and freshly starched Wranglers. (I just have to say at this point...there is something about a cowboy's butt that is different from other men's. I guess it's all the time spent in the saddle that lifts it up almost to their shoulders...whatever the reason, all I can say is YOWZA!) He seemed harmless enough...shows how deceiving looks really can be! We went to the Gemini Drive-In...mistake # 1. I expected him to be a perfect gentleman...mistake # 2. He had more moves than a Sumo wrestler. I have no idea what movie was showing as I was too busy protecting my virtue! I had grown up in the small town of McKinney, but I wasn't a country bumpkin. I was, after all, a child of the '60's and had been on a date or two in my time, but this guy had more on his mind than just pitchin' a little woo! I later learned that he was so nervous and didn't usually behave in such an amorous way. Seems I brought out the beast in him or that's what he likes to say now. Whatever the reason, I knew I wouldn't be going out with him again...problem was he didn't know that. After the movie, he took me by his home to meet his mother which I thought was just a little bit odd, but I went along because I knew this was going to be our first and last date. On the way back to my place, he had a flat tire on his truck and had to change it in the pouring rain. That alone should have been an omen of things to come.
To call the mating ritual that followed in the next few weeks a courtship would be a joke. A high speed chase would be more like it. It seems everywhere I went, there he was. If we went to another club...he was there. If we left that club and went to another...there he was. This boy was nothing if not part blood hound. How he knew where I would be at any given time was, to say the least, a little bit unnerving. I think it's called stalking now, but back then I called it ballsy! He'd call and I'd have friends tell him I was out. He'd call back. He was relentless in his pursuit. Finally I had enough. He called and my friend told him I was washing my hair...15 minutes passed and he called back, drying my hair...15 minutes, rolling my hair. Finally she decided to put him out of misery and told him I just wasn't interested. His reply was a simple thank you and I thought that's that. Nope...15 minutes later the phone rings. What can I say...I gave up, he won the first round and so the courtship began!
(to be continued)
Monday, August 10, 2009

You Asked For It!
A Tale of the Texas Two Step
Talking Trash
(A play in three acts)
That is the way that Cat Daddy and my life together should be written, but since I am not a playwright this will be written just as another blog post.
There are only two main characters in my pretend play...Cat Daddy and me. Anybody else would just complicate the telling, so let's keep it simple, okay?
When I met C.D. it was purely by accident. A friend had talked me into going to a local hangout of hers for a drink. She was interested in one of the guys there and wanted me to be her wing man. Little did I know what was waiting for me just behind that swinging door. Now keep in mind, this was no nightclub or genteel supper club, but a down and dirty, raunchy honkytonk where all the cowboys liked to gather after the rodeo. These weren't any drugstore cowboy either. Most of them (including some cowgirls) had either a gun or a knife in their boots. Oh my! These men rode bareback horses, saddle broncs and bulls. This was in the days before endorsements and private airplanes. These guys worked hard and played hard. I was, to my poor parents' regret, a weekend hippie with red hair that I could sit on. I didn't know diddly about horses or cowboys. Heck, I hadn't even dated anybody in FFA, for pete's sake, so you can imagine my surprise upon walking in and seeing nothing but a sea of cowboy hats doing what looked like to me, roller skating backwards around the dance floor! I was ready to leave then and there.
My friend talked me into giving it a chance and staying. We found an empty table close to the front, just in case I wanted to make a quick getaway and waited to be asked to dance. To my shock, it didn't take long and boy, did those guys know how to dance! My favorite partner of the night was a mortician who loved to laugh! It seems the dance I had saw the couples doing earlier was the beginning of the "Texas Two Step". It was just starting to catch on. The cowboys called it "rubbing belt buckles"...I called it unusual! The arms didn't go where they usually do in dancing, but I finally got the hang of it. I was dancing every dance and I noticed that this one tall, lanky cowboy kept asking me to dance and every time after the dance had ended, he would move one table closer to where we were sitting. Little did I know he had a penchant for bourbon with coke and redheads!
As the night got later, he had finally maneuvered himself to the table next to ours. I noticed a lot of pairing off beginning and I told my friend I thought it was time to say good night and head on home. Mr. Cowboy asked for a last dance and I agreed. He finally told me his name and asked if I would like to go have breakfast (it was about 1:30 in the morning) and I quickly declined. Something about him scared me. Then he asked if I would like to go out to the parking lot and see the new toolbox on the back of his truck. I knew then it was time for me to make like a atom and split!
Much later, I learned that the next day he had told his family he had met the girl he was going to marry.
(To be continued...)