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Monday, February 17, 2014

This is Romance???

A couple of weeks ago, my Lovely Bride and I attended a “Marriage for Life” conference in the heart of Ohio's Amish country.
Before you jump to any erroneous assumptions, we are not having any issues. At least none other than the fact we are both of Irish descent, which can be interesting at times. I have been know to tell people when they inquire about our family dynamics: “I am Irish. My wife is Irish. Our children are in therapy.”
Our children are not in therapy. That I know of.
But I digress
We attended last year and enjoyed ourselves, learned some new things, and decided to attend again.
Regular readers may recall the February 2013 column “The Amish Effect”
This year, we learned men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti.
Males brains are a series of little spaces; much like the surface of a waffle. The spaces are clearly divided and categorized into “Work”, “Home”, “Hobby”, “Marriage”, “Sex” and most wonderful (well, second most wonderful) of all “Nothing”. None of the spaces overlap, there is no co-habitation of the same space, and we cannot work in two spaces at the same time. Except the “Sex” space. We can jump into that happy place just about any time.
Women, on the other hand, have thought processes like a platter of spaghetti.
Visualize a plate of spaghetti. Select just one strand, and follow that strand's course upon the plate. Do this without touching or moving any of the other strands. See how it winds, curls, even doubles back upon itself; all while making contact with nearly every other strand of spaghetti on the plate?

Yet, it never loses itself!

This, dear reader, is why women are such great multi-taskers. Men, on the other hand, are more focused on the task at hand.
Which I suppose was a pretty good survival mechanism in our far distant past. While out hunting mastodons, Urg and Kah had to keep their wits about them. They couldn't be thinking about what new type of cave-paint their wives wanted to use. They couldn't be wandering off to look at little purple flowers in a field, if they did any of those things they stood a very good chance of being the entree on a saber-tooth tiger's buffet.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this difference in thought processes is the following scenario.

I come home from a long day at the office. I have made the transition from “Work” space to “Home” space. I even spent a fair amount of time in “Nothing” space while tooling along the highway.
My Lovely Bride will say something like this:
Hi. How is your guitar? I drove by the place where we bought it years ago. You remember, they tore the old buildings down to make room for a new neighborhood and an Urgent Care center. Speaking of doctors, did you know that elderly gentleman at church has pneumonia? We should take him a dinner. Would you check to see if we have any butter in the fridge? I saw this wonderful recipe for raspberry scones on-line today. So what do you think? Should we go ahead an paint the upstairs hallway raspberry?”

The foregoing makes perfect sense to her.
She took a trip down Memory Lane, updated me about a member of our church, announced her intention to help with a meal, stated she is going to try a new recipe, and we are going to repaint the hallway.
Me? I am left wondering “What about my guitar?”.

For an evening and a morning, we feverishly attempted to learn how to better relate to and understand our spouses.

At one point, the presenters showed a very touching, romantic video. Upon its conclusion, the announcement was made to look at your spouse, and tell them what it was that caused you to fall in love with them.
Let me tell you, I was sitting there with tears streaming down my cheeks when LB turned toward me. I looked deeply into those beautiful blue eyes, still seeing the beautiful teenaged girl I fell in love with.
I awaited her proclamation; certain it would be something worthy of a Hallmark Channel moment. Her lovely face flushed, she shut her eyes, struggling to express herself.

Gently, I took her hand; “What? You can tell me.” Taking a deep breath, she lowered her eyebrows, stared directly at me and stated:

“Your long hair.”

Whereupon, she burst forth in unrestrained peals of laughter. Her entire frame shook, tears were streaming down her reddened cheeks. People stopped their conversations to gaze upon the poor woman overcome by tears. She was overcome alright; overcome with hilarity.
What could I say? There is simply no way follow that up.
At the end of the seminar, one of the presenters asked me “What did you say to her? I have never seen anyone so touched before!”
When I left the meeting room, he was leaning against a wall barely able to breath as he chortled, guffawed, and giggled away.
I can only hope he wet his pants.

Not to be discouraged, however, I began putting some of the little nuggets I had found into practice. I even read the Song of Solomon. I was doing good!

This past Friday was Valentine's Day. Rather than purchase a card filled with an anonymous writer's sentiments, I chose to express my own feelings.

I was hoping to demonstrate just how blasé we as a whole have become about expressions of love. I opened with several refrains excerpted from well know verse. This was then followed by a very heart-felt expression of how my feelings for LB are far greater than mere sentimentality.
Friday was also the evening we hosted a small dinner party for some friends. It was very enjoyable, gathered about the table; reflecting upon the years of our friendships.
We had a wonderful dinner, followed by superb entertainment from a visiting Barbershop Quartet crooning old romantic songs.
Then, my Lovely Bride took up the carefully rolled pages of my note.
Opening the seal, she began to read
“Roses are red”...
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”...
And so on.

Our guests sat in rapt attention, smiles upon their faces LB got to the last excerpt of verse, and sincerely reads;

“Love is patient, love is kind”

And added
"Love is prettier than a dog's be...”

Well, that pretty much derailed the rest of what I had written.

The whole atmosphere in the room changed as one couple leaned against one another to keep from sliding out of their chairs in laughter. One guest could barely catch their breath.
I merely shook my head.

Gee, I can hardly wait to see what next year's conference brings.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February on my Mind

February is here. I will try to throttle back my enthusiasm a notch or two.
It is a very good thing February is such a short month. Were it much longer, I am certain the Psychiatric Hospitals would be at capacity.
It is not that February is inherently malevolent or mean-spirited. It is just that February is the not-so-savory-surprise-in-the-punch bowl of the year. February didn’t ask to be jammed between January and March.  It didn’t desire to be plagued by monotonous, tedious, un-ending, cold, gray, lousy weather.
It just came out that way.
In a feeble attempt to validate itself, February lays claim to Valentine’s Day. There it sits, smack in the middle of a drab, boring month; a half-hearted attempt at joy and passion bedecked in red and pink hearts, festooned with white doilies, the Elmer’s glue still moist on the edges of the construction paper.
Attempting to spark the damp, smoldering fire of romance, couples don their fine apparel; bundle up in boots, scarves, overcoats, hats, and gloves to schlep through the iron hard frozen ruts passing for streets.  Upon arriving at the dining place of their choice, (preferably where one does not order a combo meal from an illustrated menu board) they enjoy a quiet, romantic, intimate dinner in the company of about 100 other couples; all yearning for a quiet evening.
The effect is somewhat nullified by the need to shout across the table in order to be heard. It just loses something when one party shouts “I love you!”, only to have the recipient shout back “Huh? I can’t hear you!”
Upon leaving Chez Fred’s our love-struck couple discover a freezing rain has begun since they went inside. The car is now encased in a fine veneer of ice. The door locks, wishing to add to the adventure, are frozen. Following several unsuccessful presses of the unlock button, the male asserts himself.
He thrusts the key in the lock.  Giving a mighty twist, he feels the key yield.  The key keeps yielding as he realizes it has snapped off in the lock
The female, thoroughly soaked, cold, and disgusted by the show of raw machismo, withdraws to the warmth of the restaurant. For his part, the man stands in the icy mist, staring hopelessly at the stub of the key.
A short time later, the woman emerges with a Styrofoam cup of hot water. Carefully, she pours this over the lock. She then removes a set of keys from her clutch, and smugly presses the button. With a click, flash of the headlights and a “bwoop” the door opens. She sidles in, seductively showing more leg than really necessary. With a smile, she starts the car, slams the door, and drives off, leaving the man to dash after her for two blocks before he slips on an icy patch on the sidewalk.
That, dear friend, is romance in February.
February also tries to share its wacky and fun side with the wild, hilarious Groundhog Day.
This droll, folksy traditional has Germanic roots. In reality, it probably has Germanic beer roots.
How else to explain the over-whelming compulsion to reach into the den of a hibernating furbearing woodland creature, grasp unto said creature, and drag him or her into the light of day?
Then, to proclaim, with all solemnity, said critter (actually a member of the rodent family), saw his shadow, became startled, and scurried back into his den. Therefore, we can expect Winter to end around March 21st.
No joke, Sherlock?
Has it ever occurred to anyone the over-grown mouse was startled by some goon grabbing hold of him while he was in the middle of a really great dream in which he and J.Lo are vacationing on a private island in the Caribbean. Just when she is giving him a come-hither look, and loosening her bikini top-BAM- some clown is hoisting him up in the air, in broad daylight, all the while jabbering about Spring as a bunch of yahoos shout at him.
Maybe-just maybe- that is why he scurries back to his hole.
Seriously, now; does that sound like the sort of thing a sober person would do?  Well…maybe some of my friends would, but only if you dared them to.
For his sake I hope he can pick up the dream. From my own experience, I have no problem falling asleep and going right back to where I left off. Only now J.Lo has become Miss Piggy.
Not wishing to be outdone by July for patriotism, February boasts of George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays.  Both these men were esteemed Americans. Their respective legacies will endure for centuries yet to come.
However a slice of cherry pie just can’t compete with a day off from work, parades, bar-b-ques, ballgames, picnics, and fireworks.  Sorry, February, July has got you beat there.
Add to the above list of little quirks  February’s penchant for delusions of grandeur every four years. Suddenly, it decides to be a big-shot and add a day; February 29th. Again, in true February style, it has to be coy about its intentions. It can’t say “Hey! I’m sick of being the shortest month! I am adding a day this year!”
No, it has to be clever and use such nonsensical subterfuge by calling it Leap Year. And the extra day, in order to be cute, is called Sadie Hawkins Day; a day when single ladies can track down the eligible bachelor of their choice, drag that sap before a preacher or justice of the peace, and get married.  Cute, really cute, February.
Well, guess what? Your gambit didn’t work. You are STILL the shortest month.
What if the other months decided all willy-nilly to add a day when ever they felt like it? What if October announced “I’m tired of the same old 31 day routine. This year, the third week of the month, I am adding a second Wednesday. I am gonna call it Double Hump Day! HAAA!! Get it? Double Hump Day? You know, Wednesday--Hump Day? Well, I thought it sounded pretty cool.”
It is no coincidence the real reason those mad-cap Caesar boys; Augie and Jules, took a couple days for themselves was to shorten a most dismal month.  That whole cock and bull story about a rivalry between them, and wanting “their” months to be equal was just a cover so February’s feelings wouldn’t be hurt.
It was the calendar equivalent of making the un-coordinated kid on the team the water boy; “Bobbie, I got a real important job for you. Those other guys get all hot and thirsty running up and down the field. You have to make sure the water bottles are full, and chilled. Okay? Can I count on you? Attaboy, Bobbie! What a team player you are!”
We are nearly a quarter of the way through February.
The good news: there are only 40 days until St. Patrick’s Day! Now, that is something to look forward to!
Oh, yeah, I think Spring is a few days after that.