Who Is This Man?

Have you ever looked at your spouse and thought, “What the hell?” Maybe he or she has done something so out of character that you are briefly taken aback. Perhaps they’ve said something that makes you question your entire relationship.

Several years ago Studly Doright and I were seated at a booth in a restaurant in Champaign, Illinois. When the waiter took our drink order, Studly said, “I’ll have a gin and tonic.”

I almost fell out of my chair. You see, Studly rarely drinks, and when he does, he drinks beer. I felt like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Who was this guy sitting across from me and what had he done with my Studly? I was as close to having an out of body experience as I’ve ever been.

When our drinks arrived at the table I watched carefully as he took one sip, then another. Studly was actually drinking a gin and tonic. What other secrets was he keeping?

The gin and tonic period lasted roughly one summer. I bought limes and good gin and became a regular little bartender. Then abruptly Studly ended his affair with the drink and I watched the limes shrivel. Life was back to normal. I was the drinker and Studly was the sober one.

So for several years now, there have been no surprises. Until today, when I opened up a shopping bag from a local department store and discovered this:

A purple shirt. Studly, my guy who sticks to blacks and grays and greens, bought a purple shirt. Again, I feel like I’m in The Twilight Zone. What’s next? Will he begin reading the classics? Will he start quoting Shakespeare? I’m shaken to my core. God help us.

Peace, people.

The Best First

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately for those early days of my relationship with Studly Doright. I don’t know if it’s because we’re both in our sixties now, or because our oldest grandkids are near the ages we were when we first fell in love, but something has me in a mood to reflect on how this whole thing started.

We’d begun dating not long after I moved to Dumas in my senior year of high school. Studly worked as a stocker, keeping groceries lined up on grocery shelves at the local Piggly Wiggly, and as a sacker who efficiently packed shoppers’ purchases into bags and then carried those bags to their cars. My dad was his boss and even before I began dating Studly, Daddy would comment on his superior work ethic.

“That Noyes kid works circles around the rest of my crew,” he’d say. (FYI, Studly Doright sometimes answers to the name David Noyes, but don’t tell anyone.) Coming from my dad that was high praise and most likely impacted my feelings for Studly even before I’d gotten to know him.

Our first date was to the homecoming football game in 1974. I can’t remember who our team, the Dumas Demons, played that night, or even if we won. I just recall how comfortable I was with this boy, and that was not the norm for the awkward kid that was me.

When he walked me to the door after the game and kissed me goodnight I knew I was a goner, so perfect was that kiss. Once inside the little house my family was renting I shut the front door and leaned back against it. My mom had been waiting up for me and gave me this look.

“Oh, Mom,” I said. “I think I’m in love.”

I didn’t say those words to Studly until that Christmas, though, and not until after he’d said them to me first. My family had returned to our hometown of Floydada, Texas, to spend the holidays with family. For nearly a week Studly and I had to endure being apart. I’m sure I mooned around like a lovesick puppy, and from accounts from friends, so did he.

As soon as we were reunited he took me to our favorite parking spot in his ’66 Plymouth. We were a little awkwardly sweet at first. His motorcycle helmet was in the seat beside me, and as a goof I put it on. Underneath the protective layer of that helmet I said, “I missed you a lot.”

Studly replied that he’d missed me, too.

“I might like you a little,” I confessed.

“I think I might love you,” he responded.

“Oh! I love you, too,” I said. We most likely kissed after that. I forget.

We’ve been married more than 41 years now. We’ve had some epic fights over four decades. We’ve hurt each other’s feelings and done incredibly stupid things, but on some level we’re still those two teenagers, sitting in that old blue Plymouth shyly declaring our love for each other. Every single day.

Promise Me

We were sweethearts in high school, Studly and I. We’d begun dating in September of my senior year, just a few months after I’d moved to Dumas, Texas. Apparently Studly had followed me around all summer, but I was pretty clueless. I wasn’t the kind of girl boys like him pursued. I was more the type they avoided.

Studly worked for my dad who managed the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Not long after I asked him where the ketchup was shelved, we began dating and fell head over heels in love. We were inseparable for my entire senior year, and when I moved to Amarillo in the fall of ’75 to attend college the angst of separation drove us both a little crazy. You see, Studly is a year younger than I am, and still had his senior year of high school to get through

I came home to Dumas fairly often, and Studly drove to Amarillo every chance he got. Dumas and Amarillo are only about 45 miles apart, after all, still, it might as well have been a trillion miles, so in love were we.

When Christmas break rolled around I couldn’t wait to spend some quality time with Studly. We went out every night and fell deeper and deeper in love. On Christmas Eve Studly and I went parking in our favorite spot at the old motorcycle track, and when he presented me with a small velvet box my heart started pounding so hard I thought I’d pass out.

I knew it wasn’t an engagement ring. We weren’t at that point in our relationship yet, but I thought it might just be a promise ring, a symbol of our intention to someday be engaged.

Anyway, I opened the box and found myself looking at the ugliest, cheapest piece of jewelry I’d ever seen. See the green one below? That’s the one.

It had the look of a prize from a gum ball machine, but Studly looked so earnest when I opened it that I had to gush over it.

“Put it on!” He urged.

So I did. Luckily it had an adjustable band. Could he not tell that it was obviously an extremely cheap piece of jewelry? I thanked him for the ring, trying to be upbeat, but all the time wondering if he’d bought it from some scam artist.

We made out for awhile, before he suggested that we go to the Pizza Hut for dinner.

“You can show off your ring!” He said, as I cringed.

When we got to the Pizza Hut, it was hopping. There were no empty booths to be had. I was relieved. Maybe I wouldn’t need to show my dubious promise ring to anyone after all. Then a couple we knew waved us over and asked us to sit with them. Crap.

Almost immediately after we joined them the girl, Karen, exclaimed, “Guess what? We’re engaged!” She then showed me her lovely engagement ring.

Studly and I both admired it. Her ring was small, but so pretty. Studly gently took my hand, and said,

“Honey, aren’t you going to show them your ring?”

I wanted to hide under the table. I knew Karen and her guy would see the ring for what it was–a cheap piece of plastic in an adjustable band.

Just as I was about to bring my trembling hand up to show them the ring, Studly stopped me. “Maybe you’d rather show them this one.”

Out of his pocket he pulled a small blue velvet box. When I opened it I began laughing.

I didn’t know whether to hit him or kiss him. I showed Karen and her guy the first ring Studly had given me. We all had a good laugh when I told them the story.

I don’t know what happened to that gum ball ring. Studly said he’d spent a lot of money trying to win a ring from the gum ball machine. It might’ve well cost as much as my little sapphire by the time he finally got it. I wish I’d kept the cheap one. I had no appreciation for such things back then, but I do now.

There’s a lesson there, I suppose. Pay attention to the little things. Someday, they’ll be really important.

Happy New Year, friends.

Marriage

Studly Doright and I were watching some network entertainment show last night. The hosts were talking about a celebrity couple whose marriage was in its third year. Apparently, the couple planned to share their secrets to a long and happy marriage.

“Three years!” I snorted. “If they’re still together in 38 years, maybe I’ll listen to what they have to say.”

“You’ll be dead by then,” said Studly.

Well, there is that nagging bit of reality. Damn his wicked insight.

Peace, and good marriages, people!

Laundry

Normally I take on the task of doing our laundry on Mondays. With just two of us in the house these day the once dreaded and seemingly unending chore now only requires a couple of hours of my time. I actually enjoy doing laundry now.

Studly Doright did quite a bit of traveling this past week, both for work and recreation, so he dumped a suitcase full of dirty clothes on the bathroom floor this Sunday morning and then asked if I’d mind doing laundry this afternoon.

“No, I don’t mind at all,” I said. “But why do you need for me to do laundry today?”

“I’m changing my name to Laundry,” he quipped and ducked out the door before I could throw something at him.

Newlywed Sandwich

My husband, Studly Doright, enjoys recalling our early days of matrimony when his young bride (me) tried to settle into the life of a domestic goddess. Studly was a hard working young man, in a blue collar job with a natural gas company, and I was clueless.

On Studly’s first day back to work after our honeymoon, I arose early to prepare his lunch. I’d never prepared a lunch for anyone other than myself, but how hard could it be? I spread two slices of white bread with a smear of mayonnaise, a piece of bologna, a bright yellow square of American cheese, and added a baggie filled with Studly’s favorite Cheetos. I was pleased with the way his lunch looked as I loaded his manly lunch pail and sent him to work with a smile and a kiss.

When my husband came home from work that afternoon he politely told me that his lunch wasn’t quite big enough. So, on day two of making his lunch I put not one, but two pieces of bologna on his bread and added a few more Cheetos to the baggie. Again, I admired the way his lunch looked and sent him on his way with a sweet smile and a kiss.

Studly came home from work that afternoon, took me by the hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Honey, I’m going to make my own lunches from now on.”

Apparently I was starving him to death. Even forty-one years after those first days of marriage Studly remembers how he almost cried upon seeing how paltry his lunch looked. I’d like to think I’d do better now, but he’s not taking any chances.

Thanks to https://nonsmokingladybug.wordpress.com/ for the inspiration for this post.

Tell Me Two Things

Studly and I have been discussing pop music as we drive the back roads around Doright Manor. Well, I’ve been discussing music while he pretends to listen, just occasionally asking, “What?”

I recently told him that I think the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby has the finest lyrics of any pop song from the 60’s, perhaps the finest of all time. 

“What?” Studly asks, then after I repeat myself, “Oh, yeah, it’s got a catchy tune.”

“Don’t you even listen to the lyrics?”

“Not really,” he said.

How have I managed to stay married to this man for 40+ years? Oh, I guess there is that crazy little thing called love. 

So, readers, tell me two things: 

1)Which pop song from the last five decades has the best lyrics? 

2)Does your significant other understand what lyrics are?

Eleanor Rigby
The Beatles

Lyrics

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie, writing the words
Of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks
In the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, died in the church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt
From his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Songwriters: John Lennon / John Winston Lennon / Paul Mccartney / Paul James Mccartney

Eleanor Rigby lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC