37 YEARS AGO TODAY …
DogMan made an honest woman of me. Well, actually, I was more of a girl than a woman as I was barely 18, less than two weeks out of high school. DogMan was 32, divorced, no longer in the military and a confirmed bachelor until he met me. Three months later to the hour we were married.
For all intents and purposes, we met on Friday, April 5th, 1968. DogMan didn’t realize I was still a senior in high school when he saw me in the Novelty Bar with my girlfriend around 5 o’clock that afternoon. She and I were celebrating the beginning of our 2-week spring break and the fact that we had handed in our senior term papers without a second to spare. (Back then 18 was the legal drinking age.) DogMan, who had just finished two years in Vietnam (9+ years total in the Army), used to sit in that bar every day after work and stare at the Army recruiting office across the street and think about re-enlisting. On that particular afternoon I happened to be in his line of vision.
We met there every night for the next two weeks. We’d make the rounds of bars and then end up at his father’s house, where DogMan was staying. I didn’t tell my mother too much about him, just his name and the fact that he worked in an office for Corning Glass Works … years later it became Corning, Inc. … which was a huge selling point with her. After two weeks of this, she demanded to meet him. He actually showed up wearing a suit and tie. She wore her bathrobe and slippers.
“How long have you worked for Corning?”
“About a year.”
“And you were in the Army before that?”
“For how long?”
“Nearly 10 years.”
We knew what she was up to; you could hear those wheels in her head doing the math, trying to calculate his age. The fact that DogMan looked very young for his age was in his favor at that point, because let’s face it, who in their right mind would allow their 18-year-old wild-child daughter, who was still in school, to date a 32-year-old divorced man? Except my mother didn’t know he was divorced then. I didn’t mention that until right before the wedding. “Oh, yeah, Mom? DogMan’s divorced. See ya!” And then I ran out the door before she could respond.
My parents were divorced. My father lived in Albany and was dying from cancer at the time. For some reason, it was very important to me that I was married before he died. We were married on July 5th and my father died July 7th. July 9th I was going to my father’s funeral. To this day, I think of how much my father would have loved his grandchildren. He never got to walk me down the aisle or bounce his grandchildren on his knee.
Fifteen months after we married, “Zappa” was born, and fifteen months later, “Nurse G” was our surprise package. Zappa looks very much like the grandfather he never knew.
On our 15th anniversary, I had had 15 helium-filled HUGE balloons sent to DogMan’s office. He could only fit 6 into the car to bring home, so he gave away 9. He said he was never as popular as he was that day. Everybody stopped by in hopes of scoring a balloon. That was also the day that Zappa was riding his bike with his cousin when his chain came off. As he was trying to put the chain back on, it nearly severed off the tip of his finger.
Zappa is now an electrician, married with three children, ages 2 to 13-going-on-God-knows-how-old. Nurse G is a nurse, married with one child, Little H.
I’ve been very blessed married to DogMan. No one, not a single person, thought it would last. I don’t even think my mother thought it would last as I walked down the aisle. She was just relieved that I was marrying someone with a job. Hell, there have been moments when we didn’t think we would last. When I told a psychic that I, an Aries, was married to a Cancer, she replied, “It’s a small miracle you two haven’t killed each other.” Apparently, it’s like the worst astrological pairing possible. Now they tell us! When we attended my 10 year high school reunion, we were the only couple who weren’t in, out, or headed for divorce.
We’re going out for supper tonight. Probably Applebee’s. It’s close, and it has good food and AC. We don’t bother with cards anymore. Hallmark is rich enough.
Oh, yeah, I’m still a natural brunette; DogMan isn’t :-)