She fixed a beautiful meal. Shish kabob.
Colorful. Bold. Imaginative. And delicious. Surprisingly delicious. Chicken, oranges, pears, and veggies. Cooked on the grill. And tender green beans.
It began with a good white wine. Enough for a glass and a little more. She toasted Pine Valley and my upcoming golf trip.
I lit the candles.
It was a perfect evening. One of those times when two eighty-three year old lovers can laugh and call up the memories of days and nights long ago, when the flame was bright and the future danced before our eyes, beckoning us to dream, to hope, to believe that there would be still better tomorrows.
Dessert was a Weight Watchers ice cream bar. Chocolate and vanilla on a stick. Just the right touch of self indulgence to finish off a perfect evening.
I should have left the room right then.
I should have come down here to my man cave and written a blog. Or played spider solitaire for a couple of hours until it was time to go to bed.
But no. Not me. Not that night.
I had to go into the pantry and get the chocolate chip cookies.I had to go to the fridg and get another bottle of wine.
If one is good, two is better. If some is good, more is better. Right?
Pretty soon conversation turned into discussion. Discussion became debate. Debate became argument. And Pop! There goes the moment. In the echo of a word, a phrase, a thoughtless unnecessary comment, the mood crumples like an unwatered flower.
Roses become dandelions. The music stops.
Once again, I have initiated a three day snit. Once again, I have stupidly, thoughtlessly invited a period of hostile silence, clipped answers, averted eyes, pursed lips and touchless days and nights.
It’s 5:47 AM. I’ve been awake since three.
Tossing and turning, I compose a letter. How many letters in 61 years? How many tears? How many unhappy hours have I caused her? How many sleepless nights?
You can’t get them back, those ugly moments. You can’t brush them off, make them disappear. You did what you did. You said what you said. It’s done. It’s there. Another wart. Another wound.
Young people and not-so-young people ask me, “What is the secret of a happy marriage?”
I don’t honestly know. Polly says it’s being friends. Best friends. Her test is, “Would you say that to your best friend?” “Would you treat your best friend that way?”
I dunno. Maybe I would.
Maybe I do hurt friends and family in a thousand thoughtless ways. In what I do and say. In what I don’t do and don’t say.
Happily, my darling wife has a bottomless reservoir of tolerance and forgiveness which always prefers happiness over unhappiness.
Other folks don’t always tell you. They just clam up, disengage or disappear.
All I know is that Catholic guilt works for me. A lifetime of saying “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” has a way of easing the aftermath of hurt feelings.
It’s the best I can do.