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Play it again, Sam!

I have recently acquired a second husband. It’s just what I needed, someone else telling me how to write. His name is Sam and he is the husband of a friend.

Sam yelled across the parking lot the other day, “Hey! I didn’t like your article this week, it wasn’t funny — I like it when Al is in hot water. You were too easy on Al this week. I guess I’ll give you another chance, maybe I’ll read next week’s article.”

“Well Sam,” I thought I was writing serious stuff, “these articles are not supposed to be funny. I’m trying to make sense out of a decision I made fifty-one years ago and he just won’t go away. When I said, ‘I do,”’ I didn’t realize I was saying yes to an overstuffed brown chair, a big screen television, Nascar, turkey calling, more junk you can shake a stick at and a dog.”

Last year, at this time, I wrote about two fools in love and it seemed to spark a new height for my writing. I thought this article warranted another run. It was everyone’s favorite about Sweet Al. Phyllis Diller has her Fang, I have sweet Al and now apparently I have Sam.

So here it is! I’m playing it again, Sam!

Why do fools fall in love? I don’t know. Al and I have been trying to figure it out for years. Today, April fool’s day is our fiftieth anniversary. No joke, It was April 1, 1960, and what were we thinking? We weren’t. We were in love.

Why did we pick that date? It was on a Friday and we had a free weekend and nothing to do. We had dated for a year, fought the whole time, and couldn’t live with each other or without each other. I was eighteen and he was twenty-two. No one thought a marriage between us would ever work. My mother was fed up with the fighting and said either get married or he needs to go.

But Al was cute, oh, so cute. He drove a brand new ’60 Plymouth Fury, long and sleek. He wore pressed blue jeans with sharp creases and shiny brown and white wingtip shoes. His red James Dean jacket over a brilliant white tee-shirt with rolled up sleeves was his signature. His thick straight black hair was greased and combed back into a ducktail which came low on his forehead into a widow’s peek. All this made him the catch of the day. He had the cutest buns, he was adorable and he was a Slade. I was in love.

Al, being the perfect gentleman held the door open for me, called before a date, didn’t honk but came to the door, talked to my mother, brought flowers and candy and walked on the outside of the sidewalk to protect me from on coming cars. His mother worked hard to make her son look good and have manners; she didn’t know all that work was just for me. She had greater expectations for her beloved son and all this only added fuel to the unquenchable fire of love. All the other girls were crazy about him and I got him. What a way to start a marriage. I wouldn’t recommend it! But what a catch!

And what was the catch? Living together! We didn’t know we had to learn how to live together. Al was a Baptist and I was a Morman. His first job was to make me a Baptist and my job was to stand firm. Well, you can see how the sparks continued to fly. I dug my heels in deep and sat in a Baptist pew every Sunday morning and sang thirty verses of’Just As I Am. I thought if they sang another verse I would lean over and strangle Al. I didn’t want to be there and I wasn’t letting Al forget it. God finally intervened on that one and millions of other potential disagreements over the years.

When I write about Al, I always ask him if he wants to say something in his defense, and he says, “Just stay sweet.” The years have brought both funny and not so funny stories. Today we laugh at them. Who would have ever guessed that these stories would be published in the newspaper? I am just thankful you didn’t read it on the front page or in the police blotter under domestic violence.

A month ago a woman invited us to a community marriage seminar. She was telling me about the wonderful speakers. Did we look like we needed a marriage seminar? She was taken by surprise when I told her I could teach the speakers more than they could teach me. After fifty years if we haven’t got it yet, we probably won’t.

told her she didn’t know my sweet Al and neither one of us were going to change. We really like it the way we are. He makes my breakfast every morning, brings me coffee and loves and supports me in my painting and writing. He listens to my Bible studies and rather enjoys them. Now, am I going to change all that? Absolutely not! I’m not taking a chance that the experts in marriage might fill his head with silly notions, like me cooking breakfast for him or going hunting with him.

I look at my sweet Al today, he’s lost his widow’s peak, he still brings me flowers from the yard, a daisy or lilac, he calls me “baby doll,” tells me every day how much he loves me, and he kisses me goodnight every night. He is there for our children and grandchildren and will do anything for any of us. He is still a young man in love.

Our life has not been the norm but whose has? It’s been a great life. When fools fall in love, nothing else matters. One thing for sure Al has never forgotten an anniversary.

Final brushstroke: Who wants a second husband, when one will do just fine?

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