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When He Couldn’t Say “I Love You”

We met twenty five years before this picture was taken.

Long before this picture was taken, when Alex and I met, I was thirty and he was a couple years older. At first, I didn’t want to go out with him cause he was such a player in Hot Springs. It seemed been with half the hot waitresses in town.

But once we got over the weirdness and were actually “dating” it was obvious we were so different. He was and still is, a very stoic man. He doesn’t talk unless he has something to say and back then he definitely didn’t say “I love you.”

On the other side of the universe there was Diana. I come from a verbose, storytelling, over-hugging, “I love you so much man,” family.

I was young and misread Alex’s lack of words or outward emotion. He rarely complimented me or said “I love you” so I was on the verge or writing him off as a cold, emotionless, hot guy.

But there was still something…..We’d been dating for a few weeks. He was working on a construction project at his house, out in the country.  I decided I’d surprise him with lunch. Because he was a chef ,I thought I better go fancy if I wanted to impress him. I took him two cups of Gazpacho, a cold Spanish tomato and cucumber soup along with fresh tomatoes stuffed with chicken salad and topped with paprika.

When I delivered the lunch I was super proud of my thoughtful self.  We sat on the floor in his living room and he ate every bite.  Nodding as he ate, which I took to be a good sign. And he said “thank you.”

A month later, I watched him , with surgeon like precision, remove every sliver of tomato from three tacos at a Mexican restaurant called Acapulco’s.

“Don’t like tomatoes, huh?” I asked cautiously.

“I hate them, they’re gross. If they’re cooked I can tolerate a little, but I can’t do raw tomatoes.”

I just smiled. Maybe this man had other ways of communicating.

Not long after ‘the tomato incident,” Mary, Jack and I went to visit this quiet man. We were all watching Aladdin when Mary, who was three, went to the bathroom. Then I heard her panicked voice , “Momma Momma Momma.” When she was excited it was always three Mommas.

I bounded across the house and found her crying as the toilet overflowed. Waterfalls filled the bathroom and she was standing on a red towel….her only Island.

Alex came in, silently turned off the water behind the toilet, then extracted a stuffed Princess Jasmine from the toilet.

I was horrified and so embarrassed, we’d only been dating three months and look what my child had done. “I’m so, so, so sorry, oh my gosh, I’m  sorry. I don’t know why she….”

But he interrupted me with a shrug, as though it was nothing. He left then reappeared with a mop. “It’s just a little Mary pee.”

That was one of the hundreds of moments that told me how he felt.

“It’s just a little Mary pee.”

There were other times he told me he loved me, long before he could say he loved me. He literally stole my car while I was working lunches at Rocky’s Corner so he could have new brakes installed.

Sometimes, my effusive words don’t seem to mean much compared to his silence.  Talking is easy. Listening when people don’t talk, that’s where the magic is.

Poor Kids Are Awesome

Crawdad Hunters

A few days ago my son, Jack, said “growing up poor was awesome.”

I pressed him to explain what the hell he was talking about.  As far as I’m concerned being poor is not awesome, it’s not even kind-of-cool. Being poor sucks and ranks right up there with having the chicken pox.

First, I want to state, we have never been poor.  When Jack and Mary were little, we were clinging to the lower end of middle class but we were never poor.  Jack and Mary however, love telling stories about their glorious, impoverished, redneck childhood.

When they were little, we never went on vacations. Instead, we spent almost every weekend in the summer playing in the creek not far from the house. I would pack up their friends, Bryce and Kay, some cheap red sodas and crackers.  They would slide around on the little rock water fall for hours and we would catch army’s of crawdads, then then turn them all loose.

One winter we couldn’t afford to go to the skating rink in Little Rock so we tried to make one in the yard with a giant piece of plastic and the garden hose. It didn’t work but we laughed a lot.

All their clothes came from Wal-Mart. Until Jack was in 6th grade. The whole family was ridiculously  proud of his first “expensive” pair of  shoes.  Alex paid $80 for a pair of And One basketball shoes. The entire team was impressed. Back then, it was a really big deal when anyone at Fountain Lake got a new pair of Nikes much less And Ones.

Ok, we were pretty broke most of the time. The kids never qualified for free lunches but I do remember, after church we would roll through the Burger King drive through and get one happy meal. One child got the burger and one got the fries and they split the drink.  A two happy meal day was a really big deal.

At least once a year Alex had to pawn his 9 mm hand gun so we could buy school supplies (those cost 120 for both kids) or buy Christmas presents.  But we always paid off the loan and  got his gun back. Good news now Alex has an arsenal and he hasn’t pawned anything in years.

But all their  friends were in the same shabby economic party barge so they didn’t realize just how broke we were. We had food, electricity and a lot of fun. I grew up wealthy so at least once a week I had a meltdown but the truth is the kids were really, really happy and well adjusted.

The really great thing about kids who grow up on a shoe string….they are  very easy to impress. Great big malls, elaborate Christmas lights, concerts and nice shoes make them so happy.

Kids who grow up with money, in big cities, are rarely in awe…of anything. They’ve already seen better. But poor kids are pretty excited about everything, they’re amazed, the recognize the beauty, they marvel and smile.

My youngest son, Sandor, still says, “Oh my goodness” when we walk into the Hot Springs Mall at Christmas time.  And our Mall is tiny, but Sandor who is nine, thinks its magical. (And yes, he really says “oh my goodness”, he also plays football so don’t make fun of him.) Imagine how he’ll react when he sees Rockefeller Center or Big Ben.

Maybe Jack and Dolly Parton are right. There is a noble magic to growing up almost poor.  I just hope that sense of wonder and awe  stay with my kids for the rest of their lives.

This is a repost for a few years ago cause I love it.  Let me know what you think.  I live for your feedback. And if you really like it share it please. Thanks!

The Refugee Crisis and My Husband’s Sock Basket

We have two sock baskets. One for white socks, one for black socks. All the white socks belong to my husband Alex. Most of the black socks are my son’s.  This system has worked perfectly for years. Until yesterday. Alex appeared in the living room with his sock basket. It was nearly full.

“Half these socks aren’t even mine,” he said and dropped the basket.  His are plain white Haynes calf high.He started sorting the socks.  There were “his socks”, socks with holes that got thrown out and the “others.”

The “other socks” were the white socks with pink or blue around the top. White socks that were ankle high and made by New Balance or Polo, tube socks and girl socks.  “They don’t belong in here with mine, they’re different.  This basket is just for my socks.”

“You’re being super prejudiced .” I teased him.

“Yes I am, I only like my kind of socks. Sorry.” But he wasn’t really.

When he finished there were three piles. His, those to throw away and “the others.”

He took his basket and left the room. And I was left wondering what to do with the poor “others”. Most of them were still perfectly good socks. First, I matched up the ones I could, there would be a home for them.  But what about the rest?

They’d been kicked out of their home and now had no where to go. No one would accept them simply because they were “different.” I felt guilty throwing them away, but boy, there were a lot of them. They were refugee socks, without a basket.

This behavior doesn’t surprise me from Alex. He’s Hungarian and Hungary typically doesn’t want refugees. They build concentration camps, surrounded with barbed wire and dogs. Refugees can stay there or leave the country and go somewhere more welcoming. Hungarians are all about taking care of Hungarians. Screw the rest of the world. They forget in the late 1950’s they were the refugees, running from Russia and seeking asylam in America.  Alex is a very good man but that sentiment runs deep in his blood.

So, what do I do with the remaining 27 refugee socks? I’ll probably end up throwing them away because there’s no basket or drawer that wants them. They are the lost “other socks.”

As President Trump said last week. “Who knew this stuff was so complicated.”

*Please let me know what you think.  Your feedback means everything.

When a Couple Crosses the Line and Turns…..OLD!!

Saturday morning, I have to drive 14 year old Sandor to his job at 10:30 am.  He’s a busboy and a crazy popular pizza restaurant.  But today is different, I’ve convinced my husband, Alex, the sometimes curmudgeon, to drive with me and stop by the wonderful Hot Springs Farmers Market afterwards.

The top is down, I have a convertible, the morning is beautiful and our son, Sandor is in the back seat.

Alex looks over at me. ” I can’t believe you made me wear this sweatshirt.”

“Come on, it’s soft and nice and new, what’s the problem?”

“I like my old red sweatshirt. I don’t care what people think.”

“”You look really nice, though,” I pleaded.

“Sandor, she’s being mean to me.”

I rolled my eyes, looked at him and smiled, “What? I’m making you go to the Farmer’s Market on a beautiful Saturday morning. That’s so awful?  I’m sounding like a Jewish Grandmother, right?”

“What ever, the Elite Eight, NCAA,  first game starts in three hours.”

I playfully smacked him. “What ever, I’ll have you home two hours before tip off. Just enjoy the morning.”

And then were were silent for a moment.  I looked in the rear view mirror and locked eyes with Sandor. He smiled at me. “What? What are you grinning about?” I asked him.

He just shook his head, “You guys are adorable.”

We got Sandor to his job on time.  I stopped the car and looked at Alex, “Adorable. He called us adorable. You know what that means?”

Alex pulled a cigarette out, waiting to get out of the car so he could smoke it. “Hell yeah, he’s calling us old.”

“Exactly!” I said.

“It’s ok, we still got it,” Alex said to me, trying to dismiss the fact Sandor called us “adorable.”

Alex and I now comfortably fall into old people grumbling, bickering, bitching.

I looked at him. “We still got it?”

“Hell yeah,” he replied ruefully, like a dude from The Outsiders.

“Well ok then. Let’s tear up the Farmer’s Market.”

*Apparently I will never ever, ever get back on Google Adsense, cause nine years ago I messed up.  That means I’ll probably never make money from this blog.  So….you comments and support mean everything…otherwise why would I write.  Let me know what you think. Please.

 

 

 

Men Are Afraid of Me….I Think

Every week day, I get up, get dressed, do make up, hair, perfume, pick out jewelry and head off to work. And here’s what I’ve noticed in the past few years.  On the rare occasion  someone says “you look nice” ,”that’s cute” or “you smell good” it’s never ever a man.  Ever.  The only people who say anything remotely positive are young women. Yesterday, it was my friend Tasha…she’s 28 or 29 I think. The day before it was my daughter Lex (you can always count on daughters).

Now, here’s the part of this story that really gets me, and I promise, I’m not looking for compliments. I hear men compliment younger women (20-38) all the time. I understand at that age they are simply more attractive. I was fairly hot when I was twenty eight and living in the Keys. But men, you could find something nice to say if your tried, I really believe that.

I think the problem is men are scared to say anything nice to a woman 40 and older.  I think they are afraid we’ll think they are creepy, misogynistic, sexist or slimy.  Guys, if you say something like “hey baby you look smokin’ hot this Monday morning” you’re right, I’ll think ugly thoughts about you and I’ll work hard not to punch you in the throat.

If instead you say, “good morning, Diana, you look nice today,” you will absolutely make my day. I promise. I really need the compliment now.

When I was 28 or 30 I didn’t really need your compliments. I knew I had it going on. Men, when you tell a beautiful 32 year old how amazing she looks it’s kind of like putting sugar in the Cool-aid. Young women who post a lot of selfies probably already know how hot they are.

But when you say something nice to a 50, 70 or 80 year old woman it’s different, every kind word is like a lovely salve on the wound of time. When you say something nice to a grown woman, I promise you ninety nine percent of the time…you’ll make her day.

Wait, I’m going to revise my stand.  You don’t have to stop compliment the pretty young girls, you just need to include us too.  (I don’t want to sound old and bitter and jealous. Too late? Damn It.

I tell random men they look nice all the time. I tell strangers they smell good at the grocery store (if they are wearing smell good stuff they want to smell nice) , I tell bank tellers I like their Picasso ties, I told a dude at the Dollar Store yesterday that his high tops were cool looking.  A compliment makes people smile, it makes people happy, so who am I to deny other people joy.

So men, fear not! It would be wonderful  if you said something nice to a woman over 40 today. Don’t be afraid. If she misunderstands…she’s an idiot.

 

PS: My husband is excluded from this blog. He said something nice as I left the house this morning.

What Happens When You Treat Your Man Like A Dog?

I have a really good husband. We’ve been married for twenty or twenty two years.  We both always forget.  We also have two really wonderful dogs.

Aries is a German Shepard/Wolf hybrid.  I thought I was buying a simple female German Shepard. A fat man in a red corvette lied to me.

And then there’s Spots.  He’s a stocky white dog with weird brown spots.  He’s a pit bull mix that showed up in our yard, emaciated, with cigarette burns on his head.  I swore I would never have anything to do with a Pit Bull of any kind, but all this dog does is wag wag his branch like tail and he tries to make us happy.

Last night I was lying in bed watching a PBS show about barns in Arkansas.  Spots looked deep into my eyes and I started rubbing his silky ear.  “Look at those pretty spots on your ears. That one looks like an island, that one looks kinda like Cuba and that one looks like a water bottle. You have the prettiest spots, Spots.”

His club of a tail thumped heavily. He was in doggie heaven. So, he rolled on his back and snorted cheerfully.

A few minutes later Spots rolled over to stare at me again and I started rubbing his nose. Slowly, I ran my thumb down, between his eyes and I said, “You are so handsome.  Look at your weird eyes and think neck and sausage like tail.” In less than a minute he was asleep. So happy to be loved.

When was the last time I rubbed Alex’s ears?  I don’t think I ever have. Have I commented on his nose or ears lately….last week I told him I was going to trim his Eisenstein eyebrows or shave them off in his sleep. And what have I ever said about his tail? Maybe years ago.

You see where I’m going?  If we treated the people we love like the pets we love the world might be better.  Man, I would love it if Alex stroked my hair, scratched my neck or told me I was so beautiful and sweet, even though my breath smelled like roadkill.

I need to rethink good behavior, bad behavior and our reward system.

Sure, Spots and Aries give me unconditional love. But so does Alex.

 

 

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