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.