This seat taken?

(Written maybe fifteen years ago.)

The bar was all bad lighting and red vinyl and drinkers who knew their booze. The bartendress would whip up concoctions no one had ever hard of for some odd drunk. I strode in and heard the tinkle of a jazz piano. saw plenty of empty stools and one lady, a redhead looking sad, completely miserable, and silent. She nursed a beer. I pulled up right next to her. This seat taken? I actually said that. She rolled her eyes and shrugged. I sat down. Began with uninvited small talk. No response. More small talk. A joke. Nothing. But I kept at it, and after ten minutes she began nodding to my questions. A crack of a smile to a stupid joke. I mentioned dinner. Nothing. Can I buy you dinner? Still nothing. I worked on that angle for a while. Finally she nodded a maybe. Bartendress brought menus. Anything you want, lobster, anything. She looked, finally after some encouragement ordered an entree. I ordered an appetizer. It was her favorite, a shrimp cocktail, and when it came, she selected a shrimp from the serving dish, dunked it in the cocktail sauce, and nibbled at it. She smiled and said that piano player is really good. He was, and that married fight was over.


If you want to make your wife mad, set fire to your socks. Even with your feet not in the socks she’ll get mad. Wives just get mad when you burn things, even accidentally, no matter how stupid. You burned a big hole in your sock, she scolded. I decided this was not the time nor place for the Darn it joke I been waiting to use for years. Instead I promised never to light a candle again.

Last night

Got asked for the zillionth time last night how we’ve been married forever. Well, I said, it’s been thirty eight years of me mansplaining to an Indian who’s not gonna listen to a white man no matter what. Fyl laughed. The earnest questioner was as bewildered as before. Maybe you think about it too much Fyl marriedsplained, and the tenor player began a gorgeous, perfect Skylark, Fyl closing her eyes as jazz love filled the room.

Box of wedding stuff


Found a box way up on the closet shelf.  Our wedding stuff. A third of a century old. Like a freaking time capsule. My my how thin I was in the pictures. And young. And dashing. And unwrinkled, my still thin wife helpfully points out. And tall, I add, being that I still am and will be forever. Infrastructure, ya know. Some things don’t change.

November 29th, 1980. I don’t remember much of that day. The weather was a perfect southern California late autumn day. A flawless blue sky.  People come out to California on days like this and never go back. And I remember my brother’s punk rock friends, one of whom, all leather and spikes, knelt like a knight of old and kissed the bride’s hand. I remember my Dad being so nervous he Cecil Taylor’d the Wedding March. And how everyone was so poor then, back in 1980, after the endless recession of the seventies. So we were married at my folks’ house and the ceremony was sweet and the feast home-made and wonderful and my other brother’s band played Beatles songs out on the patio.  Continue reading