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Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002
I think it's fitting that for an entry signifying the reaching of some sort of number with zeros behind it, I should write about someone important. Yes, today I reach the hallowed 200 mark, my friends. So I'm going to write about my bestest buddy.

And no, it isn't Stu. Shame on you for thinking so.

I mean, I hardly ever mention HIM here, right?

I've been married to my wife Ally for more than 22 years. She appears in this journal periodically, usually as a foil to my ceaseless blundering, whining and nearly hypnotic state of confused parent/adult hood.

It should be mentioned that she is dynamically good looking, because she, in fact, is. Way more good looking than I deserve at my advanced state of crumbling flesh. I mean, this woman is frequently mistaken for someone 10 years younger, weighs exactly the same as the day we were married (which is notable when you account for the 3 kids we managed to birth) and she didn't weigh all that much when we were married. She has legs that a 20-year-old girl would kill for. She has a devotion to me that borders on wonderment, when I think about it. The sort of thing that makes you smack your forehead and say "Where oh where did this wonderful person come from?"

I went to a private Christian high school and among the various things they attempted to drill into our heads was the concept of marriage. The whole platform of a pre-ordained, God-centered way of life that plays well on the Christian Broadcasting Network with your host Pat Robertson (he's my neighbor, we occasionally cross paths in the grocery store, the sprawling CBN empire thing is a short drive from here, and I can tell you for a fact that although he keeps his grass cut, he ain't the one doing the cutting, folks). Point is, the high school emphasized a system of long courtship, short engagement, leading to a lifelong commitment. No sex before marriage, children as quickly as possible afterwards.

Not a bad idea. If you're buying that whole concept.

So here's what we did. We met in August of 1979, hit the beach with some frequency, and it was (I shudder along with all of you for saying this) love from the word go. Married in May of 1980. Kids started showing up in 1984.

So we sorta followed the concept, right?

Right. If you accept the fact that we were doing the horizontal-bop 'round about, oh, let's say week 4.

That's week 4 of the courtship, not the marriage. I won't even go into what week 4 of the marriage was like. But it was pretty darn cool.

So I guess we blew the concept of marriage. At least according to the Gospel according to Correct Way of Thinking. We slacked off on the 10% tithing at church because we were both earning minimum wage and were hard pressed to buy a can of tuna let alone stick 10% of nothing into a brass church offering plate every Sunday. We didn't listen to parents who implied in word and deed that we would never last as husband and wife. We really didn't figure out how to turn off the kid making machine until 3 of them had popped out in 4 years (see reference to horizontal-bop above) and were taken to the mast by the same set of parents for over procreating, or something. I mean geez, we were good at that. Probably better at making kids than anything else ever. We never even home-schooled our kids, for crying out loud. Just stuck them in there with all the other riff-raff and took our chances. Public schools, can you believe it?

My kids rock. Honor roll. Most popular. Good looking kids. Polite, even. Screw y'all. (Just kidding, Mom & Dad)

But back to my wife. Listen, it is difficult to live with me sometimes. I am a man of sedentary opinions and grouchy countenance. Ally has a great deal of patience. She is by no means a perfect person (I reserve that for me…) but has made it this far by repeating (over and over) "I know that this is going to work, I just know it." And so it has.

And tomorrow, tomorrow she retires from the job she has held for 16 freaking years. Appropriate trumpet fanfare, please.

Since just before the Middlest Child was born.

My god, honey, has it been that long that you have suffered in that Troll infested dungeon of horrors?

I can't tell you even now what she does (did) for a living, it is clandestine and very Tom Clancy-ish. Suffice to say that it afforded her a salary, a pretty good one, but she suffered for it. Put up with a lot of stuff that she would not have had to if I had been more prudent about being the doctor/lawyer/successful runway dancer that my folks always dreamed of me being.

Just kidding about the lawyer thing.

And it hasn't been a total bed of roses, of course. We've had some really awful moments. Some times that I'd just as soon put behind us, and I think we have. There was no 7 year itch, but there were some times at 12, at17, at 21. And all the days in between. All the days when you sit on the back porch and wonder if you can put feet in front of you for just one more day, to swallow the hard times, one more time. And you wonder, and you think and you feel the tears well up in you and you make the call. The decision to do it and turn your mind to something more . . . what? Forgiving? Wooden and unnoticing?

Or just to want something badly enough to put things aside that would ruin a concept.

The concept of two people who want to spend a life together. Two good people, altogether forgettable in the grand scheme of things. Who lust and love and hold on.

And learn what they didn't teach in school.

That there is a place. And that place is where you are right now. With the one you cherish more than anything.

Ally. Sweetheart. Happy Retirement. I hope you love it the way you love other things in your life. Unhesitantly, loyally, with all the surrender of a woman who can be giving and demanding, loving and bitchy all at the same time. I wouldn't trade these years for anything. You are, and will be, the best thing ever to grace my path.

And if the bank account suffers because you aren't salting away your paycheck, so be it. We'll get by. Always have. It is something more eternal than money, this thing of ours.

By the way, try not to take it too seriously when I start circling the classified ads tomorrow. In red.

Mark it off as yet another attempt on my part to do the right thing.

Like the time in 1987 that I said "Hey babe, I know the doctor said we shouldn't try this again so soon, but what does he know. . . .? "

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