August 2007 Column Winner

Famous last words
By Barb Walter, The Hennessey Clipper

When we first got married we finished each others sentences and thought it was fate. After 36 years of marriage, when we finish one another's sentence, the other one gets ... irate.
He says, "I wasn't finished talking."
"I wasn't listening," I respond.
Gone are the days when we hang on each others every word and go out partying with friends. Now we just want to hang each other and only go out with friends so we can have an audience when we argue. We rarely have words when we're alone unless it's over who has the TV remote control and therefore control of the TV ...and the world.
Our newspaper buddies from Tecumseh, Wayne and Gloria Trotter, invited us out a couple of weekends ago for an anniversary brunch at Pearl's in OKC.
We'd both sort of forgotten that our wedding anniversary was approaching so it was gentle reminder.
We were about to leave Hennessey that Saturday morning on time. Except I wanted a Sonic Diet Dr Pepper so we stopped there and fortuitously, a guy parked next to us noticed there was a nail in the side of one of our tires. We thanked him, left without ordering and tried to get the tire fixed but had no luck. So we went back home, got Bill's car and were on the road again. Then he remembered his sunglasses were in the SUV so we went back, got them, then phoned our friends to tell them we were running late.
On our way through Kingfisher I announced I was dying of thirst.
Famous last words.
We finally got our drinks but making a left turn back onto the highway wasn't going to be easy. In between complaints that they didn't give me extra ice, I tightened my seat belt. Bill gunned the car engine and we zoomed across the highway without fish-tailing .... much.
Have I mentioned that his driving is the reason I want to be cremated? I'm sure I'll die in an auto accident with him at the wheel and I know the undertaker will never be able to get that scared expression off my face. That's as opposed to my regular shocked look. My eye doctor says that my lazy eye and astigmatism could be making objects appear closer than they are but I think that's only when my husband is driving.
Once onto US 81, we ran into some rain and traffic but finally made it to the restaurant about 45 minutes late.
Our friends had waited and we had a delicious meal and thanked them for brunch by having a squabble. I may have started that one but it was unintentional. Surely I'd have had the good manners to wait until we got into the car if we hadn't been with friends. Friends who know us and love us anyway.
Wayne and Glo tried to change the subject but we were like two dogs fighting over a bone until Glo suggested toasting our anniversary.
Then we turned into our sweet selves and gave each other knowing looks.
We'd finish that argument later.
But later never came. There were no disagreements on the way home. Of course we were alone and there wasn't a TV remote to squabble over. So fa-la-la. Our anniversary wasn't until the following Tuesday anyway. I had time to get the agreed upon card. No gift.
Then there was an anniversary card next to my makeup mirror on Monday morning.
"Oh no," I muttered. "Our anniversary's the 20th, not the 21st."
I thanked my honey with a geriatric kiss... after I put my teeth in... then explained that I'd gotten the date wrong again. I've done that several times. One year we both forgot it because it was during one of the first Pat Hennessey celebrations and our schedules were hectic then too.
All those years ago every word my husband uttered was pure poetry, sheer genius and I could listen to him all night long. Now to hear him tell it, he never gets a word in edge-wise and if he dares inhale then that's my opportunity to interrupt him. That's also when I hear him lovingly say, "I'm robbing this train (telling this story) and I don't need your help."
But we do need each other's help. He needs me when he needs to be reminded about meetings, when his sense of direction slips out of gear or when he needs to get up from sleeping in his chair and come to bed at night. I need him to thread needles for me, to read and interpret road maps and bolster me up when my latest crusade or project isn't going the way I think it should.
Those are small things but important to us. We save the really tiny and infinitesimal things to argue about while we're in public. So we'll see you at the all-school reunion and Centennial events this weekend. He'll be the one with a smirk on his face and his arms crossed in a stubborn pose. I'll be the one talking ... and talking ... and talking.
"Don't tell everything you know today," he'll tell me. "You'll have nothing to talk about tomorrow."