January 27, 2008


In winter, I start showing up in places without my wallet. It's inevitable that I've left it in a jacket or coat, at home, in a closet. I don't know how Yankees work around this during their eight straight months of outerwear.

I'm also not sure where my wedding ring is, after six months or so of missing it. I'd lost it for a week, then found it in the garage next to the paint dissolver. Makes perfect sense: I'd shed the ring to protect it.

Now it's just gone.

Wife is still here, though. We had dinner out on our 10th anniversary, promising to take a celebratory vacation as soon as Little Roo can be left for a couple of days with her parents.

As a kid, even a young adult, I wondered why people applauded each other's anniversaries. To me, parents just stayed together; that's how it worked. Splitting up, well, that would be cause for attention. Staying married? That's like the grass coming up green every year. It just happened.

in elementary school i came to realize there were 1 or 2 kids in each class who caused most of the disruptions. I also learned they lived in apartments, not houses like the rest of us. I also heard them use phrases like "my real dad," and I wondered what that meant.

Michele lived in a house, but she had a "real dad" and a "stepdad," and one day she explained all that to me but I didn't follow the storyline. The next year, her last name changed, as did her sister's. Later, she was the first girl I knew of who'd had sex. She was 12 years old.

Perhaps you remember getting punished worse than the class outlaw did for essentially the same deed

John was an apartment kid. In first grade, he was the meanest of all the boys, and the rest of us avoided him. He had a devlish grin and never stopped looking for an opportunity to upset somebody. His most annoying habit was, if you had something in your hand he'd insist on seeing it up-close. One-half second after you held it up, he'd slap it out of your hand just for the pleasure of watching you scramble after it. I saw this happen enough that when I lost a tooth and was carrying it around in a paper towel all day and he demanded to see it, I moved it out of the way just in time and he smacked his own leg. Years later I saw him at a fast-food restaurant near his apartment complex. He looked cowed, and he never noticed me close by.

Candy lived one block from the school. Her mother delivered morning newspapers to most of the neighborhood from the back of an El Camino. No father was ever mentioned. At age 7, Candy got sent home for wearing a blouse tied off at the midriff. She had a boyfriend, David. He got to grow his hair over his ears and could draw psychedelia. The last memory I have of Candy was at age 12, when I saw her climbing out of my neighbor's window as his parents arrived home.

the real-dad kids made the school-discipline headlines; the rest of us, not so much. We weren't perfect, but teachers knew the difference and held us to a higher standard. Perhaps you remember trying some crazy stunt on a lark, and getting punished worse than the class outlaw did for essentially the same deed. Happened to me every time.

So now I know why people cheer each other's anniversaries. It's another touchdown, or halftime, and you're winning. There's more to be said than that, of course, but sometimes polite applause is worth a thousand words.

Posted by: Michael Rittenhouse at 07:24 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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