"Dungarees" and "Knockers"
By Peep Into My Life... on August 11, 2012
In three months I'll be celebrating thirty years of marriage to a guy who actually uses the words dungarees and knockers. I should add, that for three decades, I've never seen him even glance at another woman and the knockers in question are mine.
I am married to Jim Urban. In our immediate family, the highest compliment we can give a man is to say, "He's a Jim Urban kind of guy." The kids and I immediately recognize the type of fellow being described: someone honest, reliable, and absolutely trustworthy who believes all mistakes can be fixed - a character with a corny sense of humor who has never told a dirty joke and only swears when extremely agitated. He can't tell you what he had for breakfast or what he wore yesterday, but you'd want him on your plane if it was hijacked or if you suddenly found yourself trapped in the wilderness. A "Jim Urban kind of guy" would get you home; no doubt about it.
However, a "Jim Urban kind of guy" often exists in a kind of fog when it comes to annoying minutiae like details. Stories do not have the necessary beginning, middle and ending - they only have a hurried middle, as if wasting time on things as trivial as background information, conflict and climax, will delay escape from the wilderness or prevent the overthrow of hijackers. Even if a "Jim Urban kind of guy" was the guest-of-honor at a dinner party and asked to tell the suspenseful story of single-handedly freeing his terrorized starving family from a band of bloodthirsty hijackers who held them captive in the Alaskan wilderness for three months, believe me, there would be no juicy details. He'd be eyeing the food, ready to eat and wearing dungarees!
And so, a story from early on in our marriage comes to mind. We had probably been married for less than a year and were having dinner guests. As a new bride who had never really entertained as a grownup, I was doing all those last-minute hostess details and flitting around the house lighting candles, plumping couch cushions, flushing toilets and making even myself crazy. I don't know what Jim was doing, probably just avoiding me. As I popped a mellow cassette in the cassette player, I admired the six silver goblets I had polished that morning and artfully arranged on a top shelf in our living room. As newlyweds, we hadn't accumulated much stuff yet and I was quite proud of the goblets which had been given to us as a wedding present from my high school English department colleagues. Truth-be-told, these things were a pain in the neck to keep polished, but they looked kind of snazzy in our primarily Goodwill-furnished home.
Who knows what I served for dinner that night but I distinctly remember being in the kitchen as Jim gave a no-frills, non-informational tour of the house. I was peering in the oven when I heard a female guest compliment the lovely silver goblets and ask where we had gotten them. Without hesitating, Jim replied, "Oh, Velya won them at a carnival."
"A carnival?" the woman asked.
"Yes, a carnival." Jim informatively replied.
By now I was out of the kitchen and confronting Jim. "A carnival? What are you talking about?! What kind of carnival gives out silver goblets?!" I shrieked.
Jim admitted to the nonplussed woman, "Uhhm, I guess we didn't get them at a carnival after all."
To this day he insists his version of the story was much more interesting and who cares about unimportant details.
We recently had an 'intuitive' at our house do a reading of me and a spirit woman who reportedly lives in our 242 year-old home. An intuitive uses their psychic abilities to sense, feel, 'hear' and/or 'see' the energy fields of a person. While Jim insists that we met the intuitive at a carnival, she actually was a dinner guest who, after visiting our house, felt a presence in one of the oldest rooms. While that's a story in itself, one of the most accurate things the intuitive revealed was that my relationship with Jim works so well because he lets me be me. What this really means is that he puts up with my constant chatter and generally enjoys listening to what I have to say. At least I thought that was the case!
A year ago, I accepted a job teaching English to a German family. I'm not called an English teacher, I am an English trainer. While the children speak very little English, the mother speaks it quite well. She sounds a bit formal and doesn't use contractions so our lessons consist of us just talking for three hours as she picks up American nuances and slang. Talking for three hours sounds like a pretty cushy job, but it's not as simple as you might think. I have to be very careful not to do any Sarah Palin g-droppin' and concentrate on speaking s-l-o-w-l-y, which for me, is not easy. The other night I got home, plopped down and said I was so tired of talking that I didn't think I could say one more thing for the rest of the night. Jim looked me in the eye, raised his hands as if to cheer on a favorite team and declared, "This is the best job you've ever had!" This comment backfired on him big time, because I had plenty to say for the rest of the night and I didn't care about talking fast or droppin-g's from all my contractions!
Sometimes I feel like the effervescent First Lady Grace Coolidge married to 'Silent Cal.' Charismatic Grace had a pet raccoon named 'Rebecca' and Cal had a dry Yankee wit. Grace Goodhue Coolidge, recounted that a young woman sitting next to Coolidge at a dinner party confided to him she had bet she could get at least three words of conversation from him. Without looking at her he quietly retorted, "You lose." It's said that Grace's vivacity and charm proved a perfect complement to Coolidge's reserved manner. Coolidge wrote in his autobiography, "We thought we were made for each other. For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces."
Many years ago, I realized I could be doing far more interesting things with my life, like buying dungarees, than polishing constantly tarnishing silver goblets. You'll undoubtedly never win a silver goblet at a carnival, but you could have picked up six beautiful ones at Goodwill about ten years ago. Thirty years later, my knockers are certainly not as perky as they once were, but I'm not hearing any complaints from my "Jim Urban kind of guy" who I dearly love despite his economy of words. I'd marry him all over again in a second and he'd respond, "Ditto."
I blog at 'Peep Into My Life'
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