Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I thought this would be a good time for a little introspection. The period from Thanksgiving until Christmas is of course a special time for many, but it has been extra special for me since 1983. I first met my wife just before Thanksgiving that year and we started officially dating mid December. So, I am very thankful for my lovely wife, Beth. Just how thankful? Well, bear with me and I will try to illuminate.
We had quite a long courtship, it took six years for us to finally walk down the aisle. It took me awhile to pop the question even though she dropped subtle hints. By subtle hints, I mean she described what she wanted for an engagement ring within the first month of dating. No pressure there.
Well, we did finally get engaged and even bought a condo together. Beth really enjoyed playing house and started buying all kinds of kitchen gadgets. The only problem was that she didn’t know how to cook. In fact, I used to joke that she needed to call her mother to get the recipe for ice cubes. I did all the cooking. When we started dating I never took Beth to restaurants, instead I prepared home cooked meals for her. She thought I was being romantic. Truth to tell, I was just really very cheap. Let’s keep that our little secret.
As per the standard custom, we decided that our parents should meet once we became engaged. So, Beth invited her mother and my parents over for dinner. I would handle the bulk of the meal preparation, but Beth was determined to make a special dessert for the occasion. She decided upon a brownie torte which was a quite complicated recipe. Gotta give her credit, she was really swinging for the fences on that one. I think she wanted to impress my mother.
On the big day, we were about an hour out from the arrival of our guests. Everything was ready to go. Well, almost everything. Beth had just completed her hair and makeup and only needed to finish preparing the brownie torte. One of the ingredients was tofu, which needed to be pureed in a blender. You know that feeling you get when you are preparing for something important and it is very stressful, but you finally come into the home stretch and begin to relax a little? Yeah, that part got skipped over by us.
I was in the other room doing I don’t know what, when all of a sudden I hear this horrific shriek from the kitchen. In a panic I ran in to find Beth unharmed, but mysteriously covered in tofu. It was on her clothes, in her hair, on her face, all over the wall and ceiling. Apparently she had inadvertently let a spatula slip into the blender while it was spinning and thus created the tofu eruption. Cue the laugh track, except no one was laughing. Okay, maybe I laughed a little, but that was short lived when I saw the look on poor Beth’s face. She was moments away from bursting into tears when I gently nudged her out of the kitchen and told her not to worry, I would take care of this. So, while she went to completely redo her hair and makeup, I cleaned up the kitchen and made a brownie torte from scratch.
Crisis averted. Dinner went well and I got to be the hero. It seemed right then and there that life was going to be easy. Just like a sitcom. Except it wasn’t.
I don’t want to take too much credit for coming to the rescue, but I was pretty awesome. I guess it would only be fair to tell you about the time Beth saved the day for me. Well actually, she saved more than just a day. Let me explain…
Our five year anniversary was a little more than a month old when we had a life altering experience. While working in my Attleboro comic book store late July, a customer had decided he wished to get a refund on some purchases. Unfortunately, rather than simply ask, he waited until I turned my back and attempted to bludgeon me to death with a hammer. Sorry about the gruesome part, but the story needs this for context. If you are squeamish, close your eyes until we get to the good stuff again. Spoiler alert: I lived.
It was very scary for a bit. I thought I was going to die. Now, this is the truth, as blow after blow struck my skull and I felt myself fading, I thought only of Beth. I was not so much afraid of dying as I was afraid of never seeing her beautiful face again. Fortunately, a neighbor heard the disturbance and came over causing the assailant to flee. To this day, I don’t believe my body would have survived that assault if I were not so determined to stay around for Beth. A less romantic notion would be that I had a head like cement and that was the real reason I survived. I’ll stick with the first option. Oh, make no mistake, my skull is like a piece of cement, but my love for Beth is immense.
I was in and out of consciousness during the ambulance ride, but I was eventually fully awake at the hospital. Strangely, the first person I saw was my aunt who was working as a nurse in another wing when she heard the news. The first words out of my mouth were, “where’s Beth?” She was standing beside me, but I had failed to see her right away. Now, Beth is a very emotional person. She is the type to cry at a Hallmark card commercial and yet, at that moment, she did not shed a tear. Over the years, I have often teased her about this. I mean c’mon, someone tried to kill your husband, cry a little.
Actually, I think I was the one that cried and I even apologized to her. I knew this was probably an inconvenience, much worse than leaving the toilet seat up. She just looked down at me and told me everything was okay and I believed her. She knew a frightened tearful wife wouldn’t help me. She needed to be strong to make me strong. She needed to be… no, I needed her to be the hero. And she was.
This would be a fine place to end the story. I know some are thinking my stories should end before they begin, but I digress. I’m sure thus far you get the general impression that Beth is wonderful, but you can’t understand how wonderful without this next part.
It really was amazing how well Beth held it together especially considering what she saw when I first arrived at the hospital. I did not see myself in a mirror until two days after the incident and even then I gasped. Again, some may want to close their eyes for this part. I was bloodied, missing teeth, my eye was actually partially dislocated from the socket, you know, the standard stuff when your face meets a hammer. I basically looked like Quasimodo. Look, I was no matinee idol prior to that, but I was in the not half bad looking category. I found it hard to look at myself without grimacing and the thought of losing my looks and having to depend upon my wit, grace and charm for the rest of my life was even more terrifying than the attack. I really didn’t have that much going for me on the inside. At least that’s what I thought. Beth thought differently.
I don’t intend to be maudlin, but I was a mess inside and out on my first morning at home. I felt broken and helpless and my anger was clearly visible. Beth tried to calm me, but I really didn’t want her to be near me. I felt so guilty that she had to endure this and fearful that the sight of me would be disturbing to her. Then she did the most wonderful thing. At least for me, at that moment, it was the most wonderful and important thing. She hugged me and kissed me. Not a, “you poor pitiful thing” kiss, but a “you’re my man and I want you kiss”. The kind of kiss when you see it in the movies, you know something’s about to happen. Honestly, I never doubted that Beth loved me, but often wondered why. At that moment I figured there must be something about me that only she could see. Something way beyond the physical, some special quality that we all would want someone to find in us. I was at my worst and she could still only see the best in me.
It is easy to love. The real trick is being worthy of love.
So, in the end, I guess we both sort of saved each other. I averted the great tofu disaster of 1988 and she gave me a reason for living, the will to survive a near tragic event and a love that was boundless. I’d say we are pretty much even. Okay, maybe one is a little more impressive than the other. After all, a great brownie torte can really make a dinner party!
Now, excuse me, I think I’ll go see what Dessert Beth has planned for tomorrow.