Freeing the voices in my head

Posts tagged ‘Halloween’

A Sailor’s Wife Is Me, Yo-Ho!

When my love graduated from Maritime College, we set a date to be married in October of 1979.  It was my favorite month: my birthday month, crisp Autumn days, and Halloween — my favorite holiday, so it seemed fitting to add a wedding in there.  Since he graduated in May and was immediately headed to a ship on the Great Lakes, it was left to me to do all the stuff involving the wedding.  He would be home in September, in time to help with final details and bring a good amount of money to pay the bills.

I was working at the local mall and used my laughable paycheck for small items.  We weren’t planning a big wedding; just a few friends and family members.  Our guest list was about 25 people long.  I went to a local stationary slash art supply store and discovered I had to order at least 100 invitations.  Plain, cream-colored with pretty calligraphy and no extra fancy stuff; okay, fine, order ’em so they’ll get here in time to be given out or mailed out.

A small bridal shop just down the road was next.  Nothing fancy, the owner was the only employee, and I was left to browse the racks of dresses on my own.  I fell in love with the first one in my size that I tried on.  It was soft, flowing, with no itchy lace and, best of all, was only $250 dollars!  I put down a deposit and happily went off to work.

July rolled around and nothing else was done because of busy days at work and, well, I had lots of time still for flowers, a restaurant, a cake, finding a church or maybe just a justice of the peace…then, my mother and sisters hit town.  “Do you have the rings yet?”  Um, no, I don’t have that kind of money, but Randy will and we’ll go pick something out when he gets home.  “What church are you using?”  No idea, we aren’t into religion, and neither are you, Mom!  “Where’s the reception going to be?”  Um…and the questions kept coming.  But what sent Mom and older sister into tizzies was The Dress.

“You already got The Dress?  The FIRST Dress you tried on?  Did you try on any others?  Oh, no, this won’t do.  We have to go, now!”

Sigh…

We descended on the little shop and my domineering mother took over.  While I rolled my eyes and mouthed apologies to the shop owner, Mom and Big Sis attacked the dress racks.  The first ten gowns were piled into my arms and I was shoved into the fitting room.  Gack, lace, ruffles, bustles, a gazillion pearl buttons no bigger than a pinhead, mile long trains — they apparently forgot how clumsy I am — and prices I expected to see on new cars, not a dress I was only gonna wear once!  Thank god we were the only customers but I still refused to leave the dressing room in those “things.”  I let the enemy peek in, gratified to see their faces scrunch up in dismay at the sight of me in their choices.

I didn’t even try on the next ten dresses.  The owner, bless her, had taken pity on me and brought me MY Dress.  I slipped it on, she zipped it up, and pulled aside the curtain with a smile.  It fit perfectly, it flowed, it soothed my crumpled ego…and it made Big Sis smile while bringing Mom to tears.  Hey, I know what looks good on me!  Mom paid  it off and got me a pair of matching shoes and a veil.  Whew, done and no one got pissed off!

Smooth sailing for three more months?  Nope.  Randy came home, early, really early, in July, with only one paycheck and a tale that should have sent me running far away.  He was off watch, sleeping in his rack (bed) one night as the Captain navigated the ship across Lake Superior.  He woke up when his rack tilted 180 degrees and dumped him on the floor.  Yeah, the ship was tilting that far because the Captain had run it aground.  Brand new Third Mate Eldred made it to the bridge and was the one who finally got the ship free.  Then he packed his duffel and quit, unwilling to work on a vessel where he had more experience navigating the ship than the Captain did!

Well, he returned home to wedding chaos.  The guest list had jumped to 125 people, thanks, Mom, not.  I bought a generic package of somewhat sorta matching invitations at the local mall.  My soon-to-be mother-in-law offered to bake the wedding cake.  Randy and I picked out our rings; just two plain wedding bands but mine had to be sized down and would be ready in a week or so.  My bridesmaid and maid of honor had two dresses that matched my wedding gown in style, so no one had to buy a dress they’d never wear again.  Randy’s littlest sister was our flower girl and his mom sewed her a pretty little dress that matched.  (That lady had seven kids and little money; baking from scratch and sewing clothes was second nature to her!  Besides, she wanted to help and my mother wasn’t giving an inch!)

Progress was being made, so, of course, we had to have another crisis.  From the moment he got home, Randy was calling around to shipping companies, calling the job list offered by the college, calling, calling everyone he knew to get a new job.  And, yes!  A company wanted him!  But, no!  They wanted him for a four month cruise and he had to be on board the ship by the end of AUGUST!  Well, shit!  We had to make a choice: postpone the wedding until December or January (ugh, my two least favorite months, along with February) or move the wedding up to early August.

We set the date: August 3rd.  Bless our families and friends; they rallied forth, they called in favors, they helped us make it happen.  My parents reserved the banquet room of a lovely Italian restaurant.  They were friends with the owners and got a good discount.  Getting my bouquet and the other flowers is a blur — my mom took me somewhere and the florist came up with the design.  All I was asked to do was pick my favorite flowers and colors: irises and roses, purple, blue, and green.

As for the church… We drove by a little church a lot.  It was one of the oldest churches in town, barely more than a chapel, but it was cute and although we’d never gone to a service there, we liked it.  With time restraints pushing us, we stopped in and convinced the pastor to marry us there.  Randy’s sister was hoping to pursue a career in photography and we contracted her to take photos of our day.  The only tux we needed was Randy’s; the other guys all had gray suits in the same style.

On the morning of our afternoon wedding, Big Sis woke up with an abscessed tooth.  It was a Friday and Mom called her dentist friend from when we were kids and our family lived three houses down from him (his office was in his home).  He would see her, if we could get her there immediately.  Panic, though, because who could take M.L. to the dentist?  Everyone was busy, busy, busy!  Except for…the bride.

Yeah, well, I had nothing to do until a half hour before the wedding.  My dress was simple, my hair would just be loose and flowing, the way I liked it, I was showered, shaved, and bored with sitting in a corner watching my drama queen family freak out over tiny details.  So I took Big Sis to the dentist.  I sat in the waiting room with my book, perfectly calm and content, and laughed out loud when I overheard this:

Dr. Glenn: “Well, what a way to start your big day, eh?  Don’t worry, we’ll get you fixed up in no time and you’ll be a smiling bride.”

Grunts from Big Sis.

Dr. Glenn: “Oh, you aren’t the bride?”

More grunts.

“Really?”  And sweet ol’ Dr. Glenn actually stepped into the waiting room and stared at me.  I smiled and waved.  “Well, aren’t you nervous at all?”

Me:  “Nope.  I’m just happy this day is here.”

In fact, I didn’t get nervous until everyone had dashed off to the church and I put on The Dress.  My dad was the only one left at the apartment — he was the manager of a car dealership and was driving me to the church in a dealer’s demo car, a brand new Lincoln!

After all the agonizing over music, and the lovely gift of our talented friend Holly playing the organ and singing, I don’t remember any of the music.  Randy says all he remembers is his knees shaking and his dad holding him up (or keeping him from running away).

It was a wonderful day, pulled together in a few wild weeks because of so many people.  And it set the course for much of our life together — adventures done on the fly, on impulse, with pieces of what was needed appearing at the last minute.   There have been storms and calm waters, floods (for real!) and dry stretches, but we keep going, sailing along and hoping we won’t sink.

We just celebrated our 33rd anniversary.  If I had known a sailor’s wife must brave Life’s storms alone for months, would I have married my Merchant Marine?  I like to think so, because, yes, when he gets home, everything is worth it.  🙂

You Did What?!

I’m on my laptop for a few hours here until hubby finishes playing on the desktop.  I’ve been whispering and mumbling to it…Randy (hubby, who is definitely a Mr. Grumpy before his second cup of coffee) is pouring that second cup and notes, “Who are you talking to?”

“My laptop.”  He rolls his eyes and slouches back into the office.  It’s okay – in just a bit, he’ll saunter back out here to the kitchen, lean over the table and share morning kisses.  Oddly enough, I was the grump in the morning for years.  Not anymore and not by my choice; kind of difficult to sleep in when a 90 pound boxer leaps on top of you whimpering to go outside NOW!  Also difficult to be mad about it.  He’s a big, clumsy, goof of a dog and full of joy.  Boxers really are the clowns of dog breeds.

Anyway, my point here is that I don’t write much on my laptop.  The poor thing is over two years old, needs updates that stupid Norton Anti-virus keeps blocking, had a defective battery from day one, is an irregular – great price but when we got it home, we found out why.  The battery for one and the fact that the keyboard is deep bronze-colored while the keys are black.  Impossible to see in most light, and it’s been forty-some years since my high school touch-typing class.  I stuck white sticker letters on it, but half of ’em have fallen off.  Having been a professional proof-reader, I do go through my writings, but if there are mistakes today, I’m blaming the laptop!

Onward!

Last night I mentioned I’m a coward.  Not entirely true.  I can be brave and have been, but there are some things I just can’t face.  My flight impulse kicks in (and my fight impulse kicks me in the butt about it later) and I run or hide.

I enjoy scary movies, rollercoasters, trying new things.  I loved sky-diving – we sat on the floor of a tiny stripped down puddle jumper of a plane, the only seat was for the pilot.  Being total newbies, we all went tandem (strapped to an instructor – I got the hunky six-foot-five Swedish guy, oh my!), except for our son-in-law Charlie.  He was a hot wire power lineman and convinced the instructor to let him jump solo.  That’s a memory I cherish – Charlie, whooping and hollering with glee as he drifted down to a perfect landing.

I loved stepping out onto the strut, feeling the wind trying to whip me away, I loved the free-fall, whooshing faster than I’d ever gone, I loved the incredible view after the chutes opened and we drifted to the ground.  My BODY did NOT love the drifting.  It protested by dry-heaving all the way down.  Swedish guy said, “Tuck your nose into the neck of your shirt so you don’t vomit on us!”

We landed with me laughing between dry-heaves.  Swedish guy swiftly unbuckled my gear and pointed out the bathroom.  I made it there in time.  Hey, better than Brian!  Our oldest son came down laughing, too, looking fine.  He took two steps and graced the desert with his breakfast.

Was that bravery?  I’m not afraid of heights, airplanes, high winds, or hunky Swedes, so I don’t think so, but other people do.

I watch some scary movies, crouched back in my seat, trying to muffle gasps and screams, but fully watching.  Other scary movies are peeked at through the fan of my hands or merely listened to from the floor of the car after I’ve slid down from my seat to hunker under the dashboard.  Just ask Melissa Crandall!  Ah, darlin’, we went to the drive-in, can’t remember the movie.  “It’s Alive?”  Or was it the remake of “The Thing” with Kurt Russell?  Good movie, but lots of parts I couldn’t watch.  I will never watch or even listen to the original “Exorcist” movie again – too disturbing on too many levels, scared the shit outta me!

The first “Alien” movie – awesome!  We walked out to the car laughing and chatting about our favorite parts…and checked every nook and cranny to make sure no “face-huggers” leaped out at us.  I turned on every light in the apartment and left them on, still couldn’t go to sleep.  The phone rang, yep, girlfriend was in the same state of delicious fear.

Now, I have never seen the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and don’t want to.  The trailer freaked me out.  One: Chainsaws – loud, dangerous, noisy, did I mention loud?  Two: deformed, masked, crazy mutant guy.  Three: Women portrayed as blonde bimbos just lying there screaming.  Add the very real childhood memory of having someone leap out of the dark to do god-knows-what to you and, yeah, you’ve hit some of my Fear buttons.

When we first moved to Tucson, AZ, Old Tucson Studios went all out for Halloween.  (My fav holiday, then Christmas, but the rest of ’em, eh.)  By that time, the sound-stage had burned down and the place was mostly an amusement park.  I’m not sure, but I think the last movie filmed there was “Geronimo.”  It was still a wonderful place to experience and the Halloween theme/party of “Nightfall” was a blast!

The three kids were teenagers by then and not used to the desert climate.  In October, it can be hot during the day, but when the sun goes down, it gets cold!  I was the only one with a  jacket because I’m always cold, and I shared it with our daughter – stylishly dressed in the teen girl uniform of short shorts and a tiny tee my mom (and husband!) would have called lingerie!  Our sons were a bit better off in jeans and T-shirts, gallantly doing their best to imitate their father – who seems to have stone skin – but they were rubbing at their arms.

We still had fun; only noticing the cold when we had to stand in line for a show or ride.  Then, one of those rotten, er, sweet kids saw the “Fun House.”

“Let’s go in there.  We’ll take our time and warm up.”

Okay, I could do the fun house; I hadn’t been in one since my own teen years, but sure, I’m game (Husband, wise man that he is, declined and waited outside).  I don’t mind the swaying, dipping floors or the spinning tunnel you have to walk through, and I don’t freak out about spiders and cobwebs.  The crazy mirrors are funny; I like the one that makes me look tall and skinny!  But.  I hate the dark inside buildings, hate flashing lights and creepy fingers brushing across my skin.  I was getting a little freaked.

Then we stepped out of the dark corridor into a wide-open, empty area that looked like the inside of a black canvas circus tent.  It was well-lit, too.  I stepped to the fore with a smile.  “Oh, looks like we’re at the exit.”  Indeed, we could see an open tent flap across the space.  Now, remember, I’ve never been in this kind of “fun” house, and the kids are behind me.  I can’t see the boys smirking and our girl rolling her eyes…

We got to the center of that space and…ROAARRR!!!  “Yarrrgghhh!!!”  From behind a curtain, a screaming masked mutant seven feet tall (Hey, I was scared!) and wielding a huge growling chainsaw leaped at us, at me!  I shrieked, reached behind me, and THREW the first child I grabbed at the monster.  Then, I ran.

The chainsaw was silenced, allowing a lot of very loud laughter to billow out of that tent.  I cowered behind my husband, only just realizing I had sacrificed my youngest son to save myself.  What kind of horrible mother does that?!  The three of them strolled out of that tent with the unmasked mutant, laughing their asses off.  The man clapped my husband on the shoulder, saying, “That is something I’ve never seen!  Sure wish someone coulda got a picture!”  He walked away while the kids gleefully revealed my terrible sin.  “She just tossed Jim to him!  Good thing there’s no chain on the saw!”  Oh. My. God.  I apologized profusely to my baby boy (who, at thirteen, stood almost as tall as his dad and was built like a football quarterback) and he laughed it off.  I was mortified, shaking, riding the guilt train for the rest of the night, and, hoping, oh dear god, hoping, this incident would NOT be a story repeated for years to come.

But, it is.  They all tell it and the listener always stares at me and says, “You did WHAT?!”  Sigh.  I can laugh it about now and share it, but, yep, there’s your proof — I’m sometimes brave and daring, but I didn’t just run from the monster – I gave him my beloved son to save my own ass!  Yep, so, sometimes, I’m a coward to the core.