Priorities 1



“I don’t really feel like the Greek tonight, Joe.” It was certainly not the first time she’s changed her mind about an evening’s plans, and with the past as prologue, it most assuredly won’t be the last. ThisPriorities 2 one stung, though, because I really wanted to go this time. It’s a Greek café in Seaport Village, which is a delightful shopping mall located on the waterfront. It’s all casual dining, a place where you go to the counter to order Gyro platters and the like and then grab a table. We almost always get a pitcher of beer; she drinks one small glass, and I finish it off (she’s the Designated Driver). Then we walk around the boardwalk which boarders San Diego Bay. I often have another glass or two of beer, and we end the evening with a cup of coffee at a bookstore/coffee shop, just for the sheer indulgence of it.


It’s been very hot this week, and I have been working some very long days on the Home Theater, ending the night at 7:00 or 7:30. Even though we live in San Diego and are forever touting the glorious weather, the plain fact of the matter is we get our share of humidity from time to time. One of those times was this week. I won’t gross you out with how many T-shirts I sweated up, but, man, this Saturday I was really looking forward to the Greek. Cool night on the bay, a few beers, walking hand-in-hand with my honey, sitting on various benches that face the boardwalk and the ocean, people-watching… It just didn’t get any better than that. But she changed her mind.


Like I said, it really disappointed me. She wanted to go someplace nearby for a burger and a beer, which is what we ended up doing, but man! This would have been our first trip to the Greek this year, and it’s been such a tough, tough week. I deserved that trip, damn it! But even as I was changing clothes and getting ready to go, I was having a little talk with myself. She works too—worked all week at a very challenging job as a Human Resources Manager—and although she wasn’t covered with sweat and sawdust like I was, she did put up with the usual quota of problems, crazies, emergencies, and god knows what all. All I did was saw boards.

Priorities 4More than that, the reason she was tired was because she’d spent the day running errands. Truth to tell, Christine LIKES to shop, but there is shopping and than there is the errand quota. Saturday’s was the latter. And some of those errands were for me! She got me a scrub brush for the shower and a bunch of new socks, which is pretty pedestrian when you think about it, but she did it for me, and did it because she loves me. Next month we will have been married thirty-nine years, and in all that time I seriously doubt I have purchased half a dozen articles of my own clothing. She always does it for me.


When we were first married, she occasionally hinted that she did not like one of the shirts I wore. I eventually figured this out (later I was to tell her, don’t hint; just tell me) and when I did, I dropped the shirt in the wastebasket. It was still a perfectly good shirt, but she didn’t like it. She felt bad and started to protest, but I said, “Hey, you dress to the nines everyplace you go. You know how I am. I will grab anything that fits. But if we’re going out together, you shouldn’t have to stand there thinking what a bozo I am because I don’t know to pick a certain color or fabric. So, here’s a thought. Going forward, just buy me whatever you want me to wear, and I will.” And from that day to this, that’s what she has done, up to and including, returning the occasional item I really do not care for. So, if she got tuckered out running errands for me last Saturday, it would be churlish indeed for me to complain when she didn’t want to make that long drive to the Greek (we live twenty miles inland), and especially so in view of the fact that she would have been the Designated Driver.


But the other part of that is my own past. My parents were in love with each other, but they did not have a marriage I would have wanted for myself. He could be very unreasonable at times, and never more so than when he didn’t get his way. He’d roar at her, and when that didn’t work, he’d pout like a little kid. He’s been gone a quarter of a century now, and her a dozen years, but I remember it like it was yesterday, his leaving the room and sitting in a chair somewhere with his chin down to his chest, her hovering over him, desperately trying to make amends. I never wanted to be that guy, and I never have been.


Priorities 5Some years back we’d made plans for something Christine was going to prepare for dinner, but when the time came, she was too tired to do it. I said, “That’s fine,” to which she immediately replied, “God, I’m glad you’re easy.” From that day to this, that’s been one of about a dozen little names she has for me, “The Big Easy.” When she went to New Orleans some years ago on business, I asked her to get me a T-shirt with that slogan on it, and she did.


So Saturday, just to make sure I was in the proper frame of mind, I made it a point to put on my New Orleans cap and New Orleans T-Shirt with “The Big Easy” on it. So, we went to dinner and had a good time, as I knew we would, and she thanked me for being willing to forego the Greek, which I knew she would, and she began making plans for next weekend, which was as inevitable as all the rest. She’s Mexican-American and cooks lots and lots of that food—and does so divinely, I must say. A couple of years ago, I came across a killer recipe for Margaritas which are, far and away, the best we’ve ever had, to such an extent that we really don’t know what’s second on that list, just that it’s a distant second. So her food and my Margaritas are now the plan for the next weekend.


Some years back I made a very elaborate backyard, and barring the unforeseen, that’s where we’ll be next weekend with a pitcher of my Margaritas and some of her homemade quesadillas, homemade tortilla chips (who the hell even does that in this day and age?), and glorious homemade guacamole. We’ll watch the sun set (we can see all the way to the ocean from our deck), have a toast or two, and enjoy the evening and each other.


When she reads this blog, I know she’ll feel a little guilty (hey, she’s Catholic) and will suggest going to the Greek in the near future, which we will, but not this coming weekend. This one’s got Margaritas and her home cooking written all over it. But, hey, that’s the secret of a happy marriage: learning how to prioritize.