Today I rushed after work to get some pictures of the peonies at the garden next to the library. My husband, who knew of my plans, surprised me there, as he was apt to do in the our early days. He informed some of the other visitors to the garden, “I’m having an affair with her.”
After I’d been dating him for five years, he gave me the gift of a red Valentine’s Day bag from a store where I worked in the mid 90’s. The bag looked just like the ones we offered in the jewelry department back then. He told me, “This was the bag you gave me when you sold me my garnet ring.”
He’d kept that bag for twelve years before I started dating him. When I mentioned that I’d worked at that store, he told me, “You were the girl with purple hair who worked at Service Merchandise.”
The photo for this post shows the very first birthday gift I gave to my now husband. I had been searching for wash cloth patterns online because some of them can be absurdly challenging given the purpose of the object that is created with the pattern. For instance, no one needs a wash cloth that’s cabled like a fisherman’s knit sweater, yet I’m sure such patterns exist. I suppose wash cloths are a safe canvas for trying new techniques in knit or crochet. The canvas is small, and it doesn’t take too long to unravel the wash cloth if it turns out to be hideous or misshapen.
In my search for a new wash cloth to knit, I found a pattern called “The Gift of Time.” I decided that I would make it for this man I hadn’t known for long, for I did not have much to give back then aside from my time. I bought a dollar ball of cotton yarn in a masculine colorway and knitted it for him. I gave it to him with a note about the title of the pattern. I didn’t worry that I’d look crazy in taking the time to do such a thing for him. I figured that he wouldn’t use it, but I hoped it would matter to him, nonetheless, sort of like the pink oxford shirt I bought for my dad when I was 15 and didn’t know any better.
I look at the photo above and notice that the colorway wasn’t all that masculine. Once again I gave a gift that was at least partly pink to a man.
I can no longer find “The Gift of Time” pattern online, but I can still find the man to whom I gave that gift. He’s asleep in the recliner in our living room.
My husband let me know that he ate a bowl of cereal and a “lady k” of hot dogs for lunch. I hesitated to ask about Lady K. Was this a bit of slang from yesteryear that I should know? Then I asked anyway and discovered that my husband’s phone invented Lady K.
Who was Lady K and how did she get a pack of hot dogs named for her? She was a moonshiner who had a St.-Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment when she was weary of sneaking yet another 1000 lb. load of sugar in the back of her pickup truck. Unloading the last bag, she studied the sagging frame and tired axle of her truck. She saw her way out of this dirty business: she would trade her last gallon of moonshine for a meat grinder.
With that grinder she made the finest batch of hot dogs she ever tasted. She sold them in a ever-widening circle, starting with her past moonshine clients. One of them suggested that she could be famous if she solved the problem of having more hot dogs than buns.
So she set about the alchemy of baking a 10 pack of buns that could be sold together with 10 hot dogs. Thus was born the Lady K of hot dogs.
Of course the Lady drove a pickup truck. I struggle to create fiction beyond photo moments, but there is usually something in that mental picture that makes me think the person I imagine would drive a truck. Maybe this is because I can make up stories about as well as I can drive a truck. I failed my driving test three times, by the way.
I once created a truck-driving father for my nephew’s ex-girlfriend. While my nephew was dating her, I wondered a few times what her father thought of him. I imagined her dad washing his cracked hands with Lava soap in the kitchen sink, weary from hauling stuff in his pickup truck and shaking his head over the antics of my renegade nephew. He’d hear “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart and resign himself to the fact there will always be some boy who drives “his pickup like a lunatic.”
He was once that boy. Maybe his daughter was like the 10 lb baby born in that song, too, a love child born to runaways.
The real opinion of this young woman’s father would remain a mystery. A couple years after I had first wondered about him, I heard that there was no man living in her home. A single woman had adopted her and her two siblings.
I imagined that a man at work with an unruly beard would drive a pickup truck to a sparsely furnished home, where alone he’d read the works of John Muir and craft dining room furniture from reclaimed wood. This fellow actually drove a Jetta and had a growing family.
Back to my husband, I will tell you that I didn’t need to imagine him in a truck, for I first saw him getting into one. I was impressed that he could hop into a truck without jiggling or holding onto the door for balance. For short folks like him and me, this is a feat of grace.
His truck was ruined in an accident a couple years ago. By the time his truck was gone, I could see him as he was, free of the illusions that ease the start of any relationship. I know that he is not any more perfect inside or out than I am, and I still love him.
This morning he showed me that his truck has disappeared from online satellite photos of our home. I often think of how he looked the first time I saw him jump into that truck, but I prefer the man I see today, the man who can hop into a Honda Fit after eating an entire pack of hot dogs.