Elvis had his American Trilogy...
and I have my own. You see, seven years ago, Betty and I got married.
That's right: we celebrated our country's Independence Day by becoming codependent.
So in honor of the Fourth of July and also to my beautiful wife on our anniversary, I'm writing this blog to the structure of Elvis's "An American Trilogy."
Look away, Dixieland... look away. Because right around the time that our story begins, I'm wearing an Hawaiian shirt, a big grass hat I got at Carlos and Charlie's in Cozumel on my senior trip, a grass skirt, flip flops and the Union Jack underwear from the movie Austin Powers. And for some reason, one of the girls at a party I'm hosting at my apartment on the south gates of LSU's campus accepts my offer to go on the Slip N Slide.
It was a fraternity / sorority exchange with my fraternity (FIJI) and Betty's sorority (DZ). This particular exchange was themed "Wet and Wild," so naturally we had a Slip N Slide. And not just any Slip N Slide - a big one that fits two people. I now know the difference, having recently bought a Slid N Slide to recreate this particular festivus night, and having it only be big enough for one person to slide down at a time.
Anyway, it was a 3.5 hour party, but my brother - who was also my roommate - took the first 30 minute shift at the party. (We decided to take shifts in order for someone to watch our apartment. Wet and Wild parties are known to destroy couches, beds, carpets, rugs and relationships.) My brother's "30 minute" shift actually lasted 3 hours, which gave me hardly any time to enjoy the party, throw water balloons at my fraternity brothers who were trying to hook up, and find a date to the LSU football game that weekend.
We lived on the second floor of our apartment, and I met Betty on the way down the stairs. She was talking with another girl, but I only had eyes for her. At this point in the story, I like to say that she was staring at my Austin Powers undies, which fit like Speedos, but she would prefer me to say that she had locked eyes with me and that I was entrapped by her beauty (which I was). I, having no game whatsoever, simply said, "Hey baby, wanna go on the Slip N Slide?" And since she had been drinking our punch, which I had made that night (the contents of which I will never divulge, except to say that we put gummy worms in it), she said, "Yes!"
We slid down the Slip N Slide together. When we reached the end of our watery slide down my back yard, I promptly sat on her, held her head to the wet ground, and said that I wouldn't let her up unless she agreed to go to the upcoming LSU football game with me. Because she was either tipsy or needed air, she agreed.
It was love at first slide.
All My Trials
The lyrics to the song "All My Trials" are pretty grim, and I find no convergence with those lyrics and my life except for "Hush little baby, don't you cry." I've sung those lyrics to my kids, going from Mockingbird to Diamond Ring, then I always have to make something up because I don't know what comes after Diamond Ring. I mean, who buys a baby a diamond ring, anyway?
Since this section is called "All My Trials," I'll tell you about the hardest part of being a dad.
Our daughter, Anne, was born in 2008. She's the light of my life. I can't imagine what life was like before her. And my son, Peter, is a stud.
With Anne, it was hard to leave her after she was born that first day that I went back to work. I remember standing over her bed, looking at her, and just welling up with tears. She was so beautiful, and I was so sad to leave her. Every day after that got a little easier, but that first day was very tough. I was in a bad mood all day. People at work came by to congratulate me and I accepted with a gruff demeanor. I missed my baby!
The hardest part with Peter was when he was in the NICU for a very high fever. That was last year on mine and Betty's anniversary. The doctors and nurses were wonderful, and we're thankful that Peter was OK. But being around the other families in the NICU made me so thankful to have two healthy children.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Betty and I dated for three years before we got engaged. We were engaged for the better part of a year. And we've been married for seven. So that's 11 years together. The fact that she hasn't killed me yet either means that she really loves me or that she's waiting for me to get better life insurance coverage.
I was originally going to propose in Brazil. We were planning a trip down there to see Betty's uncle for New Year's, and in Brazil they celebrate the new year by wearing all white and running into the ocean. I had planned on proposing on the beach, although I had no idea how I was going to get the ring down there without her knowing. (Plus I didn't have a ring at that time.) The brilliant part of this plan was that we could then go back to Brazil every few years to relive our engagement.
Our Brazil plans fell apart, so I did the next best thing: I forced Betty to say yes by proposing to her in front of my family during Thanksgiving. I led the Thanksgiving prayer, and in the middle of it, said that I was thankful for Betty, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry me. And when she said yes, I yelled, "Amen!"
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Happy anniversary, Betty! I love you!
Happy 4th of July, everyone! Thank you to everyone who has fought for our freedom. We do not take it for granted.