July 2011

Happy birthday, baby

By Gail Binkly

When I first met my husband-to-be back in 1986, he didn’t immediately strike me as promising marriage material, to put it bluntly. There were several reasons for this, not the least of which was the fact that he was back in college at a rather late age, virtually penniless, living in a ramshackle house that he rented for a pittance and driving a piebald 20-year-old Mustang.

For the first six months of our acquaintance I thought of him as odd. However, “odd” then evolved into “eccentric,” and that turned into “interesting,” and finally I decided he was the most interesting person I’d ever known. We were married in 1992 and have since spent considerable time together, but he has never disappointed me by becoming less interesting.

Now he’s approaching one of those big birthdays, the sort that end in “5” or “0,” and I thought it might be a good time to take stock of why I think he’s special.

What are the reasons you love someone? Sure, in the early stages you have a lot of dramatic and grandiose notions about true romance and undying passion, but when you live together on a daily basis, it’s the little things that matter. These aren’t the stuff that epic movies are made of, but they have a cumulative effect. So maybe I don’t hear an orchestra swelling when David’s car pulls up in the driveway every afternoon, and maybe we don’t run out to meet each other on a wind-swept hill, but there is nevertheless a warm feeling in my heart when he walks in the door.

Why? Well, here are a few of the things that endear him to me:

• David has never once said, “Another pet? No way!”

• He can do a passable impression of every president since John F. Kennedy.

• Whenever I get a migraine, he brings me cold washcloths and rushes out to buy me a Popsicle to settle my stomach.

• He never complains about getting up at 4:30 every morning and going to work in Durango to keep our financial ship afloat.

• The stories he tells about growing up in Appalachia or being a hippie in the 1960s never grow old.

• He owns about a thousand hand tools – and can use every one of them.

• He can, and often does, wash his own laundry.

• But even though we’re equal and liberated and all that, he kills spiders and disposes of dead birds for me.

• We have fascinating conversations about things like whether the lyrics to “Season of the Witch” contain a shred of meaning and the differences between Romulans, Ferengi and Cardassians.

• Despite two enormous back surgeries (his spine is held together by titanium and the skill of Dr. Youssef) he believes he ought to help dig the garden and clean the house.

• He’s the optimist to my pessimist, the one who sees the humor and hope in every situation.

So happy birthday, baby. I’d rather wander up a dry desert wash looking at cacti with you than anyone else on earth.

And I was wrong when I said we’d never be rich.

Gail Binkly is editor of the Free Press.