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Sunday, February 27, 2011

You Want To Be In Love In A Movie

Shellie is a movie buff. Me, not-so-much. She would stand in line at the midnight premier of every blockbuster just to be among the first to see it. She's all about the event. I'm more content to wait until the original fervor has subsided, like when it comes out on DVD or late night cable. But we do both enjoy the classics.
So this year we began a project. I downloaded the list of the top 100 romances from the American Film Institute's website. At first we were going to try all 100 within the calendar year, but soon decided that was too much television for our schedules. Many of the movies near the top of the list we are already familiar with and even own. So we started down the list a bit. I've been getting these from the public library. Some have to be placed on hold and then there's a wait. But it is a pleasant surprise and a good at-home date night when they come in.
We've discovered that some of the "classics" are not necessarily that great. Many are star driven and don't require much plot. Throw in a Grant, Bogart, Hepburn, Stewart, Bergman, etc. and you've probably got a hit, and some of them are quite fun in their own way. We have discovered some gems along the way. We truly enjoyed such new-to-us films as "The Ghost And Mrs. Muir" and "Now, Voyager." Neither of us liked "The Bridges Of Madison County."
What makes romances so popular? They're often predictable, implausible, and down-right silly, but still we watch. For me it's the ending. Many, though not all, have happy endings and I'm all about happy endings. I don't see the point in investing two hours of your life just to be depressed, confused, or even irritated. Life is often that way and movies should be escapist fun.
Plus, don't we all want to be in love in the movies? Even we guys want to see ourselves as heroes who eventually come through when most needed. But this doesn't take anything away from the heroine who is also strong and courageous in her own right. It's the two of them against incredible odds that plays out across the screen.
Actually a good marriage can be much that way. There's much in the world that would distract, complicate, and otherwise attack our families. That's when we cling to each other to battle the enemies and evils of the world. Guys, are you someone's hero?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How a Baked Potato Can Feed Your Soul

I could write pages upon pages about how awful my day was and how angry I felt.  I could tell you about my struggle to pray through it even as my stomach was burning and my hands were shaking.

But, I'd rather tell you how the people who love me best were angry on my behalf and it made me feel championed even though there was nothing any of them could do.

And, I'd rather tell you that when the thought of going home and cooking dinner was too much and all I wanted was a baked potato, though I hadn't said a word about it, when I went to pick up Bruce after work, he gave me a hug and said, "I thought I'd buy you dinner tonight.  You deserve it.  How about a potato at McAlister's?"

That fed my soul.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So What Does A Man Know About Romance?

You may be surprised to see me here. I have guest commented before, but Shellie has asked me to contribute on a semi-regular basis. She is currently reviewing the galleys for her second book (Love Under A Dark Sky), working on her third book, writing book reviews for the librarians' website, all while continuing with her career change. Yet this blog is dear to her heart and she doesn't wish to see it sit dormant for long stretches. So it's husband to the rescue. Well, maybe. I am, after all, only a man. And what does a man know about romance?
Every blog begins with a certain amount of audacity in that we feel we have something worthwhile to say. I'll be honest up front, that may or may not be true in this case. But I do love my wife and feel we have a strong, healthy, love-filled marriage. Also, I've worked surrounded by women in my thirty-one years in an elementary school. I've listened and hopefully learned from all their viewpoints of husbands, boyfriends, and men in general. So rather than an authority, advice, or even tips, my postings are much more likely to be random musings from the vantage point of a happily married middle-aged man. But for today, this is a poem by Amy Lowell I believe she sums up the way I, and many other men, feel about romance.

The Bungler

You glow in my heart
Like the flames of uncounted candles.
But when I go to warm my hands,
My clumsiness overturns the light
And then I stumble
Against the tables and chairs.

(Sound familiar, guys?)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Yesterday we traveled to St. Louis to watch the Blues play hockey.  It was one of those times when things were looking great.  We got away half an hour earlier than we'd planned and thought that would give us plenty of time to wander around the Central West End before having lunch at one of our favorite places and then on to the game.

A bit of history about our trips to St. Louis.  It seems that at least seven out of ten times we set off for St. Louis it rains.  Not such a big deal if we're going for the Art Museum or a hockey game, but trips to the Muny, Busch Stadium, the botanical gardens, the Loop. . . rain matters.  Yesterday, it was misty.  Too misty for intermittent wipers, but not misty enough for full-on swish-swish.  And then, it misted a bit more.  Soon we were driving in a rain.  As I say, not so unusual for us.  Bruce, my eternal optimist of a husband always says, "We'll drive out of it."  We rarely do.

We arrived at the Central West End and it was raining but good.  And cold.  We were a little too early for lunch, but Bruce found a parking spot just across the street from the restaurant and right next to Subterranean Books.  So, I hopped out and dashed in while he fed the meter.  We wandered around a bit and decided to go ahead and walk up the street to Coffee Cartel for a warming cup of coffee before we ate.  It was still raining.  And quite cold.

As we passed our parking meter, Bruce stopped to see how much time was left on it.  I ducked under an awning and heard him say:  "Out of order?"  No problem.  The space behind us was open.  I shivered under the awning while he backed up, fed a new meter and we hurried on toward the now much needed coffee.

On the way, Bruce's cell phone rang.  Some unhappy news from home, but nothing that was urgent so as to call us back right then; although, the conversation was difficult on a cell phone on a street suddenly alive with large trucks heading up and down through rain puddles.

We decided to check the hours on our restaurant's door just to be sure we would have the time we needed.  I heard Bruce again, this time rather incredulous:  "Closed on Mondays?"  Of course.

The coffee was wonderful, though.  And, there was another restaurant just up the way that would be fine. In fact, we recalled having eaten there once before.  The more we thought about it, the more we became convinced that the reason we had eaten there once before was that we had come up on a Monday and found the other one closed.  Note to self!

Duff's aside, Dressel's was great.  The vegetarian menu was dinky (salads, pretty much), but one of the staff offered to light the fireplace beside me.  Call me grateful!  My hair, previously nice and smooth from a great morning with the flat iron (remember, I started by telling you how things were looking great for our day?) was now curlier than I've seen it in decades, as wet as if I'd just shampooed, and cold.  

We got to Scottrade and found our seats.  On the top row.  That's the top row - no more rows above us.  And my seat was next to a bit of wall that jutted out.  Oh, and the Blues lost.  To the Blackhawks.  It was just sad.

We drove toward home, the sun now peeking through and no evidence at all that it had rained earlier in the day.  We listened to Chris Botti and, even though the day wasn't anything like we'd planned and we knew once we got back home there would be some not-so-great family / health things to deal with, we found ourselves talking about how blessed we are.  How sad we find it that other couples can't or don't or won't make time (yes, make time) to date each other.  How we are so glad that we're friends, that we enjoy each others' company, that our marriage is romantic every single day because it's important to us to cultivate that.  How good it was to be together just. . . driving.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It Blizzarded

With hype hypier than the hype for this Sunday's Super Bowl, our local newscasters ushered in the Blizzard of 2011.  It snowed.  A lot.  And I'm sure it was pretty bad right out in it.  But, from the comfort of my living room it was just pretty.  There's something charming about being "stuck" with no choices about where to go or, for us over several days, whether or not to go online, because the car is behind a fort-sized mound of white and the Internet is down.  The power stayed on, so we weren't relegated to temporary pallets on the floor for sleeping by the fire and eating peanut butter.  We got to make chili and brew coffee and read by lamplight instead of candlelight.  We rediscovered some of our favorite c.d.s since we couldn't stream North Shore Radio or MPR.

Had I not been under the weather (sorry, it had to be done), I might have written.  But, fever and general ickiness made my focus too . . . unfocused for anything important like plot development.  I looked at magazines and snuggled with my dog under a favorite old blanket fresh from the dryer.  Today when the sun came out I shook myself out of the mental cobwebs and attacked the real ones attached to my windows upstairs.  The beautiful sun on the brilliant snow showed up a multitude of sins in regard to my housekeeping and the days of being confined to the house along with Puxatony Phil's prediction of an early spring gave me the strength and stamina I needed to embrace the Shark Vac like Snow White did the broom and sweep / suck away the dust of a thousand days (okay, not a thousand, but it may as well have been for how dirty everything seemed).

Yes, indeedy.  It blizzarded.