There was a knock on the front door at my house first thing this morning.
A friend of mine, Melissa, brought me a banana bread her mother had baked yesterday. As she was leaving her house this morning to go to work, her mom yelled from the kitchen, “Don’t forget to drop the banana bread to…the lady.” We laughed about the fact her mother couldn’t remember my name, but she did remember to give me some banana bread. I can live with that!
Although, I must admit remembering names has never been my strength. So, I’d be the last one to criticize anyone for forgetting anyone’s name. I considered expertise in remembering names just a detail. But she remembered to send me a banana bread: now she has her priorities straight!
This is serious business and nothing to joke about, don’t you agree? When she told me that her mother had used the word “lady”, I remembered the funniest story. My husband called me “lady” on our second date. His voice was soft and husky. I was a goner; hook, line, and sinker. Blissfully drowning in his dreamy blue eyes.
There was something in the way he whispered “lady”. It validated what I had known but was perplexed by the fact that no one else had seemed to notice: I was a grown-up! After all, I was 21. I had waited, not always so patiently, for what felt like an eternity, to meet my knight in shining armor.
There he was, standing, right there in front of me. And when he gently touched my arm, I felt the electricity from my nose to my toes. Yes indeed, he was “The One”. He was the man of my dreams. Some called me a fool, we had just met. I believed, no I was sure, I belonged in his arms for the rest of my life. He exceeded all my expectations, and beside him is where I wanted to be.
OK, now for the rest of the story, and it’s a good one. You can judge for yourself whether or not you think it’s funny. Fast forward 20 years. We had gone to Andrew’s 25th class reunion and stayed at his friend’s house in Annapolis, Maryland. My now-husband Andrew had graduated from the Naval Academy in 1972, and every five years we returned for his class reunions.
By this time, I had become good friends with many of his classmates and their wives. It’s not that we saw each other all that often, but there was a very special bond that any words fail miserably to express. Graduating from the United States Naval Academy comes with a commitment of serving in the Naval fleet for the next five years. All the rigorous training was grueling. The studies consisted of courses that to this day I still don’t understand what they were.
All athletic teams competed in Division One Army/Navy football games, and are attended by the full Brigade of Midshipmen from the Naval Academy and the Corp of Cadets from the United States Military Academy. The President of the United States or some very high official from the government also attends. They change sides at halftime showing undeniable allegiance to both sides. A parade of all the men, (women were not allowed to attend until 1976), in their uniforms is quite impressive and very memorable.
All the sports and their athletes are held in very high regard. By the time they graduate from this highly competitive environment, both in the classroom and on the field, a bond has been created that is not easily broken. These were men of great honor and it was a privilege not only to know them but to call them friends that felt like family. The women they married were very special and dedicated to their husband’s careers. There were a lot of long deployments, time spent apart worrying about their safety and female support systems helped us through it all.
I had always heard that you really don’t understand anyone’s situation until you walk in their shoes and that certainly was the case here. We had all woken up early and were sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee. All of our husbands were in the family room which was actually connected. We were together, but very separate at the same time. The women had one conversation going on, the men had another.
I wasn’t eavesdropping, necessarily, it’s just that my seat was closest to where the guys were congregating. One guy spoke louder than the other, amidst all the laughing and reminiscing about the good old days. I was there for some of those years after graduating. I don’t remember them ever referring to them as good. LOL!
I was sure the only reason I was listening, or eavesdropping, (tomato tomata, potato potata) was when I heard my husband‘s voice. It grabbed my attention. I listened as he shared with the other guys that he had a fail-safe way of never getting into a certain predicament. He made it a habit to call all the girls he met “lady.” That way, if or when he forgot their names, he was covered.
I don’t know which was worse: the beaming smile on his face, or the cheers, laughing and all around acknowledgment of his brilliant go-to plan. Have you ever heard someone say something and regardless of what you have thought for how many years, you know it was the truth? That was me!
He caught me staring at him out of the corner of his eye. I’m sure I had the utter look of shock on my face, my jaw dropped and I was as still as a statue. He simply tilted his head to the right with a sheepish grin and shrugged his shoulders.
Here’s my take. He never lied to me or told me he didn’t call every girl he ever met “lady”. I had fabricated this entire romantic fantasy in my brain. And to be honest, I like my story better. The truth is not always what it’s cracked up to be, especially if you’ve been the one fooling yourself all along.
Pick your battles. I might have lost this battle, but I won the war. The wish everyone gets the chance, at least once in their lives, to experience the kind of love I have for him.