Friday, July 15, 2005

Love Stories

He's a huge hulk of a man, who lumbers to my desk roughly once every two months. He was a customer of mine at my previous bank, and he brought one of his small accounts over to my new bank, just because, he said, "it's nice talking to you."

He owns a small and minimally successful excavating and construction company in our tiny town, and comes in covered in dirt and grime. His once white socks have long since turned Crayola's burnt sienna, his gray t-shirts muddy brown in random places. In the summertime, he's always sweaty, a ring of perspiration meandering down the front of his shirt, from his neck to his belly button. His thick fingers, topped by wide fingernails, have dirt imbedded so deeply in them that it's possible his hands may never look clean.

When I first met him, well over five years ago, he scared me. His height, his attitude, his constant expression that says stay away from me...They all kept me from wanting to know him at all. But after his daily trips to my drive-thru window, I had no choice but to get to know him. And like him.

Little by little, in our daily exchanges, little pieces of our lives spilled through the drive-thru's speaker. My engagement, his marriage, my school, his business, my recent move from Vegas, his numerous children. We came to know each other in sections, little segments of our lives that were revealed almost accidentally.

When he came in yesterday, sweat shining on his sunburned forehead and wearing his uniform of dust-covered clothes, it was nice to see him. It had been a long while since he'd been in.

"Hey, Joe!" I chirped from my desk when I saw his huge frame duck through the doorway. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Busy, Laurie. Busy." He plopped into the chair before me, sighing to punctuate his exhaustion.

"What's going on?"

"Well, Stephanie just had another baby." His whole face beamed when he told me. "Our fifth."

"Five kids?" I asked, in feigned shock. "Joe, you guys really have to get a TV or something."

He laughed. "I know."

"No really," I said, "that's so great. Congratulations."

"Thanks."

"I think your wife is eligible for sainthood now, with five kids and you to deal with on a daily basis.”

“Oh yeah, but she was eligible a long time ago.”

He then launched into the history of his relationship with his wife.

How they met, and how he thought there was no way he’d have a chance with woman like her. How he asked out on a date and was shocked when she said yes. How he knew she was The One as soon as they started dating. But how he thought he could keep up his wild ways – staying out too late, drinking too much – even though he was dating her. How they were going to a wedding when they were dating for mere months and she was taking too long to get ready, and he decided he was going out to the bar instead of sitting around and waiting for her. “Oh no you’re not,” she said. But he turned around to leave anyway. And she smacked him in the back of the head with the iron she was using on her dress for the evening. And how he sat down, rubbing the bruise on his skull, and said “I guess I’ll just wait right here.” How that moment was the moment he knew she wasn’t going take his shit. How he proposed. How they were engaged after a year of dating, then married five years after that. How they’ve been married for thirteen years, but together for nineteen. How he wakes up every day and wonders how he ever got so lucky. How his friends still ask him how he managed to get a woman like her, and how he always answers “Luck.” How he has her on a pedestal. How he doesn’t make enough money to take care of her like she deserves, but how he would do anything in world for her if she only asked.

Looking at the two of them, you’d never put them together.

He’s rough and loud, gruff, rowdy and brisk. He’s tall and wide and strong, a working man. He’s imposing and intimidating, towering over most people he encounters.

She’s petite. Soft-spoken and gentle, she offers smiles that reveal dimples that hide in her soft cheeks until coaxed out of hiding. She’s polite and courteous, delicate in every way.

But they fit.

“Do you know that song, Big Bad Bill, by Van Halen?” he continued. I shook my head no. “Well, it’s about a guy who’s wild and crazy and everyone calls him Big Bad Bill, until he meets this girl and he changes. They start calling him Sweet William instead. That’s my song. My kids sing it to me, only they change Bill to Joe and William to Joey. She changed my life, Laurie, in all the best ways.”

I was mesmerized, enthralled by the story of polar opposites finding each other. Of this giant of a man at the mercy of such a slight woman.

It was so nice to hear his story. Nicer still to think that not all love stories are unattainable or end in tragedy. And that some, at nineteen years, are only just beginning.

16 comments:

Popeye said...

It's just so damn good to know about happy people. Sometimes I wonder if they exist. Wonderful, wonderful post.

Charlie Mc said...

wow, great post, had me choked up a bit.

By the way, that Van Halen tune kicks ass, you should check it out! :)

kate said...

That is your best post yet! I think I'm in love with this man. LOL. How wonderful is it to know that there are men out there who know what love is and appreciate the life they have. Ohhh... it's so freaking sweet. :)

Islandgirl said...

Oh, I love that so much. Those stories are the best and with the fact that they have FIVE kids!!! Crazy. Those people deserve a gold medal :-)

Julie said...

I'm sitting here at work thinking about my own great love. Sometimes I think that we came together so easily...when in reality it took me 2 very long (failed) relationships, 3 states and then 1 1/2 years of self-proclaimed singlehood to get here. Then when it happened, I resisted. I was too worried about changing our friendship or losing my independence to jump right in. I saw only our differences and the shock on people’s faces which then transformed to a silent approval. Almost two years later, we have become the couple that everyone admires…the one that is a “sure thing”. It only takes a story like that to make me picture my lovely man's adoring eyes and see how lucky I am in love. Thank you.

NJ said...

Great post! But I think someone already said that. :-)

God's gift to women (with really low standards) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erin said...

This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I'm glad I stopped by. I wished you worked at my bank.

Robert said...

I stumbled across your blog through Popeye's. I'm so glad I did. Thanks to you, this wonderful story has touched me too, and warmed up a corner of my herat that has been getting colder and colder since I stopped believing in the fairytale ending. Thank you.

Kris said...

Stories of happiness are sadly underrated. Too bad they don't carry things like this on the evening news.

Dairn said...

Stumbled onto your blog randomly. I lik eyour writing style - very real (if that makes sense!). Have a great weekend.

James said...

Laurie,

I wanted to thank you for your support. I don't think I'm a good writer, I don't compare to you and some of the others. I write whats on my mind, and editing and spelling are left out making for some raw posts. I think you are an excellent story teller, and I enjoy these daily glimpses into you life. Thanks for letting us in, for walking a mile in your shoes. I'm just glad you don't make me wear the stilletos, they make my feet hurt. Thanks again for stopping by and your kind words, you brighted my day.

James

Heather said...

oooohhh as always, a great post!!

Thanks for sharing the story!!

Kristi said...

Our time will come Girlie!!

it will.

Won't it........

The Zombieslayer said...

Sweet story. But no, they're not too opposite. Just opposite in looks, but not attitude.

It takes a strong woman to keep a hard man interested.

Aaron the Truck Driver said...

i keep hearing Hulk Hogans voice when i read