Now that I’m really settled down for bad or good, I can’t help but reflect on my lengthy past as a happy-go-lucky single. How can I forget the many bizarre, crazy, and benighted times I’ve misled myself into a man’s twin loving arms, and how very much I miss loving every minute of it? How?
Why, I squirm as if caught in a velvet trap…well, I could, but my husband is standing right behind me and might ask me what I’m sitting on.
Yes, it’s been nothing but high misadventure for me, especially since I lost my extremely brave and sincere first husband, a wonderful Austrian-American Jew, to combined MS and cancer on February 23, 1985.
I loved him so much…even after more than a dozen intensive, fascinating, and downright roller-coaster relationships before then, my first real commitment, he was still the only man I ever truly loved (Remigio, stop looking at this over my shoulder!)
Anyway, several eventful years and as many nerve-wracking, tumultuous, and sanity-defying relationships later, I landed in the plastic schoolroom seat in front of Remigio, my future second husband, in a five-week Certified Nurse Aide class held at a nursing home near Northgate in Seattle, next to a merrily perking and brewing coffee pot. Innocent and unknowing, I was headed for yet another high-pitched roller coaster ride.
All my relationships, especially as an adult, have been crazy ones. My first husband thought he lucked out marrying his sexy young attendant. In his early thirties, Gary was dying horribly, often in great pain, and I was forced to fall deeply in love with his stubborn courage and what was ebbing away of his once trim and athletic youthful body. He was the first person who truly needed, wanted, and loved me. His courage lasted completely, until the very end. Oh, how I have missed his loving, gentle arms.
After he died, I had several wild, bitter and tragically brief affairs. If I ever write about everything that happened, it would make three or four excellent trashy novels. Whatever, it was fun being single again, a vast relief from the hours of watching over Gary’s dying and emaciated form.
But Remigio stopped my new single life cold simply by kicking the frail back of my chair in CNA class—HARD! He received all my undivided attention, distracting me from talking to a fellow classmate, a middle-aged black lady. He caught me in the middle of accidentally sniffing at her. I apparently was coming down with a major head cold.
Really, I would like to think ‘twas because he preferred the pretty, teasingly mid-calf length crisp white skirt I was wearing for the first time in class to the pretty much bulkily pantaloned, overweight, and married other female denizens of our class. Well, Grace, the middle-aged black lady, was only sitting pat. A hard worker of several years standing, she was being “grandfathered in” as a CNA, but still had to take the class.
Remigio may have been trying to protect her from me, as I’d been sniffling at her for the last three or four sessions…such was vengeance from Karen the Terrible. SNIFF !!
Grace was sitting to the right front, I was seated to the rear left, and as I’d recently had an extremely weird experience involving three black men and a basketball, I was fitfully “taking it out” on Grace. I was casting her sidelong glances, and sniffing loudly, intermittently and guiltily considering fetching her a hot cup of coffee as the pot was brewing closer to me than her. It would have been hard for her to squeeze between the seats and fetch herself a hot, fresh cup. I began getting her some coffee.
Sometimes I added creamer. I even stirred it with the little red plastic stir sticks. She finally asked me to add a sugar packet, please.
She liked the coffee, but our distantly commiserative relationship as two ladies of nursing was rudely interrupted by the rapid-fire entrance of Remigio’s sneakered foot through the reverberating back of my nearly shattering cheap plastic chair. I’ve lovingly saved the black marks on the back of my white nursing jacket for years.
Turning around, right after the “kick-off,” I astonishingly faced a middle-aged, awfully hate-ridden, and flatly Hispanic cold stare. This angry face, however, reminded me of a similar nut-brown countenance, a Middle-Eastern teacher I’d been attracted to ‘way back at Ohio University in 1978. Said chap always mispronounced the word “equilibrium” in a characteristic accent that could shatter a glass retort. He explained the rules of physical science to us neophyte med students in as high of a pitch as he could muster, but it was musical and alluring somehow…and this kicky guy behind me looked a lot like him.
Remigio turned out to be a quite engaging and multi-talented Philippino/Hawaiian import, a seventh-degree black belt martial arts expert, a fabulous chef of all regional cuisines and one heck of a lip-locking rugged kisser, in approximately that order. I was an artist and writer of long standing who needed some work "on the side," so I'd decided to take a Certified Nursing training course and move in with a little old lady I knew who needed the help. It was a great free way to continue with my career without interference. But now this new guy had shown up in my life. What can you do when they come at you from behind like that? I tried out assuming there was something nice about him.
He gradually broke down in his enmity towards me, merrily chasing me to the bus stop in his beat-up old blue and white pickup truck. He soon followed me home, and Mommy said I could keep him. Actually, “Mommy” was that little old lady, Carrie, a disabled, fellow "freckly" dwarf (you could spot her) I was working for and living with at the time. She needed extensive in-home care, and Remigio went right to work helping us move into a larger apartment, even cooking and cleaning for us. I scarcely had to lift a finger; Remigio was simply everywhere, driving us to church and generally relieving me of my cares and woes until Carrie abruptly died, peacefully in her sleep. Well, possibly those Catholic nurses gave her a lethal injection. She may have been wandering around at night and screaming her lungs out. She had a very bad knee problem, and had kept me awake nights frequently with it. Again, what can you do?
We married a week and a day after Cinquo de Mayo, 1991. We’re still madly in love, and near Christmas day of 1994 we were blessed by a Pinay from Heaven, our little princess Angela, nut-brown as her Daddy and sporting my chipmunk cheekbones. Yes, Remigio is crazy about me now. We should be okay, as long as they don’t use the nets.
This incident may be the only time in history that a cold-stricken gal every attracted a lonely, jealously protective guy through being an apparently obvious, blatant and coffee-fetching sniffing presumed bigot. Bigots and non-bigots alike, take note.
I guess I’d suggest that more single white ladies, and any other intrigued parties, try sniffling (or sniffing) at nearby black people to see whose attention they furtively attract. Of course, you may inadvertently attract a black person, which might work out quite well for you, especially if they happen to be an excellent cook -- as the husband of a friend of mine (who used this method) turned out to be. Hope that he or she has a sense of humor. Or, believe in whatever powers that may be.
If so, it helps a lot if you fetch them some coffee. It soothes their tired, ruffled feathers. Seems some folks are more descendants of birds than lizards.
Be sure and add some cream and sugar.