He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (or does he?)
Down at the Pub
Love is like the wind. You can’t see it, but you can feel it.
-Nicholas Sparks (in A Walk to Remember)
So there I was again, at the corner pub, minding my own business as I do. It had been a very busy Saturday night and Holly had stayed after close to help Christina clean up the place. It’s amazing how much of a mess people can leave behind. But there is an advantage for me in all of this. On Friday and Saturday nights, the kitchen is now open providing appetizers and specialty dinners as Chad, Holly’s husband, has become the pubs’ “chef”. And the advantage is I get leftovers. This particular night he was making grilled shark steaks with a butter and garlic sauce. Oh so good. While I ate I was listening to the three of them.
“You seem a bit distant tonight, honey”, Holly said to Christina as she passed by with a bus tub of dishes.
“Guess I have a bit on my mind.”
“Thinking about Bobby?”
“It is that obvious?”
“Love always is, baby.”
Holly wandered in to the kitchen, said something to Chad that even I couldn’t understand and then she came back out to Christina.
“So… what’s going on?” She asked this in a serious tone, then smiled.
Christina wrung out her bar towel and looked out into space for a moment. “I’m not sure… I’m just not sure that he’s…”
She quickly turned to Holly. “No, no, no… I’m fairly certain the he is… I’m mean he puts up with me and all of my weirdness.”
“Then what is it, dear?”
“I’m just not sure that he’s… going to stay. You know that here have been the others that from time to time that seemed to be the one. But they all left. And I am to blame for all of them leaving.”
“First off, honey, you are not the reason they left you. They are the reason they left you. You say the you have weirdness, but let me tell you, a few of those guys had enough weirdness for several people. Like that Tom fella and his superstitions. And that Carl guy with the car. I swear he loved it more than anything else. So don’t be sayin’ that it’s you, ‘cause it ain’t.”
“How can you say that?”
“’Cause it’s true! Sure you’re a bit nutty, but we all are in our own way. But you ain’t so much so that it’d drive a man off. No way, dear.”
“Then how do I know that Bobby’s going to stay with me? For the long haul, I mean.”
Chad had wandered out of the kitchen just as she was saying that. He spoke up, “How does anyone know that about anyone? I mean really, how do you?”
“I know that you’re here to stay, lover. No matter what crowing you make when you’re all mad, I know that you not going anywhere.” Holly smiled at him.
He gave a big grin back and turned back to the kitchen to clean up. “I know you’re right. Much as times I hate to admit it.” He then disappeared through the swinging doors.
“Okay, so you know that Chad won’t leave you, but how can I know that Bobby won’t leave me?”
“Lemme ask you a few questions, and from the answers you give me you’ll know the answer to own question.”
Christina leaned on the bar towards her. “Okay, you have my attention so ask away.”
Holly sat down on a bar stool. “First, how does he react when you have problems? And I mean all problems, not just opening a stuck jar lid, but the big personal ones, too?”
“Well, he is good at the stuck lid thing… but when I was having the problem with my sister and things were a bit tense and crazy between her and I, he listened to me for hours. And whenever I’d ask what to do, he would come back with a calm and rational response that would make sense of my thoughts and help me to keep my feet on the ground.”
“So he’s smart?”
“Not just smart. He has this wisdom about himself when it comes to me. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t always say the right thing. There has been a time or two when he totally torpedoed himself by saying something stupid and getting me going. But for the most part his advice is good and solid.”
“I see”, Holly said, then asked, “so we now know how he reacts to your problems, how does he handle his own?”
Christina looked as if she were thinking for a moment, then spoke. “He takes his problems head on, I guess. He’s always trying to ensure that there are no problems, but when they do arise, he handles them. Doesn’t put them off or make excuses. Just handles them.”
“I see.” Holly tilted her head. “Before the two of you shacked up, did you see his place?”
“Oh God yes. I wasn’t a complete pig sty, but it wasn’t as clean as I kept my place when I lived over the pub. In fact, when we started talking about getting a place together and went looking for a house to rent, I had visions and a couple of nightmares about how bad it could be. Neat and clean and orderly-wise. It was a terrific fear I had.”
“But now that y’all have be sharing the same address for… for what?”
“Almost two years!” she beamed.
Holly smiled. “Almost two years – my how the time passes – have you seen any of that?”
“Come to think of it, no I haven’t. In fact, when he is having a slow week, not only does he do all of the yard work, which I hate, but also cleans the house, does the laundry and finds other small chores to do. Of course, we grocery shop together. We have fun at that. So, I’d have to say that not only does he tend to the big things, but he also pays attention to the little things. I like that.”
“Why do you think he does all of that?”
“I don’t really know… why?”
“Well, how do you feel when he does those things?”
“I feel good. Great even. I feel honored. And blessed.”
“Are there any other things that he does that get you feeling that way, or more specifically, does he any other things to make you feel good about yourself?”
She blushed a bit. “Yeah, he does.”
“I ain’t talkin’ no frisky behavior now…”
“I know. I was thinking about one night that right after we closed here, the skies opened up with a torrential downpour. I got soaked to the bone getting to my Jeep and then again getting from the Jeep to the house. But just as I was reaching for the doorknob, the door opened and there he was… standing there smiling and holding a towel and a hot mug of kahlua and coffee. As I was being warmed up by the drink, he wrapped towel around me. I turned around to him and he said, ‘Is there ever a time when you aren’t beautiful?’ I mean, there I was, soaking wet, makeup running down my face, my hair all over the yard and still he said the I was beautiful.” She paused for a moment reflecting on what she ha just said. “And he does and says things like that all of the time. So, yeah… he does do things to make me feel good about myself.”
“How about when you do something truly boneheaded? What does he do?”
“He laughs with me about it. In fact, sometimes he laughs before I do and that makes me laugh at what I have done. He takes the sting out of the whole event.”
“And if he does something boneheaded?”
“Oh he tries never to do anything like that and when he does he takes it personally… especially if it was something that would hurt me in some way. Don’t get me wrong, there was the time when I asked him to fill the salt and pepper shakers while I was on the phone with him. Well, I guess I distracted him and he got the salt in the pepper shaker and vice versa. We both had a good laugh the next morning at breakfast. Little things like that, he doesn’t take seriously.”
“Really? Interesting. One last question: about six months ago you were having some rough times a while back when your momma passed on. How did he behave?
“He was a saint. I mean I was crazy out of my head when she died. But he was there for me the whole time. Of course I didn’t open the pub for a week and lost all of that money and things got tight as it happened during a slow period for him work-wise and we ended up on a very strict budget for what seemed forever. But he never complained. He was by my side enduring it all with me. In fact, I think that he might have been able to start his next project earlier than he did, but he felt that it was important to be with me. He knew that it would be a little rough, moneywise, but also knew that I needed him there with me.”
Holly didn’t say anything for a moment. She could tell that Christina was doing a bit of serious thinking and wanted to leave her to it. Chad came through the kitchen doors whistling. She asked him, “All done?”
“Whatcha gonna do now?”
“Well, it’s a bit of a chilly night, so I thought that I’d head to the house, get a fire going in the living room, make us a pitcher of drinks and when you call to tell me you’re on the way, draw a warm bath for you. You’ve been hustlin’ tonight and I figure you could use a bit of pamperin’.” With that he grabbed his coat and headed for the door. He turned around to Holly and added, “If’n that’s all okay with you. So, is it?”
“You don’t have to draw me a bath, but the rest sounds delightful.”
“As you wish.” He turn back towards the door.
“And don’t be havin’ too many beers whilst waitin’ for me. I may need for you to wash my hair when I’m in the shower.”
He turned around with a wild grin and wide eyes. “As you wish, m’dear.” He stood there grinning at her.
“Get on now, you old crow! I got work to do.”
He laughed as he opened the door. “Caw. Caw. Caaaaaaw….” he bellowed as he walked down the sidewalk.
Christina smiled at Holly. “He’s not ever going to leave you, is he?”
“Like I said, he may crow about doin’ somethin’ like that when gets mad, but when it all boils down, he’s here to stay.” She looked at her and added, “Just like Bobby.”
“How can you tell?”
“You answered that one yourself. He not only owns his problems, but he willingly deals with yours… wantin’ to be a part of the solution. He pays attention to how you like things and tries to keep them that way. I finds humor in you but what’s more is he sees your inner beauty that makes you, you. It reminds you of how he sees you, and don’ be tellin’ me that it don’ make you feel good. He’s there with in the smooth sailing and in the rough waters. He listens to you and your troubles and tries to get you think clearly when everything is a runnin’ wild in you mind. Those are qualities that say that he’s comfortable and happy to be with and around you. And after all this time of datin’ and getting’ to know each other and finally the act of livin’ together… well, baby, if he thought you were the nut job that you think you are, he’d a been gone a long time ago.”
Christina’s cell phone rang. She smiled as she answered it. “Hey there… Really?... You are?... That so wonderful… What’s that?... Oh, I want ham and pineapple on my half with extra sauce… About forty-five minutes or so… That sounds great… Love you, too… bye.”
“So?!?” Holly had an idea of what the whole conversation part was. She wanted Christina to express something else.
“He wasn’t supposed to be back until tomorrow night but remembered my niece is having a birthday party tomorrow and I had mentioned that I didn’t really want to go alone. So he knocked off early so he could go with me… or did you want to hear about the pizza he’s picking up on the way to the house?”
“You know what I meant by sayin’ ‘So’… Soooooo?!?!?”
“I really don’t know why I was worried about it. Maybe because I have never had anyone in my life like him. Guess I’m just not used to it. But, after talking to you, I know that he doesn’t have any other plans but to be with me.”
“Baby, I didn’t tell you anythin’. Y’all told yourself. And I think that’s you needed was to hear yourself to yourself that this is not a dream, but for real. Now come on, missy, we’ve two good men waiting for us and day off tomorrow, so let’s get going.”
With that the ladies finished cleaning up and prepping for Monday.
When the lock clicked on the door and they went to their cars and I strolled down the sidewalk alone. I thought about that someone I once had in my life. She was always with me and I enjoyed her company. It’s so rare when you can find that one soul mate without having to change yourself to do it. That partner whom you can spend the entire evening with and never utter a sound and still have a wonderful time just by being near them. It’s been years since she was taken from me. I never tried to find another. I figured that it just wouldn’t work and never would be the same. So why deprive someone else of the true happiness they deserve for my selfish desire.
I’m truly glad for Christina. I have to say I do miss the nights she’d let me sleep on her couch. That was back when she lived over the pub. But I am happy for her. She is feeling what I once had. May it last a lifetime for her.
How to make Grilled Shark Steaks Properly
- 1⁄2 cup soy sauce
- 1⁄2 cup orange juice
- 1⁄4 cup catsup
- 1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1⁄3 tablespoon ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 shark steaks
1. Combine soy sauce, orange juice, catsup, chopped parsley, lemon juice, pepper, and minced garlic in a Ziploc bag. Squish to mix well. Add fish, seal and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.
2. Remove fish from marinade, reserving marinade. Pat dry with a paper towel and apply a good layer of vegetable or olive oil to prevent sticking on the grill.
3. Preheat grill so grill rack is screaming hot. Place fish over hot coals or gas accordingly 6 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting frequently with marinade.
4. Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Food.com