Panorama of San Bernardino

Friday, October 28, 2011

date night

My husband Adrian and I have a date night tonight at the Mission Inn.  We have been together almost twenty years, but have only been married for a little less than three years.  It took Adrian almost seventeen years to marry me.  I call myself the patron saint of patience, but, in reality I was not patient at all. 

We had been together twelve years when I moved to San Francisco to join Adrian in his second year of dental school at UCSF.  I left my prestigious six figure law firm job in Houston for him and I didn't let him forget it.  I bugged Adrian every day for two years to marry me.  And, I do mean every day, sometimes twice a day. 

In his third year of dental school, Adrian (finally) asked me to marry him.  He proposed in Sonoma County by the ocean.  His original plan was to ask me in a hot air balloon in Napa, but I nixed that idea quickly.  "Are you fuckin crazy?  I am scared to death of heights," I reminded him in a sharp voice.  "Ummm, I guess I will cancel it," he told me in a sad little voice.  "Damn right you will", I thought to myself. 

And I wonder why it took him so long.

The proposal did not start out auspiciously. We were driving back home to San Francisco from the bed and breakfast that we stayed at in Mendicino and every time we stopped to look at the cliffside ocean views I tensed up thinking Adrian would ask.  But he didn't.

About an hour into the drive, I had to go to the bathroom and we stopped at a beach.  I used the portable restroom and came running out with my pants around my ankles chased by the bees that had reared their ugly heads when I opened up the toilet. 

Shortly after I had pulled up my pants, Adrian decided that was the perfect moment and got down on a knee right there in the sand and told me he loved me and wanted to marry me.  Even though I knew I had forced him to ask me through my persistent entreaties, I said, "yes". 

It took Adrian another three years to marry me.  It wasn't the wedding we had planned, but when I said my vows at the San Bernardino City Hall in front of Adrian's parents and my mom it was as if I was saying the words in a cathedral with vaulted ceilings.  I could feel God's presence and the weight of my vows echoed in my head as I said them.

The only thing missing was my dad.  Right before he died, my dad told Adrian that he knew he didn't have to worry about me because Adrian had always taken good care of me.   On the day of my wedding, I know he was looking down at us from the big casino in the sky smiling. 

After the civil ceremony, Adrian's dad Alberto, who died a little more than a year ago, took us all to lunch at the Mission Inn.  I spilled salsa on my cream wedding suit and I remember Alberto shaking his head and laughing as he said in his Argentine accent, "Juanita, I love you."

Tonight at the Mission Inn, I will remember us all around the table as I raise my wine glass to the heavens.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet and Tender Hooligans

I turned forty on Friday and as I sat on the cruise ship sipping a Malibu and Diet Coke, I reflected on my life, especially my childhood years. My childhood was scary and difficult in many ways.  Yet,  my teenage years, while also chaotic and scary at times, were amazing in the way only the teenage years can be.

My favorite activity in high school was ditching. When my mom dropped us off at Chaffey High, my twin sister Jackie and I ran and grabbed our best friends Melinda and Tracy and maneuvered ourselves off campus by car or bus. We walked the Montclair Plaza and begged for quarters. “Could we please have a quarter," one of us would say in a sweet voice. "We need to call our mom to pick us up." 

Picture this. Melinda has spiked black hair and is wearing her typical attire of ripped jeans and a tight blouse. Tracy and I have thick black Siouxsie eyeliner on and concert tees with thermals covered by men's boxers and combat boots. Jackie has blond bangs and is probably wearing some type of lace dress. Suffice to say, Jackie and Melinda usually did the asking. I would not have given us a dime, but people did.

We earned a little or a lot of dough depending on how crowded the mall was. Sometimes, we accidentally asked the same people twice and they looked at us with a scowl sensing a scam. With our stash, we shared fast food in the mall's food court. Melinda and Jackie preferred pizza rolls from Sbarro's. Tracy and I usually shared a corn dog.

After eating, we stood out in the front of the mall and chain smoked. We bought our cigarettes at the liquor store next door to Melinda's duplex with a note signed by my mom (aka my handwriting). We smoked Marlboro Lights. I first started smoking in seventh grade when a girl named Christy asked me to come to her house after school. She lived in the Section Eight apartments across the street.  We took a pack of her mom's Virginia Slims from the freezer. Christy taught me how to smoke in the park behind the restrooms. I only coughed a little.

Back to the ditching, one day, Melinda and I ditched without Jackie and Tracy and drove to Hollywood in Melinda's 1964 White Covair.  We had heard a rumor that the new Oingo Boingo album was going on sale at Tower Records.

When we arrived at the record store, we noticed some commotion and realized that the band was there. I shook hands with the lead singer Danny Elfman while Melinda chatted with Johnny Vatos the drummer. We screamed the whole way home.

When we got back late that afternoon, I raved to Jackie about meeting Oingo Boingo and she yelled with tears in her eyes, "Oingo is my favorite band, not yours!"  To this day, Jackie still harbors a grudge.

Our other favorite pastime was crank calling. We flipped through the phone book and picked a random number to call. When someone answered we asked, "Is your refrigerator running? Yes? Then go catch it." The joke was old and stale but it never got old to us. Elderly people's reactions were always the funniest.

Tracy and I also figured out a way to get free food by calling restaurants to complain. For some reason, we always used an English accent. Tracy would call McDonald's and say in her best British voice, "I just bought some food and found a hair in my Big Mac." Typically, the manager would get on the phone and say, "Please accept our apologies and pick up food on us." 

I remember one time, we picked up our food wearing my mom's fake furs, high heels and huge sunglasses. I suppose we thought we were incognito, but the reality was that we just didn't care what people thought.

In the end, I suppose that is what I miss the most as an adult. I worry about everything and am always analyzing my behavior (sometimes admittedly over analyzing). But. as a child and teenager, I never worried about the effect of my actions. I just wanted to have fun.

Maybe I need a little more fun and little less worrying.  Cheers to that.