Monday, February 14, 2011

Whaddya mean 'we', Kemosabe?

On Valentine’s Day '75, I threw a small party in my dorm room. It was really a party for those of us separated from our significant others, and this was an attempt to keep us from feeling sorry for ourselves. My significant other had just visited me in Minnesota, but he was already back at school in the People's Republic of Berkeley. To the mostly fellow grad students, I served, amongst other things, that source of endless hilarity, the infamous heart shaped cake that refused to come out of the pan and was subsequently glued together with grotesquely pink frosting. 


Ziggy in the dorm

Since I was hosting the party, my buddy Ziggy borrowed my beloved Volvo 144 to take his girlfriend out for a romantic dinner. We were still playing records (yes, we were spinning vinyl in them olden days) when suddenly Ziggy was back.

Immediately, I asked, “What happened to the car?”


“Nothing; the car is fine. I broke up with Linda.”  There was this great, dramatic sigh. “I guess it’s just you and me, kid.” Then, he wiggled his eyebrows.

Don and my Volvo 144


“You and me we?” I raised a single eyebrow in disbelief. "Whaddya mean, we, kemosabe?” 


Glancing at my watch, I pointed out that I had an after-date with Don, my mechanic, to go out jump-starting cars, a very lucrative sideline in sub-zero Minnesota. Still, and this did take a while, Ziggy managed to convince me to marry him...but that's another story all by itself.


Valentines was our joke day; nothing was sacred. The gifts were always red and always a little weird. He gave me the flaming red wok that year we lived on Como Avenue, the red-plaid flannel maternity shirt when I was pregnant with #1 son, and the spatula with the giant red bow…one of my personal faves…to replace the one I broke in a cooking misadventure. There was always a card left for me in an odd place: hanging in the shower on a soap rope, taped to my steering wheel, stuck to the milk carton in the fridge, even tucked into my bowling bag the year bowling tournament fell on a VD weekend.

And every Valentine’s Day, at some point when I was least expecting it, Steve would say, “I guess it’s just you and me, kid,” and I would always answer, “Whaddya mean we, Kemosabe?”  The night always drew to a romantic close with dancing in the kitchen, and his famous eyebrow wiggle.


Steve was always the more romantic of the two of us, but he got his fair share of mushy cards. Y’know, I found them all not too long ago. I was cleaning out the far reaches of his closet and there was this wooden cigar box…and every Valentine card I ever gave him was in there. I never knew he saved them. I read them all.

I think he knew I’d saved every one he’d ever given me.

It’s not the gifts or even the cards that I miss most. It’s that eyebrow wiggle.

I guess you had to be there. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Always accept a gift graciously and with kind thanks;
to  do otherwise shows not the giver's lack of taste, but your lack of manners.

1 comment:

  1. Gee whiz, Susan, you and Steve are/were a very lucky couple. BTW, he may have been the more romantic one, but I bet you made up for it with your sense of humor ! :):)

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