I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful woman sitting in the booth across from me.
The way she laughed, the way she smiled, the way she leapt into the conversation – all with sincerity and ease despite being surrounded by other women who could have turned catty and mean in an instant, though none did.
She was just being herself. The woman I fell in love with five years ago.
My friends from Way Back When were meeting My Lovely Wife for the first time. And, as it turns out, I was given the chance to see her for what felt like the first time.
We were in Mobile where one of my best friends from college was getting married. For three days My Lovely Wife and I enjoyed peace and quiet and a morning to sleep in – no alarm clocks, no grits to cook, no reminders to clean bathrooms or pick up dirty clothes, no dishes to clean, no bottoms to wipe, no baths to give, no dogs to scold and no whining whatsoever.
It was the most fun I’d had since my honeymoon … no, scratch that. Come to think of it, My Lovely Wife had thrown her back out the day before our wedding and since we’d gone to Atlanta to spend the day at Six Flags, we pretty much stuck to the hotel, where she threw up thanks to a gastro-intestinal disagreement with her pain medication.
It was the most fun we’d had since the Gulf Shores beach trip when I dropped down on one knee and awkwardly proposed:
“You haven’t said anything,” I said looking up at her shocked face after countless minutes of rambling. “You haven’t asked me anything yet,” she said with tears in her eyes.
During the intervening years, I’ll openly admit to taking My Lovely Wife for granted, to being distant, grumpy and as emotionally available as one of those stone gargoyles guarding New York City high-rises. These are my flaws – along with a slew of others but given that I’m on a word count I won’t bother listing any more – and I do my best to suppress them just as My Lovely Wife does her best not to point out me that I’m acting like a jackass.
Like a Calgon bubble bath – sometimes we just need to be taken away. And this past weekend did wonders not only to rekindle those softly burning embers but to remind me of just how lucky I am.
It was that rare opportunity to watch My Lovely Wife be herself, to have fun and let loose, because for once I was around my friends where usually I’m being Mr. Socially Awkward and clinging to her skirt like a bald 6’4 ‘fraidy cat.
I got to watch her dance to Sir Mix A-Lot (“Baby Got Back?” Indeed) and to do it with the kind of reckless, joyful abandon that would’ve made The Diva spontaneously combust with embarrassment. But she looked so beautiful, confident and carefree, which is quiet an accomplishment in a room where a couple of ex-girlfriends were in hair-pulling proximity.
But she didn’t care. Not that I’m surprised. This is the woman who let an ex-girlfriend bake my groom’s cake.
‘Course she didn’t have anything to worry about. I only had eyes for her – My Lovely Wife. To me, no one else mattered. And I would’ve shouted it to everyone at the reception but figured it would be rude to interrupt Sir Mix-A-Lot.
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.