I was at a School Board Finance Committee meeting, watching the clock click to six, then to seven. My foot was tapping. The distraction was simple: one year. One year, that day, since my husband and I had stood on a beach in Kieselhorse Slough and doled out the ‘I do’s,’ and I was anxious to get home for a fancy dinner we had planned.
So as soon as the meeting hit its end I hit the streets, on my way to the grocery store to buy the biggest steak it had for my counterpart (and my favorite, tuna steak, the pork chop of the sea, as I call it). My back was acting up and I was limping quite a bit, but still I hustled through the store on a serious mission. (I am convinced that the only time someone with such a pronounced limp ever moved that fast, it was the stride of someone named Igor and he was gyrating toward something much less innocent than an anniversary dinner. I was on fire, in a lopsided sort of way.)
Once home I got right to work preparing the meal. Asparagus! Brussel sprouts! Fancy salad, crusty bread, all the fixings, and it was coming along quite nicely.
As I puttered away in the kitchen (I love to cook, so this was part of my treat too), my husband Chris was fiddling with the stereo and having trouble putting on the music we’d planned as a background to our fancy celebration. I told him we could just listen to the radio, and I turned the dial to a station that plays old John Doremus shows.
If you’ve never heard of Doremus, he was an American radio man in the ’50s and ’60s. He’s got that smooth old radio voice, and the rebroadcasted “Patterns in Music” are filled with anecdotes tucked between old instrumental songs from decades past.
The first time I heard him on the radio, I had no idea that it was an old show, and that I was listening to remarks and stories that were first told in the ’60s. He said some extremely sexist statements, and I was immediately filled with an urge to get on the phone and start complaining. ‘Who does this guy think he is?’ I thought in anger. That is likely the moment when my future husband explained to me who Mr. Doremus was (he knows these kinds of things), and the radio program became more interesting. Rather than being offended, I listened with curiosity, since being born in the ’70s means I all but missed out on that kind of ‘women at home in the kitchen where they belong’ rhetoric. At least, I missed the era when these kinds of remarks were part of the culture.
As I listened and cooked, Chris was out in the yard chopping firewood for a cozy fire. Doremus had a little joke (bit of wisdom, as I call it) at the start of the show, and while I didn’t get it word for word, it went something like this:
A man called in and said he had found a spider in his newspaper, and wanted to know if this was a sign of good or bad luck. He was told not to worry, that the spider was no cause for worries. The spider, simply, was reading the newspaper to find businesses that did not advertise, and he’d hurry to the store, weave a web into the door, and live peacefully ever after.
I figured this one was just for me, and grabbed a pen to jot it down so I could tell Chris when he came inside.
The next thing Doremus said, however, made it more clear: the episode, he said, had a theme -- love and marriage, and all of the music for the hour was on the topic.
The rest of the evening was wonderful, and it seemed like it was all meant to be, as sometimes happens. We didn’t fly to Paris or run off into any sunsets for extravagant adventures. But as far as memories go, it was a nice one, tucked into our little cabin house in the woods, with a fire in the fireplace, and one great newspaper joke (bit of wisdom!) to make a decent story of the night.