My salad days
4 February 2022
"My salad days
When I was green in judgment, cold in blood,
To say as I said then!"
― William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra
“Why did you hang up on me?”
Brenda went quiet.
I swiveled in my chair looking at my reflection in the darkened Reagan National Airport window. “Did you hear me?”
“I remember it differently.”
“I was having lunch with my co-workers – and had you on speaker. So they heard you too.”
Brenda hmphed. “That’s not how it happened.”
I turned forward to the airport laptop table with its fluorescent lights, USB plugs and electricity sockets to see if the older woman, masked who was listening in. “Babe, I think we are both frustrated because we miss each other.”
Brenda went quiet.
I then added quickly, “If you don’t want me to come home, I can change my flight to leave tomorrow.”
She added just as quickly, “That’s great so you can party with your co-workers.”
“I don’t want to party with my co-workers. I want to come home.”
I sat there and tried to figure out how to be a good husband. This new husband had forgotten to say his vows during the wedding ceremony being live streamed around the world because of the COVID pandemic. This new husband had given up hamburgers and chips for my wife’s salads to help me keep my weight under control. Salads every lunch. Every weekday. A salad to keep me in shape. To control my appetite. To discipline my impulses.
I was approaching 50 – half a century. I had given up a nomadic, bachelor lifestyle living around the world to buy a home in Knoxville, Tennessee. To marry this woman from California via Puerto Rico – who had been there for me when no one else had been.
She loved me with all her being. And her passion for me to be perfect, to learn to listen, and to be the greatest husband of all time – scared the shit out of me.
Maybe I am not husband material. Maybe I was destined to fail.
Or maybe this was my time to finally become a man – a man I would be proud to become. It took me living around the world, being homeless, going to a Hong Kong jail – and fighting back to this place I was now. A new employee. A provider. To be the man for this woman for the rest of my life.
I glanced down at my hand and saw my wedding band with it’s two rows of diamonds and the ruby in the middle reminding me that I wear it because I am meant to be the best. Not for me.
But for her.
"I will be the man she wants me to be.” I thought.
I turned back to my reflection. “I can’t stand another night without you.”
Brenda was quiet again but this time I heard her smile.
“You are taking your flight?”
And I saw a devilish grin come across my face and I said, “Hell yes.” And then I added, “I want to eat your salad.”