Since I’m retired, I feel a certain moral obligation to help out at weekday funerals at our church (I staff the AV booth to handle the sound system, mic control, any videos the family wants to run, and video streaming so that others can see the service without having to actually risk themselves during the Trump Pandemic). I also (thanks to my Episcopal upbringing) feel that I should wear a suit, because That’s What You Wear To A Funeral, Dammit. (Unless it’s my funeral. Wear what you want to that one.)
On the positive side, I can now fit into the suit I had made for me in 1988 in Seoul, Korea, while I was stationed there. I forget how much it cost, but it was a fully tailored suit that I could afford on a Navy lieutenant’s salary. Also, being made of wool, it affords protection from the cold, so a coat is not necessary.
DEB: Honey, it’s 32° out, but feels like 24°. And windy. You need a winter coat.
Ah! I’ll wear my dress coat that I got… um, a long time ago, and kept for all the reasons people keep things that might again fit them. And hey! It does! (HA! Take that, you “only keep things that spark joy” anti-keep-things people!)
DEB: And take gloves.
ME: I have gloves. (check coat pockets, no gloves) Okay, wait, I used to have gloves… here they are, other pockets. And… a movie ticket stub. To The American President, I think. January 1996¹. I went to a movie in a suit? Weekday, maybe after work?
DEB: Ooooohhhh, I bet it was dinner and a movie! Hot date! With [CB], before she decided she wasn’t dying² and didn’t need you after all.
ME: Okay, that wasn’t—
DEB: Poor honey! We women don’t make it easy on you! And you didn’t marry a normal one, so I don’t help you much.
ME: None of the women I’ve married—or dated,³ actually—were normal. I prefer women who are interesting.
DEB: Thank you, honey! (smooch) Now get going, you need to be at the funeral. Stay warm!
And anyway, I don’t have to understand women! I just need to understand one!
¹This would be three and a half years before I met Deb.
²It wasn’t actually like that.
Okay, maybe a little like that.
CB met me at a singles cooking group we both belonged to, we went out a few times, I went with her to some tests she had at a cancer clinic, we got serious (I thought — apparently it was just me), she turned out to not have cancer (which is a good thing, right? yes?) so she was not going to die at (she then told me) the same age as her late mother (in retrospect, this was a VERY pertinent fact, but at the time, I was more, “Oh, okay, interesting, whatever!” about it⁴), then I started doing everything wrong (I knew this because she told me), and I would say she dumped me except she had this theory that things between men and women worked much better when they didn’t get into formal relationships, because then there were no hard feelings because nobody got dumped. Which is a wonderful theory, unless you are the smitten-and-not-too-bright half of the not-actually-a-relationship that may have been not-actually-dumped-but-damn-it-sure-feels-like-it-sometimes. I found out about her engagement to another guy in our cooking group shortly before I met Deb. At which point I decided that maybe it was all over? Probably?
Deb still refers to CB as the not-girlfriend in the not-relationship whom I was not-dating before I met Deb. With an amused expression, for some reason.
³Or not-dated, if you want to be picky, Debster.
⁴Looking back from an older perspective, I realize CB was terrified she was going to die from metastatic breast cancer at the same age as her mother, and worse, was going to do it alone. So she found some nice fellow who could be with her for her final days. (That would be me.) But when she wasn’t dying of cancer, suddenly her list of required qualities in a romantic partner expanded considerably, and I was found deficient. In basically every criteria, or so it felt at the time.
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