Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dirtman's Excellent Adventure

He’ll claim “it’s just another day.”


Dirtman hits a milestone birthday today.

Dare I say it?

Dirtman turns 50. . . that’s the big five oh…half a century...a twentieth of a millinium.

So far, he shows no sign of ditching me and buying a red Miata with complimentary blonde nymph (I’ve decided a blonde nymph comes with every red sports car sold to a man over 50, kind of like a dealers’ incentive – only not exactly).

So here are some things you may or may not know about Dirtman:

• Dirtman has started an entire “beejeebers” movement among our friends and family (if, indeed, beejeebers can move). He has managed, single-handedly, to bring back the phrase. So next time you see Dirtman, ask him exactly what a beejeeber is and, since they are regularly scared out of him, where he keeps his spares.
• Dirtman knows history, even the stuff after World War I that they never had time to teach in school or that they sort of skirted over to get the course over with. He also knows the representatives and senators belonging to each state, their names and party affiliations. He’s an expert with Virginia history and gets very disgusted with natives who don’t know anything about their own state.
• Dirtman is the best kind of friend to have. You can call him anytime from anywhere and he will do all he can to help. You don’t even have to keep in touch with him. He’s had people he hasn’t seen since high school contact him and he treats them like they’ve been best buds for all those years.
• Dirtman can forgive anyone anything. He never ever holds a grudge. (In this case, I think we were fated to be together in order to balance each other out.)
• Please don’t ask him to sing.
Please don’t ask him to sing. I can’t stress this enough.
• It’s not true that an alarm goes off at the state police traffic station to let them know Dirtman is driving around and to be on the alert for bizarre accidents involving vehicles running into objects for no reason. But only because he makes his assistant Steven do all the driving. That way he isn’t forced to drive while he’s reading the newspaper.
• Dirtman will talk to anyone and thinks everyone is absolutely fascinating. I’ve seen him chat with a McDonalds employee, fascinated by the nuances of their scheduling procedures. Consequently, without even realizing it, Dirtman makes everyone he talks to feel good about themselves.
• Umm…I need to reiterate the singing thing. Just. Don’t.
• Dirtman married a woman much, much younger than he is.

So, Happy Birthday, Sparkey. Even though it’s “just another day.”


(About that singing thing…I’m serious.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

19 years, 364 days ago...

…I decided to take a chance.

For once in my life.

It was that kind of decision.

I was the generation brought up straddling the beginning of the Women’s Movement. For half my upbringing I was “encouraged” to be demure around men. While my mother continued to go beyond encouragement in this area (a woman asking a man out received the tersely-spoken title puttana), the media and culture changed rapidly, for the most part taking me with it.

However, as a single woman, while I wasn’t exactly waiting to be chased, I certainly believed that winning my hand should require some Herculean effort. In addition, the idea of that Sicilian lightening bolt that they demonstrate in The Godfather had been drummed into my head. Yet no one I met made me weak in the knees with just a glance and a smile, so rarely had anyone been encouraged to go further. In today’s terms, no one “had me at ‘hello’.”

Needless to say, by my late 20s, not only was I not in a significant relationship, I hadn’t yet been in one, in spite of being “engaged” – in name only – for a brief time when I was barely 20, an event I’d rather be among the forgotten moments of my early adulthood.

Now, here I was, 28 years old and this guy I knew only as a voice on the telephone had asked me out.

And stood me up.

I was working for a local newspaper, writing obituaries and social notices. He worked for a funeral home. One night he was required to call in nine obits, a phenomenal number for one funeral home in a rural area. Truly, they were all standard notices, no horrendous event had taken place. I accused him of going out and killing people just so he could talk to me.

We got to be friendly and not long after that he asked me out on a Friday evening. He’d call me to finalize and scribbled my home number.

Friday came and went. No phone call.

Well, Miss Iggy, that’s what you get for being so forward. So much for Mr. Dirtman and his swarmy voice.

Sunday I was back at work, arriving in the nick of time to a ringing phone.

“Oh good, it’s you.”


“Do you have an obit?” I asked coldly. Believe me, I know how to talk ice.

“Well, yeah, but it’s not ready...”

“Then who do you want to talk to?” Because you ain’t talkin’ to me, jadrool.

“I lost the paper I wrote your number on and they wouldn’t give me your number or call you on your day off,” he said. “But I thought surely you’d understand why I didn’t call after you heard about the murder.”

“I work for a newspaper, buddy,” I sneered with my best Jersey dialect. “If there was a murder, I’d have heard about it. Unless you have an obit to call in, I need to get to work.”


I hung up. Behind me, the city desk editor was leaning against the doorjamb, coffee and donut in hand, waiting to say his usual “hello, anything new.”

“’Ja hear about the murder last Friday?” he asked around a mouthful of cruller. “Let me know when they call in the obit.”


The usual Sisiggy would have let the whole thing slide. It wasn’t meant to be. If he really felt bad, he would have driven the 40 miles to the newspaper and been waiting for me with a bouquet of flowers and an “I’m sorry” on his lips. (I know – this is Dirtman we’re talking about. That would have required 40 minutes of driving followed by a wait of indeterminate length, way more focus-time than he’s capable of committing to…but I didn’t know this at the time.) The usual Sisiggy would have told him to leave her alone. The usual Sisiggy would have gone into immediate hibernation, dragging several pints of coffee ice cream into the cave with her.

Fortunately, the usual Sisiggy had had enough of herself of late and decided to employ that philosophy of philosophies: It Couldn’t Hurt

I met him at The Ground Round. I ordered scotch on the rocks so he wouldn’t think I was an inexperienced drinker he could get drunk and have his way with. I hate scotch.

The day before Valentine’s Day we were driving down to Virginia Tech for some dinner. He asked me to read him the newspaper while he drove. I started on page 1.

“No! Read me the obit page.”

“I read the obit page when I laid it out last night.”

“Come on…”

“Okay,” I said begrudgingly, snapping the paper back. I scanned by work from the previous night. Same obits, same ads, only…

Instead of the car ad we’d placed at the bottom of the page:

“Sisiggy: We met on this page, we’ll end up on this page. Will you spend the rest of your life with me? Dirtman.”

A Herculean effort.

And a lightening bolt.

So, 20 years later, 19 years after the wedding, I guess the chance worked out.

The previous post was supposed to be a picture extravaganza but Blogger isn't cooperating. Envision lots of pictures of me and Dirtman, thinner and with less gray hair, smiling. I'd be the one in uncharacteristic white and Dirtman will look like a maitre 'd. I hate weddings.