Adventures with My Wife # 1

They say writing can be a cathartic process, so I’m going to start using this blog, among other purposes, to find out how cathartic it can be with regard to my marriage.

As regular readers know, my wife Kathy and I recently celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. She’s quite a remarkable woman, and in more ways than just intelligence and romance. She has the wherewithal to shape her surrounding universe to adjust to her specific needs. I would like to share some of these experiences with you and find out what you think of them.

Kathy and I use the same wonderful family doctor, but usually at different times and for different purposes. I had scheduled a visit with the doctor this morning at 9 a.m. to review a minor health problem. The doctor’s office called me at 8:30 today to tell me that the doctor could not be in his office this morning; could we reschedule for tomorrow at 4:3o p.m.? I said that would be fine.

Unbeknownst to me, Kathy had already been down the road less traveled and had previously made her own appointment for 3:30 p.m. today — and that made all the difference.

At about 3 p.m. today, I was sitting and reading in my man cave, when Kathy suddenly called out, “Steve, I need to work late tomorrow — how about we switch our appointments?” Mind you, she hadn’t even checked with our doctor’s office yet to find out if it could be done. And of course, she really wasn’t asking me whether it was okay with me; she was merely confirming, by way of a question, that this was about to take place.

I told Kathy that I frankly didn’t have the nerve to call the doctor and make such a request — as though this observation of my own feebleness was enough to keep the event from happening.

Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, Kathy confirmed that she had called the doctor’s office, and they had approved her request. (A couple of minutes after that, she said to me, “Now, do you know what you have to do?” I said, “Yes. In a few minutes, I need to leave for the doctor’s office, possibly never to come back.”)

This startling paradox between the two of us will forever leave me shaking my head. I can’t even trust a cashier at McDonald’s take-out window to get my order correct. Yet Kathy calls up busy medical offices and makes them bend to her heed.

Kathy is more than just my partner in marriage. She should be the subject of an anthropological study.


For Valentine’s Day – How my wife and I got together

This week, I will be celebrating my 30th Valentine’s Day with my beloved, Kathy. (One month from tomorrow, we’ll be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.)

I’m always saddened to hear about someone’s divorce, whatever reason there might be for it. So I thought I would repeat an entry I posted on my previous blog for Valentine’s Day two years ago — not to boast about my long marriage, but simply to show that it can be done, and under positive circumstances.

This is the story of how Kathleen Feindt — publisher and editor of Jacksonville Beach, FL’s weekly newspaper The Beaches Leader — became my wife. It’s a story I’ve been dining out on for decades, because it isn’t every “How we met” story that has two endings.

In July of 1988, a friend of mine called to tell me that Mandarin News — the now-defunct Jacksonville/Mandarin branch of the Leader — had a want ad for a reporter. I needed a job and, having some writing (and extremely minor journalistic) experience, I applied.

Kathy was then the editor of Mandarin News, so I interviewed with her. For the interview, I wore a red tie and a salt-and-pepper dress jacket (a la Barney Fife). For some reason, that made an impression on Kathy.

Later that day, Tom Wood (long-time Leader publisher) asked Kathy how the reporter job search was going. Kathy told Tom about me, going on about my wardrobe and demeanor in great detail. Tom said, “You know, Kathy, you’re interviewing for a reporter, not a husband.”

Kathy did not hire me, as I was living in Orange Park and she preferred to have a reporter who lived in the Mandarin area. However, she kept me on as a free-lance feature writer, to review local theater productions and such. For months, our brief phone conversations went like this:

“Steve, I have tickets for two to the latest production at the local dinner theater. You can review the show and, er, also bring a friend or a date if you’d like.”

“That’s great. I hope I can find somebody to go with me.”

Then one Thursday, I was dropping off a column at Kathy’s office. Kathy usually wasn’t in on Thursdays, but she happened to be in that day. I forget what we talked about, but the conversation was so intriguing, I found excuses to come back two more times to talk to her. When I got home, I took the coward’s way out, phoning Kathy and leaving a date request on her answering machine.

Long story short, three weeks later, I asked her to marry me — which she did, four months after that.

Now…I told you that story to tell you this one.

Kathy and I had both attended the University of Florida in 1981. One day shortly after our marriage, we were reminiscing about UF. Eventually, we realized we had worked together for about three months in UF’s journalism department.

We were polite to each other, but there were no sparks flying at the time. I thought she was too work-minded, and she thought I was too nerdy.

One Friday afternoon, Kathy told me that she and some friends were meeting that day at the Orange & Brew (UF’s on-campus pub), and would I like to join them? I said no because I had a class to attend. Kathy knew then and there, she had no interest in a man who would rather attend class than drink beer.

In March, Kathy and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. Years ago, Kathy asked me if I had any thoughts as to how we had lasted so long.

I immediately blurted out, “That’s easy. You’re too stubborn to ever admit you made a mistake.”

And I’m still quite happy for her stubbornness. Happy Valentine’s Day.