Posted on | April 28, 2014 | 66 Comments
My beautiful wife and I got married 25 years ago today. Our wedding was at the Gordon County Courthouse in Calhoun, Georgia, with Probate Judge Johnny Parker presiding. I was making $275 a week as sports editor at the Calhoun Times and Lou Ann was working at Hardee’s.
Two of my colleagues at the newspaper, Jim and Dawn McFadden, were witnesses at the ceremony. Afterwards, Dawn was kind enough to provide a wedding cake for a very small reception at our tiny rental A-frame house out off Dews Pond Road.
When I first met Lou Ann, I was living in a one-bedroom apartment south of town on U.S. 41, and the living room walls were decorated with posters for James Bond movies. The first time I had her over for dinner — I cooked hamburger steak, pinto beans and turnip greens with biscuits — we got into a conversation (which is to say, I was lecturing) about how soap operas and romance novels mislead women with totally unrealistic expectations of what love is like. Lou Ann responded by referring to the James Bond posters: “So, that’s realistic?” And I was like, “Hey, you don’t understand. That stuff totally happens. James Bond is a super spy!”
So that’s how I became “Super Spy,” while an old Isley Brothers tune inspired me to nickname Lou Ann “Sexy Lady”:
Who’s that lady? (Who’s that lady?)
Sexy lady! (Who’s that lady?)
Beautiful lady! (Who’s that lady?)
Real fine lady! (Who’s that lady?)
I would dance upon a string,
Any gift she’d want, I’d bring.
I would give her anything,
If she would just do what I say.
That song is about the pursuit of an elusive object of desire and, while the specific circumstances of our romance might not have been in every way ideal, there was a direct relationship between the elusiveness of the object and the romance of the pursuit.
Suffice it to say that, in the 10 years before I met my wife in the fall of 1987, any shortages of female companionship I’d experienced were temporary and of brief duration. It wasn’t like I was desperate or lonely, but the very first time I met Lou Ann, sparks flew and it was just a matter of whether I could get her. The getting was not easy.
She wasn’t “playing hard to get.” She was hard to get.
“Always negotiate from a position of strength” is excellent advice for young ladies. Men respond to challenges, and if you want to be loved insanely, you’ve got to drive him crazy. You want a man who’s willing to crawl through broken glass and climb over a 10-foot fence topped with razor wire to be with you? Keep the gate locked.
On Feb. 14, 1989, I placed an ad in the special Valentine’s Day section of the Calhoun Times. Addressed to “Sexy Lady,” the ad asked her to marry me and was signed, “Super Spy.”
That was a Tuesday, and I covering a basketball game at Calhoun High School that night. By the time the game was over, with deadline looming, that Valentine’s Day ad had slipped my mind, but when I got to my car, I found that the windshield was covered with a message in red lipstick: “Yes! I love you, Super Spy! — Sexy Lady.”
We got married on a Friday six weeks later.
My wife is quite literally an answer to prayer. When God gives you a good wife, you have an obligation to deserve her love, and I am embarrassed when this obligation occasionally slips my mind. Have I been a good husband? Not always, but I’ve never forgotten the moment when, at the Gordon County courthouse that day 25 years ago, Judge Parker asked me to pledge that part of the wedding vow about “forsaking all others . . . till death do you part.”
Wow. That’s some serious stuff, if you think about it.
Charles Murray recently wrote in favor of “start-up marriages.” Rather than waiting until you have established your financial independence to the point where a marriage becomes a “merger,” Murray argues, there is something to be said for marrying and starting a family while you’re still young and struggling to get ahead. Being young and poor together is a shared experience — certainly not always a pleasant experience — which, if you can make it through, becomes a special bond between a couple.
It’s weird to hear young people say they “can’t afford to get married yet.” Nonsense. No law which requires an expensive wedding — all that catering and stuff — and two can live as cheaply as one.
Call me sentimental, but I think there’s something romantic about starting off as cheaply as possible. Furthermore, as my father once told me, “If you wait to have children until you can afford to have children, you’ll never have children.” Making babies is kind of fun, you know, and figuring out how to pay the bills? Hey, that’s just part of the crawl-through-broken-glass challenge.
Left to right: Emerson, 13; me; Lou Ann; Reagan, 11 (plaid skirt); daughter-in-law Danielle; grandson James Jr. held by his father James, 21; Kennedy, 24; Bob, 21; son-in-law Martin; Jefferson, 15.
We have been blessed, and whatever hardships we endured together have only made me love her more. Love you, Sexy Lady!
— Super Spy