25th anniversary

I met my wife in a bar.

Great line, guaranteed to get a laugh, but it’s true. I was a non-violent bouncer at a fern bar (Please sir, stop choking your girlfriend and leave the bar without striking other patrons with your beer bottle) in San Francisco’s Marina District (The Balboa Cafe, run by a colorful gentleman named Jack Slick) and she was a waitress. We were both woefully young, recent college graduates stranded by the Carter recession in an economy where English lit majors aspired to be bartenders. On first meeting we played the “do you know?” game to vector in a common friend who became the basis of a platonic friendship enforced by Mister Slick’s warnings to kill and woodchip any employees of his establishment who dated and therefore in his eyes became co-conspirators who would rob him.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo: Thomas Hawk
One day I quit in a fit of 23 year-old stupidity and became eligible to date my wife, which I did, inviting her to a BB King concert. I cooked her dinner. A month later I moved in with her, abandoning my Haight & Masonic basement apartment (next door to the San Francisco Beer Pong Arena) for her former bordello apartment in the far cooler North Beach neighborhood. Proposed a month after that, she accepted, I asked her father for her hand in marriage, he asked me what I did for a living (poor man, the first time he met me I was asking the ultimate question), I told him I was an unemployed bouncer/bartender and unpublished novelist who specialized in maritime historical themes. He was great, he said yes.
And that was that. Dragged the poor woman out of San Francisco to Boston, where I promptly found a job as a dishwasher in a Cambridge jazz club. Big break was getting a newspaper job that paid $113 a week. We had no honeymoon.
Patience does not begin to describe her.
Twenty-five years and it seems like yesterday. Expecting that this is not the Formica nor appliance anniversary, I need to pull a major rabbit out of the hat. She won’t read my blog, so I’m safe making that admission here in public.