Though born and raised in Yonkers, NY, Carol is a true laidback southern Californian. Even her rules tend to be expressed more as suggestions. I think that in my case, though, she’s learning her suggestions should be stated more as rules. I respond better to rules. In day to day life and behavior, I’m more golden retriever than actual human being.
Take neatness. Evidently, my definition of the term is somewhat more expansive than Carol’s. Unpacking in the Big Bear Lake cabin for our first true road trip together, Carol softly suggested to me, “I don’t like clutter.” I agreeably replied, “Neither do I.” But I picked up on her discerning gaze around the room that struck me as more of a security camera’s attention to detail, and I straightened up to the best of my ability. Carol sighed and managed a wan smile of approval for my efforts.
The problem for me is that when there’s a place for everything and everything's in its proper place, I can’t find a damn thing or remember where I put it. It was when we were leaving the cabin at the end of a fairytale week together, and Carol had pointed in succession to the sweater, hat and sandals that I, in typical six-year-old boy fashion, was in the process of leaving behind that she uttered for the first time the soon-to-be mantra, “What did I get myself into?”
Carol has also seen that we have widely differing approaches to shopping. While she carefully peruses possible purchases for both quality and price, she’s learned already to look the other way at my tendency to see shopping as a cross between a non-criminal burglary and one of those contests to see how much stuff you can slam into a shopping cart in a minute.
A recent purchase of a new set of golf clubs is a case in point. My new extended family are avid golfers, and my first week as an Orange County transplant earned me an invitation to play at Carol’s son-in-law’s golf club. Being a private club, I did not want to show up in a pair of sneakers, as I often wear to the goat ranches where I normally play. As we walked into the sporting goods store, I casually mentioned if i found a clearance bargain, I just may walk out with a new set of clubs, too.
Well, in far less time that it would take for Carol to peruse the possible purchase of, say, a hammock (a bridal shower gift for her daughter-in-law for which I accompanied her during the search), I walked out the sporting goods store with a cart ladened with golf shoes, socks, balls, tees and a full set of clubs, complete with bag and headcovers. I would have completed the purchases even faster had not the salesman felt forced to point out I may want a set of adult clubs instead of the junior player’s I was hastily ready to walk out with. Again I heard and observed what I’m sure now will become Carol’s standard response of resigned sigh and wan smile.
As we now begin our initial discussions of moving into our new home together, I casually mentioned one day how Carolyn once described the master bath after I’d finished with it as “looking like a duck took a bath in the sink.” After sharing that little anecdote, I noted Carol’s sigh more resolved than resigned and her smile more withering than wan. I’m anticipating more rules than suggestions in these upcoming weeks of cohabitation, and more Yonkers than Socal in delivery of same.
And it is time, after a year of singlehood, for this old dog to learn some new tricks.