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HUCKABY: 28 years later, I am still a pretty lucky husband

Dec. 19, 2010. Wow!

Twenty-eight years ago this very day, I woke up in a strange place — Montgomery, Ala. — with a strange woman in bed beside me. Well, actually the woman wasn’t all that strange, but the experience was, because about 12 hours earlier I had made the person beside me in the Montgomery hotel room my wife. She promised to take me for richer or poorer and for better or for worse and, to her credit, she wasn’t just whistling Dixie.

There has been a lot more “poorer” than richer and, from her perspective, probably a lot more worse than better. And yet, here we are — side by side and in it for the long haul.

A fellow asked me the other day about the secret to longevity in marriage. I told him you could sum it up in two words. “Yes, ma’am.” That has always been my policy and it has worked so far. Oh, yeah. Sometimes you might need to throw an “I’m sorry” in there, too.

You have to get used to a lot of new experiences when you get married, not the least of which is learning how to sleep with someone. Don’t laugh. It’s not as easy as it sounds — particularly if you are talking about actually sleeping — which as soon as the honeymoon is over, most of us are.

I once heard Lewis Grizzard say that he was from a large family and never slept alone until he was married. I know for a fact that neither of those claims is true — but I had slept alone for the better part of 30 years before Lisa and I tied the knot, and I was pretty much set in my ways. Honesty compels me to admit that it didn’t take long for me to get un-set.

The first thing one has to decide is which side of the bed belongs to whom. Some people are left-handed sleepers and others are right-handed sleepers. I am really ambidextrous when it comes to bedtime. I can get my 40 winks on either side of the bed. I am also prone to making several trips a night to the powder room. Unlike me, my wife was not born with a bladder the size of a pea, so our rule of thumb, whether at home or away, is that I will sleep on the side of the bed that is closest to the bathroom.

I am sure that my climbing out of the bed every couple of hours makes it hard for Lisa to get a good night’s sleep, but she has adjusted better to my nightly meanderings than she has to my snoring. At least she claims I snore. I always insist that I don’t because I have been sleeping with myself for 58 years and have only been awakened by my own snoring once or twice. But she insists that I do and her defense mechanism is to try to turn in before I do and beat me to sleep. At least that’s what she claims is her motive.

On those rare occasions when I turn in and/or fall asleep before her, she has been known to throw a mean elbow to my ribs to wake me up in the middle of the night. This happens when my sawing of logs becomes unbearable. Of course she doesn’t snore at all because she is a lady. She certainly does breathe heavily sometimes though, but I would never be so crass as to jab her in the ribs.

I would not be above making an extreme amount of noise when going to the bathroom though. I would also jiggle the bed a lot upon my return — just enough, understand, to make sure she gained consciousness long enough for me to get to sleep before her “heavy breathing” resumes.

My wife talks in her sleep, too — but I never wake her up when she is doing that. I just listen and take notes. She has some pretty interesting conversations in her dreams. I just wish our awake life was half as exciting.

A married couple can tell a lot about one another’s moods at bedtime, too. If I have done something to upset my wife I will find her clinging to her edge of our king-sized bed as if she were afraid of falling off a cliff. That message is always loud and clear and on those nights I usually toss and turn until the wee hours of the morning, trying to figure out what I did. Other messages are more difficult to interpret. Sometimes cold feet against my leg, for instance, means I haven’t made Lisa mad at all — and other times it just means her feet are cold. But never the twain shall meet.

At any rate, I was very thankful to wake up beside Lisa in that Montgomery hotel room, 28 years ago — and I am very thankful to wake up beside her today. Surely my cup runneth over.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/darrellhuckaby.