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Forty-Two Years Today!

June 29, 2016

Today Mrs. Chatterbox and I are celebrating our forty-second wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe we’ve been together that long, and I’m reminded of the day I asked her father for her hand in marriage. This post is an excerpt from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope.




It was late December in 1973. The future Mrs. C. always seemed to know me better than I knew myself and figured a proposal was near. She suggested that, when the time came, it would be classy if I asked her father for her hand in marriage. Although I’d seen this done in movies, I should have been better prepared. When I arrived at her parents’ house, I felt like wide-eyed Wally from Leave it to Beaver, going into Ward’s study for a genteel scolding.


Her father (Mr. P.) was wearing slacks and a cardigan sweater, but he might as well have been wearing his lieutenant colonel uniform. We sat opposite each other in leather chairs and I shrugged off the feeling that I was about to be court martialed.


I began with, “I love your daughter, sir.” I could hear my heartbeat in the middle of my head.


He didn’t look surprised, and since he was neither smiling nor frowning, I couldn’t tell what he was thinking.


“I want to marr—y her.” Shit, why did my voice have to crack?


He said, “I see.”                       


I wiped my damp palms on my pants. “I’ve come to ask for her hand in marriage.”


“I appreciate the respect you’re showing by coming to me.”


I knew Mrs. C. had warned him I’d be coming and had made him promise to be gentle with me, but Mr. P. wasn’t about to give me his blessing without making me squirm a bit. “I understand you’re an art major.”


“Yes, sir, that’s true.”


“Are you planning on becoming a teacher?”


“Well, I haven’t really considered teaching. I’m just planning on being an artist.”


“Just an artist?”


“I hope to become a famous artist.”


He stroked his chin and gave me a serious look. “That Van Gogh fellow…he was a famous artist and he couldn’t even support himself. Isn’t that true?”


“Yes, I’m sorry to say it is.”


“Let’s not worry about you becoming a famous artist and concentrate on you becoming a successful one. I imagine that becoming a success in the art world isn’t the easiest thing to do. It will probably take a fair amount of time. How do you expect to support my daughter while you work at becoming a success?”


I really hadn’t thought that far ahead, but I couldn’t just stand there with my thumb up my ass. I needed to say something solid, something to convince him his daughter wouldn’t be marrying a loser. Unfortunately, nothing came to mind, except for that dramatic scene in Gone with the Wind when Scarlett raises a fist in defiance and swears that, as God is her witness, she’ll never go hungry again.


Since I had nothing else, I went with it. “As God is my witness,” I said standing up, “your daughter will never go hungry again!” It might have sounded more forceful if my squeaky voice hadn’t again cracked in several places. It didn’t occur to me that I was implying his daughter hadn’t been fed properly.


Mr. P. smiled, rose from his chair and said, “When I proposed to her mother in ’44, I was a lowly private fresh from the Aleutians, with no prospects. Tell me, do you promise to cherish her and always treat her well?”




“Then you have my blessing. Do you have a ring for her?” he asked.


“Yes, I’m planning on giving it to her tonight.” My nervousness eased somewhat. “Do you want to see it?”


He clapped me on the back. “That’s all right. I’ll see it later when it’s on her hand.”


It might have just been my imagination, but I thought I saw a tear in his eye.





     Next Time: I propose to Mrs. C., and it finally dawns on me why everyone in the restaurant is scowling at us.



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Congratulations to you both! FORTY-TWO years... wow! I call that a 'success'.
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 29, 2016
Congratulations, that is a looooooooong time! It must be love. ;)
By: LL Cool Joe on June 29, 2016
Happy Anniversary, Steve and Sue!
By: Linda Morris on June 29, 2016
As God is my witness - that's hysterical! Congratulations on forty-two years.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on June 29, 2016
Ah, you young cuties. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 29, 2016
Congratulations and cheers! Love your story. Still chuckling at your impromptu channeling of Gone with the Wind.
By: Tom Cochrun on June 29, 2016
I am laughing that you tried the GWTW quote...that is priceless. I love it especially since he probably knew where you got that from. I can't help that he made you squirm ...just a bit but he sounds like he was a wonderful man. Congratulations on a great 43 years...and I bet she was never hungry and that you gave a damm:)
By: Birgit on June 29, 2016
Yes, there was a tear in his eye, his little girl was all grown up and going to be marrying and leaving soon. He'd done his job raising her, and he was sad it was over so soon. Happy Anniversary!
By: messymimi on June 29, 2016
Congrats! I hope you wacky kids can make it work!
By: Val on June 29, 2016
Wonderful story, Stephen. 42 years is a rare achievement. Well done!
By: Botanist on June 29, 2016
Happy 43rd Anniversary to a cool couple. What a neat story. Obviously he placed his faith in the right fellow. All fathers feel that tear whether they shed it or not.
By: Arkansas Patti on June 29, 2016
how awesome...
By: TexWisGirl on June 29, 2016
Congratulations on your anniversary--what a great story!
By: Sage on June 29, 2016
Happy anniversary!
By: red Kline on June 29, 2016
Happy anniversary! What's the gift for 42 years?
By: PT Dilloway on June 29, 2016
Jilda and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary on Cinco de Mayo. I didn't have a pot to pee in, as the old southern saying goes, but things turned out alright because we treated each other right. Congratulations.
By: Rick Watson on June 29, 2016
Mazel tov!! If you've been together 42 years, it's probably going to work!!
By: fishducky on June 29, 2016
You're a braver man than me, so hats off to you for doing the honourable thing. And you've fulfilled your promise to Mr P - 42 years and counting. Congratulations to you both. (And I love the matching woolly tops!)
By: Bryan Jones on June 30, 2016
Married the woman you loved, went on to become a very successful artist along with other things and now a well known writer! Wow! I bet you didn't expect this when you spoke to her Father, congradulations to you both!
By: John on June 30, 2016
Congratulations! Wishing you many more happy years together. And a much better dress sense!!!
By: Mitchell is Moving on June 30, 2016
Ah, the good old days, when a young man asked a young woman's father for permission to marry his daughter. Good story!
By: Tom Sightings on June 30, 2016
Great story! Congratulations to you both. :)
By: scott park on June 30, 2016
Great story, you had me squirming as well.
By: cranky on June 30, 2016
Oh, my word! Happy Anniversary, from we who are celebrating our 25th! That is a kick, poor Husband got it from my MOM when he asked for my hand! Have a terrific one, and many more! Cat
By: Cat on June 30, 2016
Great story! Happy anniversary!
By: Pixel Peeper on June 30, 2016
Dang! You're catching up to me! We just passed #45. Don't you love looking at those old pictures and seeing what dumbasses we were in our crazy clothing choices?
By: Catalyst on June 30, 2016
Oh, crap, I forgot to wish you a Happy Anniversary. Good going, you two. Many more ahead of you.
By: Catalyst on June 30, 2016
LOVE your story! Happy Anniversary!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on June 30, 2016

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