PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – It is Sunday, and I am sitting in the shade and watching the former Ms. Ellen Sabin while she reads a book that is likely way over my head.
Then she gingerly slides into the cool water and sings: “Glor-i-ous.”
Later in the day we will go celebrate our 25th anniversary, or as she romantically calls it, “the day you came crawling back to me on your hands and knees.”
She’s right, of course.
She’s always right and my admission of that fact is her anniversary present, seeing as how I didn’t get her anything else, except for this mountain view and pool.
So today I am making an exception and writing about my wife because she is the most important topic in the world today, or any day for that matter. If you don’t go for that kind of thing you might want to move along.
Ellen is bright, beautiful, witty, compassionate, resilient, snarky, sarcastic, obstinate and generous. She is a bit of a klutz, couldn’t carry a tune in a Ford F-150 and is a horrible dancer. But she is good at everything that is important.
And, she still laughs at my bad jokes and puns. That gets you a long way in a marriage.
In fact, she has armed herself against my lame humor with a sharpened sense of anticipation.
Like the time we drove by a sign that advertised “Everlasting Memories Park,” or something like that.
“I went there once,” I said.
Ellen stared straight ahead in silence.
“Aren’t you going to ask why?”
“Nope,” she said.
“Because you’re going to say you don’t remember,” she deadpanned.
She’s that great.
But I’ve known that ever since she accompanied me on our first trip together, on an assignment to Havana, Cuba.
I fell for her hard on that trip, and planned to propose on the dance floor at the Tropicana nightclub. But a deluge caused her to burst into tears and the moment was lost and I got cold feet and time passed.
Finally she asked me.
“Would you marry me?”
I saw a grammatical opening, and took it.
“You mean, theoretically, in the future? Maybe,” I said.
“No. WILL you marry me?”
I said yes and we eloped to Mexico and got married on the beach by Mrs. Razo, the justice of the peace. We didn’t know we needed four witnesses in Mexico, so we rounded up some guys from a singles club on the beach. When word got back to their group, all the women wanted to come to the wedding, so we got married surrounded by strangers. They all dressed up and they bought us a lovely blanket.
The rest of the evening signaled it would be a charmed and magical union. First, everyone at the restaurant stood and clapped as we walked in.
Later, we asked a local where we might listen to music. He drove us to a nightclub on the edge of town and dropped us off. The place had been reserved for a private party, but when they realized we had just been married, they invited us in.
Turns out it was the graduation ceremony for the folkloric ballet of Mexico, so they put on a show for us, just us, that lasted well into the night.
My life has largely been a fiesta ever since, with the usual bits of sadness and pain but more often, unbridled joy, even glee.
Ever since I came crawling back on my hands and knees.
Ellen has moved to the lounge chair. She sighs.
“Life doesn’t get any better than this,” she says.
You can say that again.