To the marriage of true minds I admitted an impediment on our 28th anniversary, unaccountably forgetting to give Mary a card, a failure of the heart rendered all the more stark when I saw, in her card, that she’d opened her heart to me.
The setting was tranquil, fittingly so for such an occasion, mother-of-pearl colors refracting luminously off white clouds while the sun went down behind a lone clammer in the harbor.
As I continued to stammer, she said she hadn’t wanted to punish me, for God’s sake, with her gift, a pair of royal blue swimming trunks Gubbins would have for me the next day. Royal blue swimming trunks, I thought, for a royal pain in the ass.
Neither of us got a kick from the margaritas — the first time that’s ever happened to me. I felt leaden. We ate up, paid the check, and drove home.
“Are you ever going to speak again?” she asked as we returned later from a walk in the dark with the dogs. Then I sat down with a lined notepad and began to write. The words at first were forced, and I crumpled the page up, and began writing again.
And then out of my anguish they began to come. I was “plighting my troth,” as the late Sheppard Frood, who married us in our backyard, said we were to do — as Mary, who was justly dismayed that I had not, had done earlier that evening.
I remember her asking Justice Frood what the “troth” we were plighting was. It was our truth, he said, an old word for truth. She, being a truth-teller, then said she would plight it.
I printed out what I’d written in script when I was done, folded it, put it into an envelope, and handed it to her, and went out of the room, awaiting judgment.
When I returned to the living room she said what I’d written was beautiful and that she would always keep it, though it was strange that I found it easier to write than to speak.
“Well . . . I wrote what I felt,” I said, happy that I had done so.
She sometimes says, and rightly, that words are cheap. They are — except when they are true.
Tonight I’m making the margaritas — with real lime juice.