How many marriages are too many?
I didn’t know the answer, but I reckoned three was a bit much.
As I drove the 85 miles to meet the cowboy in my life, I was frantic to find a way to reveal I had been married more times than he had children. This pronouncement would end a promising relationship. Of course, I thought three other relationships would bloom into forever, so what did I know?
Telling him had to be in person. I felt compelled to be honest while facing his scowl of disgust, even if it meant I retraced my drive home with only the stars to offer solace.
All sorts of scenarios teased my mind, most of them bleak. Actually, all of them were dismal with no redeeming outcome. But I kept driving, scared and miserable.
I hated to be rejected, shamed, embarrassed, and hungry. He was grilling steaks, and I wanted to get this off my humiliated conscious before I cowed into silence while I wolfed down the promised T-bone and baked potato.
Why am I so afraid?
Because I’m 41 years old, and I’m a coward.
Well, yes, but what’s the worst thing that can happen?
I’ll miss dinner and have to get a hamburger at the Dairy Queen. And, damn it, I like this guy. Dating a marriage magnet isn’t on most men’s top ‘to do’ list.
The debates circled unabated, even as I dragged my quaking body into his house.
‘Hi,’ he greeted. “How do you want your steak cooked?”
“I have something important to tell you.”
“Okay, how do you want your steak cooked?”
“I’ve been married three times.”
“So, how do you want your steak cooked?”
“You didn’t hear me, I have sashayed down the aisle as the bride three times,” my voice quivered in a slow and deliberate tone.
“Okay, but tell me how you want your steak cooked.”
“You aren’t listening.”
I began to sob.
“This is really important. I need you to listen to me,” I blubbered. “I am embarrassed. I’m afraid. And you aren’t paying attention.”
He moved from the grill, wrapped his arms around my shoulders, and enfolded me.
I couldn’t stop the fountain of tears pouring down my face. My voice disappeared.
He sat down, and plopped me, childlike, on his lap, letting me drain my fears, my sorrows, my longings, and my runny nose down his starched white shirt. I kept gasping, trying to explain, but words didn’t materialize.
Breathing eased, tears subsided, as he patiently held me. A deep breath fortified me to question, “Are the steaks burned?”
Laughing erupted, spewing bottled tension like an exploding pressure cooker. Both of us were breathless as we let the raucous laughter calm us.
He gently released me and with tenderness declared,
“Margo, I like you. I don’t care if you’ve been married three times or six times or if you’ve never been married. You are your wonderful self because of your past. It took what it took to make you who you are today, and I think you’re perfect.”
As he lifted me off his lap, he once again queried, “Now how in the hell do you want your steak cooked?”
Humor and his misguided and unadulterated belief that I was always right, kept us together for the next 20 years–when he up and died on me.
How many marriages are too many? As many as it takes to make you flawless in someone’s eyes.