What was that? I slowed slightly, turned off the radio, listened. Nothing.
I flipped down the rearview mirror. Blue and red lights flashed.
I rolled out my lower lip. Really? Twice in one day?
After I maneuvered my car to the side of the road, I rolled down my window and watched his approach in the side mirror. “Is that you, sweet boy?”
The officer shaded his eyes, then grinned.
“Aw, I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t see it was you. Again.”
“I have my driver’s license now, but I still don’t have my new registration sticker. It’s not my fault though. It’s my husband’s.”
He frowned. “I’m pretty sure blame shifting’s not good for a marriage.”
“Are you telling me how to do marriage? How old are you?”
His mouth opened and shut a couple times. “I’m—”
I climbed out of my car with my tote bag. “That does it. Now I have to tell you a story.”
He glanced back at his cruiser. “But I’m on traffic detail. I’ve got a quota and—”
I swatted the air. “Quota, shmota. Sit.”
On the curb beside him, I produced a notebook and pen from my bag. I turned to a fresh page and dropped a line down the middle. “You married?” He wiggled his wedding band with his pointer finger.
“What’s your name? And hers?”
“Michael, or Mickey. Cynthia, but I call her Cyndi.”
“I like Michael, sounds handsome and strong.” I poked his bicep. “And you are. Now,
“Are you ready to hear my marriage theory?”
“Whether they know it or not, every bride and groom carries a milk crate of expectations down the aisle at their wedding, a honey-do list for the other person. Let’s start with you. What do you want, or expect, from Cynthia?”
Michael stared at the tree across the street. The tree with leaves half green, half gold. Fall’s almost here, I thought.
He counted on his fingers. “Let’s see. Cook dinner, do laundry, keep the house nice. Stuff like that.”
I made notes beneath Cynthia’s name.
“What do you think your wife wants from you?”
His fingers counted again. “Fix broken things, change light bulbs, take the garbage out.”
I handed him the paper and pencil. “Write those under your name.”
When he finished, I reached for the notebook.
“Your list is too short. Here, let me.”
- yard work
- removal and/or burial of dead critters (insects or animals)
- car issues
- bring home flowers occasionally
- one date a month (at least)
Michael took the pencil back and added to Cynthia’s column:
- pay bills
- make appointments
- remember my mom’s birthday
I grinned. “You’ve got the hang of this now, don’t you?”
“I see what you’re saying.”
I stretched the list to arms’ length so we could read it together. “Now, Michael.
This is the list, The Boy and Girl List.
In order for a marriage to work, you need to know what your spouse wants and expects of you, and vice versa. And believe me, when either of you slacks on your list, sooner or later, there’s going to be trouble.”
I tapped his side of the paper. “Now, tell me why my out-of-date registration sticker is not my fault.”
He scanned the list. “Because anything to do with cars is on The Boy List?”
I chuckled. “Yup.”
Michael stood. “How many years you been married, ma’am?” He extended his hand and I grabbed it with both of mine and up I went.
“Almost a quarter of a century.”
“So this list thing really works.”
I ripped the page out and handed it to him. “I think so.”
He tucked the note in his breast pocket. “Awesome. Thank you, ma’am.”
“Hold on,” I said when he turned to go.
“There’s one more thing that’ll make your wife really happy.”
When he caught his lower lip with his top teeth, I felt my cheeks burn. “Come on now. I’m not gonna talk about that. I hardly know you. What I was going to say is, do stuff on her list.”
“Trust me,” I said. “Nothing says I love you more than my husband doing the dishes.”
His brow rumpled.
“Just try it.”
Back at his cruiser, Michael paused and waved.
I rolled my fingers. “Guess what I’m going to do now?” He shrugged. “I’m going to renew my registration and put the sticker on my license plate so hubby doesn’t have to.”
“Have a good day, ma’am. And thanks.”
Tony and I learned this principle years ago when we watched Andy Stanley’s 2-part video message: I-Marriage.*