Monday, April 7, 2008

He did what?

Maven Lacey KayeThere's a man in one of the meetings my team supports who I just know was the playground bully when he was a kid. Whenever a new person comes into my group, I have to help them overcome their fear of working with him. It's not that he's a bad guy, but he's intimidating. An ex-cop with massive forearms and very little patience -- and no problem telling you what you're doing wrong. He's one of my favorite people now, but I clearly remember a time when I wasn't as sure of myself around him.

Not too long ago he and I were put on a project together. Around Valentine's Day he said he wanted to tell me about the gift he got his wife because he knew I'd appreciate it. He went to an antique store and bought an actual Victorian-era Valentine, one in the shape of a heart about the size of a dinner plate. He traced the heart and hand-drawn curlicues onto a piece of expensive wood (like teak or something) and used a jigsaw to cut them out, making a lace pattern out of the wood. Then he cut the "card" down the middle. He hinged these doors onto a solid piece of wood so they would unfold. Then he bought some aged-looking paper, like a thick, pulpy card stock, and printed the Valentine message on it. The paper showed through the card's window, making a very pretty presentation, and the final touch was a hanger on the back so it could be displayed on a wall.

Needless to say, I was impressed. Not just with the extent to which he'd gone to make Valentine's Day memorable for his wife of 17 years, but by the way his eyes lit up when he talked about her. I asked him if this was normal for him, and he told me about the curio cabinet he'd made for her wedding dress. It stands in the corner of one of their sitting rooms and has little lights that shine down, etc.

Someone came up to us then and said, "Hey, what are you guys doing?" I looked at the intruder and back at my friend and said, "[He's] melting my heart." And the intruder looked at my friend and then back at me and went, "Yeah, right."

Because seriously, who would believe that?

I was telling Maven Erica this story (in preparation for her meeting said friend) and she pointed out that the reason this is a story at all is because of who my friend is perceived to be. Nobody cares about the nice guy who makes the extensive Valentine's card for his wife. But the motorcycle-riding ex-cop with a chip on his shoulder who takes off work for her birthday every year? That's intriguing. That makes you stop and go awww.

May have to rethink my love-affair with beta heroes.

YOUR TURN: Tell us about someone you know who made you stop and think twice. A nice guy who did something mean, a mean guy who did something nice, a pastor who slept with a member of his congregation -- something that became news not because of what they did, but because of who you thought they were when they did it.


Bill Clark said...

a pastor who slept with a member of his [and sometimes her] congregation

Sadly, this is old news in this part of the woods. Usually it's done under the guise of "counseling" someone in an already-difficult marital situation. There are no words to describe the baseness of such behavior; but here in Greenwich we tend to sweep it under the rug, pretend it never happened, and give the offender a promotion as we shoo him/her gently out of town.

I liked your story better. Unfortunately, artistic muscle-bound cops are hard to find around here: they simply can't afford the cost of living. Nor, one imagines, would your friend even *want* to live in this town, where staying married to the same person for 17 years is a bit of a societal rarity - at least among the nouveau riche who have been inundating us of late and tearing down all our historic houses to build their ginormous McMansions for their trophy second and third wives.

(Sorry for the rant - you seem to have touched a nerve. Tell us more about your policeman friend!)

Marnee Jo said...

My sister dated a guy in high school who was the epitome of upstanding. Never drank, smoked, or got in trouble. Very polite and respectful. Always stood up for the underdog, that sort. And proud of his moral character. He became a teacher.

I liked him, still find that I do.

But, he was just all over the Baltimore news for being caught having an inappropriate relationship with a student at his HS.

I still find myself doubting the media's depiction of the entire affair.

Darcy Burke said...

I love this story! (And wish I'd gotten to meet him too.)

I know lots of people who have surprised me, in good and bad ways. Can't think of one story to share though. I love when people fork up your expectations!

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