Sugar Magnolia


This is Shannon. She didn't pose for this shot -- she's not a poser. She's just naturally that cool, effortlessly that cool. If she were a temperature, she'd be cool. If she were a flavor of gum, she'd be cool mint. If she were a movie, she'd be Cool Hand Luke, or maybe Cool Runnings, because it's kind of weird to say she's like a movie with Luke in the title, because her middle name isn't even Luke. So, yeah, she'd be Cool Runnings, because she's cool and she runs fast. If she were a refreshing drink, she'd be Kool-Aid. Except, maybe Cool-Aid, for the sake of consistency in spelling. I'm kind of getting bored of this line of reasoning, so let's move on.
Shannon and I met many a fortnight ago. On our first date we tie-dyed t-shirts. I thought this was a good omen, because I really like the Grateful Dead. She told me about the honors thesis she had written the year before when she graduated (I could only pronounce 50% of the words in the title) and I told her about my pet goldfish Buddy that I had in 4th grade and how he died the day after I got him because I fed him too much.

After that first date, it never really occured to me ask her out again. I mean, she was clearly going places and I, in contrast, had a shirt with cute little stick figures on it smashing guitars and amps that said "Rock on." Well, our paths crossed again, as fate would have it, and we went to Homecoming together.

I prepped for the big night by combing through all my CDs and carefully selecting three to play on the car ride up the canyon to a chic country restaurant with really expensive pork chops: Air Supply's Greatest Hits, the Best of the Carpenters, and Chicago's Greatest Hits: 1982-1989. Now, some might say this was a risky move. What young man in his early-20s would admit to even having brushed up against an Air Supply album in the electronics section of Big-K when he slipped on the wet floor where a gangly teenage employee had just mopped up the vomit of a 3 year-old from the slightly run-down apartment complex next door whose mom only feeds him Corn Flakes and powdered milk, which clearly aggravates his stomach? Sorry. That hypothetical kind of got away from me. The point is, why would a guy trying to impress a chick willfully display an affinity for Air Supply, the Carpenters, or Chicago? This is all I have to say about that: guys in the know, know. Which I suppose is fairly self-evident, since if you're in the know, you clearly know. Anyways... focus, man, focus.

Suffice it to say, I knew that chicks are helpless against the powers of that little short guy from Air Supply, Karen Carpenter's rich, chocolatey, gently wavering voice ("We've Only Just Begun" was exactly the message I was trying to convey to Shannon), and the string of love ballads Peter Cetera wrote in the 80s before he went solo and inexplicably just suddenly sucked (well, he did have that one song from Karate Kid, but the truth is the chicks all thought Ralph Macchio was actually the singer, and that's why it did so well.)

Just as I'd planned, my music selection totally melted Shannon to mush, nigh unto putty in my hands, if you will. But I'm not the kind of guy to take advantage of putty -- that's a really gross mental image, actually. So, like the gentleman I am, I left her vertical and on her doorstep well before 1:30 a.m.

Things proceeded swimmingly. We married. On our honeymoon I got a $300 speeding ticket. It wasn't my fault. It was all that internal combustion and gravity stuff. Anyhow, since I didn't really have a job at the time, the funds to pay the ticket kind of came out of her pocket, and I was reminded of that Grateful Dead song, "Sugar Magnolia," where they sing about how the cute chick "pays my ticket when I speed." We'd come full circle. We started with Grateful Dead tie-dyed t-shirts, and now she was paying my ticket when I sped, just like Jerry Garcia said she would. He was a precient man indeed: Shannon's "got everything delightful; she's got everything I need." Except a weed-whacker. I kind of want one of those.