- Melanie, daughter of a black American and a Thai woman, worked for me at a junk mail company in Virginia. She was in her early twenties and still living at home, and invited me to a cookout hosted by her family one fourth of July.
Driving to her house at around noon on the appointed day, I saw a greenhouse that was open. On a whim I stopped in and picked up two roses, one for Melanie and one for her mom.
Good move. Mom adopted me on the spot, although I was at least her age and possibly a year or two older. But I *needed* a mother while I was there because excepting only Melanie, her father, and yours truly, *everyone* - about twenty-five or thirty people - was Thai, and that's what they spoke. Only the three of us, and to a small extent her mother, conversed with each other in English.
For all I knew they were plotting to overthrow the government, but my mind was soon set at ease in that regard when in the midst of unintelligible chatter I would hear something like "slot machine" or "jackpot."
I chatted with Melanie's dad for a while, and when Melanie told us that all the food was ready and laid out on the deck, we grabbed paper plates and headed that way. I stopped when Mom snatched the plate from my hand and signaled that *she* would fill the plate for me.
I'd had a few things at Thai restaurants, but really didn't know much about Thai food. Most of what I'd had was in any case an Americanized version.
Mom filled the plate with some of the most delicious home cooked food I've ever had.
Her dad was an interesting man, retired from the Army and retired from Civil Service, and working at a local school. But I write this anecdote just to tell the charming story of how he resolved unhappy situations with his wife. *He* never argued, although she would occasionally attempt to provoke him into it. He would sit down on a sofa and watch TV while she stood over him berating him for one thing or another, really just letting off steam. When he'd had enough, he would stand up, wrap his arms around her and give her a big hug, and go upstairs and turn on a different television set. She'd vented, he'd shrugged it off, and both were happy.
- As you know, Debbie and I stayed in touch after we split. Although hundreds of miles apart we saw each other several times, sometimes called each other, and frequently emailed.
One day sometime around 2003 or 2004, seven or eight years after the last time I saw her, she began a curious line of conversation during a phone call. She asked me whether I thought her sister was attractive.
Umm, yeah, not spectacularly so, but certainly not actively repulsive.
Did I think her niece was attractive?
Umm, yeah, a little heavy, but nice looking.
Well, did I think a certain girlfriend she'd introduced me to was attractive?
I had no idea why she wanted this particular information, but I saw right away where it was headed.
Cutting to the chase, the most attractive woman you ever introduced me to was Paulette.
(Paulette was a long-time girlfriend of Debbie's, and married to Bobby. Both were strangers to me, but Debbie and I visited with them one Christmas vacation. They were friendly, and before long Bobby and I were upstairs doing one thing or another while Debbie and Paulette chatted in the kitchen. This was the *only* time I ever met either of them.)
Debbie and I finished our phone conversation and resumed emailing. Several months later we chatted again and at some point she said "I told Paulette what you said."
Oh? What did she say?
"She said 'I always did like Donnie.'"
Ever after, when Paulette's name came up in conversation, it was as "the lovely Paulette."