Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dream On

I fell in love with "Mr. Cooked" (the husband) at our 20th High School Reunion.  He was single, STILL, and I had married pretty much every man I had ever met.

No, we were NOT High School sweethearts.  YES, we spent kindergarten to 12th grade together - but in this rural, northeastern Pennsylvania town, we rolled with a completely different circle of friends.

HIS were well behaved, over achieving, ass-kissing jocks. MINE were dark, sassy, smart(asses).

The only conversation I recall having with him was during a fiery game of Ringer in the woods behind our first grade classroom.  He was shooting a beat-up, bumble bee and I was using my magic, rainbow Oily.

At 6, my marble collection was priceless.  I loved their sleek, cool, glow and the melodic CLACK that erupted when clustered inside a double tied, velvet pouch - clutched in my left hand - as I bounced my way along back county roads on my Fair Lady, Schwinn bike.

There was no way I was going to let HIM win -  he didn't care enough to wipe the chocolate milk from his chin - or that his knee was scraped, his hair had no part, and his socks didn't match. 

 Kindergarten class - Mr. Cooked in the back row, far left - ADORABLE
 Monkey ME front row, far left (not much has changed)

Because students were segregated according to the alphabet - his last name starting with "C" and mine "K" - we never shared a homeroom.  But we did share many memories...

A deliberately ignored, urgently raised, second graders hand and the steady stream of gold that roll down the checkerboard, linoleum floor.

Playing kickball with fierce intensity.

Popping asphalt tar bubbles along sizzling summer, streets.

A moment of silence, following the tragic death of Teddy Gardner, who was crushed by a trucks lift-gate when he reached for dropped Halloween candy. 

Checking sofa cushions for spilled pocket change and in victory, rushing to the corner store to buy bubble gum cigars and cherry liquorish.

Knowing its best to eat your potato pancakes AFTER riding the wicked high, roller coaster ride, at Harveys Lake.

Singing "Jeramie was a bullfrog" and "American Pie" at the top of our lungs while bouncing on tattered, green vinyl, school bus seats.

Sneaking sips of Stegmaier beer from adults playing horse shoes at Rickets Glenn. 

Getting the first day of "doe" hunting season off - and worrying about them.

Watching a man walk on the moon, from a brand new colored TV.

Attending our first concert in our high school foot ball field.  Listen to "The Buoys" play their signature song "Timothy" and contemplating its gruesome meaning.

After graduation in 1977, we were both eager to get as far away from home as possible.  He went off to college and I went off to find myself. 

I deliberately avoided the 5th, 10th, or 15th reunions.  I wasn't willing to resurface until I accomplished something.

By the time we reached our 20th, I had successfully taken over the family business, skydived, and was training to run my first marathon.

Nothing that would qualify me as an over achiever, but enough that I could hold my head, not high, but steady.

He was the first thing I saw when I walked in the door.  Corralled in a mound of jocks, with a much younger, well endowed, beauty queen locked on his left arm.

I did my best to look the other way but there was something about him.  Cool and unruffled, he kept both hands buried deep inside his pockets. His broad, sturdy shoulders offset a taut, tapered waist.  His forehead and forearms were golfed red. His eyes were ... ALIVE!

With a stiff back and an elongated stride, I aimed for the center of their sphere.

I was mildly distracted by an paunchy classmate who felt it necessary to remind me who he was.

"Remember me, I'm your class president?"
"Sorry, I don't " I answered, "I must not have voted for you."

Everyone me, but Mr. Cooked got me.  He knew I was poking fun at a man who, 20 years later, still defined himself as "my class president."

 Our first dance - in a conga line - me giving him a leis. 

This was the beginning of a long distance, unsteady, relationship.

We jumped into bed almost immediately.  Afterwords, as I laid in his arms sobbing, he looked me in the eyes and said, "I know, I love you too."

Here I discovered it was MUCH easier to be with a man I could appease than to be with a man I loved. 

To say it was a volatile relationship would be an understatement.  I wrestled daily with intense rage brewed in insecurity.  If I raised my voice he'd fall asleep - almost instantly.  Seated on the couch, his head would bob back and his eyes would roll shut.

He accused me of being addicted to drama.  I accused him of being emotionally inept.

His weekends in Connecticut, rolled into weekday interviews, and when he landed a job, he moved in.

But I had more than my share of doubts.  He had never lived with a woman and I was convinced he had relocated to escape a sleepy economy.

Because he was a non communicator, I had no idea who he was.  In search of clues, I snooped through his brief case, broke into his internet account, sifted through his closet, drawers, and file cabinets.

Late one night, while rummaging through a perfectly lined row of slacks, I discovered a hideous pair of plaid pants in a loud pattern of teal, magenta, royal and lime green. My best guess is that these were a vintage pair of his Sunday bests, but why would anyone hold onto something this visibly offensive?

I didn't want to hurt his feelings but I also didn't want to be seen in public with him wearing them, so I hide them in the back of his closet under a slightly weathered, golf shirt.

Out of sight was NOT out of mind.

I told my mother and sister about them.  They were eager to poke fun at a man who owned such a gaudy garment.

I told friends, coworkers, even my therapist about what was hidden in my boyfriends closet.

Fashion faux pas were not his only flaw.

He referred to his briefcase as a "life box." When home, he insisted it remain propped open on the living room chair.

He had "car shoes" which he wore only while driving - they never set foot outside the car.

For dessert, he ate 3 vienna fingers cookies (no more, no less) dipped into instant coffee.

He refused to eat anything green and considered applesauce the perfect compliment to any meal.

Eventually, guilt got the best of me and after a round of late night drinks, I confessed.

"What do you mean you hid my pants?" he questioned.
He was clearly annoyed and I felt over exposed and embarrassed.

I did my best to explain, but nothing I said made sense - not even to me.

Shamefully, I climbed the stairs to our bedroom, opened the closet door, reached to the far back corner of the closet and discovered.... they were gone.

Unable to retrieve them, his annoyance grew to anger.

"I need my pants. I need all my pants!" he demanded.

I had no idea where they went.  I retraced my steps, told him how and when I found him, how I toyed over what to do with them, and how reluctantly, I hid them.

That night, he slept on the couch and when I woke in the morning, he was gone.

After sifting through his dirty laundry, I was convinced he'd never return.

I called his office but he was "unavailable." In desperation, I called his mother and then his brother and finally, his best friend.   To deaf ears, I confessed how I'd lost his pants and how upset he was with me.

When he returned late the next day he was still, visibly upset.  I begged for forgiveness knowing it was fruitless - the man I loved could not be manipulate or control.

"I'll buy you new pants,"  I bargained, "besides, they were ugly."
"NO they weren't,"  he scolded
"YES they were!"  I insisted.

And then...for the first time, he asked me what they looked like.

I described them by color, style and wear and tear - including the slight fray along the back, left leg cuff and the penny sized hole in the front right pocket.  

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said. "They're not my pants.  They must be one of your other boyfriends pants."

"NOOOO....., they're YOURS!"  I insisted.  "You wore them to was a were worried you'd be almost forgot your life box."

"My what?"
"Your life box"
"What the hell is a life box?!?"
"What do you mean what the hell is a life box?  You're the one that calls it a LIFE BOX!"
"What the hell you're talking about!"
" ... briefcase ...a LIFE BOX!!!"
"NO, I don't!"
"YES do!!!  You were late for work, you were wearing your ugly, plaid pants and no shirt... you turned and asked me to hand you your LIFE BOX!" shirt...why would he go to work without a shirt... that doesn't make sense...


"You don't have plaid pants?" I asked
"You don't call your briefcase a life box?"

It was finally clear.  THIS was all a dream.  A warped, befuddled, dream.

As in the Wizard of Oz, my brain was drawling from its episodic memory.   Working out my worries - subconsciously dissecting my deepest doubts and fears.

I have always been a vivid dreamer, but this was the first time I misconstrued reality.  

As the conversation continued, we both felt more at ease.

Its been a very long time since I've snooped.  In time, I felt less vulnerable and more comfortable with the idea of loving someone and especially, someone loving me.

I realized that, although he's still not good at telling me how he feels, he is excellent at showing me.  Never has a man been so giving, kind and generous - of his time, love, and self.

I woke screaming this morning.  Plagued by nightmares of Bret Michaels WITHOUT his bandanna.

Ladies... it wasn't pretty!

Green Monkey Tales © 2010 Shannon E. Kennedy
Images courtesy of Google Image

for reading and commenting


  1. I love your story. It's amazing the paths that we have to take to find who we are supposed to be with.

  2. That was actually a very intense post. I was feeling so much sadness for you. Dreams are really your brain trying to make sense of your days.

  3. Dreams are funny, they definitely can help us get out some subconscious thoughts. What a cool way to 'meet' (or remeet) your husband. Things that are meant to be will eventually happen. :)

  4. I guess so Holly :) He attended the 5, 10 and 15... wonder what would have happened had I been there. felt intense when I posted it. thats been my frame of mind lately. I'm trying really hard to focus on what I'm grateful for.... no#1 being LOVE

    Shell...thank you for telling me you loved my story. I loved writing it. I've been telling the "plaid pants - life box" story for 8 was time I wrote it :)

  5. Here's to more dreams than nightmares, Shannon. Your journey inspires hope; we can find the people who matter and they can find us. Love the kindergarten picture. I'm at the right end of the second row, Laurie Fry is in front of me, looking like a Dust Bowl child. Keep up the good work.

  6. Sweet - -another great monkey tale!!!

  7. Joan...I swear (although I'm trying NOT too today) I'd recognize you anywhere and LOL...Laurie really does look like a dust bowl, prairie child :)
    thanks for encouraging me Joan.... tell me again when we're getting together - wine's involved, right?

    Eyefleye....((((love knowing your out there)))) less than 100 days now!!!

  8. Giving love is easy. Accepting it? That a whole different ballgame. You took an interesting route to finding both yourself and your partner. Congratulations on both.

  9. It's amazing how life is. Had you gone to the previous reunions, it might have been the wrong time. I loved your love story. LOL @ the pants and life box.

  10. ohhhhhsooooooo glad you laughed! I STILL can't tell if I'm writing funny :)

    yes, give is not the same as accept...but honestly Jane...its STILL one day at a time :)

  11. I love the way you describe everything. You make it so easy to visualize things that I feel I myself lived this story.
    My dreams are sometimes so vivid I am angry for days at my husband for things he never did.
    Thankfully he "gets me".

  12. What a cool, weird story! I've never dreamed something thinking it really happened. I have had vivid dreams that I know are dreams, but the emotions I'd experienced carry over to my life.

  13. Well, even if it was just a dream--he is still responsible for them. I get mad at HOB for things he does in dreams.

    Loved hearing about the path you took to be with him. (A little fascinated with the car this also a dream?)

  14. I've been having those kind of dreams lately ... you lay there in the morning and wonder on why they can't be real ... you make a little argument, like a day in court, and then get up to the day.

  15. I enjoyed that, nice twist at the end. And I enjoyed the walk down memory lane in NE PA.

  16. Kerri and Bossy - yes, that happens for me too. Sometimes I wake him up in the middle of the night to talk about it - I'm THAT upset.

    Sweet Angel - I forgot you're from NEPA (remind me, exactly, where?)

    hey...Brett won the Apprentice! Congratulations to him, he's been through a lot!

    yes red-handed, isn't it terrible when you're pulled out of your dream - try your best to go back but....its gone

    Cheryl - I now question weird things all the time...did I dream that or was it real? but it hasn't happened again...I'm thankful for that!

  17. Kindergarten must have been hell. No one is smiling. So, what happened to the well-endowed beauty queen? Loved the comment to the class president. I would have picked up on the challenging nature of your comment and laughed with you, too. I can see how Mark would have picked up on that right away. Great story. I'm glad you two found each other. An exact match is often not a perfect match. Someone who compliments us in most areas and balances us in a few areas is often the better match. By the way, I love bizarre dreams. However, I don't try to analyze them. I just shake my head and laugh.

  18. Sam - I think we were told NOT to smile...there is no other explanation for such wide spread depression. Mr. C drove the queen home and then came back to the party alone :) clever devil - Camille is witness to this. I'm glad we found each other too! just goes to show you...polar opposites attract. Thanks for reading - especially since you know the man! you knew about the car shoes, right? and the applesauce?

  19. Life Box? I use a pistol range bag for all the stuff I need when I'm on the road. Dana calls it my "man bag". Being a pistol range bag makes it very macho indeed. I am not insecure about my man bag.

  20. i hope you don't think i would intentionally post anonymous comments to you...
    it asked me for a "profile" before i could post :/ ttyl...Michael

  21. Michael - every man should have a man bag! thanks for reading and commenting - even if anonymous, your profile stands out :)

  22. oh my god! No bandanna that would send me screaming too.

    I liked this, it was odd but comforting at the same time.

  23. This is a wonderful post! I love getting the history behind the relationship...especially with such a rich history!
    You are a very postive woman and that is truly inspiring!
    keep up the great writing...i believe in your dreams :o)

  24. So glad you found my blogs and commented so I could find you! Great story here! You had me hooked from the line "I married every man I ever met." LOL.

  25. Wonderful story! I loved it all.

  26. Shannon, I know all sorts of things, but we won't go there. I'm known as Mr. Confidentiality around here. But, you can call me Shadow. Now, I thought most people knew that all men have a man bag. Oh, and that was a classic move Mr. Cooked made...dump the queen and come back for the preferred princess. Little did he know that there were kilts and hoola hoops in his future.

  27. That was wonderful Shannon, thank you for sharing it with us! The life box is hilarious...I have never even heard of driving shoes...and those plaid pants...too funny!

  28. Your Friend FlickaMay 24, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    It has been a few weeks, but I swear your writing gets better and better. I know the story of the pants and Life Box, but just love the way you told it here. Keep it up!!

  29. Ahhhh FLICKA!!! yes you DO know the story :) and to know that you've heard it in the flesh and are still entertained by the way it was written is a HUGE compliment! We need to catch up...Mr. Cooked suggested it last night.

    Shannon...I think "driving shoes" are what "race car drivers" where and in mr. cooked's dreams he's a race car driver. Again - I'm excited to hear that it was a funny story because I really can't tell if I'm writing funny. Thank you!

    KarenG - that opening line is a common one I perfected over the years. "this is my husband....we met at our 20th high school reunion....he was single STILL and I had married...." this was the only part of the story I knew I could count on to get a smile because I've watched people react to it for 8 years :)

    Domestic...I know...its bad faux hair too.... I think Bret's got a good heart - terrible at picking women and a bit too much eyeliner ...but a good guy. I thought it was interesting that I had that dream and THEN he won the apprentice...I'm psychic I tell ya! :)

    "The Naked Writer" and "Aunt Juice Box" - for the past 8 years I've been going to Burning Man. Those of us that attend use our "playa names" ...Mine is (no mystery here) Green Monkey - yours would fit in pERFECTLY - thanks so much for commenting!

    SAM, oops...I mean "Shadow"...tell me again why you didn't go to our wedding? What a sweet thing to say....yes, it just goes to show you never know whats around the corner :) "Princess" by the way...was my other playa name.

    Thank you everyone...I'm working on a new post today, hope to get it out by tomorrow. now...time for me to go read some blogs! Enjoy the day. MonkeyME

  30. Great story. Even better pictures. I have to laugh as I recently went through older pictures of myself, family, and friends. LOL! I had that Brady Bunch look going on as a kid. Egads! Glad things worked out for you.

    Stephen Tremp

  31. HAHA! Thanks for sharing this story. I think you covered just about the entire spectrum of emotions... At least for me anyway!

  32. I love this- the story-the photos- my laughing. I will be back!!!!


  33. Thank you for following and commenting Teresa and Dr. ....I especially appreciate knowing it made you laugh (that was a laugh, not a heckle right Dr.?)

    Stephen - mine was more of a partridge family (Susan Day) look :) and I had a serious crush on Davy from the Monkee's (am I dating myself) glad you enjoyed the pictures! and thanks for commenting :)

  34. Great story! I get mad at my husband when I dream he hasn't been a good one and is having fun with someone else. He knows it too by my attitude in the a.m.

    Wow ~ I have wondered about that bandanna!

  35. Angela!!!! me too!!! I get "stuck" in my dreams when he's with another woman (typically the same woman) and YEP...Mr. Cooked knows when I'm mad at him for cheating on me in MY dreams!

  36. That was a really powerful story! Love it!
    You amazed me! Loved hearing about the path you took to be with him!
    B xx

  37. I can completely relate to being with a non-communicator. And I AM a communicator! I overly communicate. But once I was able to get past my emotions overriding my intellect, I could also see that he SHOWED me that he loved me. I had to learn that we displayed our love in different ways.

    I can be such a spaz and he's just always calm and quiet. It can drive me crazy. But after five years, I have mellowed as a result of this man's patience with me. I am grateful to the powers that be for such a man. ;)

  38. Wow, this was a great story, very intense! I'm glad I found your blog and will be tipping the bathroom attendent in your honor tonight!

  39. I've vowed to myself that some day, I'll go to a high school reunion. But I never, EVER, want to see Bret Michaels, sans bandana. And BTW, thanks for visiting on my BON Day!

  40. What a story! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Hope I don't have a dream like that. Just wanted to thank you SO much for visiting my simple little blog today. Please feel free to visit any time!

  41. G~ I think quiet men are overrated...but hey, thats just me (in a pissy mood) yes, yes, sometimes its great when they listen but sometimes you need them to speak/connect/be emotionally supportive...

    Cheri, so glad you thought about both (laugh and cry)...what made you want to cry? so curious about that. and YOUR BLOG IS LOVELY!!! (lovely is the new fabulous in blogger terms - I just made that up)

    Melissa - you sooo got to go! do it, do it! (me being pushy) and your blog is fabulous! (fabulous is the new lovely in blogger terms- just made that up)

    MARTY... we should call "vodka logic" and "mommy drinks because you cry" and share a beer, or whatever.

  42. Love this story!!! I remember you telling me this when it actually happened! This gave me a good laugh and I need that this evening!!
    xoxo Claudia
    (Yes I am posting anonymous because I can't remember my accout name!!!)

  43. so glad it made you laugh, especially because you heard it in the flesh. so hard to tell if i'm funny when I'm writing. we should have gotten together tonight Claudia...I too could use a good laugh!

    xoxoand its okay to post anonymously :) (thank god for spell check)

  44. Shannon, just reading this tonite, catching up on my GreenMonkey lit before Burning Man....hilarious, I almost spit my soda all over my keyboard!!!!

    Can't wait, I just can't wait!!


  45. OMG I love this!

    And sadly, I think Tony may actually OWN those pants...

  46. I was totally caught up in ur story here. Wondering what what what is gonna happen. Even though I know u married him.

    The class pics are great!!!

    I've never married. U say u have married every man u have loved. I have never "lived" with a man other than my dad.

    I think it would be very hard for me to live with a man. Although, I like the thought of both of us being in bed together reading and him sharing his thoughts with me in the dark of the night. Together yet apart.


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison