COUNTY AGENT GUY
It was an inauspicious beginning. An average person would have bailed immediately.
But the woman who was with me wasn’t an average person; she was my brand-new bride. We had been married for only a few hours when we returned to our dairy farm to discover that our Holsteins had broken out of their pen.
The ink wasn’t dry on our marriage certificate and wedding cake was still on our breath and my wife (a city girl) and I were chasing cows and stepping on fresh pies in the midnight darkness. Not a very promising initiation into the world of matrimony.
I tried to put the best possible spin on this untimely bit of misfortune.
“Look at it this way,” I chirped to my bride as we left for our honeymoon after our dead-of-the-night jog-and-dodge with our cows, “We got all of our bad luck out of the way right at the start. Nothing but blue skies and smooth sailing from now on.”
My new bride simply patted my hand and rolled her eyes.
Our plan for the first leg of our honeymoon was to motor to Sioux Falls and stay the night in a hotel. The next morning we would begin our honeymoon voyage to the Black Hills.
Did I mention that we got married on the third weekend of March? And that basketball tournaments tend to take place at that time? And that this makes hotel rooms extremely difficult to find?
We finally located a hotel that met our minimum standards, that is, it had a vacant room and an empty bed. At last. After all the stress and excitement of our wedding and chasing cows in the dark, we could relax.
But, no. A slew of basketball fans who were in high spirits – by which I mean drunk – ran up and down the hotel’s hallway until dawn. It was like trying to snooze while a herd of tipsy, rowdy, hooting-and-hollering rhinos thundered past the door.
The ruckus precluded any possibility of sleep. The next morning, as we pointed our car toward the Black Hills, I said to my wife, “That was pretty lucky. The worst possible hotel experience of our lives is now behind us.”
My wife smiled, patted my hand and rolled her eyes.
Upon arriving in the Black Hills, we decided to visit Custer State Park. We drove slowly through the park’s gates and were instantly besieged by a gang of panhandlers. They were unshaven, unwashed and extremely persistent.
We tried to escape their entreaties by driving away, but they trotted alongside of our car and gazed at us beseechingly.
My tenderhearted wife insisted that we stop and give the poor wretches a little something. But when I rolled down my window, one of the beggars thrust his entire smelly head through the opening and used his huge yellow teeth to snatch a bag of M&Ms right out of my hand.
“That was pretty lucky,” I said to my wife as we sped off. “Being robbed of a bag of candy by a homeless burro was a crime, but I’m glad that we got our experience with lawbreakers out of the way.”
My new bride patted my hand indulgently and rolled her eyes.
Tourist season hadn’t yet begun, so there were plenty of hotels to choose from. Before we took a room, I made sure that there were no basketball tournaments in the area. Nope. We had the hotel pretty much to ourselves.
That evening, we dined in the hotel’s restaurant. The restaurant had only two other patrons, a pair of old cowboys who had faces that appeared to have been made of saddle leather.
A lone guitar player perched himself on a barstool on a small stage. He began to assault his guitar and emit a monotone drone. He would stop occasionally and say, “Thank you. That was ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon.’ Now here’s ‘Johnny B. Goode.'” He then droned on in the same unidentifiable monotone.
“Wow, this is really lucky,” I enthused to my bride. “I bet we’ll never have a musical experience worse than this.”
My wife smiled wanly, patted my hand and rolled her eyes.
Our first day of matrimony set in place a pattern that has repeated itself numerous times over the years.
Something untoward will happen – usually something that resulted from one of my boneheaded decisions – and I will try to explain how what appears to be bad luck was actually fortunate.
But one thing has become crystal clear during the 36 years my wife and I have been married: the luckiest thing that ever happened to me took place when she held my hand at the altar and said “I do.”
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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