The Honeymoon Is Over

The Honeymoon Is Over

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

The Honeymoon Is Over

If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.

Jonathan Winters

In the spring of 1963, I brought my new bride of three weeks home to meet my parents. We had to stretch the fifty dollars we had to get home to Redwood City, 475 miles away, where money in my bank account was waiting.

We had to select from two motels on either side of the highway. One wanted fifteen dollars for the night, while the other wanted four dollars. I opted for the bargain, but my wife wanted to stay where the amenities were more conducive to “freshening up” and looking her best when she was introduced to my family.

I pointed out the practical side of the situation— notably, the lack of funds—so she reluctantly agreed on the bargain.

I’d just set our bags down when my wife noticed the busy scurrying of a multitude of tiny black “critters” cavorting on the shag throw rug next to the bed!

Wanting to make the best of a sticky situation, I took the rugs outside and gave them a good shake, then placed them back on the floor. “Oh, no!” she said. “I don’t want those filthy things in here!”

“Okay, honey,” I replied and put them outside by the door. I wasn’t about to dispute the matter further because she was clearly agitated.

After a few kisses and an apology from me, she snuggled up and said, “Oh, that’s okay. I know we have to save money, and it’s really not so bad.”

Young love is great, isn’t it? That was about to change— drastically.

“Why don’t you go get some takeout while I shower and wash my hair?”

Good idea, I thought. It would give her some time to cool down a bit, for she was still a tad upset.

I returned from the greasy spoon with two hamburgers and two helpings of fries in a grease-stained paper sack to be greeted by pounding and crying coming from the bathroom.

“The water just stopped; I’ve got my hair and eyes full of shampoo; there’s no towels in here and I can’t open the door because somehow it’s locked. Just get me out of here. Please!” she said.

I turned the knob but it wouldn’t budge. I shook it, rattled the door and did everything I could to get it to open—all to no avail. Giving one last mighty turn, I felt a grinding from within, and the knob came off in my hand as its mate dropped to the floor on the other side.

We replaced the knobs on the door, but no amount of fiddling would get the stubborn thing to open.

“Sorry, honey, I’ll have to get the manager.”

“But I don’t have any clothes on. . . .”

“Just stay calm, dear.”

The manager, a grizzled old geezer, wearing a pair of stained overalls, dusty brown high-top boots, and a T-shirt that, even in its better days, should have been used as a dust rag, was very helpful and understanding.

“Well, ain’t that somethin’!” he exclaimed as he turned the knob to no avail.

He threw up his hands. “Hang on. I’ll be right back.”

“Everything will be fine, honey,” I said through the door as she sobbed. “Just be a little patient, okay?”

Soon the manager returned and handed me a fire ax. “Just break it down. Don’t worry about damages. Should have fixed that a long time ago.”

“Stand back, honey!” I said.

“What are you doing?” my wife screamed as the first of several blows from the heavy ax split open the door.

“Getting the door open, love,” I replied. “Just stay calm, okay?”

In short order, the door was in splinters, and my disheveled wife emerged with drying soap clinging to her wet hair, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight.

I soon learned a husband should never confront his wife with laughter, especially when she doesn’t look her best. I swore I wasn’t laughing at her, just at the situation. Yet at the time my sensitive mate took it personally. She said nothing to me. She didn’t have to. Her eyes said it all!

I returned the ax to the manager and asked about the water. “How is my wife going to get the soap out of her hair?”

The old guy scratched the back of his head for a moment, then brightened. “Wal, there’s a fifty-gallon barrel that collects rainwater from the gutters. Ain’t rained for a bit, but she’s welcome to use it.”

The condition of the water in the barrel made the rugs look like Persian carpets. All sorts of debris and bugs were collected at the top. Some living, most dead.

Enough is enough, I thought. The fancy motel was beginning to look like a bargain. If we didn’t eat breakfast and had crackers for lunch, we could make it home on thirty-five dollars.

We were lying in bed at the “expensive” motel when I turned to her and chuckled. “Y’know, love, a few years from now we’ll look back on all of this and laugh.”

No comment.

The following day a beautiful and elegant Lynne emerged from the car to welcome hugs from my mother and father.

Forty-two years later, we’re still happily married with three children, eight grandchildren and fifteen years of military service. However, I had never really apologized for my wrong decision. Now I realized that girl of twenty-one years simply wanted to please her man.

One evening, I took her in my arms and hugged her.

“I’m sorry, dear.”

She turned toward me with a puzzled look on her face and frowned. “For what?”

“Motel Hell. Guys can really be insensitive, I know. I was no exception.”

She snuggled into my shoulder, her lips close to my ear.

“It was something,” she said.

“Yeah,” I replied. And this time we both laughed.

Gary Luerding

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