Thursday, March 20, 2014

Figuring It Out At Finish Line

Mrs. Frankly surprised me last night by suggesting we go walk around the mall. I’m trying to take 10,000 steps every day and I was a couple thousand short, so I was eager to agree. There was a time when we didn’t get out much. Little kids dominated our attention – as kids should when they were little. But now that the little Franklies are 22, 21, and 18 it’s fun to go out on the occasional whim.

We made a few laps around the Lansing Mall (soon to be home to a new Cineplex and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill, by the way) before stopping at Finish Line.

We love Finish Line. The moment you walk in you’re immersed in high-energy music, the sort that has you bopping your head and beat boxing “boots n’ pants n’ boots n’ pants.” If the kids are with us they roll their eyes and pretend to be orphaned. But, by now, Tracy just shakes her head and zigzags her way to the ladies shoes.

Me, on the other hand, I head to the clearance rack in the corner of the store. I have a simple rule: never buy shoes when you need them; buy shoes before you need them. That way you can take advantage of a deal. Which leads to rule two: never pay full retail. In fact, if you can keep it below $50 that’s a win. Below $40 is a blow out.

I looked at several pairs and, by this time, was joined by Mrs. Weller. Josh, a big strapping guy with a sleeve of tattoos and gauges in each ear was shuttling back and forth between the stockroom and the bench where I sat. He seemed like a great guy so I chatted him up. The song on the muzak was something like, “All the ladies want me . . .” (Okay it might now have been that, but Chad Cronin can tell you I know nothing about any music written after 1992.)

Anyway, I said something to Josh like, “Hey this is your theme song isn’t it?” He replied, “This is on all day long; I don’t even hear it.” By then the “All the ladies want me,” caught up with his auditory nerve and he laughed. I said, “Must be the sleeves and gauges, Josh.” Mrs. Frankly just laughed and shot me that, you-just-can’t-resist-chatting-up-a-total-stranger look.

I got a pair of Reeboks and Mrs. Frankly picked out a half-price hoody for Son #2 and we headed to the register to pay, giggling the whole way about something funny I can’t recall.

As Josh checked us out he said, “If you don’t mind my asking, how long have you two been married?” I told him, “27 years this year.” “Congrats,” he replied. And then he said something that kind of startled me: “It looks like you two really have it figured out.”

In a flash I thought to myself: I didn’t have it figured out last week when I came home cranky and was short with her. I didn’t have it figured out when I went straight to my home office and worked all night while she was alone in the bedroom. I didn’t have it figured out when I freaked out about . . . No Josh; I don’t have it figured out.

So I told him.

“No Josh, we don’t have it figured out. But I tell you what: we are committed to spending the rest of our lives figuring it out.”

For better. For worse. That’s what we chose when we said, “I do.”

And, nearly twenty-seven years later, I still would.