A long-time friend and my first softball coach, Bob Myers, passed away recently. His obituary said he was known for his intellect and wise council. And while many obits inflate a person’s attributes, those words accurately describe Bob. The word “integrity” never appears, but I think it probably should have.
Bob was an interesting man, so I have three stories to share (hint: the third story is the real reason for this post)
I was writing an article for a college journalism course about the tragic shootings at Kent State University (May 4, 1970). Bob heard me discussing this at a softball game and told me he was actually there as a member of the Ohio National Guard. He gave me his perspective of what it was like being in that difficult situation.
But then he told me something supremely interesting. There is an iconic photograph (except I cannot find it anywhere on the Internet) of a hippie chick sticking a flower in the rifle of a guardsman as he stands cordoning off part of the campus. (there was also a TV commercial that reenacted this event.) Bob told me he was the guardsman in that photo. Now if most of my goofball friends, especially my good pal TV journalist Brian Williams, would have told me this, I would have laughed it off. But if Bob said it, I believe him.
Bob was pitching in a softball game, when some bizarre argument started between him and the batter. From my position in short-center field (maybe 20 feet from second base) I could tell there was a conflict, but I couldn’t understand what was being said. Suddenly the hitter dropped his bat and took a couple steps toward Bob.
Instinctively, I started to trot in to the infield. Bob was a little guy, maybe 5’6” on a good day, and a few years older than most of us. I was the biggest guy on our team and I was not about to let someone pick on our coach. Well this goof-head may have wanted a piece of little Bob, but he wanted no part of me. Which was a great thing since I really didn’t want to fight him, I mean this was church softball, after all. So the dude picked up his bat and the game resumed.
After the game Bob explained to us what the dispute was all about. I revealed to him, I had jogged into the infield and would have protected him if necessary. He then looked at me with utter disdain and said:
“If he would have come at me, I was prepared to kick him in the head”
This statement was so ludicrous that we tried not to laugh, but we did all look at Bob incredulously. Then Bob explained:
“I am a trained master in the martial arts. I would have kicked him right in the head. But it wouldn’t have hurt him. He may have blacked out for a couple seconds, but he would have been fine” (I mean this was church softball, after all)
Again, I wouldn’t have believed most other people making this statement. But then I did remember during the incident that Bob had quickly flipped his glove off, stood his ground, and assumed a position that one sees often in a Bruce Lee movie. Yes, my actions had prevented someone from getting a major butt-whipping – but that person wasn’t Bob.
My bachelor dinner had ended and the guests were leaving. Bob walked over and motioned for me to bend down because apparently he had something important to tell me.
He said, “If you don’t think about getting divorced more than three times the first year, you are doing well”.
I looked at him skeptically, my jaw dropping. He just nodded, flashed a wry smile, said “Good luck” then quickly departed.
I was completely and utterly dumbstruck. This was the most ridiculous advice anyone had ever given to me. Think about divorce? No, my marriage was going to be a blissful experience filled with hot sex and sammiches. And maybe even both together - after some tantric sex, I might be hungry and my wife would then make me a delicious sammich. Oh yeah, this would be nirvana.
Hot sex and sammiches! Hot sex and sammiches! Maybe even good sex and hot sammiches, it didn’t matter. Marriage was going to be totally wonderful. I’m not ever going to think about divorce, especially the first year – no way, no how, not gonna do it! Maybe somebody else, but definitely not me.
|A very hot and sloppy sammich!|
I wondered why Bob would say something that preposterous. However, he had recently completed his first year of marriage, so he did have some credibility. But his wife Julie was such a sweet, quiet, gentle, woman, I couldn’t even imagine Bob having any problems in his marriage. But nope, this did not apply to me. Hot sex and sammiches! Hot sex and sammiches! That’s how it’s going to be.
I believe it was somewhere around the fourth month of blissfulness that my wife did something that really fizzed me off. Of course I have no idea what it was. Maybe I was hungry and she claimed she was too tired to make me a ---- well you get the idea. But whatever, it was totally unacceptable. I can’t believe she did that, I fumed. This behavior is just terrible and if it continues, I want a divor…… Oh my, suddenly I remembered what Bob Myers had said. But this was only one time and it probably was just a fluke, so I still thought he was crazy.
And then it happened again during the seventh month. All right, the first time wasn’t just a fluke, maybe Bob is on to something after all. But still it’s only twice. If my wife wouldn’t keep doing stupid stuff to fizz me off, this wouldn’t even be an issue.
However, I was alarmed the third time it occurred, in month eleven. Oh my gosh, Bob actually did know what he was talking about. I realized I had exhausted my limit and still had around six weeks to go. Fortunately, I made it to the one-year anniversary with a “three count” which meant I was doing well! And Bob was correct, because my marriage is still going. (and Bob’s marriage lasted also).
I must state that my wife had a much more difficult time during the first year of marriage than I did (if you read this blog regularly, you know I am stating the obvious.) I admit that I can be difficult to live with. Heck, sometimes I don’t like living with myself. For my wife to keep an accurate count of how many times I fizzed her off that first year, she would have needed one those clickers designed for counting golf strokes. And I think I finished over par for the year. If Bob would have given my wife advice before the wedding, he would have pointed to the door and said “Run that way, and don’t stop until you hit the state line”.
Therefore, I believe Bob’s rule is highly accurate. However, I’m thinking with the changes in society over the many years since he developed the rule, that maybe we can add a fourth time due to inflation. So the Myers-Ake newlywed rule is this: “If you don’t think about getting divorced more than four times the first year of marriage, you are doing well”. As it is written, so shall it be done.
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