His was an interesting story. When he threw the first snippet of information my direction, I took the bait. I said, “I write a daily blog. Yours sounds like an interesting story. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask more questions. Of course, I won’t divulge your identity or the name of the place where you work, but yours is definitely a story that perks my interest”. He responded: “That’s not a problem. Everyone here knows my story”. Though he didn’t explicitly say so, I gathered he was a man with few secrets. It is really difficult for one’s life not to be an open book when you live in a small community.
So have I shared enough of the background to capture your interest? I don’t know the age of the man with whom I was talking. I’d guess mid-forties, but he could have been younger. For that matter, his age could go in the opposite direction. He was definitely old enough to make mature decisions and exercise prudent judgment, but by his own admission, he had not always excelled in that category. That was particularly true in marriage.
We were in a restaurant yesterday afternoon for a late lunch. The venue was something other than Mexican food, but it, too, was a culinary delight from another country. The General had placed her order and when asked if she wanted low, medium or high spice, she opted for low. When I placed my order and the waiter asked me the same question, I opted to go with medium. That’s when the General said: “Okay, I’ll go with that too.”
The guy looked like a no nonsense kind of fellow. I simply explained: “She hangs on to every word that comes out of my mouth. Of course she wants exactly what I want. That’s always been the case. It never varies”. I then added with laughter: “Yeah, that’s right! You can count on it!”
I guess you could say that’s when he took the bait. He responded: “I set the ring tone on my phone for my third ex-wife as: “You’re right”. Was he referring to the last song Nirvana recorded? If so, the official title would have been: “You Know You’re Right”. It was the last song Kurt Cobain wrote and recorded. He obviously was at a very dark place in his life. Shortly thereafter, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The song was recorded in 1994, but didn’t become a hit posthumously until 2002. Nirvana was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
I never listened to Nirvana and I know nothing about Kurt Cobain other than from
name recognition. I was startled to read the lyrics to: “You Know You’re Right”. It is not a feel good song. I guess like Country Western music, even grunge band lyrics tell a story. With his last lyrics, Cobain shared his story. It was autobiographical.
The lyrics are unsettling. Yet, they seemed to fit the dimension of what the waiter was sharing, particularly if by the time he added the ring tone to his phone, his wife was already his soon-to-be ex-wife.
The lyrics sound like a sad farewell: “I will never bother you / I will never promise to / I will never follow you / I will never bother you / Never speak a word again / I will crawl away for good / I will move away from here / You won’t be afraid of fear / No thought was put in to this / I always knew it would come to this / Things have never been so swell / I have never failed to fail / Pain Pain Pain / You know you’re right / You know you’re right / You know you’re right”
Like I said, “The waiter had perked my curiosity, but after reference to the third ex-wife, how much further could I go? I didn’t want to invade his privacy and obviously his experience with wedded bliss had fallen short of expectations. When talking with folks, I prefer to focus on their strengths rather than their disappointments. Obviously, the topic of marriage carried a disappointing dimension.
Okay, so I opted to take a chance with the hope I wasn’t being offensive. I decided to ask another question. After all, he voluntarily brought up reference to his third ex-wife. So I asked: “So how many times have you been married?” He said: “Four”. I cautiously asked while I held my breath: “Are you single now?” He said, “No, I’m married”. Okay, so when it comes to marriage, unlike baseball it was not: “Three strikes and you’re out.” Wife number four was the magic number.
He went on to explain: “The owner (referring to his employer) said I didn’t make good decisions related to marriage. Consequently, my employer offered to make the next decision for me. My employer made the arrangements for my fourth wife. I am married to one of my employer’s extended family members. Ours is an arranged marriage. The owner handled everything.”
Wow! Wow! Wow! I had the immediate thought: “This guy knows how to play with fire.” His answer to my next question really caught me off-guard. I asked: “So how long have you worked here?” He responded: “Twenty-six years.”
No wonder the owner (his employer) had the full picture when it came to understanding his lack of prudent judgment in asking the question: “Will you marry me?” This was not a casual employee with whom the employer was only briefly connected. Twenty-six years is a long time to be in an employer/employee relationship. So was the owner throwing caution to the wind when he or she paired an extended family member from another country with his or her employee and friend? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it obviously has worked out well.
Had I been more daring, I would have asked what ring tone he has assigned for his current wife? I’m hoping it is Frank Sinatra singing: “Love Is A Many Splendered Thing”, but I wasn’t bold enough to ask. I did mention that he was obviously a very trusting and brave man. He certainly had more to lose than just a wife if things didn’t work out well. After all, twenty-six years is a long time commitment to an employer and when you mix marriage and work together it immediately becomes all or nothing.
In case you’re wondering, I left a very generous tip. His was certainly an interesting story.
All My Best!