As an author and humorist, Reid Champagne is known for his absurd & sophomoric observations of everyday life. While the story of how Reid met wife Carol (after being widowed late in life) is so sweet it belongs on Hallmark, his family would argue his inept & smart-ass tendencies belong on a 2020 reboot of Grumpier Old Men.
In 1976 the newly minted Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their NFL debut and dismally lost their first twenty-six games over their first two seasons. Here in 2018, by the end of the third day of Carol and I moving into our new abode, I was rapidly approaching the Buccaneers’ record for futility.
“No, we’re not going to put that there,” Carol was saying, in what was already becoming a familiar folk phrase throughout our new home. Nevermind that phrase generally accompanied my repeated attempts to hang portraits of Groucho Marx and Laurel and Hardy in the living room. (I should also note that Carol does not decree, only suggests. You know, the same way Live Free or Die is a “suggestion.”)
At one point she spied me standing perfectly motionless in the middle of the living room. “What are you doing?”
“Putting things away,” I offered.
“You’re not even moving.”
“It’s saving time from having to move things twice.” Of course, I was only joking, but Carol believed it was a useful solution, saving valuable time on having to stop every five seconds to “suggest” where I was placing a chair was simply “out of the question.”
Later in the day her older daughter stopped by to have a look around and perhaps deliver emergency support to me at the Front. I pointed with pride to the living room area where everything that would furnish it had already quite symmetrically and stylishly been placed.
“That room is already finished!” I exclaimed with a mission accomplished zeal. April cast an empathetic but emphatic glance. “You realize that’s not an even close to being true,”
In the 27th game of their existence, Tampa Bay trounced the New Orleans Saints 33-14 for their first-ever NFL victory. It came as a shock to both teams. I came to know something of that same dual shock, which for me involved storing a stepstool that I’d boldly decided on my own.
Carol was busy in the kitchen, rearranging the drawers I had just filled with the utensils I would be employing as the chief cook for our new life together. “I need to move these to an upper cabinet,” she began, holding a handful if items I had put in a lower cabinet. “Where is the stepstool?” she then inquired.
“ln the gap between the washing machine and the wall in the utility room.” (By this time I was putting things away merely to get them out of the way, prior to Carol “suggesting” where they properly belonged. I watched her climb the stool, climb back down and then put it back where I had stored it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to know, “So what do you think of keeping the stepstool there?” I expected an indifferent shrug, and maybe an “okay for the time being.”
“Perfect!” she exclaimed, and I felt the same shock in hearing it, as she must have felt in saying it, and in the same manner both the Bucs and Saints felt on that cold December day in 1977.
Yet I kept the rest of my expectations for the move very low. After all, Tampa Bay finished 2-12 in 1976 and 5-11 in 1977. They would surprisingly win a division title in 1979. I’d feel some of that same surprise, when Carol nodded approvingly of my suggestion to put my golf clubs in the storage shed outside. Perfect, I could almost hear her muttering.