quill and arrow

The quill and the arrow

March 4, 2021

Photo credit: Carol Madigan

   Carol dug up one of our first written exchanges, courtesy of my fledgling widower travel blog showing up on her Facebook timeline. It would be a little more than two months before we actually met face to face, but by that time we’d already exchanged the L word. While it is true that I have lived most of my life with my feet firmly planted in mid-air, Carol is one of the most grounded and practical people I was ever to meet. Still, there was something that attracted us to each other from the get go, and it was about how we put words on paper – or screens as it were.

   She admitted that it was the way I wrote that drew her to me. And when I asked her to respond to my standard interview questions concerning her own widowhood, I replied that her answers were so insightful and heartfelt that I would post them as a straight narrative of her story, rather than as the disjointed responses to the questions I had asked.

   You could look at it as a bit of a slippery slope to fall in love with people over the way they express themselves in print. Some of the worst excuses for human beings are among the great lions of literature. Carol would have been mortified to find she’d hitched her wagon to the real life dissipation of a Hemingway or a Kerouac, just because she initially admired the way I dangled my modifiers or liked the cut of my gerunds.

   For me, it was that Bronx (Carol is from Yonkers) deprecation – that warm, endearing way she has of batting her baby blues, while so sweetly delivering a verbal version of a horse’s head at the foot of your bed. Once, she shocked (Carol being all of  5’2″) several arrivals on line at French customs, by gently but firmly calling them out for line jumping.

For me, it was that Bronx (Carol is from Yonkers) deprecation – that warm, endearing way she has of batting her baby blues, while so sweetly delivering a verbal version of a horse’s head at the foot of your bed.

   Another time, I’d written to her that we were PM’ing the same way Carolyn and I had begun our relationship doing. “Oh, so you’re just cutting and pasting then.” (For those keeping score, that’s the comebacker that hooked me.)

   Just recently, she’d penned an email to the management of our 55+ community pointing out in defused, but firm, prose that a couple of residents were unfurling flags of a certain narrow, political viewpoint in clear violation of the community’s rules and regulations. It was a more measured and declarative document than I would have been able to write under the circumstances.

   What I’m getting at here is that it was more the writer’s quill than Cupid’s arrow that has brought us together. It’s probably a greater likelihood of one of us writing “there” instead of “their,” or “should of” rather than “should have” that will get us crossways with each other before any leaving socks on the floor (me) or farting without saying “excuse me” (also me) will.

   It’s also comforting to know that our most acrimonious argument might just very well be over use of the Oxford comma.

   Now that would be a love made for the pages rather than the ages.

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