Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Blueberries are like proper sex

A couple of years ago a philosopher friend, Greg Clark, said, "Every time I ask you a question, you tell me a story."

I guess that's how my brain works.

Yesterday as I wandered through my blog I began to ponder why in humans sex and trust is linked like the membrane and nuclei of a cell.

So I have a story. Actually two.

Yesterday Sarah and I visited with Sarah's 79-year-old mother, Jean, and Walton, her 85-year-old friend. Walton and Sarah's father, Ralph, were best friends in a Baptist seminary in the 1940's.

Ralph was shot and killed while serving as a missionary in Ethiopia in 1951 while Sarah was still in the womb. She's been searching for her father ever since and here was a chance to here more stories about him.

Walton told a few stories about Ralph but he kept drifting off to stories about Eunice, his wife of 53 years who died a couple years ago.

Shortly before he met Eunice, Walton had broken an engagement with another woman. Then he met Eunice at a camp and sparks flew immediately. Ralph saw what was happening and he asked Walton if he was being true to his fiance. Walton 'fessed up to Ralph that he had broken his engagement.

"That's the kind of friendship we had," Walton said.

Walton met Eunice in August, they got engaged in October, and married in December. "I never kissed her until I gave her an [engagement] ring," he said. "That's the way we were."

"Did I ever tell you about the first time Ralph kissed me?" Jean asked Sarah. "He kissed me and then a week later he apologized." She paused. "That was kind of disheartening."

"Ralph was very proper," said Walton.

I can think of another word. Trustworthy.

Contrast Jean and Walton's stories with the story Alma (not her real name) recently told me. Ten years ago Alma decided to leave, Alfred, her husband of 40 years. He was an alcoholic who periodically drank and became violent towards her. Ten years ago he was drinking again.

"I was so nervous when I left him I thought I wouldn't last a week," she said. "I thought I'd die of a heart attack."

She carefully planned her escape so that her husband would not know where she was, moving half way across the country. There she bought a .22 caliber pistol. "With planes nowadays," she said, "you can get anywhere in the country within a few hours. If Alfred showed up at the door I wanted to make sure that he wouldn't get in."

For seven years Alma kept the pistol under the liner in the waste basket in her bathroom. "I always figured I'd have a reason to go to the bathroom," she said.

Alma's story tastes bitter. I can only imagine the improprieties that led to the earthquake fissures that ended their marriage.

Now Jean's story of her courtship with Ralph and Walton's story of his courtship with Eunice have a different taste. Their stories make me think of tasty good sex blooming like blueberries in the backyard.

You know trust and blueberries will keep producing for fifty years.