Keys to marriage found in a Coke can
Updated: Nov 9
May 15, 2011
Chris and I placed our world on temporary hold to visit his parents, ages 91 and 87. Chris’s folks are amazing people. But back there, things move slowly. Back there, dinner comes with ear-splittingly loud TV, but that’s the only electronic disturbance. Their rural world is virtually devoid of things like cell-phone coverage and high-speed Internet, making it nearly mandatory to truly unplug and leave modern day concerns behind. Flying home late at night, we encountered some pretty exciting turbulence. Wishing I was steeled by an in-flight cocktail or even a dose of Benadryl, I hunkered down in the darkened plane, closed my eyes and cranked up my iPod. During the outrageous bumping, rattling and jostling, with tunes blaring and eyes squeezed shut — not in fear but in escape — I felt like a bobsledder. With the jiggle and clatter of the airplane beneath me, I had the sensation of hurtling dangerously, unrelentingly, down the chute, back into modern life. Zipping home at 35,000 feet and 500 miles per hour, itching furiously from more than two dozen mosquito bites and idly wondering if I was bringing any Midwestern ticks home with me, I ran through my list of front-burner items, knowing we’d soon lurch to a stop in the present. Our dear friends dropped our car off in short-term parking before our plane landed. The plan was that when we arrived after midnight, we would have a way home, and they would not have to stay up late to pick us up. They removed our car key and expensive electronic beeper thingy from my ring, placed the remainder of the key ring in the car’s glove box, and, in an amazing stroke of creativity, elected to place key and clicker inside an empty soda can and lay it on the ground next to one of our car tires, text us the location of the locked car and keys, and go home to bed. I must insist on mentioning that these friends are both Ph.Ds. We read the text while changing planes in Atlanta. I thought, good grief, if only Chris had brought his dang keys on the trip like I suggested, Dr. and Dr. could have just locked my set in the car rather than dream up this cockamamie scheme. We had no trouble locating the car, but there was no Diet Coke can. The entire Level One of the parking garage was clean as a whistle. No can. Look again. No can. Look again. No can. Our first married-people topic there in the parking lot, after traveling for about 12 hours in planes, trains and automobiles, after a lengthy visit to the in-laws, only to reach such a frustrating dead end, was this: My jacket was still in the trunk of our rental car in Indianapolis, it was now about 40 degrees, and I was dressed for the 90-degree afternoon we had had. Project One: Let’s figure out whose fault that is. Project Two: I swear I asked you to bring your bleeping keys. Luckily, a lot of nice men spend their nights working at the airport. While none of them are marriage counselors, they clearly sensed that one of their own was in peril. Some sort of husband alert went out through their ranks and a few of them, who may or may not be named Monte, Terry and Emmett, wanted to keep Chris out of Wife Trouble. They located the relevant trash pile, searched it with all their hearts, and found my key and thingy. Then they gallantly refused all our efforts to reward them. Thanks to them, anger dissolved into gratitude and good cheer. Thanks to them, we were able to go home. And stay married. --- Barb Guy is a regular contributor to Tribune’s Opinion pages.