All about Peggy: Part 1: The Tumor

By September, 1971, Peggy and I were engaged. On the memorable day in question, we were in my parents’ backyard petting my little dog, Wolf (I grew-up naming all of my dogs Wolf, Sassy, or Tippy). I had just stepped inside for a glass of water when I heard Peggy emit an anguished cry that erased all thought of thirst. I ran to her side where, with trembling fingers, she pointed to a large, gray, marble-sized sphere on Wolf’s neck and, with the solemn reserve of one who has tragic news to convey, said softly, “Wolf has a tumor.”

I then did the last thing she expected a sane person to do upon learning that his dog has a tumor so aggressive that it wasn’t there the previous day. I laughed. I think I might have laughed until I cried, but 51-years is a long time to remember such details. When my laughter subsided, I grasped the hideous gray orb between thumb and forefinger, “unscrewed” it from Wolf’s neck, and crushed the blood-gorged monster between two bricks that I carried for the purpose. Peggy was beside herself with admiration. In fact, she was floored, flummoxed, and no less addled than a goose with a skull fracture. Her face paled; her eyes bugged; and she looked at me as if afraid to look away. Then, almost imperceptibly, she started sliding her pretty bottom in the other direction. Perceptive young man that I was, I knew that she did these things because she was humbled by the knowledge that, only in America, could a woman with beauty, brains, but no money, marry such a man.

I was entertaining similar thoughts myself, but instead of rejoicing, I was wondering if I shouldn’t find myself a bride with beauty, brains and money. Regrettably, my innocence and naiveté enabled the 20-year-old San Antonio rose to lure me into the grim matrimonial pit from which I continue to gaze helplessly at a tiny wedge of distant sky. When I tell her of my bitterness each morning over yet another bowl of cold, unsalted gruel, she cruelly retorts that while a gigolo looks to his woman to make him rich, a real man looks to himself to make his woman rich. So much for feminism! So much for a bride taking responsibility for ruining her husband’s life! So much for women
’s cruel indifference to non-pecuniary genius! But let us return to that long ago day in Mississippi, a day so long ago that the world was still in black and white…

As Peggy continued to scoot her pretty bottom away from me, I shouted: “Peggy, my love, Wolf’s ‘tumor’ was a blood-bloated tick that would have latched onto your eyeballs had I not killed him when I did.
I only laughed because it had never occurred to me that you didn’t know what a tick looked like.” She couldn’t have been more impressed had I rescued her from a ‘possum. I knew this because she persisted in silently opening her mouth in sexy resemblance to a freshly-caught catfish. Although the heavenly vision she conveyed was impaired by her lack of a catfish’s gray skin and whiskers, I tried to put aside her failure in that department just as I tried to put aside her failure in the money department. Unfortunately, fifty-years of looking up at a tiny wedge of sky has made my neck hurt and left me depressed, especially when the sky is clear but also when it is cloudy. When I consider the joy that might have been mine had I been born a gay Icelandic ailurophile, I just want to retch. In fact, I think I will.

Next time:
All about Peggy: Part 2: Why a Woman Who Hates Cats has Five Cats