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"My toes were numb and the Fajitas were too spicy"

November 17, 2003

Listened to the show on Saturday and it was not bad. Listened to the show on Saturday and it was not bad. Mr. Sundberg and I were on our way home from a "Romance Day" in Duluth and the sky was growing dark as I futzed with the controls on the radio. When the kids were babies, we scheduled Romance Days now and then. Otherwise we'd never see each other because he was always in school and I worked evenings as a waitress at the Dew Drop Inn. So we'd pick a day and leave the kids with his parents in Minneapolis, and go out for pizza at Perry's or lemon chicken at the Tender Noodle. We held hands and talked about things like what did we need more—a couch or a dining room table, and where we would go on vacation if we won the lottery, and what we hoped our lives would be like in twenty years. Sometimes we'd end up at a movie, and sometimes we just walked until we hit the Mississippi or couldn't walk anymore.

It had been awhile since our last Romance Day. We got to Duluth about noon; it was drizzling and foggy and rather chilly. I didn't bring a warm enough coat and Mr. Sundberg forgot his gloves. We walked on the boardwalk for a while and ate lunch at a Mexican place. It was pleasant enough, but my toes were numb and the fajitas were a bit too spicy. To make a long story short, we got to talking about where we might go for vacation next summer and couldn't agree and I made a comment about renting a Winnebago and heading to Canada by myself and Mr. Sundberg didn't take to that at all and said he'd like to head home soon.

So we listened to the show in silence while he drove. He laughed at the story of Bob the Artist whose time had finally come and I thought about how my time hasn't come and I haven't peaked yet but I certainly plan on it. I hummed along with the Powdermilk Biscuit song and was wondering how a Norwegian bachelor farmer would spend a Romance Day when Mr. Sundberg finally spoke. "You know, the best part about this whole show is that Guy Noir." I said I thought he might think so. It felt like an apology, that he said something, and the sky grew darker but there were no stars to watch so I stared into the red tail lights of the SUV ahead of us while Mr. Keillor told the story of Cindy's vague dissatisfaction and the dilemma of where to buy a car—the Lutheran dealership or the Catholic dealership. Being a Lutheran, I'd lean toward the Ford. Being a woman, I thought, Go, Cindy. You go and get yourself that red car. And then there came that question of why we go to movies. Mr. Keillor said some people go to laugh, or to be scared. And some go to cry.

It doesn't matter much which. It seems I go to feel. Sometimes I forget how much I can feel, and then something provokes me, and I am amazed. This came to me in the passenger seat and I looked over at Mr. Sundberg. He squints when he drives, and his hair is graying along the sides. I have a lot of favorite movies. When I was a girl, my favorite was Romeo and Juliet—the Franco Zeffirelli version my freshman English teacher gave me after I was caught skipping math to watch the movie in her room. Now it's A Muppet Christmas Carol.

I told Mr. Sundberg I'd like to go with him sometime on one of his motivational speaking trips, and that we could think of it as a Romance Weekend. He smiled and said, "Well, now, there's a thought." And I put my hand on his hand and let it rest there while Leo Kottke played his guitar and from there on home I counted five whitetail deer carcasses and seven times I squeezed my husband's hand and he squeezed back.

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