Saturday, January 1, 2011

How do you spell "schlock"?

[Note: when I wrote this post, I did not have a correct understanding of the word "schlock." I thought it meant over-sweetened, banal, kitschy, like fluffy, white kittens photographed with a soft-focus lens.] 

[Second update: I've been educated. The correct word is "schmaltz."]

There is no way for me to write about my husband without causing readers to gag on the saccharine sweetness. It will drive you into diabetic shock; it will have you running for a wet paper towel so you can wipe the stickiness off your cheeks. You will envy me and loathe me.

Steve in high school.
Not the coolest kid on campus.
It is probably a good thing that I did not meet Steve when he was a teen (refer to photo at left), as he was, um, badly coiffed. And wore a plaid suit. 'Nuff said.

Even when I did meet him, he was sartorially impaired. (Look it up.) His favourite clothing store was the Salvation Army; his casual slacks were rugby pants, worn at waist level. No one is skinny enough to pull that off.

But he was Good. He was through-and-through good - in the underappreciated sense of goodness, of what makes humankind worth admiring. In the sense of what we all, in our better selves, strive to be.

The Christmas after meeting him, I went home to visit my family and told my cousin (a dear friend) about him. She asked the obvious question: "So, why aren't you dating him?"

Why indeed.

Because I was an emotionally wrecked university student who knew that, at that time, he was too good for me. And, because, paradoxically, I was too damned full of myself. I thought I was pretty hot stuff, too cool for someone who wore Sally Ann slacks.

And yet.

When, after a month without seeing him, he walked in the front door of the house that I shared with three other girls, I leapt over bicycles and boots and bags to hug him, I was so glad to see him.

I was home.

But I still wouldn't go out with him. (He asked. I told him I needed him as a friend. He thought I was feeding him a line, but it really was true! I was f***ed up, but on some level, I knew that this guy was not someone with whom to have a fling.)

One memorable evening I looked up from where I was studying, and saw him at the end of the hall, where he, too, was studying. He must have sensed my gaze and turned his head to look at me. I smiled and thought, "I could handle seeing that for the rest of my life." I can still see him in my mind's eye.

Later, we snuggled and read "Winnie-the-Pooh" aloud together. Not very sexy, and there was no hanky-panky.

But mere weeks later, he took me to his graduation ball and I kissed him goodbye the next morning. Our first kiss.

Here we are, 27 years since I leapt through the cluttered hall, and I still look at him and think, "I'm home." I still look at his blue eyes, now framed with wrinkles, and think that I could handle seeing that for the rest of my life.

I warned you, it's schlocky schmaltzy.


  1. Wynne Anne, I believe the word you were looking for is schmaltzy, and you're right, he is sweet. Happy New Year.

  2. Schmaltzy! That's the word! Thank you.

  3. Smile. We are both lucky; you express it more eloquently. Smile.

  4. Aww, Wynn Anne, thanks for the happy little cry you just made me have! What a lovely story. You two are so blessed to have one another and your beautiful children. All the best to you in 2011!!!!!!!


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