I can tell you right now that Jamie is going to hate this blog post and will chew me out for having written and posted it. But sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
The first time I met Jamie she was sitting across the desk in my dentist’s office. She was his office manager and it was her job to take my money and schedule my next appointment.
“Good God Almighty,” I thought, “This is the most incredibly beautiful woman I have ever seen.”
Nothing in the last twenty-five years has caused me to change that opinion.
One of my former girlfriends, also a gorgeous woman, stopped by my house one day and saw three framed photos of Jamie sitting on a shelf where photos of her once sat. She hung her head and said morosely, “So is your new girlfriend some kind of supermodel?”
Apparently, the news spread quickly. After Jamie and I had been going out for a few months, I ran into another former girlfriend at the mall. She also hung her head and said dejectedly, “I hear your new girlfriend is so pretty it makes your eyes hurt just to look at her.”
Those two stories would blow a normal woman’s head up the size of a beach ball, but they simply embarrass Jamie. When she looks in the mirror she doesn’t see what other people see, and that really is a good thing. As far as I can tell the woman suffers from a severe ego gene deficiency.
I used to wake up in the middle of the night and just stare at Jamie silhouetted against the moon and think This is the most perfect profile in the history of profiles. Every once in a while she’d wake up, turn her head, and freak out when she saw two eyes staring at her in the dark. I still do it but the shock value is long gone and now she just rolls over and goes back to sleep.
Countless women have approached Jamie and said, “I love your hair. Where do you get it cut?” They pull out their phones and ask if it’s ok to take photos. One of her best friends has grown so weary of the non-stop stream of interruptions that she now just comes right out and says, “You can get your hair cut like her, lady, but you’re never going to look like her.”
Strangers often ask Jamie if she’s a model or an actress. She responds by shaking her head in amazement, and paraphrasing her grandfather by saying, “That guy ain’t right in the head.” When the same sorts of strangers look at me and say, “Your wife is so beautiful,” my standard response is, “She’s even more beautiful on the inside.”
And everyone who knows her knows that’s true.
Our neighbor here in Angaston, Dr John, has gotten me hooked on Jack Reacher novels. There’s a passage in the latest one that applies to what Jamie could easily have become, but didn’t. Jack asks the female protagonist how it feels to be so pretty. Her response:
Deep down pretty people know other people feel they’re getting something for nothing. They have to be aw-shucks about it. They have to say it makes them feel shallow. But now I can tell you. It makes them feel great. It’s like bringing a gun to a knife fight. Sometimes I would dial it up and just mow them down, one by one, bam, bam, bam. It’s a superpower. Like clicking the phasers from stun to kill. There’s no point in denying it. It’s a significant evolutionary advantage.
Jamie is either completely unaware of this superpower or refuses to use it. Maybe she’s like Superman and has consciously chosen to use her superpowers for the good of mankind. But unlike Superman, there’s no Clark Kent, no secret identity to hide the truth.
She is the sweetest woman alive. She’s remarkably warm and caring. I honestly don’t think an angry or petty or jealous thought has ever entered her head. She gave up a well-paid corporate job to devote herself to caring for mentally-challenged children and young adults. And she’s sacrificed her own health to do it. But her most outstanding trait is that she thinks I’m hilarious (except for those occasional moments of clarity when she thinks I’m a complete ass).
One of Jamie’s best friends once accurately observed that “The only way I’m getting into heaven is by riding in on Jamie’s coattails.” I referenced that line one night while in a conversation with a good, practicing Christian friend. Her response? “You know that’s not how it works, don’t you, Jim?”
With all due respect to her, I’m not so sure. I think if I show up at Heaven’s Gate and St Peter greets me with a clipboard and a pen and says, “You’re record is a bit sketchy, deYong. Give me one good reason I should I let you in?” and I say, “I was married to Jamie for twenty years,” he’s going to think about it for just a few seconds and then nod his head and say, “Yeah. OK. Good enough for me.”
I am not exaggerating when I say that I have heard the following question asked a thousand times:
“What the hell is she doing with you?” And everyone who asks it emphasizes the words she and you as if I will not comprehend the question without that emphasis.
I’ve heard it from strangers. I’ve heard it from good friends. Some of you reading this right now are probably wondering the same thing. The question has never offended me because I completely understand why someone would ask. I honestly don’t know why this sweet, smart, beautiful woman wants to hang out with a tired old goat like me. But you cannot possibly imagine how happy I am that she does.
I never thought I’d get married. I had no interest in getting married. And I still wouldn’t be married if Jamie hadn’t told me she was pregnant. (That story is completely untrue, but I’ve been telling it for twenty years now and this is no time to stop.) In reality, what she said was, “I’m the perfect woman for you and I’m not going to take no for an answer.”
I am a very lucky man. In a life filled with lucky breaks, this was clearly the luckiest one of all.
Happy twentieth anniversary, Jamie. You are, indeed, the perfect woman for me and I’m very happy that no was not an option.