Close Encounters of the Matrimonial Kind

Warning, warning!!!! The following post is of a personal nature. It has nothing to do with Thoroughbreds, pedigrees, or statistics. Read at your own peril.

From time to time I have written about my family, including dear ole dad (DOD), most notably in “Our Father (Who Art Not Yet in Heaven.”

DOD passed away last week at the age of 92. Just got back from the funeral about 90 minutes ago.

So we told a lot of family stories over the past weekend, most of them revolving around DOD. He loved to tell stories. He loved to embellish them.

I actually wrote the following story last Sunday morning, before I learned that he had died (though he was already dead at that point). I did not hear the news until Monday afternoon.

So this story is sort of a send-off to him. It was one of his favorite stories to tell and to embellish. May he rest in peace and be winning lots of cribbage games up in heaven.

—————————————————————————————

Louis Long Dink was my dad’s youngest brother and hence my uncle. I was named David Louis Dink, the middle name in honor of my Uncle Louie. Uncle Louie and I got along well for some strange reason or another. We bonded despite the age difference of 20 years between us. He was more like an older brother than an uncle to me.

Hank Williams (Sr. of course) has a song called “I’ll Be a Bachelor ‘Til I Die.” It is a very amusing song, but alas, Hank did not exactly live up to it. He married twice before he died at the age of 29.

In contrast to Hank, Uncle Louie was indeed a bachelor until he died. He was born in 1935 and died in 2000 at the age of 65. He escaped matrimony his entire life (unlike Hank). However, He did have one close encounter with matrimony. And thereby hangs a tale . . . or two or three.

DOD (my dear ole dad) likes to tell his story about Louie’s close encounter with matrimony. According to DOD, this happened in the early 1960s. Louie was working in St. Louis at the time. He had a girlfriend by the name of Evelyn at UK (the University of Kentucky, in Lexington).

One Saturday in the early 1960s Louie and Evelyn drove up to Cincinnati to pay us a visit at the family mansion. By “us” I mean Mom and Dad and their four rug rats (born in 52, 55 [moi], 57, and 60). Not exactly an advertisement for matrimonial bliss, as DOD has noted.

Anyway, Louie and Evelyn showed up about noon on a Saturday. Dad and Louie went out and procured a gallon of “cribbage juice” (beer) from the local watering hole, Cooney’s. A gallon of draft beer was 90 cents back then. Dad and Louie proceeded to play cribbage all day long. That entailed a second trip back up to Cooney’s for a second gallon of beer about three that afternoon.

Meanwhile Mom was slaving over a hot stove, preparing the usual feast for the entire group. Louie was fond of fried chicken (drumsticks specifically). So the supper, served about five that afternoon, consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, and perhaps another delicacy or two. Louie praised and thanked the cook effusively and retired for a nap after supper.

Louie resurrected from his nap about seven that evening. He and DOD drove back up to Cooney’s for a third gallon of beer. That third gallon of beer lasted until about ten that evening. At which point it was decided that a fourth gallon of beer was necessary. Evelyn insisted on accompanying DOD and Louie back up to Cooney’s for said fourth gallon.

Not that Evelyn was enamored with the idea of a fourth gallon of beer (of which she had NOT been partaking). More likely she was worried. Evidently no one back then worried too much about DUIs. Except maybe Evelyn.

Anyway, as DOD relates the story, it was while the three of them were in transit to Cooney’s and back for that fourth gallon of beer that it occurred to him that Louie’s matrimonial prospects with Evelyn were rapidly diminishing.

I spoke to DOD about this story a week or so ago and asked him the most important question: “Who came out ahead that day at cribbage, you or Louie????” He replied that he did not have the faintest idea. Understandable perhaps, after two gallons of beer apiece.

DOD likes to tell this story a lot. One Sunday morning many years later as Louie and I were traveling back from Cincinnati to Lexington and Frankfart (where Louie resided) I asked Louie about the veracity of this story. Louie admitted that it happened pretty much the way DOD described it.

He added, however, that the fourth gallon of beer was not the REAL reason he and Evelyn never tied the knot. Then he proceeded to tell me his story about the real reason.

According to Louie, this story begins several months after the fourth gallon of beer. He was still seeing Evelyn and driving from St. Louis to Lexington many weekends to do so.

On the weekends that Louie saw Evelyn in Lexington they frequently went to the drive-in movies. As you might imagine, this was not particularly because they were both movie buffs. You can probably remember from your own youth how boys and girls sometimes amuse themselves at the drive-in movies.

One particular weekend they did not make it to the drive-in movies though. Evelyn wanted to attend the wedding of a friend instead. So that is what they did, and Louie drove back to St. Louis that Sunday more than a little frustrated.

Louie arrived back in St. Louis, filled his refrigerator with a 12-pack, then emptied said refrigerator. (Louie was asked one time, do you keep beer in your refrigerator? His laconic reply was: “Not overnight”.)

So after consuming those 12 beers, it occurred to Louie that he just had a telephone installed in his apartment. He could call Evelyn long distance. Without thinking about it too much he proceeded to do so.

So Louie discovered that calling your girlfriend late on a Sunday night was not a very good idea. And that calling her to complain about his frustrations was an even worse idea. And that doing both these things DRUNK was the worst idea of all.

That particular incident, Louie concluded, had more to do with his failure to tie the knot with Evelyn than the four gallons of beer.

We were approaching Lexington by that point in the drive. Louie was in a reflective mood. Even that was not the real reason, Louie confessed. And he proceeded to tell me the real reason.

The real reason, Louie revealed, was that Evelyn had ambitions. And like most young women back then, she calculated that the best way to achieve those ambitions was to marry an ambitious man. “She wanted me to be president of the XXXXXXX United States,” Louie ruefully concluded.

Not that Louie would have been a BAD president (and better than some I could name no doubt). But Louie was about the most ambitionless person in the universe.

As he settled into lifelong bachelorhood in the wake of Evelyn, Louie had extremely limited ambitions. He worked his whole life because you need money to buy beer, pay the rent, etc. After work every day he filled up his refrigerator with beer . . . then proceeded to empty said refrigerator.

Louie liked to root for the UK Pussycats (basketball particularly). He also liked to come over and see me once a month or so to go out for breakfast and then play some cribbage.

Those were mainly sober cribbage sessions. We also had numerous not-so-sober cribbage sessions over the course of the years.

When Louie died in 2000, I was well on my way to emulating him in lifelong bachelorhood. That process became even more conscious after his death. I don’t think I ever played the Tom Waits song “Better Off Without a Wife” for Louie, but he would have appreciated and concurred with its sentiments.

You might inquire about my own close encounters with matrimony. I had two way back in my youth. The first one is summarized in the Dylan song “Red River Shore.” Of that one I will say no more.

The second one occurred when I was 33 and pretty much cured me of any delusions I might have had about aspiring to matrimony. I never did finger out why exactly it ended. She pretty much declined to explain. The only explanation she offered was, “You are a 110-percenter, and I am not.”

OK, I understood that somewhat. Except that I was more like a 200-percenter with her. I don’t think I could have tried any harder to make it come out right with her. Perhaps that was the problem. I tried too hard and wanted it (her) too much and too desperately.

So anyway, that one went kablooie when I was 33, and I more or less vowed at that time to resist all inclinations to make a fool out of myself over women ever again. I would not say that I have been 100% successful at keeping that vow, but I would give myself about a 95 (which is a pretty good grade).

Matrimony has its pros and cons. Parenthood has its pros and cons. I do not think that I would have been any good at either, particularly the latter.

Bachelorhood has its pros and cons, more of the former than the latter if you turn out to be a remarkably solitary person such as myself. All you can really do is play the hand that life has dealt you.

“So cut the deck right in half

I’ll play from either side.”

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