Here’s what happened — and I swear on Mama’s cocoa-splattered chocolate cake recipe that this is the gospel:
The editor for a regional full-colored magazine called a couple of years ago and asked me to be on the cover. Since the magazine is owned by a newspaper company that has been very good to me and to this column, I agreed. She and I started emailing back and forth and, at some point, she said, “We’d love to shoot your husband, too.”
I understand. Sometimes I want to shoot him, too. Like in the case of the apple tree that I have told you about, the one he let die because he did not plant it.
She didn’t want to kill him, though. She wanted to photograph him for the article, specifically for the cover. I knew he would never agree to such. He hates to be in photos. He even takes our wedding photos and edits himself out like I got into the marriage all by myself. I didn’t know how to let her down gently so I copied him when I replied, saying something to the effect of, “He doesn’t like making pictures.” By the way, “make your ‘pitcher’” is a Southernism that has charmed him completely. It’s one of his favorite phrases.
Big Ike — that would be my Tink — replied to the editor that he would be happy to be in the photo. This, of course, made me look like a fool, but I was happy that he was coming around to the right kind of thinking so I let it go.
But I had my doubts. I know him too well.
A month later, it was inching close to “pitcher making” time. Four days and counting. Tink came down the staircase kind of quiet, not in the loud, thumping way he normally thunders down the stairs. He sidled up beside me in the kitchen where I was cooking.
“Baby, I don’t want to have my pitcher made.” He looked real sad like I was making him go to first grade by himself.
“Too bad,” I said, dumping the chopped onions into the butter.
“Seriously, baby. I just don’t wanna.”
With wooden spoon in hand, I turned and said, “Well, you’re gonna have it made. It was your big idea because I had a way out for you but, oh no, you chimed in and offered. So, you’re going to do it. You gave your word and you’re going to keep it.” I knew that would settle it. He is an honorable man.
He tried every argument he could think, but I paid no mind. I kept on cooking and reasserting that he was going to do it. Two days later — 48 hours before the photographer was to arrive on the Rondarosa — Tink went to have his hair cut. When he returned, he had no hair. I knew what little Johnny Tinker had done. Again, I was in the kitchen, cooking, so I walked to the foot of the staircase, looked at him and smiled.
“Good try.” I winked. “You’re still gonna have your pitcher made.”
His smiled faded. He looked like a little boy whose lollipop had been stolen. “Baby…”
I held my hand up. “Nope. Now, you’re going to be on the cover of a magazine, bald-headed.”
So, that’s how he wound up on a magazine cover with no hair of which to speak. But that’s what happened when a Yankee-thinking man tried to outwit a Southern-thinking woman. To paraphrase my friend, Charlie, “A man oughta know better than to engage in a battle of wits when not adequately armed for the fight.”
Tink cringes whenever he sees that cover which is, actually, quite nice. It’s colorful, laughing and joyous. “I learned my lesson,” he has admitted.
I’m happy to hear that because I’m having it framed and hung in his office.
Just in case, he’s ever tempted to forget.