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 Her name was Adelaide, she was successful in all things I was not: good career, good manners, good grooming, good music, good dress and good cooking, just plain good at being good.  And she was a few other things I was not: accomplished, tenderhearted, diplomatic, gracious, well-read, and MARRIED.

  I had trafficked with more than a few women since my split with Carol five years earlier.  In one way or another most were beautiful women and my road from one to another was at some expense to my reputation. Each time I thought, this might be the one, the beginning of everlasting love and mother of the children I so badly wanted.  Each time what looked good faded into normalcy making the less flattering characteristics more pronounced. I would begin to think how shallow I was, how the value on one’s beauty, male or female, is so colossally paramount in American culture, that if one is physically attractive, it becomes depended upon like a bird on it’s wings, it is all that is nurtured at the expense of developing other qualities.

 So here was another beauty sitting there having breakfast with two friends. Four half an hour I sat at a table across the room trying to catch her eye, reading her from the way she dressed, did her hair, ate her food, and related to those around her. Then she glanced at me. Now that my interest was seen, would she look again, would she smile, would she say, “Come get me?”

 Even at 38 I was largely a coward with women and needed some sign, some suggestion that I was likely to succeed if I approached. This beauty saw me looking once and gave not the slightest hint of interest again.  For whatever reason, I was too deeply hooked on this classy woman and had to put on my big boy pants.  So, I followed her out and selected the least original line from the vast male repertoire randy men have to choose, “Don’t I know you?”

 For me, “true love” lacked any useful definition. It was some mark you were supposed to recognize when some inexplicable thing happened in a relationship.

 So let me now, right here, remove the mysticism of what “true love” is. Let me unveil it for all time, remove doubt for all future lovers regarding that confounding axis of hormones, societal pressure, commitment, self-satisfaction, and the desire to extend one’s life through the making of another you. Sex has nothing to do with it.  Sex is simply a by-product of love, the prolific by-product of an enormous variety of encounters.  That is to say, most men want to pollinate all the flowers, all the time. And most flowers like pollen and would take pollen from someone rather than no one.

 When you find your true love, you won’t magically stop looking at flowers, but you will be hopelessly and dangerously addicted to one flower and your life’s devotion to keeping that one bloom a happy blossom.  Like drug addiction, you’d kill for it or die for it.

 Adelaide, who I called Huggie Bunnies, is my true love today as she was 38 years ago, but I was not hers.  That would take all my cunning and every trick and contrivance I could employee and some I must still deploy.

 At first glance I wanted desperately to bed her but far more than that, I wanted to be with her. I wanted to be with her all of the time.  I am convinced that the bedding thing could have happened, would have happened and quickly, only she was a good girl, and she was married.

 She had been separated from her husband but still had hopes that the marriage could be saved and had not yet divorced him. Thus, I found myself in Oregon working my ass off on the Grail thing, but with her plastered throughout all my thoughts.

 She was the archivist at the Arizona Historical Society and would be its director today if I had not pleaded that she move to Oregon with me and make history instead of recording it.

 She was completely unimpressed with me. On our first date, thinking it might help sway her to my pillowy cause, I took her to a speech I was giving during the final weeks of my race for the U.S. Senate.  She stood at the back of the room, surrounded by two or three male admirers she was politely acknowledging rather than listening to me.  When I got to some of my punchier lines I raised my voice, not to fill the room with my brilliance, but to wrestle attention from the mouthy jack asses looking to pollinate her.

 Over the weeks, other more practical tactics would be engaged: Little gifts and a few big ones. Among the most effective was the bouquet of one gazillion roses I had sent to her office or the goofy Santa Clause who magically appeared on top of a mountain where I knew her to be, bearing every gift of food and drink I knew she craved along with enough theater tickets for two to require a dozen more dates.

 I asked her to marry me, that very first year. The answer was NO, which began some annual begging.

 Even after she divorced and I had convinced her to give Corvallis a try with me, the answer remained no, a kindly no, if “never no,” can be kindly.  

 But each year I would press my case again, and again, and again. For seventeen years I would press my case, even as our ages passed any hope of having any of the children I so wanted, I would ask, each year asking more extravagantly than the year before.  I remember as her 50th birthday neared, and our eighth year in Corvallis, I had noticed that the daffodils had bloomed each year by the third week of April. So, eight months before her April 21 birthday, I secretly planted a thousand daffodil bulbs on the hillside facing our house. Right on que April 21st they bloomed in bright yellow fifteen-foot-high digits – 50.  Suddenly seeing them, as a large surprise party began, she walked up the hill to get a closer look at the massive display that had suddenly appeared. After slowly walking around them and through them with the utmost scrutiny of the 50 shape she exclaimed, “It says SO…I don’t get it, SO what?”  

 I surprised her with her favorite animal, a miniature donkey we named Cinco Zero for the occasion and then that first chance I got I repeated the words once again, “Will you marry me?”  But no it was, and no it would be.

 My grandest effort came with a bit of revenge tossed in. I had planned it for the better part of a year, saving all I could and borrowing the rest to give her one of two gifts.   She loved travel, particularly under sail. She took sailing classes in a little 7’ Sun Fish, which she loved. It was the one area where we separated interests and often company. I did not enjoy sailing, at least not the moving part. Parking the damn thing and reading a book or fishing was fine, but to Hell with all that “come about, heave to” crap.

 Anyway, on the morning of her birthday I gave her two tiny boxes, each one containing a gift, either one of which I could just afford but not both.

 “You can choose one to open for your birthday, but you can’t have the other,” I explained.  Befuddled, she stared at the two pretty little boxes with their silky bows, as what I had said sunk in. She looked up at me with a slack jawed expression, “What? I must choose. I don’t get both?”

 It was perfect, I had put her in the one place she could not stand to be, no matter what she did she would both win and lose, just as I had been for so many years, both having her and not.

 She shook them, lifted them up as if she had x-ray vision and carefully examined how each little box was rapped for some sign.  There was nothing, the weights are identical but the contents quite different.

 “NO! You cannot do this to me. You have to tell me, “She pleaded.  Oh, the pure joy of that moment. After 17 years I thought, this must be what heaven feels like.

 It was a torture for her.  But she persevered, and with a little of that eeny, meeny, miny, moe business, she slowly set one box down on the table and began opening the other.  “Am I making a mistake,” she appealed, “Is it the other one I would really want?” petitioning for some hint.  I smiled and quivered with pleasure.

 She continued slowly taking off the wrapper. Inside was nothing more than a cruddy little map scribbled on a piece of brown paper bag with an X at one spot.

 I got behind the wheel of her car while she took the map and went over the directions. A half dozen turns and a mile later we entered a large parking lot in front of a lush green golf course.  Being a cold early spring, the lot was empty but at one end stood an odd sight.

 As she looked around trying to figure out what the map was all about, she drove by a large boat on a long trailer, “Look at those huge sails, they’re going to be in big trouble if the wind comes up,” she said.

 Then she saw the boat’s name, THE HUGGIE BUNNIES!

  What delicious fun it is to see one in such googly eyed wonder, so stunned was she, that she was about to forget the word NO. Overwhelmed by the sight of her boat in full-sail being launched on a golf course she jumped out of the car and climbed aboard. After inspecting every topside detail she stepped down into the tiny galley and sleeping area.  There she saw my extravagant intentions next to her crisp new captain’s hat – a note wrapped around the furry neck of a stuffed bunny. “Will you marry me?”  She uttered the sweetest of words, “Yes.”

 She put on her new hat and began barking out instructions to furl the sails and secure the ship. I hooked up the sailboat to her car and slowly pulled it back to where my little map began.  Pulling in, I just caught the hint of a smirk and before I could complete the parking maneuver, she was out the door and on the run.

 She was off to grab the other box I had unfortunately left on the table. Leaving the boat half parked I was just in time to wrestle the box out of her hands, bolt for the bathroom and lock the door.  As she pounded, “Now calm down” I said, “I want you to listen up Huggie Bunnies,” and flushed…..“No, NO, what was it, you have to tell me.”

 Even with the Yes, it would take her more than a year to set the date, but I finally had the most excellent partner, more exceptional than yours whomever you are.

 It took a long time and cost a lot, but I would do it all again “to the moon and back.” What I tell people is this, “For 17 years I asked her to marry me and for 17 years she said no.  Finally, she became so old she forgot.”

 What was in the other box?  

 Spasms of pleasure riddled my body for years each time she begged me to tell her what was in the other box.  I always refused or gave her some misdirection or another. Then she hit upon a thought, “It was the same gift in both boxes, wasn’t it!”  That thought, which she insisted must be so, gave her relief.

 I would on occasion try to revive my devilish pleasure by suggesting something else the second box secretly harbored, but she had become certain that both boxes had identical maps. There was no convincing her. My devilish pleasure was gone. I have never told and won’t tell here now what was in that second box, but on the chance my wife may read this one day, I will give this hint: It was not the boat, it was a thing more boring but also more loved.

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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