Today is the ninth wedding anniversary of Billy Two Swords and Hurricane Rojo.
And today, I am going to grace you with the love story of Billy Two Swords and Hurricane Rojo.
Once again, get out your tissues, cuz it's a dandy.
It was 1999.
The year we all sat staring at our computers on December 31, 1999 at 11:59 pm.
It wasn't quite that long ago.
Two Swords and I worked at the same establishment, a landscape/hardscape construction firm.
Two Swords was a really mean 'field' guy.
I was the head office 'girl'.
Two Swords let me and the whole world know that he was interested in 'the redhead' once my divorce was final in June, 1999.
Rojo was married BEFORE?
She never told us THAT!
Yes, Rojo has secrets.
Anyway. It was a mulligan, trust me. No kids, no harm, no foul. He was a raging atheist alcoholic who just happened to be funny when he wasn't tanked. Why did I marry him? Well because I was 24 and it was time to get married, of course! Isn't that why everyone gets married?
I know, I know.
The biggest mistake of my life, and I have paid dearly for it, trust me on this one, but it has become absolutely inconsequential, a mere bit of trivia, but it actually comes into play later in this story, so once the shock wears off, keep it in mind for later.
So back to Two Swords being a mean 'field' guy.
For some reason, I had it stuck in my pompous ass of a head that I was above dating or God forbid "marrying" a 'field' guy.
I was supposed to marry a suit.
Maybe even a frat boy.
A software salesman?
An investment banker?
He absolutely HAD to have a college degree, and he either HAD to own a house or have enough money to BUY a house, and he absolutely HAD to have a job that REQUIRED him to wear a tie to work, AT A MINIMUM.
And he could not be a smoker.
And he could not have ever spent time in jail, let alone be arrested.
And he had to have a grill. Seriously, this was on the list. He had to have a grill.
And he had to know how to change a tire. Because all the other losers I had dated/married (there was only ONE that I had married, so get off my back!), couldn't change a tire.
Oh yeah, Rojo sure knew how to pick 'em.
And may I just point out that I was in fact TWENTY-NINE years old when I made 'The List', even though it sounds like a list a nine year old would make.
Embarrassing fact number 89.
So Two Swords puts on the heat.
And I start to hear it from the guys in the office.
"Hey! I went golfing this weekend with a guy who would be PERFECT for you!"
And then I started to hear it from the girls in the office.
"Hey, I went out with this guy this weekend, and I'm not interested in him and he's not interested in me but he is DEFINITELY interested in YOU, and he asked me like a MILLION questions about you, and I think he would be PERFECT FOR YOU!"
"Lemme guess. Billy Fallon?"
"YES! You HAVE to give him a chance!"
"Because, we went out, and I had too much to drink, and he took me back to his apartment, and he carried me up the two flights of stairs (and she wasn't Tinker Bell, if you know what I mean), and he put me on his bed, and he took my shoes off and he covered me with a blanket and HE NEVER EVEN TOUCHED ME and then he slept on the couch."
So then I did what any self-respecting office manager would do.
I went into the computer and looked him up to see how much money he made.
A couple of items on The List got checked off.
He had enough money to buy a house.
And I knew he had a grill.
But he smoked!
And he had been in jail!
And no, he didn't have a college degree!
There was no way this was going to work out.
Even though he had (and continues to have) the hottest, most fabulously sexy, to die for, you just want to eat them up - FOREARMS - I had ever seen in my life. Perfectly tan, just the right amount of golden blonde hair, muscular, just damn YUMMY...shiverrrrr.
Hands and FOREARMS.
That's my weakness.
And I would much rather have a man with dirty fingernails and callouses all over his hands than one who gets manicures. If a man rubs his hands on me, and they are soft, I will throw up.
Yep, I had finally come to the conclusion, that I wanted a MAN.
Dirty fingernails and all, I wanted a MAN.
And I realized, I had never had a MAN.
So I'm still staying kinda quiet on this one, playing the pros and cons list in my head.
Knowing that if we got together, and it worked out, we would both lose our jobs, no question.
I was really bothered by the smoking, and I had a feeling he was the kind of smoker who would never quit.
And I didn't have this like crazy sexual attraction or anything, but I also wasn't turned off, which I also found intriguing.
So...... quiet I remained.
I just didn't know what to make of him.
But he kept letting me know he was there.
He'd call me on a Friday night and ask me if I wanted to come out, and of course even though I was already in my jammies and in my bed and watching videos and eating a stromboli from my favorite pizza place, of course I HAD to answer, "oh, thanks for calling, but i'm sorry, i have plans, maybe next time?", because you know, I couldn't let HIM know that I was having a solo movie fest on a Friday night, right? I knew the rules to the game! I had only seen "Swingers" like eleventy times.
But for some reason, as we are BOTH playing the "Swingers" game, we never were quite able to hook up.
I know there were times that he asked me out and I REALLY had plans, and there were plenty of times that we made plans to meet downtown, but we were kinda opposites in terms of the types of bars/clubs that we each went to, and the evenings just didn't turn out right. They weren't disasters, they just weren't 'right', and we always ended up going our separate ways very early in the evening.
So since I had been single, I had this weekly tradition of meeting Dirty Diana and Tide Water Ted for 10 cent wings and 5 dollar pitchers at this wing place every Monday night. Because I was all grownsed up, and had my own place, and my own money, and was doing just fine. So we would get together on Mondays, and I would always pick up the tab, just to impress the hell out of my Dad.
So one Monday night, Tide Water Ted (who is not the most talkative dude/dad in the world) starts to ask me about my dating life.
Which was weird, but I was honest with him.
I said I had a few dates here and there, that I went out with Marguerita and Beavis (ohhhhh Beavis. Beavis was a platonic friend from high school who has given me enough material to write a blog just about him, but I haven't spoken to him since the time he was totally wasted and tried to feel me up and I effin' decked him, not once, but twice, once because I was mad, and twice because I was pissed that I was going to be losing a bi-weekly designated driver, and he landed splayed flat on his back in his wet front yard, muttering, "ummmmm, Hello, ummmm, Beavis?") every Friday and Saturday night and we took turns being designated drivers, so at least I was putting myself 'out there'.
And Tide Water Ted said, "And what about the other guy?"
I had no idea who he was talking about.
I said, "What other guy?"
Tide Water said, "The guy you're not telling us about."
I said, "I don't know who you're talking about. I've told you about all the guys I've gone out with, and none of them are worth a damn."
Obi Wan Tide Water said, "AAAAHHHHH, but you haven't told us about the one you HAVEN'T gone out with."
Okay, I am totally on board with parents knowing EVERYTHING, especially now that I'm a parent, and I know that we know anything and everything, but TO THIS DAY, I have no idea how he knew there was a guy that I had not gone out with.
I said, "Okay, yeah, well, there is a guy I haven't gone out with."
Tide Water, "Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Why haven't you gone out with him?"
I said, "Actually, I don't know, really, I haven't figured that out yet."
Tide Water, "So tell me about him."
So I told my mom and dad everything that I have told you except the part about the incredibly sexy forearms. Yeah, they didn't need to know that part.
I even told them that he had been in jail for a bit of a stretch for some alcohol/driving related incidents a very long time ago, and that he was from West Virginia.
And Tide Water Ted said, " I know why you won't go out with him."
"REALLY? And why is it that I haven't gone out with him. I'd love to hear THIS", as I roll my eyes and chew on another teriyaki wing.
Tide Water Ted said, "Because he's exactly like me. He's a dumb old truck driver just like me, with rough hands and dirty fingernails, and for some reason you think you're entitled to some other kind of college guy, and that's not the kind of guy you NEED. This Billy guy, this is the kind of guy you NEED. He may not be the kind of guy you WANT, but he is what you NEED."
Me, after a huge gulp of MGD, and a deep breath, and an imaginary slap to the face that I had a psychology degree and my dad never graduated high school but had amazingly analyzed the situation perfectly, said, "Maybe you're right. Maybe I'll go out with him and see what happens."
So somehow, as the planets perfectly aligned in the universe, in the next few days, Two Swords goes out on a limb, and asks me to go with him to the company Christmas party.
And I said, "Absolutely, thank you so much for asking, and you're not going to pick me up in your work truck are you?"
Yeah, I know, total freakin bitch.
Keep in mind, this guy has known me for two years and knew I was a total freakin bitch, and it didn't seem to bother him because he came back with, "Nope, somebody as special like you deserves better than that. I'm picking you up in a Cadillac."
When we got off the phone, I started thinking, if this guy rents a Cadillac just for me, now that is just freaking ridiculous! And why oh why oh why was I so mean to him????
Well, the night of the party arrives.
I answer the door in a totally hot black sequined spaghetti strap little number (yay me!), and he brings me FLOWERS!, and it is the first time I hadn't seen him in work clothes.
He was wearing a burgundy long sleeve dress shirt, nice gray dress pants, very nice black shoes, had gotten a hair cut and was freshly shaved and smelled quite yummy. The only thing missing was a glimpse of the forearms. HA!
We leave my apartment and he escorts me to:
A FREAKING CADILLAC EL DORADO!
I didn't ask until later, but he borrowed it from a friend for the evening.
I was MOST impressed thus far.
The conversation in the car was very casual and comfortable.
And we talked about the fact that once we 'outed' ourselves at this party, our careers were in jeopardy.
He said he wasn't worried about it at all.
I assure you, I was VERY worried about it. For me and for him. Probably more for him.
We get to the party, and sure enough, tons of attention is slathered on our 'togetherness' like butter.
We had fun, but by 930-1000, it was time to go elsewhere and have some fun.
So all the young and/or fun people all headed downtown.
And that's where the party started.
We went downtown and partied until Closing Time played at 2 am.
And somehow I came up with the GREAT idea of everybody heading back to my apartment and I would cook breakfast for everyone.
And that's what we did.
And it was fun.
And those who were too drunk, were able to get less drunk pretty quickly with coffee and pancakes and eggs and bacon and toast and orange juice.
And everyone left at the same time, at about 5 am.
And Billy Fallon kissed me on the cheek and told me he had a a great time. And I hugged him and told him the same.
And when I hugged him, it felt like I belonged there.
Weird. Weird? Weird.
It didn't make me nervous or uncomfortable.
It just felt like I, me, belonged in that hug.
After that party, we started talking more frequently, but he headed 'home' to West Virginia for Christmas, and of course I was busy myself with the holidays.
And then it was January of the New Year.
And talking about turning up the heat.
One Wednesday evening, I get this call from Billy Fallon.
Who asks me to come across the street and join him and his friends for some beer and chicken wings.
And I decided it was time to stop the game playing from SWINGERS, so I got in my car, and crossed the street, and joined him and his FORTY-SEVEN friends for beer and chicken wings.
There were so many of his friends there, to say I was outnumbered and intimidated is a gross understatement.
I felt VERY uncomfortable.
And either it was previously planned, or the friends began to sense it, but all of sudden, they were gone.
And it was like a movie or something.
Like the room turned dark.
And one of my favorite songs came on the jukebox, although I couldn't tell you which one it was, I just know it was one of my favorites.
And I am mid-wing when Billy Fallon (who has kicked back a few to gain some liquid courage) offers the following speech:
"I am 35 years old. I am tired of playing games. I am tired of messing around. I ain't looking for a girlfriend. I am looking for a wife. So are YOU up for it or not?"
Swear. Word for Word.
For the first time in my life, I am speechless.
I nearly choked on the chicken wing.
And thank God he wore a short sleeved shirt, because the forearms were a nice distraction.
I had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO SAY!
This had never happened to me in all of my life.
And NO man, NO man, NO man had EVER talked to me like this!
I didn't know what to do?
Was this a proposal from a guy who I hadn't even kissed on the lips yet?
What were the rules?
What was I supposed to do/say, once I regained my voice?
Well I didn't do much.
He kept talking.
He said he wanted to be that MAN in my life.
The one that HE thought I needed.
The one that I could rely on, like I had never been able to do.
The one that I could trust.
I'm hearing Charlie Brown's mom talking, because I'm still focused on "I'm looking for a wife, are you up for it or what?"
Finally, Billy Fallon tells me that I am following him back to his apartment.
Now, this is not something I normally did. Seriously. I was a good girl.
But, not only was I speechless, but apparently he had put a Jedi mind-trick on me, and I did whatever he said.
So I followed him back to his apartment.
And he laid on one side of his bed in appropriate bedtime clothing.
And he offered me some appropriate bedtime clothing, which I changed into in the bathroom with the door closed.
And I (not very nervously) laid on the other side of the bed.
And he kissed me for real for the first time.
And he said, "Good night, beautiful."
And I said, "Good night."
And that was that.
And he went right to sleep.
And my mind went back to college.
I analyzed what had happened that night, what might happen next, how unbelievably respectful this MAN had been, how unbelievably respectful he had ALWAYS been, how comfortable I felt around him, and amazingly, I was able to fall asleep.
There was no regret.
Probably because seriously, 'nothing' happened.
And we went our separate ways.
After he kissed me Goodbye.
And then he never stopped calling.
And I saw him every single day from that moment on.
And we started to fall in love.
Sanely, carefully, respectfully, properly, the way that you are supposed to fall in love, incredibly sexy forearms and all.
And he met my parents and they loved them. Of course. Since he is EXACTLY like Tide Water Ted. As Tide Water Ted predicted. And he loved them.
And he met my friends. And they loved him. And they were scared to death of him. Which I thought was awesome. Cuz, yeah, he could totally kick their asses, but he's harmless as a butterfly.
And then he took me to my first NASCAR race and I fell in love twice in the same month!
And then we got to the "I Love You" stage.
And we started to seriously start to talk about what was going to come next.
And then, for the very first time in my entire life, I wanted to be married to this man, and I wanted to have HIS babies.
I had never wanted to have babies before. No way, Jose. No babies for me. Not a maternal bone in this body. I was meant to have a career, amen. End of story. And all of a sudden urges are raging in my body that I do not understand, and I cannot control, and I am 29, and I want to marry this guy RIGHT now and have HIS baby, TOMORROW.
So yeah, 2000 was staring out pretty awesome.
Our little love affair started in early January, and here we are in March, talking about buying a house.
And then something horrible happened.
I got really, really, really sick.
Billy took me to the E/R.
The doctors were very confused.
On Tuesday, I'm jogging around my apartment complex.
On Saturday, I have eight bags of antibiotics hooked up to my IV, and two bags of steroids, and I have no idea what language the doctors or nurses are speaking, because I had never been sick a day in my life.
They couldn't figure out what it was, but by the looks on their faces after every test result, we knew it wasn't something simple, or something so fixable that they were going to send me home with a bottle of Amoxicillin.
I suffered incredibly, but the 'not-knowing' had to be the worst.
And who was by my side the whole time?
The new guy.
Well, on day 2 of my hospitalization, Saturday, I had a super long test, so he left the hospital to try and update my parents and friends on my status, as well as to go to MY apartment and get me some personal items.
When he returned, I was back in my room, in my bed.
He looked gray.
Like his dog had just died.
And I knew it.
He was leaving me.
He knew it was bad, and he didn't have too much invested so he could leave now, and it wouldn't be so bad.
So I had it all figured out.
I was ready for the 'Dear Heather" speech.
He kissed me on the cheek and sat down.
I updated him on the latest news, which was basically no news.
He said, " I have something to tell you."
AHA! I knew it! He was leaving me!
I said, "Are ya leaving?"
He said, "Not right now."
I said, "Okay, then what?"
He said, "I wrecked your car."
Hmmmm. Wasn't expecting that one. Shift to third gear, Heather, shift.
I said, "Are you alright?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "My car?"
He didn't say anything, he looked down sadly, and shook his head as if to say 'no'.
I said, "Okay. Totaled?"
I said, "Okay. Are you leaving?"
He said, "I said, no, why do you keep asking me that?"
I said, "Must be the drugs. Sorry."
He said, 'There's something else."
Okay Heather, shift to fourth, what the hell ELSE could there be? Did a doctor tell him the diagnosis? Am I dying? Is THAT why he is gray? UGH!
I said, "O...k....a.....y"
He said, "I called your Dad."
I didn't understand the significance, but said again, "Okay."
He said, "Well, I had the accident, I knew you would have great insurance, so I didn't worry about that, but I didn't know if I should tell you about your car right now, when you don't even need it really, so before I called the police I called your Dad."
I said, "Okay."
He said, "Well, your Dad told me, 'Billy, do NOT tell her about this until she gets OUT of the hospital. She doesn't need her car right now anyway, and she has enough to worry about until they find out what's wrong.'"
I said, "Okay, so why did you tell me?"
And the man who would be my husband said, "I just couldn't lie to you. I just couldn't."
And I said, "Are you leaving?"
And he said, "Goddamn it, Heather, NO, I am not leaving! What the hell are you talking about?"
Friends, in that moment in time, I knew everything I needed to know about Billy Fallon to determine that he in fact WAS the man for me.
1). He would never, ever lie to me.
2). He honored my father. Even if he didn't do what my dad said, he honored him enough to consult his opinion, but he was so honest of a person, he just couldn't keep the truth from me.
3). He would never, ever leave me.
4). He would always take responsibility for his actions, and guilt had an amazing effect on his level of personal responsibility.
5). He loved me enough to do things that were uncomfortable, but necessary.
In that moment I knew.
This man would be my husband and the father of my children.
And God put Billy Fallon in my life at the perfect, divine time, as I am battling some very scary new illness, as husband numero uno would not have been by my side, would not have been able to handle it, would not have told me about the accident, would not have called my dad, and would have lied his way through anything and everything, if you could find him, because he would most likely have been in a bar, tanked, the whole time that I was in the hospital.
And I started to smile.
And Billy Fallon said, "Are you mad?"
And still smiling, I said, "Not at all. Come up here on the bed and snuggle with me."
And that he did.
The next day, the nurses said I could take a shower, so they taped up all my IV lines, and Billy offered to help.
He was so loving and gentle; I had never needed assistance in taking a shower in my whole entire life, but he helped me to wash my hair, and he helped me to shave my legs, and he didn't say a word the entire time. He was gifting me with his love. And none of it was a sexual love. It was a genuine, caring, helpful, I'll do anything for you I love you so much, love. He helped me to dry my hair. And then he snuggled with me in the hospital bed again and watched a movie with me until he had to go to get some sleep to be able to try and function at work the next day, with nothing but me and my future health status on his mind.
Three days later I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease.
Seven days later knowing full well that I had an incurable, chronic, bitch of a disease, Billy Fallon asked me to be his wife.
I said Yes.
Seven months later, we were married on a beautiful Saturday in October, in our little country church (that we still belong to and are raising our two little Fallons in) with a reception in our backyard that included a pig roast and fried turkeys and a Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Groom's Cake, of which people still say, nine years later, "That was the BEST wedding I have ever been to. So relaxed, so casual, just about people sharing the love and having a good time."
The past nine years have been one heck of a ride.
Some of it incredibly bumpy.
Very little of it has been smooth.
But I wouldn't change one minute of it.
For I have been blessed with a love so great, so special, so divine, that I know in my heart that it was God sent.
I love you, Billy "Two Swords" Fallon.
In a way I never knew possible.
And I wouldn't be here today without you.
And neither would those other two pirates.
What we have is too special for words.
But I tried the best I could.
And after nine years, I still can't imagine life without those forearms.
All my love,