I tried my hardest not to let this happen. I’d grown weary over the years trying to make something work that, quite apparently, wasn’t ever going to be possible. As far as I was concerned, it was a done deal. Period and exclamation point.
That was a few years ago.
I’m pretty sure it was less me changing my mind than it was someone changing my mind for me. But I still didn’t make it easy.
Tammy Sue McGee came into my world a handful of years ago, and the more I learned about her the more we seemed to have in common. She was originally from New York — born on Long Island but raised in Upstate New York just an hour away from my own neck of the New York woods; she enjoyed bowling; she was a Yankees fan; she loved cats; she liked watching “Survivor”; and she has experienced a lot of broken roads over the years.
But the one thing I learned about her that stood out right from the start was that, when she wanted something, she didn’t give up. I admire persistence and someone’s ability to fight for what they want regardless of the obstacles.
And I threw up a lot of obstacles.
Once I began to realize what was happening, I took up immediate residence in Eeek-ville. You guys know the place. Before long, I was the mayor of Eeek-ville. I took every possible opportunity to promote the positives of Eeek-ville as a wonderful place to reside — at least for me.
There was even once or twice that I met Tammy Sue at the border of Eeek-ville and turned her away. It didn’t matter. She kept coming, trespassing into my imaginary village and taking over.
Good thing, too.
If there was one thread of fabric that began to weave us into a couple, it was the fact that we weren’t afraid to communicate with each other. Good or bad, we talked. A lot. It just seemed easy — probably because I’m in the communication business of newspaper journalism and she is a media center employee at Baldwin Elementary in Hope Mills.
Here’s what you should take from that: She has had a lot of experience dealing with young’uns, which gives her a leg up on dealing with me.
And then there’s “The Girl.”
Cheyenne is Tammy Sue’s teenage daughter. Now a senior at South View High, she represented as big a challenge for me as anything else. I have two daughters of my own, each of whom are grown, have a family of their own and are hundreds of miles away. So within my mayoral residence of Eeek-ville, I’d already been there and done that.
But the bowling connection popped up again. Cheyenne, even a few years ago, had potential as a kegler. She showed flashes of talent, but still wasn’t quite there with the mental part — and it seemed like something I should help with. So I hounded, badgered and pushed … hard.
All of this was taking place while I was still trying not to let things get too crazy. Despite being told by more than one person that “Tammy is all in,” I was trying to live under the motto reflected in a lyric by K.T. Oslin that stated, “Live close by, visit often.” I was comfortable with that.
I can’t say exactly when something clicked, but I do know that I was not only ousted from my position as mayor of Eeek-ville, but I was also booted out of my imaginary village altogether. It might have been one year ago — on May 12, 2017 … four years to the day after our first date — when I suddenly asked Tammy to marry me.
I’d thought about it, but hadn’t planned anything for that day. It just kind of happened. Here’s how: We were sitting in the Food Lion parking lot in St. Pauls talking, just as we had every year on May 12. Out of nowhere, I asked her to check and see what day May 12, 2018, fell on — and she told me it would be a Saturday. So without hesitation, I said, “Maybe we should get married that day.”
Sure, she said yes and there was happiness all around. But even though my status in Eeek-ville was quickly dwindling, I was still trying to hang on — I figured anything could happen in a year, right?
What happened is a full-throttle mission by Tammy Sue to create a wedding to remember. We’d both been down this road before and hopefully learned valuable lessons, but there was a difference — she’d never had an actual wedding, so this was her chance to plan one. I’d learned over the years that any man should have the last words in every discussion with his significant other, and those words should always be “yes ma’am.”
I went to the sidelines as the planning began.
In the year since, Tammy Sue and I have taken on a number of important projects around our future home; we’ve created caring and lasting relationships with immediate and extended family; and we’ve even started to realize how often we actually think alike.
And “The Girl” has become a integral part of the threesome by evolving into a young adult who has excelled in high school, begun college classes and earned a bowling scholarship from Fayetteville State University — one of the region’s all-time best women’s bowling programs. I probably haven’t let this escape enough, but I’m pretty proud of her.
I always figured I’d be one of those guys who put the word “Eeek” on a piece of tape and slapped it on the heel of my shoes for the wedding day — if not in a final attempt to make it clear I was being dragged out of Eeek-ville against my will, then at least in a last-minute bit of humor.
But I won’t. Eeek-ville is in my rear-view mirror for good. And on Saturday, at 5:27 p.m., Pastor Warren Hill will marry Tammy Sue and I in front of a small group of family and friends.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.