Crunchy Bisque & Mistaken Identity

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So, we will be married for a whole decade this December. I know right? That’s kinda sorta flown by. A whole decade of Jacob and Jegi lovin is what I call it (that is frowned upon, but I do it nonetheless.)

When we started this journey together, we were a whopping 20 years-old and thought we had it all figured out. We had zero money, I remember giving our budget to a financial advisor at our church and she said, “Is this it?” We started out in a wee, one bedroom apartment and were completely in love and happy.

All these years later we have upgraded from the one bedroom to a house, gained a spoiled dog and have a sweet little girl with another kiddo in the way in August. Plus, we still have each other and are completely in love. We may not have it all figured out, but life is good.

People ask what our favorite memory is and we really can’t put a finger on one single one cause so many have been amazing. If you don’t know me, I’m somewhat of a “laid back” kind of guy. Ok, I’m a little wild sometimes. (Nothing illegal, I promise.) Let’s just say there is rarely dull moments at our house or anywhere else we go, now that I think of it. But I digress.

One memory that always comes up is our first wedding anniversary. We had gotten married in The Lubbock Club. It was high atop the Wells Fargo building in downtown Lubbock and was a rather exclusive club. One had to have a membership to even eat there, but for the right price, you can have an event there. I told Jeg that we would make a point to come back and eat dinner there each year.

Fast forward to the following year. December came upon us quick and Jeg was looking forward to our dinner. I was sitting back confident thinking that I could get in no prob.

Two weeks out from the big day, I call the Lubbock Club to set the date. The call was like:

Hostess: Lubbock Club, how can I help you?
Me: Yes ma’am, I’d like to make a reservation.
H: What name will that be under?
Me: Tucker
H: Oh yes Mr. Tucker, what day and time would you like?

I set my date and time, no problem! All I thought was, “Dang, thins isn’t a big deal at all. I got this.” While talking to my middle brother, John, I realized that could have been a taller order than I expected. It went like this:

John: Hey man, big anniversary coming up!
Me: Oh yeah!
John: What are you going to do?
Me: We’re gonna go to the Lubbock Club! It’s gonna be pretty cool!
John: Oh yeah? You got a reservation?
Me: Yeah, why the surprise?
John: I mean, I’m not doubting you, but you need a membership to get in that place.
Me: Oh yeah, I’m in dude!
John: Alright little bro! Let me know how it turns out!

I hung up thinking. “That dude doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I got in no problems.” And I went upon my way.

As I talked with more friends and family members, they all had the same astonished reply when I told them what we were doing for the anniversary. I’m just thinking what’s the deal? I had zero problems arranging it and I’m not gonna question that.

The day arrives. We exchanged our gifts and got ready to head out for the date. One of the last “critiques” of our night came from a close friend. He had told us to “dress to the nines” when we went up there. Neither of us really had any formal clothes. But I had a new leather jacket and slacks and Jeg was gonna look stunning regardless. So we took our chances.

The elevator ride felt like it took forever, but we finally made it to our floor. As soon as we stepped out, the hostess greeted us by name, “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Tucker, right this way.” Jeg looked at me all impressed and, honestly, I was impressed with myself.

We got to our seat, which was pretty nice. The table overlooked the downtown area, right at all of the Christmas lights. It was almost the perfect recreation of our great night the year prior.

There were three couples in the ENTIRE club and we didn’t exactly fit with them. When we were sat down, I noticed that they all had extra pairs of shoes by their seats, full suits and evening gowns. They did cast a little bit of a glare in our direction, but oh well, we are gonna enjoy our night.

We placed our orders, shortly after the waitress brought out our salad and soup. I got this lobster bisque…which was a stretch for me. It was kinda weird. Actually, it was crunchy in places, which is not characteristic of a bisque. Jeg was loving her salad and just grinning away. The waitress came back out to serve the table next to us. She stumbled and dropped the roll she had in her hand. The elder man of the table scoffed as the waitress vehemently apologized. She then came over to our table and dropped one onto our table. Apologies spewed from her mouth. I told her just to calm down and it’ll be okay. She said thank you and went about her way. I couldn’t help but notice how nervous each of our servers were. Again, this was something new to this guy. Anyways, the night goes on.

The band began playing (yes, there was a band.) These guys were a piece of work. They were all dressed in the same cheapo, gold tuxedo vests. The lead singer was singing like he was Dean Martin at The Flamingo. “Bésame, bésame mucho,” he crooned as he ran his hand through his greased hair.

Our food came, we ate and enjoyed our time together. The manager wandered between our tables, asking about our service and how everything was. Our neighbors, the snooty turds, complained about the dropped rolls and said that it should not go unpunished. We looked at one another and just couldn’t believe that it was happening. Whatever, just keep rolling.

Our check came, that’s where this evening takes an interesting turn. The waiter, our waitress was mysteriously gone now, told us, “Here is your check Mr. Tucker. You can just sign it to your tab.”

My tab? What tab? Looking closer at the ticket, Jacob Tucker wasn’t on the ticket. Another Tucker was on the ticket. That was how I had gotten my reservation. I was an imposter! And we were eating on someone else’s tab! How was I going to explain this to my wife? Jeg said immediately, “What tab? How did you get this reservation?” I told her what happened and she then asked how I was going to fix it.

Now a rational thinker would just go to the waiter, explain the mixup and just get the ticket taken care of. But when I am flustered, I’m more of an impulsive thinker. I called the waiter over and asked if I could just pay cash for our meal because I just didn’t want to worry about it later in the month. He gave me a weird look and called the manager over. We shifted uncomfortably in our seats. Our position had gone from out-of-place to just plain awkward. The manager asked me to explain what was going on. I reiterated what I told the waiter and he understood. He took my money and had to go down a floor to get some change. These people probably thought that I was having an affair and was trying to cover it up by paying cash and leaving no paper trail.

As soon as the manager got back with our change, we cut out of that place, laughing all the way to Walmart. At least we could cap off the night hanging out with our kind of people.

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The Farmer

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A while back, I was chatting with a friend about a number of things and somehow, the conversation shifted to farming. He had just recently obtained some farmland and he was pretty excited about it. He knew I had grown up on a farm and had some knowledge, albeit a small amount, but farming knowledge nonetheless. We discussed farming, buying a small tractor for his current property, drilling winter wheat, CRP and the dream of one day living on his new land. As the convo waned, I just told him that it was hard work and I hope for the best for him.

The months passed and as harvest came and went, his excitement of owning a farm did the same. His statements went from that of a child on Christmas morning to that of a man looking for payback on an investment. He said that the farmer who the land was leased to didn’t make the crop he had expected and he hoped that some kind of a profit would be made.

As I listened, my mind traveled. It delved into the depths of my memory to a childhood of running through shelter belts of trees, climbing on plows and trailers, reenactments of historical battles with my brothers and my dad.

I remember hearing these same exchanges growing up. “I just hope we get that rain this week, we really need it. I think we’re gonna plant some wheat or guar this year.” Gaylon Tucker, the ‘Wildman of West Texas,’ was a farmer through and through.

He was an upteenth generation farmer, turning the same land he had grown up on. Teaching his boys to have a love for the land, the value of a dollar and virtue of a good man.

Being the third and final son, not a whole lot was put on me with the farm. James, the eldest, and John, the middle, were the farmhands of the family. I was the gopher. Go get the tools, get this bag of seed over here, get the water hose to fill up this fertilizer tank, etc. But when there was a job to do, the family would be out helping. I can remember the countless times that we hauled hay bales, picked black-eyed peas before the deer could get them and picked huge red diamond watermelons and mom bringing out sandwiches. Now those are some memories.

But things weren’t always so hunky dory. Farming had hardships. And we knew all too well about hardships. Planting seed and getting a far less than perfect yield. Running a combine over wheat and the machine catching on fire. The water well going out…a lot. Carrying water by hand to the animals. The pigs breaking out of their pens, right before the bus picks you up for school. (Mom was the bus driver, so if we were late…everyone was late.) Dad out working till dark to get at least one of the antiquated tractors running to get the crop in.

There were many more occasions that I could talk about, but it will only lead me away from the main part of the story, which is my dad.

It takes a special man to farm and Wildman was that kind of man. Despite all of the experiences, good and bad, he was unwavering. He smiled and just kept on trucking. I don’t remember him ever saying he just wanted to give up or quit, which was something he passed on to his boys. I can’t tell you how many times I came home telling him how bad a job or an event at school was and he’d just say, “Son, there are gonna be things in life that you don’t like to do, but you just gotta do it anyway. You made a commitment, honor it.”

Speaking of commitments, dad was also one to “loan” his sons for a number of odd jobs. One summer, I think I was turning 15 that year, he committed me to weed eating with a mowing crew. I had never ran a weed eater. It was just something that we didn’t have. But, according to my dad, I was the best and fully capable. I spent an ENTIRE summer traveling the back roads of three counties, trimming the tall weeds around culverts and road reflectors. Looking back, I realize that he was instilling in us a hard work ethic of a farmer, even though I wasn’t going to be one myself. That quality, I have learned, is something that separates you from the rest of the pack.

With all that being said, I don’t think we, me and my brothers, would have become half the men that we are if it weren’t for The Wildman.

I finally snapped out of my memory daze and told my discouraged friend to keep going. Farming is hard, but the return is worth it. Just ask my dad. He planted us, fed and watered is with words of encouragement, watched us grow and weeded out the bad when necessary and when we were ready to leave the farm, he was proud to show off his prized crop. Even though the profession of farmer wasn’t carried on by us, something far greater was passed to us: a legacy of hard work, virtue and care for others. Thanks dad.