You can meet the nicest people in coffeehouses, part two
By Kami Rice, freelance writer
And we’re back with Part Two. I bet you’ve been going crazy wondering what else Holly and I and the mysterious stranger talked about. Well, it never hurts to learn a little patience. Our culture is way too dictated by instant gratification, so just understand that the wait for Part Two has built up your character just a little. And whose character has no room for improvement? So, go ahead, pat yourself on the back for your good behavior.
By the way, just to be clear, the day of our conversation, Holly and I didn’t really take bathroom breaks. But, it’s okay if you did. Hopefully, you’ve taken several over the past week or so since Part One hit the airwaves. But, you know, really that’s your business. We won’t ask for any details.
And, now, back to the real business at hand. Have you figured out who was the important guest who stepped into our conversation? If you guessed Curt Hamblin, Holly’s husband, you’re right!!! Yah! Good job!! Give yourself another pat on the back for being right.
So, Curt joined us. Holly explained to him about the stranger who had accosted her, and we all jumped back into conversation.
Holly: She said what do we discuss in politics. I’m thinking, yeah, don’t get us started.
Curt (chuckling): You don’t want to go down that road.
Me: Are they heated conversations?
Holly: No, they’re not because we think pretty much the same, though, don’t we, on most everything?
Curt: Yeah, Bush is an idiot. Start there.
Me: From there it trickles down?
Curt: From there it gets bad.
Me: So are you hopeful for the next presidential election?
Curt: I’m hoping we can find some candidates.
Me: Do you feel like there are any good ones out there that are…
Holly: We’re worried so far. I really am.
Curt: The best one so far that I see is John McCain. Oh, I’d like Colin Powell to run, but he won’t. He’s smarter than that. Anybody who wants the job shouldn’t have it.
Me: And the ones who would be good don’t want to mess with it?
Holly: Yeah. Actually, if I had my way, I’d like to see Madeleine Albright run. I really would. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Me: What about Hillary?
Holly: I’m on the fence. I’m really on the fence.
Me: She’s kind of playing it low-key right now.
Holly: Yes, she sure is. And then you’ve got Condoleezza Rice, and I don’t know if she’ll decide to run or not. We don’t think…She wants to do sports.
Curt: That’s good.
Holly: She wants to get into…what does she want to be? Commissioner of?
Holly: Yeah, that’s what she wants to do, so I don’t think she’ll run. But I’m on the fence with Hillary yet. And I wouldn’t vote so much for a woman, although men have screwed it up so much I think it’s time for a woman.
Curt: Well, I mean you’ve got to look at it from the perspective of: take the last election. There’s 250 million people in the United States. Those are the best two you can come up with? What does that tell you? We’re in deep trouble.
Me: Like I want to care…
Me: But, I don’t really. I mean, between the options.
Holly: Are you a registered voter?
Me: I am. I’m registered Republican, but I’m glad to vote for a Democrat if I feel like they’re a good candidate. It’s more about a good candidate than what party.
Holly: Yeah, I think that’s how we are.
So, here’s where Curt got a little tired of the conversation and headed off to places more interesting…for a few minutes, anyway.
Curt: Well, I’m going let you two ladies go because I’m going to go look at
Me: computer books? That’s about as much as I know. I don’t know all your secrets.
Curt: She could talk to you about my miniature cows.
Me: Live cows or figurines?
Holly: No, live cows.
Me: There’s miniature cows?
Curt: Miniature cows, yeah.
Holly: We’ve been looking into that because we’ve got 50 acres that we have to do something with.
So then Curt was gone. Holly and I chatted a bit about farming and such. And, then, guess who came back? Yep, it was Curt.
Holly [to Curt]: You’re back.
Curt: Give her my pet peeve.
Holly [deadpan]: Which is? You have so many.
Curt [chuckling]: That’s true. [to Me] Cuz you look like you’re about the age that you’re young yet, can still have children and all that kind of stuff.
Holly [to Curt]: Don’t.
Curt: Do you realize that 80% of high school graduates
Holly: Oh, gosh.
Curt: cannot pass the academic requirements to join the army?
Me: Wow. That’s pretty terrible.
Curt: What’s that tell you about your public education system?
Holly: But I don’t think that’s just down here.
Curt: It’s universal. It’s all over. 80% of high school graduates can’t pass the academic requirements to get into to the army.
Me: Which probably aren’t that high.
Curt: Well, how smart to you have to be to say, “Point that over there and pull the trigger.” And they still can’t figure it out.
Holly: He only brings that up because my son-in-law is an army recruiter. He gets very frustrated when kids want to come in and they can’t join because they can’t pass the test to get in. And they can’t pass the physical test either, a lot of them. Because they’ve all been sitting in front of the TV doing video games and nonsense.
Curt: But, academically. Let’s go one more. One third, one out of three, college graduates cannot comprehend the editorial page of the newspaper written for an eighth grade level.
Holly: Isn’t that sad?
Me: That’s really terrible.
Curt: Then you wonder why we’re losing out to China and India and everywhere else.
Me: Because we’re getting lazy here.
Curt: So that’s another pet peeve.
And with that Curt was gone again. Off to computer books and other bookstore wanderings. Once he left, Holly and I got to talk girl-talk. For starters, I learned she and Curt have been married 39 years as of this summer.
Me: See this is the great part of this job: getting to talk with interesting people.
Holly [lovingly]: Oh, he’s so much fun anyway.
Me: Where did you meet?
Holly: I don’t even want to tell you where we met. We met in a bar. [chuckling] We met at a dinner. I was working for a company and we were having our Christmas party. And he was having dinner.
Me: Oh, so he was just in there?
Holly: He was just in there have dinner. And that’s how we met.
Me: So did you guys just get up or he just saw you across the way or…
Holly: We spent the evening talking, and at that time it was a lot safer than it is now, and so I gave him my phone number because I lived at home. At that time you didn’t live out of the house until you were married.
Me: How old were you?
Holly: I was. Shoot, I couldn’t even tell you. Maybe 21, 22 years old, something like that.
Me: So not long out of college. You went to college?
Holly: I’ve had one and a half years of college. And it just wasn’t…now it would be for me, but back then it wasn’t for me. And that was it. He called and we started dating and that was it.
Me: That’s cool. How long did you date before you were married?
Holly: I don’t even want to tell you. We dated six months, and we were married at the seventh month.
Me: That’s great. That’s so great. It’s been married 39 years.
Holly: Mmhmm. And you know, you have your rough little hills to go over, but we have a lot of fun together. We have a lot of fun together.
Me: That’s great. It’s great to talk to people who’ve been married for a while who still say that.
Holly: You know, it’s not the norm anymore. Things get a little rough. One day it doesn’t look so good, and that’s the end, and you can’t do that. We stood and worked it out, instead of saying “oh, gee, good-bye.” And that’s what you need to do. Every day is not a good day. You know, it’s not fifty-fifty. Sometimes somebody’s got to give a little more one day than the next day. But in the end it works out.
Me: That’s neat. Cuz people just don’t stick with things, or it’s all about making me happy, and so if you stop being happy…
Holly: Absolutely. It’s the moment. It’s the moment. And it can’t be the moment. It can be the moment, but it’s got to be the next moment, too. You know.
Did I tell you we had some girl-talk? Well, you can’t talk girl-talk without your unmarried state coming up, if you’re so stated. And, here’s what Holly had to say to that.
Holly: Well, the thing that I’ve found is: don’t look. When you’re not looking, it just pops. That’s what happened here. I’d just gotten off a relationship, and I thought, “Oh, I don’t want anything to do [with]…” I was just not in the mood, and boing and that was it. My mother always said when you really meet the right one, it’s gonna just, it’s gonna hit you like a ton of bricks. And that’s exactly what it did.
Me: That’s neat. So was it one of those love at first sight type of things or like…?
Holly: No, it wasn’t that at all. It was: I really enjoyed spending the evening with him. You know, and it was neat because I went home, and I actually talked to my mother about him. And I didn’t do that a whole lot. So, it was cool when he called. But that’s when they called you. You didn’t get to call them. [laughing]
Me: So you were just waiting.
Me: How long before he called again?
Holly: Probably about a week. Probably about a week.
Me [chuckling]: That’s some waiting time.
Holly: Mmhmm, Mmhmm. And it was a long distance relationship for a while. Yeah, he worked for a company that was not in the same city I was in for a while. So, we only got to see each other on the weekends.
Me: Were your parents like, six months, whoa, slow down? Or they really liked him?
Holly: They really liked him, too. And that means a lot. When my dad likes him, you know, you’ve done all right.
Me: That’s really neat. I love it that there’s no one story for how people get together. There’s no formula. It’s different for everybody.
Okay, so enough with all that mushy stuff. Now we’re back to solid ground: good old-fashioned book talk, with some magazine talk thrown in.
Me: So when you come in here do you usually read magazines? Do you pick up books?
Holly: I used to be a reader, a book reader, and I just don’t have time to be a book reader anymore. I do subscribe to magazines, but I can’t get as many magazines as I would like to have. What am I reading today? Well, today I’m reading Woman’s Health. I go more for the house magazines. My house is like me. I enjoy getting ideas and then taking them home and seeing what I can do with them in my own house. That’s the kind of magazine, it’s kind of fluff reading now versus really deep reading anymore. Yeah, I’m a fluff.
Me: I run into that. Like I go in spurts where I get to read books. I’m a writer, I need to be reading, but it’s just hard to have time. And, magazines, I have two or three that I get, and I can’t keep up with them.
Holly: Well, I can do it, too, because there’s more pictures. But, that’s the way it is now. I don’t have time to sit down and read a book anymore. It takes me months to read a book.
Me: I don’t know if this happens to you or not. For me, I’ll get to a certain point in a book, and then I’ll go through a stretch where I don’t have time to read at all, and then I have to start over again, and I get about to the point that I was the last time. And it’s just frustrating.
Holly: Yeah. So, I’m more a magazine reader and looker now, than I am a reader anymore, which is a shame because he and I used to sit up until four, five in the morning. We’d get in a book and we couldn’t put it down.
Me: So you’d read it aloud to each other?
Holly: No, he’d have his books and I’d have my books, but we’d get together on a book, and he’d be reading and I’d be reading, and we just couldn’t put it down, and we’d be up all night. And it’s just something I don’t have time to do anymore. And neither does he. Although he’s more a reader than I am.
Me: He still gets to do that more?
Holly: He’s really into, well, computers was his life, so he’s really into computer books, yeah, and he likes Grisham books and that kind of book, so he reads a lot of that. So he gets Men’s Health, that kind of book and reads that kind of thing. At our age you have to. We decided that we’re at that age now where you don’t know how much longer you have, but you get your aches and pains now, and I want to live the best that I can for as long as I can.
Now we’re near the end of our conversation. We’re back to family talk and the way things have changed. This is not your grandma’s grandma.
Holly: You see, grandparents and parents are different than they were even 20 years ago. I can think about a grandma image 30 years ago, and it was the lady that always wore the dress and always had an apron and was always in the kitchen. That’s how my grandma was.
Me: So it was like warm, homey
Holly: Yeah, and grandmas were kind of always overweight. And it’s not that way anymore. But I think that’s a good thing. I think a grandma’s more active now, and she has more to give now, at least for a percentage of them. And I think that’s just cool.
Me: It’s kind of that bittersweet, like there’s some nice nostalgia for that image, versus like a sense that for a lot of women they’re more whole.
Holly: Like I will make cookies with my granddaughter, but I still can go out and work eight hours a night and enjoy it. Women didn’t do that way back then. Grandma stayed home; a lot of moms stayed home at that time.
Me: Did you stay home while your daughters were growing up?
Holly: I was very blessed that I was able to stay home and only had to work part-time. I worked part-time to get me out of the house, but I was always able to work the hours my kids were at school. I always wanted to be home when they got home. I really didn’t go full-time until my youngest daughter was in high school. And then she was gone more than I was. [chuckling] She had an awful lot of after-school activities.
Me: My mom was always home when we came home, too. And she was like, if she didn’t get the stories in that first hour after we got home, we weren’t talking about what had happened in the day.
Holly: I just liked being home. I liked my kids. There wasn’t one age I didn’t like my kids. And I just enjoyed being with them. And so did he. We’ve had a lot of fun times with our kids. Well, we still do, but not…I wish you could’ve kept them small, but you can’t.
Holly and Curt’s two daughters certainly have grown up on them: Heather is 35 years old and married to Scott. They and daughter Brenna, almost 7, live in Dickson, so Brenna gets to see Grandma Holly often. Hillary, 30, is married to Steve. They live in Mississippi.
And, there you have it: a nice little Saturday morning coffee café conversation. It’s a pleasant way to spend a morning. Even if you’re not going to write about it, you should give it a try sometime. Thanks for listening in on our conversation!