Ringin' in the new year...
"I like my shirt a whole lot, Hank..."
"Thanks, Ed. I like mine too."
"Cain't believe ya got me one that ain't too loud two years in a row..."
"Don' got no idea wha' yer talkin' 'bout."
"Campin' was real nice too, Ed..."
"Yeah... Real peaceful 'n quiet after the kinda campin' we did all summer...
"Almos' forgot what it could be like... Glad we went fer a few days..."
"Me too. 'N gettin' up tha' one mornin' after it had snowed were real purty..."
"Sure was... Though I wish ya wouldna knocked the snow off a them chairs... Woulda liked a picture with 'em the way they musta looked 'fore ya did..."
"You sure were takin' yer sweet time gettin' yer ass outta bed... So's where 'xactly wouldya have wanted me ta sit 'til then...? In the snow next ta them chairs so as not ta ruin yer picture...?"
"Tha' woulda been righ' considerate a ya."
"Couldn' 'xactly keep ya warm if'n I froze ta death..."
"True 'nough. 'N ya did a damn fine job a keepin' me warm. So's I guess I forgive ya."
"I did like that ornament ya got me, Hank..."
"Too bad they only had the one... Wish they woulda had two. Or a six-pack. Or a twelve-pack. Or maybe a case even."
"'N I liked how ya lit up them chairs too."
"Like I said... weren't my idea... Fella tha' reads 'n comments on our story suggested takin' some battery powered lights along... Tha' were even before ya lit up tha' trailer fer me... Was gonna light up a l'il tree or bush or somethin'... but decided ta light up them chairs instead..."
"'Course ya couldn' see them lights too well when we were sittin' in them chairs..."
"I dunno... Thought it lit ya up real nice-like, Ed... 'N yer
wanted ta see anyways..."
"Think you got purty lit up tha' one night all on yer own."
"Once again... I don' got no idea whatcher talkin' 'bout."
"Do wish I had more pictures... Shit... Still cain't believe I dropped tha' stupid camera again..."
"Well there was also the stupid rock it hit 'n then bounced off a 'n the stupid snowbank it landed in after hittin' 'n bouncin' off a tha' stupid rock."
"Not ta mention tha' stupid fella who dropped it... Again
"Shoulda took them gloves off... Slipped 'cause a them stupid gloves..."
"Think maybe ya jus' wanted ta get a new camera, Hank...?"
"Was gonna anyways... On accounta it wouldn' focus some a the time from bein' dropped before..."
"But now 'm completely camera-less 'til I do get a new one. Stupid camera."
"How ya gonna live?"
"Ain't gonna be easy."
"Tell ya the truth... I been enjoyin' not havin' tha' stupid camera 'round fer the last few days... Hell... Ev'ry time I turned 'round you were snappin' a picture a me. Ya must got hundreds."
"No way. 'S more like thousands..."
"Now c'mere, dumbass... Let's stop talkin' 'n start celebratin' this here new year proper-like..."
"I kinda got ya somethin' 'sides the shirt..."
"We ain't s'posed ta... Ya know I don'... Dammit
"Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know
... Heard it all
before... Ya don' go in fer none a tha' gift givin'... 'Cept fer them shirts. Which you
started, by the way... But this ain't really a gift..." Hank opened the top dresser drawer, reached to the back and pulled out a small box and handed it to Ed, "Here
"Hank... I know what it is... 'N I thought we were gonna..."
Hank watched Ed's face as he opened the box and saw the two rings inside, "Ya got silver ones... Like I wanted..."
"Ain't silver... Ain't gold neither... I got us plat'num ones... Ain't s'posed ta tarnish as easy as silver... 'N it's s'posed ta be real durable-like. Was thinkin' 'bout titanium... Them rings were a whole lot cheaper... but..."
"Do ya mind that I got 'em...? Withou' ya 'n all...?" Hank couldn't tell from the expression on Ed's face whether he liked them or not... Ed just look kind of pained.
"Glad ya did."
"Do ya like 'em...?"
"Yeah. I do."
"Good." Hank sighed with relief. He hadn't been sure what to do. He wanted to do something for Ed, after everything Ed had done for him... Or as Ed would say, everything Hank had made
Ed do. And after all the stuff Ed had done that Hank hadn't made him do... Like getting their watches engraved last year, suggesting they get rings last summer, going on that improptu overnight camping trip in their 'backyard' a while back and cleaning up and lighting up their old trailer.
And that they hadn't gotten rings yet wasn't Ed's fault. Sure, Ed had wanted to wait until they got back home from their summer trip, but he'd had no way of knowing that the woman they'd bought their watches from didn't work at that jewelry store anymore. They'd tried anyway. Asking to see rings and even going so far as to figure out their sizes and narrow it down to one of two, both plain bands, the only difference being that one was silver and one gold. Hank had wanted the gold and Ed the silver. But that goddamn salesman had ruined it all. No, he hadn't said anything. But he didn't have to. His cold demeanor and sneering tone told Ed and Hank everything they needed to know.
Ed had finally turned to Hank and said real quiet-like, "I cain't do this Hank... It shouldn't oughta be like this."
Hank had wanted those rings bad. But he had to agree with Ed. And Hank sure didn't want to hear that fella's voice in his head every time he looked at those rings, so Hank had turned to Ed and said, "Yer right... It shouldn' be like this."
Surprising Hank, Ed had then spoken loud enough for that salesman to hear, "Guess this fella thinks our money ain't as good as some. Think maybe we should spend it somewheres else." Hank had readily agreed, glaring at the fella for good measure, and they had left.
Hank probably would have said something a whole lot worse than that, possibly involving a swear word or two. Or three. But since Ed's usual inclination was to say nothing at all, Hank was real proud of him for saying what he did and he'd left it at that. Trouble was... there was only one other jewelry store in town, and Hank already knew the owner of that one was a real jerk, so there was no way they were going there either.
He and Ed had talked about ordering rings online... but Hank had really wanted to see them before buying them. So getting rings would have to wait until they made a trip together to the larger town a hundred miles away. But even though that was a much bigger place it was still full of small-minded people, so there was no guarantee the same thing wouldn't happen again... and because of that Hank was having a hard time getting Ed to go. So... after Ed had cleaned up and lit up that trailer for him, Hank had just decided to go on his own. And after only one misstep, he found a jewelry store with a saleswoman who not only helped him without batting an eye but was downright friendly to boot.
"They ain't engraved yet... I gotta take 'em back fer tha'... They didn' have no time ta do it wha' with it bein' the holidays 'n all... So's... if'n ya don' like 'em fer any reason... tha' woman down there said we could exchange 'em fer diff'rent ones. She were real nice. Ya wouldn' gotta worry none 'bout that, Ed... 'N we could call ahead 'n make sure she was workin'... I got her name 'n all..."
"Like these ones jus' fine. Jus' didn' wan' gold ones 'cause I didn' wan' nothin' tha' reminded me of m' first one... 'cause this ain't nothin' like tha'..."
"Why the hell didn' ya jus' say that in the first place...?"
"I dunno... Don' matter now anyways, does it...?"
"Guess it don't... Jus' glad ya like 'em, Ed."
"So's whadda we do now, Hank...?"
"I dunno... I guess I could put yers on yer finger 'n you could put mine on mine..."
"Guess tha'd work... Here... Lemme go first... Give me yer hand... Shit. I feel kinda stupid..."
"It ain't stupid, Ed..."
"I know... I jus' don' know wha' ta do... Should I say somethin'...? I dunno wha' ta say..."
"Ya don' gotta say nothin', Ed."
Ed slid the simple band onto Hank's finger, "Here... Damn
... Ya know... I would fer real if'n we could... dontcha, Hank...?"
"Far as 'm concerned... this is
fer real, Ed."
"Yeah. Me too, Hank... Hell... Ta tell ya the truth... Never woulda thought we'd be doin' nothin' like this..."
"Me neither, Ed..."
"'N this ring mighta been a long time comin'... but ya've always had my heart... 'N ya always will. I love ya, Hank. More 'n I could ever put inta words."
"Think ya jus' put it inta words real good, Ed. Jeez
... Ya always come up with jus' the right thing ta say when ya need ta say somethin'... How the hell
d'ya do tha'...?"
"Guess ya jus' bring it out in me, dumbass..."
"'Course I weren't 'xactly sure 'bout havin' that heart a yers fer... let's say... the first fifteen years... maybe a l'il more..."
"I was jus' playin' hard ta get."
"Yeah...? Well I got tired a tha' game purty damn quick."
"Sorry it took me so long, Hank..."
"'S okay, Ed. Least-wise I won tha' game... eventually."
"Think it was a tie."
"Guess it was. Now... Give me yer hand, Ed... Shit
. I shoulda thought a somethin' real perfect ta say too... Seein' as 'm the one that had time 'n all... But after I did what I did I was so worried ya wouldn' like what I done that I didn' think 'bout what I'd do if'n ya did 'n now ya do 'n I don' got nothin' ta say..."
"Ain't quite sure whatcha jus' said... But it's good 'nough fer me, Hank... Jus' put the damn ring on my finger."
"No. I ain't done yet. I love you more 'n I could ever put inta words too, Ed." Hank put that ring onto Ed's finger then continued, "I think I've loved ya from the minute I laid eyes on ya... 'N I know I said it before but... alls I can say is that I love ya so much it scares the hell outta me sometimes..."
"I feel the same, Hank..."
"But... I gotta tell ya... I don' think I ever really believed it'd end up like this... 'N sometimes... even after so many years... 'm still 'fraid it cain't be real. That it's all jus' some kinda dream 'n 'm gonna wake up 'n..."
"Ya wan' me ta punch ya...?"
"No, I don' wantcha ta punch me... 'N ya know damn well the 'xpression is pinch
me... 'N I don' wantcha ta do that
"How 'bout if'n I jus' kiss ya then?"
"Tha'd be good..."
... Ya bit
"Guess if'n it were a dream that
woulda woke ya up, huh...?"
"I dunno... Ya better bite me again jus' ta make sure... Maybe not quite so's hard this time though."
"Glad to oblige. Hey... where ya goin'...?"
"Ta put some music on... Brace yerself..."
"'Sweet thing, sweet thing... breath a spring... make the birdies start ta sing... sweet thing, sweet thing... wear my ring... make m' heart go ding-a-ling'..."
wearin' yer ring, dumbass. Been wearin' it fer a couple a minutes now. Somehow seems like a lot longer though..."
"Honeymoon's over already, huh...?"
"Nah... Not quite. Now... c'mere, so's I can take care a yer ding-a-ling..."
"Think tha' line is 'make my heart go
ding-a-ling... 'Course ya already done tha'..."
"Then I guess ya don' wan' me ta...?"
"Didn' say tha'..."
"Doubt I can get them birds ta sing though..."
"Betcha could if'n ya put yer mind to it..."
"Mind's on somethin' else entirely... C'mere, Hank..."The next day...
"Dammit... Where'd ya disappear to, Hank...? Coulda used some help out there 'cause Bill's got ta day off..."
"Shit. Guess tha' there honeymoon's definitely over now..."
"Yep. Hope ya enjoyed it while it lasted."
"Sure did. Best forty-some years a m' life... Give or take a few..."
"Hey... Wha' smells so good...? Smell's a lot like..."
"Got half a mind not ta tell ya... Wha' with the honeymoon bein' over 'n all..."
"Guess I could jus' open that oven door 'n look..."
"Fine... Tha' song last nigh' kinda inspired me... Ya know all tha' 'sugar 'n spice 'n everythin' nice... honey drippin' from yer lips... candy 'n cake... no mistake... sugar-coated fingertips..."
"Well... guess it were good fer somethin' then..."
"'N I knew Betty 'n her ma didn' have time ta meet up with ya yet fer a pie makin' lesson on accounta the holidays... 'N tha' same fella tha' suggested them battery powered lights suggested Martha Stewart's piecrust recipe... So's I found it online... 'N I made ya a pie... First one I ever made... So's don' judge me too harsh-like..."
"Jeez, Hank... Tha' fella sounds real nice... Ya wouldn' happen ta know if'n he's single... wouldya...?"
"No. He ain't single. 'N neither are you, dumbass."
"Tha's righ'. I keep fergettin'."
"Fergetful, huh...? Ya must be gettin' old, old man."
"You absolutely sure he ain't single...?"
"Think 'm gonna keep tha' pie all fer m' self."
"Have I told ya lately that I love ya, Hank?"
"Too late, Ed. 'N I have half a mind not ta tell ya 'bout the other stuff neither..."
"When I went 'n got them rings... I picked up a few diff'rent cheeses 'n some good chocolate like ya said ya wanted ta try... I wanted ta serve it all up last night fer our New Year's celebratin' 'n all... but then I realized ya woulda been askin' where I got it... 'N I ain't never been good at lyin' to ya... 'N I didn' wanna get out them rings 'til after we 'xchanged them shirts at midnight 'n... Hell... Prob'bly ain't as fancy as we coulda got online... but thought it were a start anyways... 'Course now 'm thinkin' a jus' sharin' it all with Bill..."
"Ya know Bill prob'bly wouldn' 'xpress his thanks the same way as I would... Least-wise he'd damn well better not..."
"Too bad... Tha' mighta worked if'n the honeymoon weren't over 'n all..."
"'N booze... I got us some booze too... Jus' got some a them l'il bottles so's we could figure out wha' we like 'n wha' we don'... Did getcha a bigger bottle a tha' Port stuff 'cause ya liked it when Iris brought us some... But I guess I'll just hafta share all tha' with Bill too... Sure hope he likes Port..."
"Pie 'n cheese 'n chocolate 'n booze... Ya did all tha' fer me, huh...?"
"'N rings. Don' ferget the damn rings. 'Course tha' were before I knew the honeymoon was gonna be endin' 'n all..."
"Jeez, Hank... If'n I had known whatta good husband you were gonna make I woulda suggested we 'xchange them rings a whole lot sooner..."
"Yep... I can bring home the bacon... 'n fry it up 'n a pan... 'n never, never, ever let you ferget I'm a man..."
"Ya got bacon, too...? We don' never eat bacon no more..."
"'Cause 'm a gay man... G-A-Y-M-A-N..."
"More like yer a dumbass... d-u-m-b-a-s-s..."
"'Course tha' were all before the honeymoon was over... Ain't gonna be a lotta motivation no more..."
"Ya know, Hank... 'Bout tha' there honeymoon bein' over...?"
"I was thinkin'..."
"Ain't folks s'posed ta get two
... Ya know... Yer always hearin' 'bout them second
honeymoons 'n all... Dontcha think maybe we're due fer tha' second one ta start up real soon...?"
"Guess maybe you could be righ'..."
"So's... How 'bout we have a piece a tha' pie 'n then see if'n we cain't jumpstart it..."
"Ya wanna piece a pie first
"Yep... 'Cause if'n the second's gonna be anythin' like the first 'm sure as hell gonna need all the strength I can muster..."
"True 'nough... Hell... Maybe I should getcha some a tha' cheese too..."
"How 'bout we save tha' cheese fer tonight...? We jus' migh' need some more energy later on..."
"We might, huh...?"
"'S possible. So's... Tha' pie 'bout done...?"
"Lemme look... Should be justa couple a more minutes... 'N then I think it needs ta sit fer a few minutes 'fore we cut inta it."
"Tha' pie's real purty..."
weren't never too good at lyin' ta me
"Well it ain't any uglier than Betty's mom's pie. 'N If'n we had a workin' camera... I'd take a picture of it fer sure..."
"Guess I'll just hafta make sure we get a new camera 'fore you
first pie... 'N I'll take pictures from start ta finish..."
"The hell you will."
"Yep. I sure as hell will."
"Was it real hard ta make...?"
"Not the apple part a it. Crust was a l'il tricky though. Used ma's old rollin' pin 'n tried ta remember how she used ta do it. Sure watched her often 'nough when I was a kid... Still ended up havin' ta piece it ta gether some."
"Guess we shoulda tried makin' pies a lot sooner..."
"Don' say tha' 'til ya've tasted it... So's lemme see yer hand... Ya still got all ten fingers...? Didn' get none ripped off on accounta tha' there ring like ya thought might happen, did ya...?"
"Think I still got 'em all... Ain't counted since 'bout an hour or two ago though..."
"Tha' ring looks real good on ya, Ed... When d'ya wanna get 'em engraved...? We gotta decide fer sure wha' we wan' 'em ta say..."
"I dunno, Hank... Maybe..."
"I dunno... 'S jus' tha'... Now tha' this here ring is on m' finger... I kinda hate ta take it off 'n all... D'ya think these rings really need
ta say anythin'...? 'Sides... It wouldn' be like them watches... wheres ev'ry time ya take it outta yer pocket ya can see what it says..."
"No way 'm gonna make ya take it off, Ed... I guess these here rings say plenty withou' sayin' nothin' at all. Jus' like you did fer all them years... 'fore ya started runnin' off at the mouth so's much anyways..."
"I can stop anytime ya want me to."
"Well ya damn well better not."
"So's... Ya wanna make a bet, Hank...?"
"Whaddya got in mind...?"
"Know Bill will prob'bly notice them rings right off..."
"Yep. Least-wise as soon as he sees either a us withou' work gloves on..."
"You even know where yer work gloves are...?"
"I was wearin' 'em this mornin', dumbass."
"Anyways... How 'bout we make a bet on when he'll say somethin' 'bout it...? Like last year with us havin' the same fish shirts..."
"Sounds good. Whaddya wanna bet...?"
"Same as last year...? Drivin' privileges fer... let's say fer jus' two months this time...?"
"'S a bet. We can pick dates later."
"Okay. Hey, Hank...?"
"How 'bout I go upstairs 'n get cleaned up real good... 'N maybe by then tha' pie'll be ready ta eat... 'Course I'd ask ya ta join me... but..."
"Don' worry, Ed... I won' burn the pie... I'll stay right here 'n keep a close watch on it fer ya... 'Sides... I showered 'fore I started in on makin' it..."a little later...
"Jus' figured I'd save ya a trip back downstairs 'n bring this here pie up ta ya..."
"Ya seem ta have misplaced yer clothes on the way..."
"By golly, I think yer righ'... Ya wan' me ta go 'n find 'em...?"
"Nope. But I sure hope ya got tha' pie restin' on a hotpad..."
"I migh' be a dumbass, but I ain't stupid."
"Ya got me a migh' confused now..."
"All of the sudden I ain't sure if'n I wanna go fer tha' pie first or go fer you first..."
"'S entirely up ta you."
"Guess I'll jus' try alternatin'... at first... then maybe I'll try 'n figure out somethin' more interestin'..."
"Sounds like a plan."
"Sure woulda liked a picture a this too... "
"Be glad ta do one a them re-enactments fer ya once we get a new camera."
"Gonna hold ya to it."
"Well, what're ya waitin' fer...?"
"Lemme just hang this here towel up."
"C'mon, Ed... go a l'il wild... Jus' drop that ol' towel on the floor."
"No way. 'S hardwood... Could leave a mark."
"I ain't touchin' that one... Too easy..."
"Well ya'd better touch this one."
"Bring it over here, dumbass, 'n maybe I will."
"You got forks?"
"Figures you'd go fer the pie first..."
"Like I said... Need m' energy... Hey... Aintcha gonna turn no music on...?"
"Thought I'd give ya a break... Kick off this here second honeymoon without it."
"I dunno... It jus' won' be the same withou' you singin' 'n carryin' on. C'mon, Hank... Put some music on 'n sing ta me..."
"Gotta warn ya... 'S bound ta be sappy."
"Figure after tha' song last nigh' I can take anythin'... So's do yer sappiest."http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4QzLxqi53U
"Darlin' yooou send me... I know yooou send me... Darlin' yooou send me... Honest you do, honest you do, honest you do, whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh... Yooou thrill me... I know you, you, you thrill me... Darlin' you, you, you, you thrill me... Honest you do..."
"So's I still send ya, huh...?"
"Yep. 'N thrill me... Ya still thrill me too. Least-wise ya did yesterday..."
"'N yer absolutely sure it ain't just infatuation...?"
"Purty sure anyways..."
"Good 'nough fer me. I'll take what I can get."
"Yer welcome ta help yer self ta whatever ya want."
"Don' mind if'n I do... Jeez, Hank... Are all the songs you put on from now on gonna talk 'bout gettin' hitched...?"
"'S justa coincidence, dumbass... I fergot tha' part was in there even... So's... It ain't even been twenty-four hours 'n it ain't even legal but I guess them ties are startin' ta chafe already, huh, Ed...?"
"No more so 'n usual..."
"Think I wan' m' ring back..."
"Well ya ain't gettin' it back. I jus' meant... I dunno... Ya know I like the ring. Like it a whole lot. But I don' need it ta feel hitched to ya... Don' need it ta know ya love me... ta know yer gonna stay with me... Hell... ring's no guarantee a tha'... Ain't no guarantee a nothin'... even if'n ya got the legal papers ta go 'long with it."
"Don' think it's s'posed ta be a guarantee... Guess a lotta folks migh' wanna look at it that way though... S'posed ta be one a them symbols or tokens or somethin' like tha'..."
"Ya didn' let me finish... I don' need
it ta know ya love me... But 's like watcha jus' said... I like seein' it on yer finger 'n knowin' tha's what it does mean. 'N... I dunno... 'S kinda like claimin' somethin' tha' should be ours even though a whole lotta folks think it shouldn't be. Hell... I don' think 'm makin' no kinda sense here..."
"Don' know if'n ya are or not... but I know whatcha mean..."
"Now that surely didn' make no sense."
"I think it made perfect sense. And stop callin' me Shirley."
"You got any new
"C'mon, Ed... stop talkin' 'n start sendin'
"'N jus where would ya like ta go, Shirley...?"
"Wherever yer goin' 'm goin' yer way..."
"Think tha's a diff'rent song altogether."
"Whatever... C'mere, Ed..."Later...
Tha' was somethin', Ed..."
... Tha' were a real good pie, Hank. Real good."
"Ain't 'xactly what I
was referrin' to, dumbass..."
"Meant ta say... Yeah... And
tha' were a real good pie too
... Ya jus' sent me so far tha' ya addled m' poor ol' brain... 'n I left out a couple a words..."
"Nice save, Ed. And 'm glad ya liked it. The pie, I mean. Still weren't as good as Betty's mom's... or my ma's... but it was purty good fer a first try..."
"Ain't nothin' better 'n yer ma's pie was. But it was real tasty..."
"'N it was better than the bakery in town 'n even a l'il better than them one's Myrna makes fer the diner. But dontcha go tellin' her I said so..."
"It'll be our secret."
"Don' know if'n I ever said 'Happy New Year' to ya..."
"Don' think ya did."
"Well... Happy New Year, Hank."
"Happy New Year, Ed."
"So's... When d'ya wanna start in on tha' cheese...?"
"Ya wan' some cheese...?"
"I could eat some cheese..."
"Then we'll go get some cheese."
"Ya got crackers too?"
"'Course I got crackers... Some a them fancy ones even..."
"Them ones tha' don' taste like nothin'?"
"Yep. Those would be the ones."
"'N maybe we could open tha' Port ya bought..."
"Maybe we could..."
"Think 'm gonna enjoy this here second honeymoon."
"Me too, Ed."
"Just hope it lasts as long as the first."
"Hell... I hope it lasts even longer."
"Ain't never 'nough fer ya... Is it?"
"Nope. Not when it comes ta you, Ed."
"Glad ta hear it, Hank."