What are the chances? In 1994 I met my wife in a large bookstore. We now co-own a small bookstore. We married in 1997 at the Long Beach Rod & Gun Club. We now co-own two children, yet neither of them seem to own either rod or gun. The older boy was born in 1994, the younger in 1997 (we knew neither of them in either aforementioned year, but that’s another story). Some people tell us that there is a profound, spiritual significance to all them there coinciding events of ’94 & ’97. Some people, I tell you, struggle profoundly with concepts such as math and reality.
This is reality: It’s May of ’94, late evening shift at Book Soup. I’ve been working here for less than two weeks and some genius manager has just placed me at the cash register, which I am manning with half my ass. The other half is busy rolling a burrito, stuffed with Bargain Circus chorizo & eggs, on the front counter. I’m hungry enough to forego microwaving these leftovers since my official dinner break won’t happen soon enough, hungry enough to ignore the young lady sidling up to the register whilst making lusty sniffing sounds, but apparently not as hungry as that young lady who inevitably hovers, drooling & snorting, on the business side of my chorizo counter.
“Is that chorizo?” she slobbers. “’Cause I sure do love chorizo.”
I shove the somewhat rolled burrito across the counter and commence with the sweet talk. “Go ahead, I’m not hungry anyway,” I grumble. “I found a raisin behind the register an hour ago and I ate it. Go ahead and eat my burrito already. It’s fucking destiny.”
“It’s fucking cold,” she murmurs while chomping at my dinner like a circus geek set loose upon a comatose chicken. “But it’s still chorizo and all chorizo is great gardblarnit.”
She not only persevered in the face of my faux surliness, this future wife of mine, but she also microwaved what remained after that first bite and then allowed me a nibble or two of what was supposed to be my second meal of the day. I did not initially realize that we were co-workers, my future wife & I, as she had been away on a trip to Boston when I was hired. We might have talked about books that first evening, but more likely we marveled about how lucky we were to live in a time & place when burritos glutted with chorizo, pastor, carnitas, and sundry pig parts could be procured at a mere pittance. This is more reality: Our mutual support of immigration reform— mandatory immigration for all those emanating from chorizo-bearing countries really— had more to do with our hooking up than any abstruse aligning of stars. No magic here folks, just Mexican sausage.
That was some 22 years ago. We have now been married for nearly 19 years. I’ll give you two guesses as to the ages of our children. This is merely math. So they were born the years we met and married. Still I am confident that the boys’ biological parents did not conceive with my wife and I in mind, and if there is a God she best have more important things to do with her time than playing cute number games with some goofy family in Los Angeles. Furthermore, when you hear your dead dad’s favorite song on the radio it ain’t God telling you that dad’s in heaven watching over you any more than the 99 crappy songs you previously heard on the radio was God telling you that dad’s alone in hell. DJ God? What’s more important is whether or not dad’s song kicked ass.
Yesterday was my birthday. My wife celebrated hers two days before mine. She and our children surprised me last night by baking pizza with—what else?—chorizo on top. Destiny? Shut up. It’s called good taste. Twenty-three-and-one-half years ago I had enough of it to share my burrito with a lovely person who had enough of it to appreciate good, cheap food when she smelled it. So we had sex. Together we had enough sense to raise children that, amongst myriad faults & aptitudes, possess a healthy respect for the tastier things in life and are willing to stumble into a kitchen once-a-year to make a meal happen.
Nine years ago, that wife of mine gave me the birthday present of a lifetime when she helped me open READ Books. So long as I am competent enough not to muck this up I will never have to get another job again, thus proving that hard work will always save one from having to work hard. With a belly full of Chorizo pizza, I dedicate this article, as well as a large, geek-sized portion of anything I ever write, to what’s-her-face: Happy birthday wife! I don’t need divine intervention; I gots you.