I’ve come to Iowa for the America Quilts EXPO show in Des Moines. Usually, when I’m in Iowa for quilt-related business I’m taping TV and I’m here with only Mom, my stepdad Mark, and Scrabble. This time, my sister Rebecca and my brother-in-law Jack are here too! They’ve come to work on the movie theater and host a special screening of the John Wayne classic The Searchers up on the town square on Saturday night. (If you’re in the area, you must come down; I’ll post details on my Facebook page.)
We all crammed ourselves into a booth at the Northside Cafe for dinner tonight. Between spoonfuls of chili and glasses of white wine, we reminisced about how Jack and Rebecca got together because it’s basically their one-year anniversary. We talked about how we have peanut butter and a mouse to thank for their love. Yup: a peanut butter and a mouse.
Jack knew Rebecca from work circles and when they met they connected instantly. They were just friends though, because Rebecca was already seeing someone. They kept everything on the level, but it was plain how excited they were to have met the other and every exchange they had was pure delight and intrigue. Jack began to bring homemade peanut butter to my sister’s office. (If that’s not a genius way to get the girl, you’re gonna have to help me know what is.) When Rebecca told me about her new friend Jack, her eyes sparkled. I didn’t think her boyfriend at the time was the right match at all so I was excited about the peanut butter — okay, I prayed about the peanut butter, if catch my drift.
One night in Chicago, I went to Rebecca’s apartment. She had come from roller derby practice and was real sweaty. We were talking at her dining room table when we saw a mouse run fast across the floor. We jumped ten feet in the air and landed on top of the table, pathetic in our terror. Not long after, we heard a terrible, terrible sound: the mouse was caught in a trap — set by the landlord, apparently — under the stove. But it was not dead. It was alive. The sound was horrible and these two extremely capable young women were somehow incapable of dealing with this dying-mouse-under-the-stove situation ourselves. Women and mice, man: it’s a thing.
Rebecca called her boyfriend to come help. But when she got hi on the line, he said “didn’t think [he] could make it.” It wasn’t that he was busy; he just “wasn’t sure” how he was supposed to help. When Rebecca got off the phone and told me this, I tried very hard to continue to support the relationship, but we were literally huddled on the dining room table in distress. I looked at my sister.
“What if you called Jack?” My sister looked at me. She nodded slowly. And in that moment, she knew what she had to do. She called, and Jack said he’d be over in twenty minutes. I insisted she change out of her sweaty roller derby clothes, comb her hair, and put on some lipstick. She thanks me to this day for that, but that’s just my way and what an older sister ought to do.
Jack arrived and went straight to the kitchen. He got down on the floor, eye-level to the mouse, and pulled that thing out. Then he took it out back and made sure that mouse went up to the big Swiss cheese wedge in the sky real quick. He cleaned up from where he moved the stove, he washed his hands. This was a good guy. This was the kind of guy my sister needed to have in her life and in the months and years that have followed The Night Of The Mouse, she and Jack have grown to be the most inspiring, hilarious, marvelous couple I know.
That was the night it really happened — and that’s the way it happened, too. Happy anniversary, you guys.