Careful What You Wish For

There have been times in my life that I have wished for things that have turned out to be not such a good idea. The first one I can remember was the Dorothy Hamill haircut in ninth grade. It’s not that I was destined for high school super stardom, but the combination of the haircut and the full set of braces top and bottom pretty much sealed the deal. Loserville.

Except. Except one of my grade school friends (it was Catholic school, so K-8, no “Jr. High.”) didn’t blink. Everyone else literally walked ahead of me the first day of school like a John Hughes movie, except my best friend. We are still friends today.

Number 2, my college degree. My father was a photographer for CBS for 35 years and free lanced for a good bit before that. He’s really quite something. He has an Emmy for the work he did on the Mexico earthquake with Dan Rather. He’s met every president (and likely most presidential candidates) since 1960; he retired last year, so this will be the first campaign he hasn’t covered in 48 years. He’s played softball with Jimmy Carter and been charmed by Barbara Bush. He’s been to Cuba to interview Castro, Rome to interview the Pope (JPII.) Arrested for crossing barricades in nuclear protests and blindfolded by soldiers to interview leaders I cannot even name. He loathes the Secret Service and adores good ol’ boys everywhere.

And all the while, I was standing by and watching. It was an amazing career and it took me a lot of amazing places as well. I thought I wanted to be in broadcasting for a very long time. A bossy nature seemed to be a perfect fit for producing. I’d worked the nominating conventions in San Francisco and Dallas in ’84 and had a blast. I heard Cuomo speak from the floor, went looking for a Dole/Dole ’88 button for Rather and laughed until I cried at Jesse Jackson’s real concession speech at a party for his staff after Mondale captured the nomination.

An internship at Nightline over Christmas my senior year tipped the scale. I worked for some of the most dynamic women I had ever met. But they did nothing but work. When one of the senior producers told me she passed on a date with Warren Beatty because she had to work, I thought “I’m outta here.” (And yes, she was Warren-Beatty-dateable and it was well before Annette.) Did my dad care? Nope. He’d been telling me for years it was no way to have a life.

But have a life, I have. I wanted to stay home with my boys and I’ve been so blessed to be able to. And opportunities are opening before me that I would not have been able to imagine. So while it is not the big city fast lane I envisioned, it’s still a dream come true.

Number 3, scoundrels. They are too many to numerate and most were forgettable anyway. Scoundrels only turn out good in the end of movies. Most don’t change. They drink too much, are only nice to get something out of it, and are usually thinking about themselves. They are never gentlemen. Ultimately, they bore.

While all this ruminating today? (And too few pictures?) Because today is Mr. Blandings’s birthday. A treasure. A real find. And he was right under my nose for a long time. A man who can still make my heart race when I see him walk into a room. A man who will go to the basement after dark to get something for me because I’m afraid of the mice that I’ve never seen there. A man who overlooked his own misgivings when I wanted “just one more” baby because I told him I was afraid I would regret it all my life if we did not. A man who once responded to the inquiry, “What drives you crazy about your wife?” over looking all my micro managing and high-maintenance nonsense, replied, “Sometimes she doesn’t shut the cabinet doors all the way.” We are yin and yang, inside and outside, high-strung and laid back, always nice and sometimes not. A perfect match.

Happy birthday, Mr. Blandings. I hope you get what you wish for today. I already have.
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22 thoughts on “Careful What You Wish For

  1. Just lovely! I agree with A… sniff, sniff. You’re a lucky gal, and he’s a lucky guy!

    Happy Birthday, Mr. B!

  2. Many happiest returns of the Day to Mr. Blandings — may his wishes and dreams come true! And may he thank his lucky stars for finding such a wonderful soulmate and wife ……

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage — too early for martinis — so I raise my teacup to his Birthday! 🙂

  3. Happy Birthday Mr. Blandings. There is nothing better than a good and happy marriage…and nothing worse than a bad one.

  4. Happy birthday to Mr. Blandings and happy retirement to your Dear Ole Dad. I am reaching for the kleenex after reading your funny, touching and eloquent essay.

  5. Your writing–and life are so very interesting. As someone who’s thirst for great design never seems to be quenched I’m thrilled to have found your blog. It’s my absolute favorite!

  6. What a prize Mr. Blandings has! Oh, so v. well written, and who is the OTHER Barbara,I am Dallas Barbara,one of your many,faithful and admiring fans.

  7. Thank you for all your kind wishes, Mr. Blandings is so flattered you would take the time. And he had carrot cake for dessert. Happy day.

  8. Well- you know they say the way to a man’s heart
    is through his stomach but if your Mr. Blandings pays a visit here -your lovely words will surely do the trick for he is a very lucky fellow.
    Happy Birthday.

  9. Well Happy Birthday to Mr Blandings! You know, sometimes the best ones are hiding right under your nose..they call it ‘refrigerator blindness’ and I suffered from it for 10 years. But I’m happy to say that I married mine finally and he’s also a darling.

  10. In an unfortunate perfect storm I received my Dorothy Hamill haircut, had my upper and lower braces installed, and my school picture taken all within about 48 hours of each other. Years later a “friend” saw the picture and all she could say was, “how many pork chops did your mom have to tie around your neck to get the dog to play with you.” (Ba dum ding). Loved hearing more about your amazing dad. Happy birthday Mr. Blandings…you ARE a treasure.

  11. Mrs. Grizwald – did I forget to mention my student i.d. picture was taken the first week of school? Captured for eternity. I almost posted it, but could not quite bring myself to share that with cyberspace. I have loaned it to a mommy or two to comfort adolescent girls. Not that I’m a beauty queen now, but the transformation is quite dramatic. Also, I was 4’10” then. 5’9″ now.

  12. Still working my way thru past posts, having just found your blog within the last week. It is completely wonderful, Mr. Blandings is more wonderful. You are both so lucky. Not to mention brilliant to realize it, and nurture it now.

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