I know when we fell in love. She was dating my roommate in prep school. Yes, I went to a snotty boy’s boarding school in New England. I wasn’t from a wealthy family, but had a working scholarship. I worked in the kitchen every day to earn my way through. She was from an old family and went to a snotty private girl’s school. I’m not sure how it happened – it just did. I was kind of a jock – co-captain of the hockey team and a starting attackman on the lacrosse team. Maybe that attracted her. She was smart and physically attractive. We laughed together easily.
I ended up at a snotty Ivy League college and she went to an equally snotty Seven Sisters school. We dated regularly and at some point the love bug struck us. My freshman year went fairly well. I played on the freshman hockey team and my grades were OK. Things started downhill the second year. I realized I could skate with the kids from Canada and Detroit, but couldn’t play with them. My career as a Division 1 college player was going to be short.
I joined a fraternity with a reputation for hard drinking and debauchery. My grades began to suffer and I gained a lot of weight. It was 1966 and Vietnam was in full swing. There were rumors that student draft deferments might be in jeopardy, so I applied for the Marine Corps PLC program, their version of ROTC. I was rejected because of my eyesight. We were still dating and starting to talk about our future together.
Things kept going downhill in my junior year. I dropped out of the hockey program and began subsisting on beer and peanuts. My grades continued to slide and my weight approached 200 lbs. I woke up one morning after a long night of drinking and decided things had to change. That afternoon I took the train to my home of record and enlisted in the Marine Corps. My eyesight wasn’t a problem – they were glad to take me. The university gave me a leave of absence while still in good standing. The Dean said he’d see me when I got back, if I got back.
Needless to say, this was a shock to my parents and to my now fiancée. I had 3 months before I left for boot camp at Parris Island, SC. My friendly recruiter advised me to lose some weight in the meantime, and I began what would be a lifelong running habit. My mother was mortified, but my father, a WWII Marine, was quietly pleased.
After the initial shock of boot camp, I was amazed that the Marine Corps and I agreed with each other. For someone not very good with his hands, I had no problem disassembling a machine gun in the dark, for example. Near the middle of boot camp I was asked if I wanted to apply for Officer Candidate School. I said "Sure" - not mentioning my prior rejection for the PLC program. When it came time for another eye test, the Navy corpsman doing it stood us at attention while he went outside for a smoke. He forgot to have me remove my glasses and I memorized the 6th line down.
I did well at OCS, even finishing first academically in a class of 120. We were married after I was commissioned and we started my 3 years of active duty. She made a game effort, but I don’t think she ever liked being a military wife. My Vietnam tour came in 1970 after the worst part of the war was over. I came home in one piece, luckily. Leading Marines in a combat zone was one of the more satisfying experiences of my life.
She had finished undergraduate school and planned on graduate school after I finished my bachelor’s degree. She did that while I was in a two year MBA program. Education finished, we finally settled in one place. I went to work for a snotty, old line commercial bank. Our lives began to drift apart after a few years. I had joined a Marine Corps Reserve unit (and would retire as a full Colonel) and she developed political interests quite different from my own, if you catch my drift.
After 12 years, I finally pulled the plug. I also left the bank for good, taking a job with one of my loan customers. That year my Reserve unit did a two week summer camp in North Carolina. I had been stationed there on active duty and fell in love with the state. I had thought a number of times that I’d like to live there sometime.
At the end of a field exercise, several of us were celebrating at an oceanfront bar called the Shipwreck Lounge. That sort of described my life at that point. There were two unattached ladies sitting near us, and two of us asked them to dance. They smiled and stood up. The heights were wrong at first, so we switched partners. Mine’s name was Debbie and she had a soft southern accent. We’ve now been married for 32 years. Her soft accent hides a mind like a bear trap and an acid tongue when she chooses to use it. By sheer coincidence, she had just left her first husband when we met.
OK. This may be an interesting story, but what does it have to do with HD? After my first wife and I were settled, we (mostly she) decided we should have children. After a year of unfruitful results, we were tested. The problem was me. My “stuff” didn’t have enough of the little guys. There was a chance to conceive a child through artificial insemination, but for some reason I decided I didn’t want to try that.
Why did I make that decision? Maybe I knew the marriage was destined for failure. Maybe I didn’t really want kids after all. I certainly didn’t know I was carrying the HD gene. Divine intervention? Whatever the reason, it was very lucky for me to fall out of love. HD now ends with me.