Twice is Nice

As a girl, I loved horse stories—Frog, the Horse that Knew No Master, Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka, The Black Stallion, and anything with Walter Farley’s name on it. I always dreamed of having a horse of my own, but that’s one dream that never came true. Bill, on the other hand, didn’t care much for horses having had an unfortunate youthful experience with a cousin’s demon of a Shetland pony.

We met and married in 1985 having struck up a conversation at a widowed retreat where we discovered that our first spouses had died on the same day of the year, two years apart. In 1986, we gathered up our flock of children and traveled to Vancouver, BC, to take in Expo. It was raining, of course, so we were wearing rain jackets. When we arrived at the Canadian Royal Mounted Police display, I insisted that Bill and I take a stroll through the stables. I walked up to a big black horse with a white star on his face and gave his nose a scratch. When Bill attempted to do the same thing, the horse hauled off and bit him on he arm hard enough to draw blood through his rain jacket. From that moment on, Bill has referred to horses as “people chompers.”

In the past year of isolation, we’ve done quite a bit of binge-watching of various programs streaming on Netflix. Several of the ones we’ve enjoyed are Canadian in origin. We were early adopters of Schitt’s Creek which has now made its way to ordinary cable. We’ve watched all of Kim’s Convenience about a Korean family operating a convenience store Toronto. Mr. Kim, the grumbly but ultimately good-hearted father in that, reminded me of Archie Bunker. A month or so ago, my media savvy sister, Jay, suggested another Canadian-based program called Heartland, thirteen seasons and counting.

Heartland is a fictional, family operated, horse-training facility located in Alberta. The first episode was tough going because it includes a horse rescue episode that goes terribly wrong, but it also sets the stage for the whole story built around a grandfather caring for his two granddaughters after their mother’s death.

Because of Bill’s horse phobia, I was surprised he was willing to watch a second episode and then another and another. We’re now into season four, and one of the granddaughters is expecting a baby. Last night, in a scene where her husband brought her a morning cup of coffee, she didn’t much want it, I immediately hit the pause button and told Bill that when I was pregnant, I couldn’t drink coffee at all. He replied that the same thing had been true with his first wife. He said that when Lynn was pregnant, she switched to iced tea.

“Me, too,” I said. “Instant iced tea mixed with that powdered orange drink.”

“You mean Tang?” Bill asked.

“Yes, that’s it,” I agreed. “Tang. I couldn’t remember the name.”

That was followed by a moment of stark silence before Bill exclaimed in amazement, “Holy crap. I married the same woman twice!”

The show didn’t come back on for quite a while because we were sitting here laughing. That small scene in Heartland revealed a hidden piece of our separate but shared histories that we hadn’t discovered in going on 37 years.

I think he’s right about that—Bill did marry the same woman twice, and that’s not a bad thing.

My DTR paperback readers have done it again. The paperback edition of Credible Threat hit Number 10 on the NYTimes Bestseller’s list. Thank you