"Oh my God," I said, sitting on the seat of the city bus with my thirteen year old butt, reading the excuse my mother had written. Could life really get any worse? That is when I learned the art of forgery. My revised note was accepted, stamped, dropped on top of a pile of notes in the office and off to class I went for three and a half more years until I finally walked up and received my diploma. After a summer of table hopping and lounging around, I spent two semesters in college. That first college spring, with one more final to go, I married Jason. We jumped into a red TR-6 convertible with an Irish Setter in the space behind us and headed west. To our surprise we spent two years baking bread and decorating cakes in Gardiner, Montana. And then we landed back in Wisconsin, where I soon gave birth to our beautiful boys, Marques and Rene. And then we had irreconcilalble differences that could not be reconciled. That is why they call it, irreconcilable differences. So as not to cast any negative dispersions on Jason, I will admit, it was all my fault. Three years later at twenty-nine, I was all grown up for the second time and about to be married again. This time it was to my sweet Sven, who would bring along to or kitchen table, his daughter of nine years, Adrienne. Now, I just assumed that Sven would show up in the roller shade department wearing his sailor uniform from his old Coast Guard Academy days, the day before our big day. I assumed he would pick me up and he would carry me out of the factory with my arms wrapped around his neck, my fingers touching his soft brown curls, and my feet would happily dangle there in space, while everyone around us dropped their curtain rods, their finials and their jaws, and they would all begin to clap, just like in that movie An Officer and a Gentleman. The reason that I assumed this would happen is because I had mentioned to Sven that he should surprise me in the roller shade department in his sailor uniform and that he should pick me up and that he should carry me out of there with my arms wrapped around his neck, with my fingers touching his soft brown curls, while my feet happily dangled in the air. I said this to Sven many, many times. Beaucoup mentions to Sven. Well, I punched out at the time clock at 15:50 on August 1st, 1986 and I walked out to the parking lot on my own two feet. What surprised me more than not being carried out of the factory by Sven in his sailor uniform with my arms wrapped around his neck, my feet happily dangling and all the applause was, the two of us sitting there in traffic around noon, waiting for the light to turn green and the radio announcer stating something to the effect that it was August 3rd. "Oh, my God! It's August 3rd." "Yeah?" "August 3rd." "Yeah?" "Sven, I said it's August 3rd." "Millie, I know it's August 3rd. We got married yesterday. So that would make today the third." The light turned green and we took the on ramp that would take us out of Madison and set us in motion toward the East Coast. We had eight hundred dollars in our pockets and a full tank of gas in the borrowed from Sven's parents', Toyota Corolla, for better gas mileage and less of a chance for it to fall apart on us than our piece-of-shit-car. "Will you marry me?" he'd whispered under the covers. "Yes," I'd finally said. "Oh, good," he says, pulls me close, kisses me hard and falls asleep with my head still tucked in the crook of his arm. "I said yes," I told the ceiling. I called my mother the next morning. "Mom, we are getting married!" "That is wonderful, Millie!" My girlfriend was over that afternoon. "We are getting married!" I told Cathy. "Cool," she says. Sven walked in the door swimming in sawdust after a long day of pounding a deck together. "Hi Sven," I say all sexy-like. "Hi," he answers. "Hi Cathy." Here is the thing. Sven did not remember that he'd asked Millie Noe to marry him the night before. Or that Millie Noe said yes. "I'd better get going," says Cathy. "Millie don't be mad!" "Are you kidding me?!" I screamed. "Come on, just marry me instead," he pleaded. "No way." I stomped out of the room, slammed the bedroom door, opened it back up and slammed it again. Before the night was out we were engaged. Two weeks later I was sitting next to my fiance in the front seat of his car, on top of a bunch of candy bar wrappers and empty Styrofoam coffee cups. "Quit taking all the peanuts," I said. "You can have the prize." "I don't want the prize," I snapped. And then I found a cracked and taped-back-together plastic, Cracker Jack jewelry box, just as Sven pulled in next to an old country bar where we were planning to hear our friend Snuffy, play the dobro. I looked at Sven and held up the container with raised eyebrows. He didn't say anything. "Someone has been in this box," I gasped. "Just open it." And then he slipped the diamond ring that I pulled out of that, there, cracked container, onto my finger. And then I said, "Fine, you can have the rest of the peanuts." But they were already gone. The next summer, after a beautiful backyard wedding at my parents home, followed by a reception in a hall complete with a Reggae Band who promised they would not play all Reggae music, but did play all Reggae music and rightfully serenaded us with our wedding song, Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven's Door, to a Reggae beat, we were officially married. The following day, being August 3rd, much to my youngest, Rene's, chagrin, the two of us set out on our honeymoon. The first night on our trip we paid one hundred dollars on a real fancy hotel. "It's okay," said Sven, "We still have seven hundred left. We're good." We road tripped our way to the Sioux Saint Marie Locks and we took a ride to another level. We raced through Canada. Sven is the kind of guy that everybody loves. He is sweet, sexy and Norwegian. But he is the kind of guy that nobody wants to get stuck behind in traffic. There is something about that Norwegian foot of his that does not enable him to step down on a gas pedal anymore than the exact miles per hour posted or a little bit under. Maybe it has something to do with the five cars and that one sailboat of his father's that he wrecked, by sticking the mast into the sand that made him that way. If he is having an extraordinary day, due to the extra endorphins released into his system he might go over the posted speed by three miles per. But that is where it ends. So I knew Sven was super-duper-happy as we sailed through Canada, because he was going one hundred and twenty miles an hour. "Millie, those are kilometers," he'd explained. No, they were not. We listened to all of the French speaking radio stations, ate at a French restaurant and stayed in a French cabin. This was fortunate, because I do believe that I am French, although I have no proof of it. The next day Sven managed to pass every blur of a gas station with his kilometers clicking and every possible bathroom before I ever had a chance to pee. That is why he had to pull over before we got to the border. That is also the reason it was awkward when the Dudley Do-right Dude showed up with a flashlight and shined it at Millie Noe, who's pants happened to be at her ankles, down there on the side of the road. Jeeez. But we left Canada without any police records and if that mounty was blushing, it was too dark to tell. Niagra Falls was loud, beautiful and touristy. New York State was green and gorgeous. Lake Champlain glistened. We were dazzled by the gold capped capitol building in Mount Pelier. We were awed by the bridges in New Hampshire and then there we were, in Maine, where we scored a small efficiency for three nights in Rockton. From it we could hear the waves crashing on the rocks and feel the salt in the air. We took the ferry to Vinelhaven where we watched fishermen in rubber boots through a long lenz. We visited lighthouses. We walked on piers full of boats and yachts parked full of life stories different than ours. We admired grey skies and black waves and blue skies and black waves. We ate lobster. Hang on. Wait a second. I didn't eat lobster. Sven ate lobster. There we were in a grocery store and there was a tank full of sea creatures swimming around. "Sven you can buy one and take it back to our place and cook it," I'd said, horrified at the thought. "What makes you think it's going to stay in the pan when I turn on the burner?" "Well, people do it all the time." "All we have is a frying pan." "Oh" Sven being a sexy, frugal, Norwegian, ordered the poor one clawed lobster, who was half price, like he didn't already have enough problems, to be boiled, right there behind the counter. He carried it back to our place in a brown paper bag, where we sat at our tiny table for two and he ate his lobster dripping in butter and I ate my hotdog smothered in ketchup, and we clinked together our glasses of wine. Have I ever told you that Sven love socks? He is very particular about his feet. That is why it came to his attention that he hadn't packed a pair of tennis shoes. This was probably because he never wore tennis shoes unless he was playing tennis. Otherwise he always, as in always, wore his work boots. He spots a sign that said, Giant Shoe Outlet. "Let's go there." "But.." And then there we were. And then Sven walked out of The Giant Shoe Outlet with a new pair of tennis shoes and five pairs of socks, because they were in a big bin by the cash register and they were a really good price. And they were the kind that Sven really liked. If there is one thing that could make that new and now old, frugal Norwegian husband of mine not frugal, it would be a bin of good socks. It can also make or break a person getting through toll booths. The next morning we checked out of Maine. We could have stayed one more night, but since we were so close to Connecticut, the home of the Coast Guard Academy where he'd spent a couple of years as a lonely, golf-playing-sailor, Sven had an overwhelming desire to show off his past to the new love-of-his-life, me. "But...." I said, rubbing my eye, "Ouch." "What's the matter?" "Do I have a sty?" "Let me see. Well there is a little red bump on your eyelid." By nightfall there was a very large bump on my eyelid. A record sized red bump was living there by bedtime. In the morning we drove away from Maine in torrents of rain. Sheets came at us sideways as we by-passed the Boston traffic that was moving at one hundred miles an hour on the by-pass. Here is an interesting fact, Connecticut is no where near Maine. It is far enough away that a sty has hours to manifest into a beast large enough to part eyelashes like the red sea and develop a white snow covered mountain tip and pop as you are seated at a bar, ordering a burger and your husband Sven is dialing up the very surprised widow of his old Coast Guard Academy golf coach. This all after having showed his wife where he'd marched and squared off and had many, many, many detentions. And of course he took her to see the all girl school down the way where they bussed in females for dance class. "Sorry Millie," he says the next morning as we drove away. "I guess I should have known he might be dead by now. He was pretty old back then." "That's okay," I said wiping away the pasted crust from my eyelashes. "He was important to you." We had a long journey home. We drove and we drove and we drove. We stayed in a cheap hotel. We filled up the car with gas in the morning. "Jeez, I hope we make it back with this tank. I only have ten dollars left." I looked in my purse. "I have two bucks." By the time we were on I-90 I was digging frantically under the seats for change for the toll booths from hell and I glanced over at Sven's new tennis shoes and fresh white socks, before I handed it to him. And then we drove into Dane Wisconsin, traded in the Toyota Corolla for our piece-of-shit car and went straight to the picnic where Sven cashed a check. It was Sunday evening. The next day was back to work in the morning. Pick up the kids in the afternoon, hug them, make dinner and give baths. At ten o'clock we pulled up to the house on Lake Point Drive. "What is this?" I said, walking in the front door. "Oh, my God! What stinks?" I screamed. It is true that it was all our fault. We were the ones who hadn't locked our doors. So it made total sense that somebody would drop off a giant weaving loom in our little kitchen for somebody else to pick up and that somebody else didn't pick it up, for two years, and there was no note from the somebody or the somebody else. And it also makes total sense that another somebody or perhaps the first somebody who dropped off a weaving loom, took a dump in our toilet. And it was not their fault that they couldn't flush it. They didn't know that Sven had turned the water off because it had a leak. The alarm rang at five-thirty in the morning. I punched in at 0700. That was thirty years ago. I wouldn't have it any other way.