There is a special place in my heart for the folks in my life who volunteer to support me in times of trial or adversity. I have always had an inclination to let my mouth override my ass and it is always with gracious relief, when I would find someone with more physical fortitude than myself running interference for me. My best friend in middle school and high school was someone who I knew would protect me and in turn, she always knew I would be there for her. She was a badass. I was not a badass. Like once when we were at a party and I started mouthing a girl and the girl didn’t like it. My best friend, Cheri, just had to walk over and ask, “Is there a problem?” and then there was suddenly not a problem anymore. Another time we were cruising the streets of our small town and a girl called us “preps” and while we were stopped, she tried to punch Cheri through the open window of her car. This girl was much more accustomed to settling things with her fists than our little gang of accused ‘preps’, yet the challenge had been issued. Cheri stepped up and as her trusty sidekick, I was right there doing my part…I held her big hoop earrings while she taught this name-calling-prep-hater a lesson (which she did in impressive fashion). My role may seem small, but she could have lost a lobe or an entire ear, for that matter. Had I not been there the results could have been tragic.
As an adult, the role of my protector and back-haver has fallen squarely on the shoulders of my husband, Kevin. He once sensed my fury in a school meeting with my son’s principal and just as I was about to throw myself across the table and choke the life out of the little man, Kevin nonchalantly grabbed the waistband of my pants and kept me firmly anchored to my seat. He also saved my ass when I went toe-to-toe with a big giant idiot who was screaming obscenities at a youth basketball tournament. Kevin has also managed to divert many a potential come-a-parts (that’s what they call it, when I react like a lunatic to situations). He does this by withholding information that he knows will make me crazy. Having my back is sometimes a great deal of work for Kevin.
It goes without saying, that I also always have Kevin’s back. It isn’t like he has big hoop earrings I can hold or any other needs in which my limited talents would come in handy. It is in the literal since that I always have Kevin’s back. His long 6-foot-7 inch walking stride puts me consistently about 20 paces behind him. At the mall, the ballgame, the parking lot at church, it is my husband’s back that I have. His steady unhurried pace appears effortless from the casual observer, but to the little wife trying to tail him, it is a frantic pace. Occasionally, he will glance over his shoulder to make sure I haven’t gotten misplaced or inadvertently swept down a drainage ditch. It is always, however, the same exchange when I finally catch up to him. He looks down at my wind-burnt cheeks and over my labored breathing he casually asks, “Where you been, woman?”
I have practiced fast-walking and also taking bigger steps, but often my choice of footwear doesn’t sustain these practices for any distance and I am forced to revert to my regular short-people walking style. When we walk hand-in-hand, he is so much taller than me and walking so much faster, that I feel and probably look like, a child that has been misbehaving in the store and is being dragged outside to get an ass-whoppin. So, like a boat on the ocean, I set my course following the beacon that is my husband’s back and I plod along at my customary 20 paces.
It would be very much a part of my innate nature to resent this Mid-Eastern style of pedestrian hierarchy we have long adhered to, but I don’t. It has become part of who we are. There is an unexplained comfort in knowing that he is forging the way, much like he does in all aspect of our life. He is steady, strong, and I know that as long as I keep my eyes on him, I am on the right track. It may seem like I am tagging along at his heels; a kite tail of little significance, but I know when I get to where I am going, he will be there—waiting. I know that I am a strong and capable person, but the bond I share with Kevin affords me a sense of security I don’t possess without him. I know he has my back and in warped kind of way, I have his. Should I ever look up and I am no longer able to see him leading the way, it is then I will know I am lost.