Thursday photo prompt – Green #writephoto

Standing at the railing, waiting for the boat to depart, I felt a weight of responsibility on my shoulders that no child should bear.  My brothers were in apprenticeship with my father, but at the age of 21 I was expected to find a husband far above my station in life.

My parents saved money to give me a graduation present, 6 weeks visiting places in Europe I’d only dreamed of seeing.  I’d landed a job that was to start 2 months away.  Perfect timing!

As you can imagine,  it didn’t come without a price.  My mother had advised me not to arrive back home without an engagement ring.  My father, a very successful plumber, had less-than-practical advice to offer.  “Don’t come back if you get knocked up.  We don’t want an unwed mother in our family.”

I didn’t like the long-hairs with their unkempt sideburns, or the expectation that any woman who didn’t want to “put out” was a “prude.”  Where do people come up with words like that?

Most women on the cruise didn’t like the so-called hippies either.  All they talked about at dinner was some guy they’d named “Mr. Handsome.”  True, his last name is Hanson, but what else would you call a tall man with intense green eyes, shoulders like a line backer and a smile that would make a piranha fall in love with him?

Most men didn’t like the way the pretty women passed them by as they followed Mr. Handsome. He’d politely say a few words,  back away, and wander off toward his room.  So much gossip, wondering about the mysterious man in the polo shirt who didn’t wear a fedora, or casual Panama hat like a gentleman should. 

After one incident with a woman who thought silk dresses were a must-wear on deck, most women on the cruise shied away from me.  They congregated to point at me…whispering…laughing.   That stopped the day their mysterious love interest walked up on deck, stood in front of my lounge chair and asked, “Care to explore a castle with me?” 

My first date with the guy everyone called “Mr. Handsome!”  My thoughts rambled:  What do I do? What do I say?  Should I say anything?  

“Sure,” I said, weakly.  

“I’ll be at the meeting point for the tour in an hour,” he smiled.

A gentleman from beginning to end, never making advances toward me, the nervousness I felt began to fade away. We silently appreciated the greenery, coiffured gardens,  intricate walkways, and a structure that had withstood the ravages of time for 500 years.

“Miss Jones?” he asked.  

Lord knows I’d tried to avoid doing it, but I looked up at him and couldn’t stop staring at that face, a body that filled out a shirt so…

“Did you like the castle tour?”

“Yes,” I said, looking down at my canvas shoes.  “I’m…I don’t date often.”

“This is the 1960’s.  You could have asked me for a date and I would have said yes.”

“Why?”

“Do you like castles?”

“I love castles,” I said. “I enjoyed our discussions about the paintings, architecture and construction, too.”

“Do you like hiking?”  he asked.

I hesitated, mesmerized by his smile.  “There’s a forest near my parent’s home, and I often go on hikes with my brothers.”

“Are you frightened of insects?”

“It depends upon whether or not they can kill me,”  I said, smiling back.

He chuckled. “Let me show you a neat place I found on the shore.”

We walked down steps and steep declines, away from the castle and into a place where water that mildly smelled of sewerage trickled from an aqueduct.

I ignored the odor, traipsing through the water to examine stone work over aqueduct arches.  Mr. Hanson followed behind.  “Are you sure you want to be running around in this?”

“I know where castles used to dump their sewerage,” I informed him.  “My father’s a plumber.  I helped my brothers and dad dig up more than a few septic tanks when I was younger.  That is, until my mother screamed at him and said that septic tanks were no place for a lady.”

“That settles it,” he said.  “Jane Jones, will you marry me?”

“What?!”

“I wanted to marry you the moment I saw what you did to that woman outside the cafe.  She was jumping around, screaming about a roach on the table.  You picked it up, looked at it and told her to stop scaring the poor thing.”

Well…my graduation present turned into a honeymoon a mere 6 days into my vacation.  Plain Jane Jones, as my school mates had called a woman refusing to wear makeup, fed off the anger and jealousy that every woman on our European cruise wore like makeup.  How can anyone top that as a wedding gift?

We visited ports, took tours, walked through villages, and lounged together next to the pool. We both skipped the captain’s dinners, preferring to forgo formal wear.  We had a light dinner at the outside cafe during our last night on the boat, wondering how 5 weeks had slipped by so quickly.

“My parents don’t know I’m married,”  I said, as we packed for departure.

“My parents don’t know I’m married, either,” he chuckled.  “They’ll be waiting for my return.”

When the time came to walk down the ramp toward my new life as Mrs. Hanson, I wandered from the boat with my husband, my hand holding his.  Of course, the first thing Mom spied was the simple gold band.

“It can’t be!”  Mom yelled out, embracing me in a hug.  “What does he do for a living?”

“We’ve spent our time hiking, going on all the tours available, and finding out what we love doing together,” I said.  “We didn’t care about exploring much else.”

“Dick!”  a deep voice yelled out.  “Why are you talking to that family?”

“Hanson?”  My father yelled out.  “What’s a jerk like you doing in a respectable place?”

“That’s my son,” he said, pointing at my new husband.

“Dad?  Why is he mad at you?”  

“He moved in last month and started taking over all my customers,” Dad said.  “You better not be knocked up!”

“You’re a plumber?”  I asked my new husband.  

“Yes,” he said, hanging his head down as if I’d learned his worst secret. 

“Hallelujah,”  I said with a joy that made him smile.  “Why don’t our two dads think about merging their businesses?  They can call it Dick and Jane’s plumbing.  I’m starting a job with a company that wants me to design toilets, sinks, tubs and kitchens women want to use. They could test the products through our company and…”

“We didn’t pay all that money for you to become an architect so you could marry a plumber,” Mom reminded me.

“It’s a bit late for that,” I said, touching my stomach.  “The merger has already begun.”

 

© Joelle LeGendre 2017