I remember doing the laundry with my sister, Judy, as a small child of 5 or 6 (yes, really.) We had an old-fashioned (even for that time, I think) ringer washer.
I remember the hot, soapy water that stung my fingers, burning them until I remembered to grab the wooden pole to retrieve the steaming-hot clothing. We fed them through the ringer into a sturdy tub full of ice-cold water. (Funny how that, too, stung my fingers.) Rinse, rinse, repeat. I remember a few times having to hit the emergency release, because my fingers got caught in the ringer--not fun.
As you might imagine, my hands were weathered beyond my years when I was young. I was a hard worker and wasn't so wimpy that I wore gloves, either, no matter what the chemical. (We didn't have any, anyway.)
In middle school, during which (if you're lucky) hand-holding comes with the territory (at the roller rink), every boy I ever skated with said, "Wow, your hands are rough!" (Thanks.) My boyfriends (2 or 3 max, I swear) in high school all commented on my dry hands.
"Yup; I know." Thanks.
When I first started dating Mr.4444 (in college), it was mid winter, and he had been working hard in the construction trade, outdoors. His hands were always red and a little chapped. The first time he held my hand, he exclaimed warmly, "Your hands are so soft!" and my heart melted; I knew he was the one for me!
Just kidding. It did melt, honestly (I almost cried) but there wasn't just one moment. There were many others...
....like the first time he took me out to a nice dinner and did not make me feel stupid for not knowing what to do with all of the silverware or for never having eaten a steak dinner before.
...and the fact that he always asked me what I wanted, rather than just assuming that he knew (at certain times that it's important to ask.)
...and the time I thanked him for not opening my mail, and he said, with a curious look, "Why would I do that? It has your name on it, not mine."
...and the time, when we were first dating, when I accidentally snapped off his new fishing rod in the truck door, and he said, "It's no big deal, really." (when he probably wanted to kill me.)
...and the time he listened to me tell a certain Christmas story from my childhood and I could see that he was barely listening, but he was totally taking me in, and he smiled and said, "You are really charming, you know that?"
So, yeah. My heart has melted many times over Mr.4444, and it continues to do so, even today.
Like when I come to bed on frosty winter nights with legs that haven't been shaved in weeks, and he says, "I'd rather they be furry than prickly."
And when he comes in from the garage saying, "I changed your wiper blades for you; they looked like they were ready," or "I saw your gas tank was low, so I went and filled it up for you."
Or when he puts his arms around me at night and tells me how he knows he "won the wife lottery."
So, yeah. Dry skin, hairy legs, driving the car til it's running on fumes...he takes me with all of my flaws and loves me the way I've always dreamed of.
I know what you're thinking--"Those are her flaws? Give me a break!"
Hey, it's my blog. I don't have to tell you about my real flaws. (Besides, he'll tell you I don't have any.)
[Parts of this post were originally published in July of 2009.]