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Greg Peters column: It's not about the napkins

Greg Peters

My bi-monthly column is titled "Out in Left Field." I suppose it's aptly named because that's where my proverbial mind seems to be roaming about half the time. One particular evening this week, I literally was out in shallow left field picking a patch of clover weeds at First National Bank of River Falls Field. My cohort this evening, Fred Barr, was proudly donning his leather work boots with an added 2-inch lift due to caked-on clay. Fred was spreading and sifting through sand like a fever-pitched prospector digging for gold, but I was the one who found it this night. "There's gold in them there weeds" at First National Bank of River Falls Field, you just have to open your eyes and find it.

Seeing a freshly mowed, tightly manicured baseball field with plush green grass and crisp lines is kind of like going to church for me. Baseball stadiums can be cathedrals, in a way, and helping out at our hometown park, I guess, is a sense of pride. In the summertime, our ballpark is the welcoming wrap- around porch to the house called River Falls.

Pride, though, isn't even close to the main reason I like being at our ballpark. There's a different reason almost every time I'm out there. This night, while pulling clover weeds, I rediscovered two gold nuggets in my marriage.

I will have been married to Jenna for 20 years on June 27. There have been weeds, matriculating to thistles, in every single marriage since the beginning of time. One of the Bible's most prolific power couples, Abraham and Sarah, had a son when Sarah was 90 years old. They wouldn't be "empty nesters" and be able to hit the 4 p.m. casino buffet until Sarah was about 110 years old. Just flip a few more pages in Genesis and read about Rachel having to share her husband, Jacob, with her sister, Leah. That's taking "what's mine is yours" to a whole different marital mantra. To think Jenna could get frustrated from time to time with a late night arrival of a buddy sleeping on the couch with what biblical Rachel had to go through.

Truth be told, one of our most memorable arguments was over the color of napkins for our wedding reception. Jenna laid three different styles of napkins on a table and asked me which one I liked best.

Napkin allurement ranked just above urinal cake color on my priority list, but I gave my best soap opera John Black stare and said, "The one on the far right looks pretty good. I'll go with that one," feeling a little proud she wanted my expert paper serviette opinion.

Jenna, mustering up her inner used car salesman, Ed, from "Vacation," says, "Well, what about the metallic pea color?"

For all the prospective grooms this wedding season, read my response to Jenna's question and never, I repeat, NEVER say this: "I don't even know why you asked me, you pick out what you want every time anyway."

An argument ensued about me not caring about the wedding. I did care about the wedding, just not about the napkins.

Gold nugget number one: over the last 20 years, I've learned arguments are the weeds in a marriage and if I try to pick them in haste, just like at the ballpark, I only pull off the top and they'll keep coming back. Weeds and arguments have to be picked slowly, one by one, until the root of the problem is gone. That's one way to have nice green grass.

Jenna and I will be seeing the green grass at Wrigley Field in Chicago to celebrate our 20 wedding anniversary. The last time we went on vacation with just the two of us was before the birth of our kids.

That was almost 18 years ago if you count her first pregnancy when I thought it was funny to make up stories about restaurant food preparation when we were dining to induce her pregnancy nausea gag reflex better described as an unmoistened upchuck. Prospective grooms, don't do that either; however, Jenna's pregnancy nausea did produce a striking resemblance to Lloyd Christmas in "Dumb and Dumber" when he saw Harry on a backstabbing date with Mary Swanson.

Gold nugget number two: we all keep score, every day. We keep score in our jobs, our checkbooks and even our hobbies. They'll be keeping score at the Twins/Cubs game in Chicago, but one other thing I've learned in the past 20 years, I shouldn't keep score in marriage.

Dadburn it, there's gold in them there weeds at First National Bank of River Falls Field and there's definitely gold in Jenna's heart. She's put up with me for 20 years. Happy anniversary, Jenna, you deserve every napkin in the entire city of Chicago.

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