USING TRAILER PARLANCE AS METAPHOR, we’ve been hitched for a few years now. Both of us, my Amazing-Missus and I, are from the Tulsa area—she, just from the south of Jenks; me, just north of Jenks. We met in Bixby.
The insightful C.S. Lewis, as far as I know, never visited Jenks or Bixby, but he did have some keen wisdom on relationships:
“Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.” —C.S. Lewis. The Four Loves.
Let’s talk about some of the side-by-side stuff. Early in our marriage we discovered one of our favorite places to eat together was Coney-Islander, a little hot dog joint native to Tulsa. (By “little hot dog” I’m talking about the size of the establishment and also the size of their coneys. They are adorable.) It is still our favorite. It started in 1926, and in all these years, hasn’t changed much. I hope Coney-Islander doesn’t hire one of those new fangled UX specialists to “take the company to the next level”. Their level is just fine. At Coney-Islander, you sit on the same side of the booth, side-by-side. This is so you can work out the Weekly Scramble on the old blackboard on the wall. It’s a C-I tradition.
We often spend weekends in Tulsa. We’ve found a great place in mid-town where we can park our Airstream. It’s close to some of our favorite side-by-side type places: the Circle Cinema, a throwback art-movie theatre; Tulsa University, a Coney-Islander, and a short drive to downtown where you’ll find the arts district, Glacier Chocolates, Guthrie Green, Antionette Baking Company, Spinster Records and Driller Stadium, all good places for side-by-side moments.
There is a mix of blessings to traveling in an Airstream: people want to talk about it and “take a quick peek inside.” Recently we were hitched up and leaving Tulsa for Shawnee, where we were to attend a very special event—a birthday party for a five year old. Often, as we leave Tulsa, our route is via Peoria Avenue, through the narrow streets of Brookside to a Coney-Islander, before getting on the highway out of town. As I pulled into the parking lot on this particular Saturday, I noticed a fancy Mercedes following closely. Before I could hardly get out of the truck, there was a woman who looked like she had just come from the Lululemon store up the street, or the hair extension store somewhere nearby. “Can I please droll over your Airstream!?” (Her actual words.)
Sure, I say. I’ll be inside drooling over “a couple of coneys with everything.” (That’s how you order them.) She’s holding her phone in the air and explains to us that she has her boyfriend on FaceTime so he can take the tour as well. My Amazing-Missus graciously hosted the tour while I went into the air-conditioned Coney-Islander to wait. As I watched her walk toward the diner from the Airstream after the tour, I saw it all as a tableau of sorts or an Edward Hopper painting (but far less forlorn)—that silver trailer, this little hotdog joint, and her; walking from one to the other. Not to over-romanticize it, but it was glimpse of a magical side-by-side life together. Our travels: together, our favorite things to do: together, our memories: together, and our future: together.
And then I thought, I hope that if Miss Yogapants and her FaceTime friend find themselves in an Airstream someday they will have great side-by-side adventures too. Like the old song says:
Oh, we ain't got a barrel of money
Maybe we're ragged and funny
But we'll travel along, singin' a song
Side by side
Don't know what's comin' tomorrow
Maybe it's trouble and sorrow
But we'll travel the road, sharin' our load
Side by side
Through all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall
Just as long as we're together
It doesn't matter at all
When they've all had their quarrels and parted
We'll be the same as we started
Just travelin' along, singin' our song
Side by side
Here’s a Coney-Islander Weekly Scramble for you. Sorry I don’t have a coney for you to enjoy while you try to figure it out. If you just can’t quite work it out, email me and I’ll send you the answer. email@example.com.
P.S.: No Googling for the answer. You’ll hate yourself in the morning if you do.