Dustbusters and Valentines!

by Michele Sbrana

It's that time of year again where we pay homage to that nebulous thing called love. I thought I would honor the love of my life in a rather public arena this year…right here in print. So much of our love is filled with joy and laughter. Even amidst the toughest times in our marriage, we have been able to laugh. My husband has a history of being the "funny guy." He was a stand comic for a few years before I knew him so I never saw his act. I can assure you, however, I have seen some of his best material over the past twelve years of marriage and family whether he realizes it or not.

The first time Tony took our son, Riley, out for a coffee shop breakfast experience--and by experience, I mean the waitress must be named Audrey or Sue Ann, calls you honey at least twice, and the smell of said coffee shop must linger until your next shower--he wanted it to ensure that it would the first of many years of sacred father/son bonding opportunities. I must preface this story by divulging my husband's "issues" with spilling and food messes (Granted, he has shown some improvement over the years. We are finally ready to face the ice cream shop again after the famed "chocolate fudge swirl on the white shirt incident." … the therapist calls it 'growing his edge') Riley being only seven months old, had "issues" with keeping Cheerios and any other baby finger food on the high chair tray for more than 38 seconds. This was a crucial crossroads in their relationship.

My husband, known for his Mensa like ideas, had and continues to have feelings that run deep for those working in the food service industry. (I am quite sure they kept him alive during his bachelor years!) So, to honor those that have served him well over the years, he stuffed a Dustbuster in the diaper bag while I wasn't looking.

Imagine for a moment, sitting in a restaurant minding your own business, enjoying your chicken fried steak and grits when you look over to the booth next to you, only to see a crazed daddy underneath the booth vacuuming up food with his own personal Dustbuster. It paints a quite picture, doesn't it? To this day, I wonder if I would have ruined all possibilities of the coffeeshop father/son bonding experience had I discovered the Dustbuster before he had left. I'm sure in my naiveté, I would have felt compelled to reveal that other babies had probably been to restaurant previous to our son's birth and they might be prepared for such occurrences. I shudder to think…

Well, when all was said and done, Tony opted to not disturb the other restaurant patrons with the whirling Dustbuster, and let the dropped Cheerios blend in with the other dropped french fries, carrots, and oyster crackers of years gone by. If only Audrey, Sue Ann and the busboys knew what a heart of gold my husband had they might have made him customer of the month and given him the front parking space!

I'm so glad he brought along his security Dustbuster. Just knowing he could take it out at any given mess gave him the confidence to get out there just the two of them--otherwise, this sacred tradition might not have ever gotten off the ground. And it was such a wonderful memory for me--and the few thousand reading this--as well. A hysterical memory, yes. But also a sweet and sentimental one: the look of pride on his face when he walked in the door holding Riley (not a smudge of syrup on his face, I might add.) will be with me forever. Both were thrilled to begin this daddy/son coffeeshop ritual. Oh and by the way, Tony gradually moved away from the dustbuster in the diaper bag to simply stowing a whiskbroom in his jacket pocket.

To this day, their coffee shop experiences are a Saturday morning custom and now include our youngest son, Casey. Truly, each Saturday morning when it's 'Daddy and the boys' bonding time, I fall in love with him more and more. And it isn't just because I get a peaceful home for an hour (although, it doesn't hurt!) Rather it's because each Saturday after they return, I see that same look of love and pride on my husband's face that I saw after the 'Dustbuster event'. I'm grateful more than ever for the love we share because we created a family filled with joy and laughter--not to mention how much I appreciate being the endless opportunities to laugh with him and at him! Happy Valentine's Day, Tony. "Together is a wonderful place to be."

Copyright 2001
Michele Sbrana




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