Friday, January 4, 2013

If You Hadn't Married Harry...

HALLIE EPHRON: My man went to work the other day carrying an empty wine bottle and telephone wire. He teaches physics and the bottle and wire were 'equipment' for a lab he was teaching. He also had his binoculars, just in case a woodpecker he'd heard but not seen from his office showed up again.

I know if I hadn't married him, I wouldn't be such a good cook (because he's such a great eater). I wouldn't be an adventurous traveler and birder. I definitely wouldn't know a thing about baseball, which this year I'm sorry I did (oy vey, those Red Sox).

So what about you, Reds -- if you hadn't married Harry, how would you have been (for better and for worse, richer and poorer, saner and...)?

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh I love that snapshot you drew of Jerry! John just went off to the salt mines (tennis courts) with a backpack full of balls and rackets, wraps on both aging knees, and a bike helmet. Looking like he was 12 years old, which is the way he feels...

I don't even know if I'd have been a writer without him. Which means I wouldn't know any of you! Because my career began with trying to figure out what to do with too much time spent playing bad golf. And the only reason I set foot on the golf course was because I'd fallen for him...

Maybe I would have come to it from another angle, but maybe not. Great question Hallie!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, Jonathan just went off to  work with a big leather briefcase, a tiny container of raspberries to put on his Cheerios at his desk, and the goal to finish his brief in which he's representing a guy who has confessed to five murders. The interesting part about that being that it was impossible that he actually committed any of them.

So, sisters, I have lucked into a primo source of mystery plots, as well as in-house counsel and Thursday night cook. (And you know we met when I was feeling particularly bleak about life.)

If I hadn't married Jonathan? Oh, I would not have had this success as a writer, I KNOW that, he's so patient and so encouraging and so enthusiastic (and such a good chauffeur.) Would not have had step-kids and grandchildren--can't beat that!  (Oh, Lucy, the only reason you set foot on a golf course was because of John? That's FABULOUS.)  I love it when the world works.

JAN BROGAN: Bill is an entrepreneur and a risk taker. If it weren't for him, I would never have set foot in a sailboat and weathered some of the conditions that I did.  I  would never have developed this fascination I have for the wives who went on three to four year whaling voyages with their husbands - which is the historical novel I'm working on.  He has also been my go-to guy with pretty much any scene I've ever written involving either a lot of action or equipment. 

He doesn't drive me anywhere, but he can and does fix any computer glitch I have, and believe me, there are A LOT of them.

RHYS BOWEN: Interesting.... I just watched Letters to Juliet with my daughter and she asked if I had any lost love I'd want to find again. I decided that I don't regret parting with any of my former loves. There's certainly no one I'd go in search of again.

John has given me the ability to travel all over the world, taught me how to make curries, and best of all attached me to a family full of weird and wonderful characters for my Royal Spyness books.

And I would never have had those four wonderful, funny, talented children and those delightful grandchildren with whom I've been laughing and playing over Christmas.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Rhys, I did marry my lost love (Long story short: next door neighbors, teenage sweethearts. After seven years together we went our separate ways. He introduced me to my Scottish first husband. A good many years and a divorce later, we got back together. We'll be celebrating our nineteenth anniversary in May. Eeek.)

If I wasn't married to Rick, I'd probably be writing my books on a legal pad:-) He's fixed every computer problem, helped me figure out how to murder countless people in nefarious ways, and has NOT made me a better cook--although I have perhaps made him a slightly less picky eater.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I agree, Rhys - the first thing I think of when I think of marrying Ross are our children. I mean, I would have had kids if I had married someone else, but they wouldn't be the weird, wonderful, tight-knit Hugo-Vidals.

I, too, have to say I probably wouldn't have a writing career if I had married one of those other guys, because my young lawyer husband was the first man I dated who has his feet on the ground, money in the retirement account, and his shoulder to the wheel. I suspect if I had gotten hitched to one of those impulsive, artistic, impoverished men I dated before Ross, I would have had to be the sensible, benefit-carrying, money-earning one in the marriage. Ross's practicality, organizational skills, and ability to plan ahead freed me to be the creative dreamer in our partnership.

Plus? He bakes pies. Really, who can ask for more?

ROSEMARY HARRIS: This reminds me of the scene in It's A Wonderful Life where George Bailey sees what life would have been like in Pottersville (not Bedford Falls) if he hadn't lived.

I'd be an eccentric, single woman with cats. I'm convinced no one else could ever put up with me and I've gotten bored with every other man I've ever met after 2-3 months.

I'd probably have done everything else the same but without my best pal, staunchest supporter and the best travel companion on the planet. So it would all be...less. Gee...I really have had a wonderful life!

HALLIE: And there you have it. We are a pretty contented lot.

What about you? What would be different if you hadn't (or had) "married Harry"?


  1. I would have missed out on almost everything if I had not married my Sweetheart, including our wonderful children. He’s patient and understanding . . . he has so much more faith in me than I have in myself . . . he makes my life complete.

    He doesn’t bake pies [he’d rather eat them] . . . but he does do the dishes [and helps with all the rest of the housecleaning stuff]. There’s not a single regret to be found around here, just an abundance of love . . . .

  2. Oh, mine does the dishes, too. AND his laundry (he doesn't trust me to do his properly, and he's right.) I chased mine out of the kitchen early on because he kept making what I didn't feel like eating. He puts up with my bossiness and puts his foot down when necessary.

  3. I was obliged to ditch the husband ten years ago, even though he did put the idea of writing a mystery into my head almost twenty years ago.

    But I'm fortunate to have found a much nicer replacement. He totally does not get what I am doing (he rarely even reads fiction and hates to have to write anything) and supports me 100 percent in it, anyway. Without him I am sure I would have kept writing, but this way I no longer have to fix anything in the house or do any dishes, even on the rare night when he cooks. He makes me laugh (this is key!) and would shovel all the snow if I let him.

  4. Well, I tried being married twice before I met Donald. And I decided I wasn't very good at it and swore I'd never EVER do it again. (Have I mentioned how often I eat my words?). After 11 years of being a happy (very poor, but very happy) single person I met Donald and the rest you all know - 26 years later I have to say I'm where I have always wanted to be in my life and have the marriage I grew up knowing my parents had. The man makes me happy, makes me laugh, makes me feel as though I'm capable of anything so I'm willing to try more things. Still poor though . . .

  5. What a wonderful question, and such fascinating answers. The road not taken... always a flight of fancy, but a pretty good exercise.

    I've traveled to 49 states because of my husband, and learned about so many things I'd otherwise not known about: birds, flowers, all manner of science topics. He encouraged me to be a better cook, and has provided the most financial stability of my entire life, largely because of his extreme parsimony. But I have come to appreciate that, now that we are approaching retirement. We don't have all the fancy stuff friends have accumulated, but we also don't have any big bills, which is lovely.

    But of course the best is our kids, who are brilliant, funny, caring women, who are the very best of both of us, squared.

  6. If not for Diane, my home would still be filled with Goodwill-grade furniture, because I was the queen of cast-offs (including a black and white TV, if you can believe it) when I met her.

    I wouldn't be as well-traveled or as well-dressed. Actually, "well-dressed" doesn't really describe me, but she makes sure I don't walk out the door in the morning looking hideous.

    I'm quite sure I wouldn't be where I am with my writing (now actively querying my second MS) because she is a day-in, day-out support.

    I wouldn't have an expanded family of wonderful inlaws, who I love like my own.

    But more significantly, if not for Diane I wouldn't have discovered the parts of myself that can only be discovered through the deep commitment we share.

    BTW, though we were married in Quebec in 2005, Maine law only began recognizing marriage between same-sex couples last Saturday, so in the eyes of our home state, we've now been married for a week!

  7. Without my engineer husband I would see the world very differently. I'm occasionally frustrated at his inability to see any shades of gray (not the book ... how long before I can use that phrase without recalling that book?) in a situation, but I wouldn't understand myself or other people as clearly without his perspective. I think I'd be a much more deluded and unaware person without him.

    Plus I wouldn't know a thing about cars. He's my car, physics, engineering, "how the world works" expert for my racing books. So that wouldn't have happened without him either, to say nothing of his willingness to be ignored for days on end while I'm writing.

    Congratulations on all of your own "Harrys"!

  8. LOVE the Perry Mason photo!!

    And yes, Tammy, "shades of gray" is a doomed-forever phrase.

    And is it "bossy" if you simply have the better idea?

  9. LOL on Hank's request for clarification of the meaning of "bossy."

  10. Brenda, that is very cool. I'm truly happy for you and Diane, that the state finally validates your marriage. Mazel tov!

    I would also never have written a word that was published, if it had not been for editing Steve's and his dad's columns that appeared in the local paper every Sunday. It gave me the confidence to start writing myself, and to go on to write some non-fiction books. The public speaking I did for 15 years was also inspired by him, come to think of it, although he hated doing that.

  11. Hallie, is that a picture of Mr. Wizard??? Love the things in your hubby's briefcase (it's true, you never know when you'll see a woodpecker!)

    So glad i read this this morning - I just yelled at my hubby over something stupid and now I must run and apologize!

  12. Many, many congratulations on your marriage, Brenda! I believe this makes you and Diane the official newlyweds of this thread. Which will probably inspire Hallie and Hank to come up with a Jungle Reds Newlywed Game for this year's Bouchercon...

  13. Oh, my gosh, Juila, that's BRILLIANT. We are thinking now..

  14. Julia--you actually WANT to be on a newlywed game with Ross? Have you forgotten Jean Paul Belmondo?

  15. "If not for you, the winter would hold no spring. Couldn't hear a robin sing. I'd be lost, if not for you."

    And all my death and injury descriptions would be wrong -- my Mr Right is a doctor! (of natural medicine)

    And I'm with Hank on the bossiness ....

  16. Brenda, congrats on the state recognizing your marriage! Now you can celebrate two anniversaries:-)

    What lovely comments from everyone today. And did you notice how many of us said, "He/she makes me laugh?"

    That has got to be way up there on the Secret list (remember the marriage expert Hank met on the plane?)

  17. What a stable bunch here. Although no one mentioned it, the Reds must have all learned patience in their relationships for them to be so solid.

  18. What a stable bunch here. Although no one mentioned it, the Reds must have all learned patience in their relationships for them to be so solid.

  19. Thanks for the marriage congrats, all. It is fun to be thought of as newlyweds again, and she she does make me laugh.

    Julia, I think a Newlywed Game reworking of the Reds' 2012 Bouchercon hit peformance would be wholly appropriate. There are many questions to which your answer might be Jean-Paul, i.e., "do you know the identity of your spouse's secret crush?"

  20. When The Munchkin was little she got severe nosebleeds. Many of them in the middle of the night. Patrick would wrap her in a blanket and sit with her on his lap, ice pack to her nose at two in the morning while I remade the bed. He never balked at a dirty diaper either. And this is a guy who had never been around kids.

    Plus he makes me laugh. And Hank, he says you have great legs!

  21. Oh Brenda, congratulations! we are celebrating such great news with you!!

    The rest of you are making me laugh and laugh...I don't think Rhys wants to sign up for the Newlywed game with Ross, though she loves him dearly:)

  22. Ah, Darlene, your husband is clearly adorable. Give him a hug frm me!

    And as someone (Marlene Dietrich, maybe?) once said: "The legs are the last to go."

    Brenda! Wonderful!

  23. Hey, skipperhammond. These ladies are definitely stable and patient. They are also professionals at making stuff up. :)

  24. If I hadn't met Steve, I wouldn't have gone to college. I would never have backpacked the Sierra. Would never have lived on a ranch in the wilderness. 13 miles, 3 cattle guards, a creek, a canyon, and a valley from the nearest telephone. Would never have believed in anything or anyone. Surely would have died long ago.

  25. If I hadn't married Jessica, I would have had to have gotten a real job (because nobody else would have put up with my income all those years). And I wouldn't have Josh or Eve, which would have been a tragedy of biblical proportions. But more than anything else, I would have missed out on the company of the most interesting person I've ever met for the past 26 years (and counting). Nope, I'm pretty glad she married me.


  26. If I hadn't married Bob, I would never have known his zany, loving, WONDERFUL big family and all the love they bring into my life. I would have taken a lot of life way too seriously because I didn't have his humor and sheer joy to lighten it. I wouldn't have my amazing, wonderful son teenage Sam or his friend Warren, our nearly-son after living with us for the past 18 months (even since Sam went off to college.) I just think my life would be a little sadder, a little more pessimistic, a little emptier. And I would have washed A LOT more dishes in the past 25 years!

  27. Brenda, I love your post... especially your marriage update. Good for Maine, coming through. May the rest of the states soon follow. Qu├ębec, I love.