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Notes on an Improbably Happy Marriage

My wife, the unbelievable Cinelli, is smart, really smart. She was a cum laude graduate of the University of California at Northridge, reads constantly, watches BBC World News on television and was told 63 years ago that she probably should not marry me. There was that one little glitch in her incredible sense of good judgment. She married me anyhow.

I was a hippie before there were hippies: ragged, bearded, long-haired, sleeping where I could, sometimes standing upright in a phone booth or tucked into the chilly sand dunes of San Francisco Bay because I refused to go home to a dysfunctional family. I also wrote Beat poetry and drank beer when I could afford it.

Cinelli and I were almost total opposites when we met at San Francisco State College, but fell in love anyhow. We had our first date on April 1, 1949—a dinner for which she paid—and were married by a Justice of the Peace three months later.   We are still together, which many find amazing and she finds miraculous.

I write of it today in response to an email asking about our “perfect” marriage, of which there is no such thing. Given our differences, how could we have married in the first place? Well, she liked my writing and I liked everything about her.

I used to churn out stories and columns for the college newspaper, the Golden Gater, and for a campus literary magazine called Inklings. She is an enormously talented poet who wrote when she could while having our babies and tending to our family of three kids. I threw myself into a career of journalism, television movies, books, blogs and magazine freelancing, sometimes all at the same time.

She was a beautiful 19-year-old and remains a beautiful 83-year-old who could have done a lot better than me. But we are joined at the soul in a manner difficult to explain. We like each other. I am lost when she is not around and while she is not as lost when I’m not around, we enjoy being together, traveling, dining, attending plays or movies, or watching TV. Conversation is our friend, but so is silence.

I have cleaned up my act since my Bohemian days. I get a haircut once in awhile, shave about every six days and shower when Cinelli refuses to sit downwind from me. I adore her and she has learned to tolerate me—and that’s why we have an improbably happy marriage. It works.

Always has. Always will.

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