Photo Credit

Photo Credit: “Buffalo” by Tami Ritt © 2017 – National Bison
Range, Charlo, Montana.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bring Him Home...

 
( This story of mine was first published in the October 2014 issue of The Warrior Heart magazine)
 
Although he was in excellent shape, thirty five year old Mike Donavan had to stop to catch his breath. It was hot, even for July, and the blinding sun light shimmered off of the waves like tiny mortars exploding across the surf. Mike used his sleeve to wipe the perspiration from his forehead before it ran into his eyes. There was no easy path to this section of the beach; nothing but rocks and driftwood to climb over and navigate around, and the pack on his back containing his metal detector actually seemed to gain weight with each obstacle that he overcame. Mike hoped that he would have at least a couple more hours before the sun went down.
The war had been over for seven years now, but standing on the rocks overlooking this secluded section of Omaha Beach, he could see it as it looked on that day in June, 1944 when he saw it for the first time. He had been Lieutenant Michael Donavan then, responsible for twenty men about to hit the beaches of Normandy as part of the largest seaborne invasion in history. One of those twenty men had been his younger brother, Tim.
Mike had come back many times since that day, but never to this particular part of the beach. He had been combing different sections every weekend since being assigned as an attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Paris three years ago.
It was low tide, so he started at the water line and began sweeping the detector back and forth. Almost immediately the instrument started beeping, indicating the presence of some metal object buried beneath the sand. He took a small garden spade out of his pack and started digging. Only a few inches down he discovered what had triggered the metal detector - a .30 caliber shell casing from an M1 rifle. He tossed it into a cigar box that he carried in his pack and continued his search. Subsequent passes with the instrument turned up more shell casings and bits of shrapnel. He tossed them all into the cigar box. Over the past three years he had dug up a bushel basket full of such items. He only saved them now so that he wouldn’t dig them up again on future weekends. He usually tossed them out when he got home.
On his fifth pass, the detector gave a strong beep. Probably some more junk, he thought, as he started digging. It only took a minute to unearth the treasure. His hands were trembling as he brushed away the sand and took a closer look. Tears welled up in his eyes as he knelt there in the moist sand, and as the sun sank low over the English Channel, Mike Donavan wept…
***
Mary Donavan stood at her kitchen sink finishing her breakfast dishes. She loved the view from the window over the sink. She could look out and watch the cows chewing their cud in the barn yard, or watch the progress of the corn in the field across the road. It was late July and the corn was already over six feet tall. They knew how to grow corn in Iowa, and the Donavan farm was one of the best in the county.
She heard the car coming down the county’s gravel road, and looked out in time to see Paul Bellows slow down and pull into the road leading up to the house. Paul was the mail carrier. He usually stopped at the big mail box at the end of their road. The fact that he was pulling up to the farmhouse meant only one thing; he was delivering a letter from Mike. He always liked to deliver these in person. She hurriedly wiped her hands on her apron and opened the front door as Paul reached the steps leading up to the wide porch that went around all four sides of the old farmhouse.
“Mourning Mary,” he said. “Got a letter for you. All the way from France.” He knew it was from Mike, but feigned ignorance. He handed her the envelope.
“Thanks Paul,” she replied.
He hung around making small talk for a few minutes, obviously curious as to what Mike had to say. The whole county knew he was in Paris and was eager for news, but when it became clear that Mary wanted to read it in private, he wished her well and left to continue his deliveries.
She sat down on the porch swing and tore open the end of the envelope. Inside was a letter and a smaller envelope. She read the letter first.
 
“Dear Mom, Remember what you said to me when Timmy left for basic training? You said, ‘He’s your little brother, Mike. You watch out for him. You take care of him. You bring him home.’ I know that I failed you, Mom. Maybe this will help in some way.”
 
She opened the smaller envelope and emptied the contents into the palm of her hand. She fought to hold back the tears as her eyes moistened over. Rising from the porch swing, she walked down the steps into the yard and started up a low hill where a white picket fence enclosed a small plot beneath a massive old oak.
She looked at the two markers resting in the cool grass in the shade of the ancient tree. The first was a stone marker that belonged to her husband. He had suffered a heart attack while plowing two years ago. The older marker was a simple white cross with the words, “Timothy Donavan - Born September 4, 1925 - Died June 6, 1944.” His body wasn’t there of course. They never found his body. Officially, he was missing in action. But Mary knew he had been killed. She knew the very moment that it happened. She felt it in a way that only a mother feels.
Kneeling down in front of the cross, Mary gently and reverently draped something over one of the cross-arms. She knelt in silence for a few minutes, pulling some weeds that had grown up over the graves.
A few puffs of cloud floated lazily overhead. It was going to be a beautiful, warm, sunny day, but right now it was cool beneath the shade of the old oak. Mary looked up through the gnarled and twisted limbs. The old tree had been a favorite of her boys when they were growing up. She could still see where they had nailed boards to the trunk to make a ladder up the side. They had spent many boyhood hours climbing through its branches. One day the tree would be a mountain to scale. The next day it would become a wilderness outpost to defend against Indian attacks. It seemed fitting to Mary that the tree, that had entertained and nurtured the boys as they were growing up, would now spread its arms over Timmy’s empty grave as though it was calling him home.
I should get back to the dishes, she thought. Wiping a tear from her eye with her apron, she closed the gate behind her and started back down the hill to the house. Looking back, she saw how the sun reflected off of the dog-tags she had draped over the cross. Tags that read “Donavan, Timothy…”

 

THE END

(SDG)

 

 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Clear As Mud - Why I Don't Play Scrabble With My Wife...


My redheaded sweetheart, Tami, was playing one of her word games on her laptop the other day when I walked into the room. “Honey, I heard someone use a word on the radio and I don’t know what it means.”
She continued with her game without looking up. “What’s the word?”
“Perspicuous,” I answered.
She answered without missing a beat, “The meaning is ‘clear’.”
“Not to me.”
She looked up from her game and stared at me in confusion.
“What?”
“What does the word ‘perspicuous’ mean?” I repeated the question, thinking that maybe I didn't have her full attention the first time that I asked.
I told you, the meaning is ‘clear’.”
“But it’s not clear to me.”
“Yes it is. It is clear to everyone.”
“It’s clear for you?”
“Yes.”
“And it’s clear for me?”
“Of course.”
“Then why don’t I know what it means?”
“I just told you what it means.”
“You haven’t told me anything!” I was starting to get a little frustrated. “If you don’t know the meaning of the word, just say so. I won’t think any less of you.”
My redhead likes to play this game where she sighs and rolls her eyes into the back of her head and pretends like I said something stupid. She did the eye-rolly thing now.
“I don’t have time for games,” I said. “I was just hoping you knew what ‘perspicuous’ meant.”
I could hear her mumbling something under her breath and realized that she was counting to ten. That is something that she does a lot, and has ever since we were married almost twenty-eight years ago. I think that it helps her to refocus. Poor thing loses her concentration so quickly.
I let her finish counting. Then she gave another big sigh and said, “Let me try this again. “If I give you a synonym for ‘perspicuous’, do you think that you could figure out what it means?”
“Yummy!” I said. “That’s a wonderful idea. I could go for some cinnamon toast.” I turned to head toward the kitchen.”
“STOP!!” she shouted. “I didn't say ‘cinnamon’. I said ‘synonym’. You know…a word that means the same as another word?”
“That’s a great idea, sweetie,” is what I said. But what I was thinking was that if she really knew a word that meant the same as ‘perspicuous,’ she should have told me in the first place. But I try to encourage her as much as I can when she is having difficulty communicating and expressing herself. After all, I am the writer in the family. She is not the professional communicator that I am. That’s just the kind of guy that I am. “Can you think of a cinnamon?”
“SYNONYM!” she shouted.
“Whatever. Can you think of one?”
“Yes I can.”
“Well, what is it?” I was getting anxious to put this little mystery to bed.
“It’s ‘obvious'.”
“Awesome! I can’t wait to hear what it is.”
She looked like she was about to cry, so I put my arm around her. “Don’t worry, sweetie. If you can’t think of a word that means the same, maybe you can think of a word that means the opposite. What are those called?”
She sniffed and wiped her eyes. “You mean ‘antonym’?”
I held her close and spoke slowly. “No, sweetie, my Aunt’s name is Elaine.” She had lost focus again and gone down a bunny trail. “Do you need to count to ten?”
She jumped to her feet, her clenched fists at her side, and screamed, “I’m not talking about your Aunt, Elaine. I said ‘ANTONYM.’ It is a word that means the opposite of another word.”
I could tell that she was starting to get frustrated, probably with her lack of communication skills. After twenty-eight years of marriage you start to pick up on the subtle clues. “Alright,” I said, as calmly as I could. “What is the opposite of ‘perspicuous’?”
“That would be ‘confusing’.”
“Well, it couldn't possibly be any more confusing than the rest of this conversation.”
At that point, she threw her arms into the air and declared, “That’s it. I give up. Go Google it.”
“I can’t.” I replied.
“Why not?”
“I don’t know how to spell it.”
“Why don’t you call your Aunt Elaine and ask her.” She wiped her eyes and went back to her word game.
I didn't say it to her face, because she was being overly sensitive at the time, but calling my aunt made more sense than anything she had said in the past ten minutes. I just chalked the whole thing up to hormones. Tami has been going through “the change” for quite some time now, and I know how irrational and edgy she can get. Good thing for her she has such a loving and supportive husband.


SDG

Monday, April 24, 2017

They Grow Up Way Too Fast...

Teaching Lucas to Fish
(This was written back in 2005 or 2006. I was reflecting on how fast our children grow up. One moment they are playing on the swing set in the backyard, and the next thing you know, they are learning to drive, graduating from high school and moving on with their lives; and you sit there and wonder where did all of the years go? Did I do a good job as a parent? Did I equip my child for life? When it comes down to it, you do the best that you can and you trust God to work everything out in the end. I thank God daily for the great privilege and joy of being a parent, even though there have been times (and continue to be times) that I know that I blew it.)
 
 
I made a rather startling discovery the other day. I discovered that some time during the past couple of years, my little boy, Lucas, left home and rented his room to a hulking, surly teenager…also named Lucas. It is hard to say exactly when this might have taken place. I mean I have been pretty busy with work and with all of the television that needs to be watched. I wasn't exactly paying that much attention to what Lucas was doing. I just looked up the other day and saw this guy sticking his head in our refrigerator, asking what there was to eat. He looked vaguely familiar. I knew I had seen him around before. Then I found out that he was living in Lucas’s room, so I put two and two together.
 
It does strike me as rather odd that I did not notice anything sooner than I did. There is a world of difference between “young Lucas” and “new Lucas,” as I have taken to referring to them. For starters, new Lucas is fifteen years old, whereas young Lucas is no more than five or six years old max. I know this for a fact because it was just yesterday that he was running around the yard playing with his stuffed eagle toy, or learning how to ride his bike or how to fish. New Lucas doesn't “play” at anything, unless you count online video games. And I am not really sure that these are games anyway. Not like any games I used to play. He plays online with people from all over the world. These programs are so sophisticated and fast paced that I literally have no idea what he is doing. I half expect to find out that new Lucas is the leader of an international group of computer hackers who have infiltrated the computer network of some European nation, destroying its infrastructure and crippling its economy. I shudder to think of what he will be capable of when he learns to drive!
 
Another difference between the two is their size/mass/bulk. I mean, this really should have been my first clue. Young Lucas was “kid” sized. I would smile down at him and he would smile back up at me. New Lucas is so big that we are going to have to hire an aerial photographer to take his high school graduation picture. He is six feet, one inch tall and two hundred pounds. Now I shudder when I look up at him and he snarls when he looks down at me.
 
Another thing about this new guy…he is not nearly as cuddly and affectionate as young Lucas was. Young Lucas was always running up to me and throwing his arms around me and giving me big hugs and kisses. Young Lucas wanted to be just like his dad. We even had matching clothes. Mine were “daddy” sized and his were “Lukie” sized.  New Lucas has his own style of clothes. This consists mainly of a pair of baggy pants wore half way down his backside with six inches of boxers exposed, and an ever present baseball cap on his head. His mother and I tried to engage him in a family hug the other day and he wanted to know why he was being punished!
 
Young Lucas was really inquisitive. He could ask some great questions because he knew that his dad had all of the answers. Like the time he asked me, “Dad, if I eat nothing but marshmallows, will my poop be fluffy and white?” Sometimes his questions were quite profound. We were driving through town one day when we passed a group of abortion protesters  He asked what “abortion” was, so I explained it to him. He thought for a moment, and then asked, “Why does God give babies to people who don’t want them?”
 
I think that new Lucas has pretty much reached that age where he has learned the answers to all of life’s important questions. Any information or advise that I have to offer him pretty much falls into one or more of the following categories: irrelevant, prehistoric, or boring. There is one exception however…one very focused line of inquiry into which he is never quite satisfied…usually expressed in one of the following ways:  “When is dinner?” “What is for dinner?” “Is there anything to eat?” “Why is there a lock on the refrigerator?”
 
I have to admit though, when I think about it, that it is kind of nice having new Lucas around. He doesn't require the constant attention that young Lucas required. When young Lucas was being potty trained, he would finish his business, then yell out, “Daddy! Come wipe my butt.”  New Lucas appears to be completely potty trained…a detail for which I am eternally thankful. I mentioned this story about potty training to new Lucas once. I pointed out that when I am eighty years old, the roles will be reversed and he will be taking care of me. He just pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to me. It was a list of local nursing homes. He delights in taking it out and showing it to me every now and then.
 
It is also nice to have another “guy” around. We can do “guy” things together, like when we go shooting our rifles out at the Pawnee National Grasslands. We can hold disgusting “guy” competitions; each of us proudly showcasing our proficiency in the manly art of belching or flatulence. Women just cannot compete on the same level as men do at these things, and it is nice to finally have someone against whom I can hone my skills.
 
New Lucas is also able (and sometimes even willing) to help out around the house; making repairs to things that need repairing, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, putting away the dishes, walking the dog. I don’t have to worry quite as much, being gone from the house twelve hours every day. I can count on new Lucas to keep an eye on things and hold the fort until I get back. And I know that anyone threatening his mother in my absence would have a formidable adversary to deal with.
 
There is a pride that a father has for his son when he is a small child. There is another special pride that he has when his son becomes a man. There are times when I miss the child that Lucas used to be. But I am looking forward to knowing the man that he is becoming.




SDG

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Mountain Brook



Photo credit: Mountain Brook by Michael R. Ritt - 2017
 
Our cabin rests in a little valley that is a tributary to the Ninemile valley in northwestern Montana. It faces a small field about an acre in size. On the other end of the field is a steep incline where it meets one of the mountains that surround our valley. Right at the base of this mountain is a small brook that drains our valley and runs into Ninemile creek a couple of miles downstream. During the summer months we can usually step right across the brook. But at this time of year, with all of the melting snow, there is too much mountain runoff to attempt it.
It is a very peaceful experience to come home from work at night (usually around midnight). Our valley is typically very quiet and still, except for the deer that dart across the mile long gravel road that leads up to our cabin. I can look up on a clear night and see stars that are so big and bright that it seems I should be able to pluck them right out of the sky.
As I step up on our porch and turn to face the field, although I can’t see it, I can hear the water flowing through our little brook. At this time of year it is an actual roar, but in a few months it will wind its way down to a gentle murmur, accented by the sound of buzzing insects and maybe the screech of an owl.  
I doubt that there is a finer symphony played anywhere in the world than my little mountain brook on a starry night.

 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Tale of Granny Shannon



(I wrote the following story about twelve or thirteen years ago as part of a twenty-four hour short story contest. The way the contest worked was like this – everyone who signed up for the contest received an email at the same time. The email gave the details of the contest; word count and a line of prose that had to be included in the story. Then everyone had twenty-four hours to complete and submit their stories. I did not win the contest, but it was a lot of fun and the writing prompts were a good way to get the creative juices flowing. I present this story in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day…)


The little cottage sat in the middle of the enchanting Glen of Cloongallon, which opened up in the midst of the forest, not far from the town of Thurles, in a picturesque part of County Tipperary. Hawthorn, chestnut, ash and blackthorn hedges surrounded the little cottage and wildflowers grew in abundance in the open meadow.


The two children, a boy of eight years and his six year old sister, raced along the path through the woods which would take them to the little cottage in the glen.


"I hope she is home." said the girl.


"Granny Shannon is always home." replied the boy. They had only recently started calling the old woman who occupied the cottage "granny" for they had only recently gotten to know her. Prior to that, she was always referred to as the "old witch" or the "old hag". In the fertile minds of the young, all old women who live alone in the woods are witches.


The old woman was stooped over in the garden pulling weeds as the children approached.


"Good day granny Shannon." called the two children in unison.


The old woman stood and, placing her hands on the small of her back, stretched the stiffness out. "Good day children. What a nice surprise. I did not expect to see you again so soon." she answered.


"You have to finish your story, granny." said the young boy. The little girl stood there nodding in agreement.


"Is that it?" she said smiling down on them. "All right, let’s have a seat then."  She led them to a log which lay along one side of the garden that often served as a place to rest when she was working outside. She took her seat. Spreading her apron out on her lap, she folded her hands as the children took a seat, one on either side of her.


"Now, where did I leave off?" she asked.


"She was following the river toward the place the Leprechaun had told her about." the boy volunteered eagerly.


"Oh yes," said the old woman, "let's see now..."


It was in the fall of the year. The red, orange and yellow leaves floating on top of the river contrasted sharply against the black water. Distant thunder and a bitter wind promised an early winter storm. She shivered and walked faster, ignoring the muffled complaints coming from the burlap sack in her arms. Her bent and misshapen form made slow progress, but she knew it could not be much further.


"That's the leprechaun in the sack, isn't it?" said the little girl.


"That's right, dear." replied granny Shannon. "Remember, she had caught the leprechaun and shoved him into the sack before he could escape."


"And she is going to make him grant her a wish, right granny?" exclaimed the boy.


"That's right." She replied. "Shall I go on?"


The two nodded enthusiastically.


She continued up the river with her burden until she came to a lush green meadow, dominated in the center by a huge old oak. Surrounding the tree was a circle of huge stone pillars about ten feet tall. Capstones lay across several of the pillars, while others had fallen and lay in pieces on the ground. The whole circle was about thirty feet in diameter. She sensed that she was in an ancient, mystical place.


This must be it, she thought. She undid the binding on the sack. Reaching in, she pulled out its occupant.


“Let me go. Let me go.” cried the leprechaun.


“Be still with ye now. I'll not be letting ye go until ye grant me wish.” she said. “Be this the place ye spoke of?”


The leprechaun looked around. “Aye, ‘tis the fairies ring.”


“And I must be standing in the midst of the ring when I make me wish?” she asked.


“Aye,” replied the leprechaun, “’tis the only way the magic works.”


Being careful to keep her grip on the leprechaun, she walked through the stone pillars and into the center of the ring, next to the ancient oak.


“And now, I'll have me wish.” she demanded.


“Aye,” cried the leprechaun. “And I suppose ‘tis me pot of gold ye will be after!”


“Nay, but keep your treasure.” she replied. “‘Tis not filthy gold I seek, but a husband.”


The leprechaun was astonished. He had never heard of a human not wanting gold. “Ye want me to give ye a husband?”


“Nay,” she replied. “I have me own man in mind - Michael O' Shay - but I’ll not be getting him, or any man, through your black arts. Me wish is only this - take away this hump from me back and this gimp from me leg, for what man would be taking a cripple for a wife? And make me young and beautiful again. Do this and I'll be winning Michael O' Shay me own self.”


"Did the leprechaun grant the old woman her wish, granny?" asked the little girl.


"Indeed he did, for leprechauns are bound by fairy law to grant a wish to anyone who is able to capture them."


"What happened next," asked the boy?


Well, as soon as the old woman stepped outside of the fairy ring, there was no longer an old, crippled woman standing there, but a beautiful, young girl - strong and healthy.


The young girl ran all of the way back to her village, giddy with joy and the promise of love to the man of her dreams. She ran up to the home of Michael O' Shay, calling his name. “Michael, Michael.” Several times she called his name.


Finally, an old man came to the door. “What can I be doing for ye lass?” he asked.


"'Tis Michael O' Shay I’d be seeking.” she said.


“‘Tis Michael O' Shay ye have found lass.” he replied.


Perplexed, the young girl replied, “Nay, but surely ‘tis your grandson I seek.”


“I have no grandson,” he replied, “for I am childless.”


At that time, the young girl heard laughter coming from behind a nearby bush. Looking behind the bush, she saw the leprechaun hysterical with laughter, rolling on the ground.


“Ye have tricked me.” she cried out, making a lunge at the leprechaun. He was much too quick for her this time, and she only succeeded in grabbing hold of his cane.


The boy and girl looked at each other with puzzled expressions. "I don't understand, granny. What happened?" asked the boy.


Granny Shannon seemed to stare off into the distance for a moment. Her old eyes moistened over and a tear rolled down her wrinkled, brown face. She wiped it away with a corner of her apron.


"Granny, what happened?" he repeated.


She put her arms around both children and said, "There is something that you must remember about leprechauns. Though they are bound to grant your wish, they never pass up an opportunity to play a practical joke. What he failed to tell the old woman was that time passes very slowly for anyone who enters a fairy ring. The old woman thought that she was only inside for a few minutes, but in reality, almost sixty years had passed on the outside. Though she was now a young girl, Michael O'Shay had become an old man."


"Tell the story again, granny." the children cried.


"Not today," she replied, "it's time you started for home." She led them to the front gate and watched as they headed down the path.


Walking back up to the little cottage, tears filled her eyes again as she glanced above the door. There, for good luck, hung an ancient little cane, too small for any man.


SDG

 

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Perfect Rose






THE PERFECT ROSE

By Michael R. Ritt



Today I saw a perfect rose
Without a single flaw.
Its petals glistened in the dew
Like ice before a thaw.
 
Its color was the deepest red
That I had ever seen.
I saw it growing in the rocks
So lonely and serene.
 
Its fragrance filled the evening air
And floated on the breeze.
It wafted ever heavenward
Ascending through the trees.
 
I asked the gardener how he came
To grow a perfect rose,
What fertilizers did he use,
And in what ratios?
 
He looked at me with knowing eyes
And gave a little smile.
“Look closer at the rose, my son,
And stare at it a while.”
 
Then looking closer I beheld
What I’d not seen before.
It wasn’t perfect after all
But little scars it bore.
 
In other places it looked crushed
And bleeding through the bruise.
And all at once I knew that its
Perfection was a ruse.
 
He said, “The bleeding that you see
Upon the rose’s bloom,
Was caused by growing through the rocks,
But makes its sweet perfume.
 
It is the trials that we bear,
The rocky soil of life,
The pain and struggles we endure,
The heartache and the strife.
 
The people that would cause us pain,
The insults that we face,
That we forgive with tenderness,
With mercy and with grace.
 
The gardener uses all of these
To fertilize his rose.
And so with people, as with flowers,
That’s how perfection grows.”


SDG

Saturday, February 25, 2017

How To Really Suck As A Gift Giver…


In a few months, my redheaded sweetheart, Tami, and I will celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We will be married twenty-eight years in May, but I heard that the fiftieth celebration is a real barn burner, so we’re going to go ahead and do that one next.

I want to do something special for Tami, but I have not always been very good at buying gifts for my redhead. I remember a few years ago when I bought her a new mop for Mother’s Day. In my defense, it was a pretty neat piece of custodial technology, with all of the bells and whistles, and I was just trying to make her life easier. The following day, I had a doctor’s appointment for my annual checkup. When I got to the doctor’s office, I found out that Tami had called ahead to make sure that my exam included a very thorough and vigorous check of my prostate. In retrospect, a mop was probably not the best gift to get for her.

Another time – I think it was for her birthday – I bought a brand new, state of the art Bow-Flex machine. I figured that we could both use it to work out and spend time together in the process. But apparently, buying your wife exercise equipment is code for, “I think your fat,” and that led into a whole big thing. That took place about twelve years ago. One of these days I’m going to finish putting that Bow-Flex together so I can use it.

I could stick to the basics and get her some chocolates and a big bouquet of flowers, but that’s not really special, and besides, she is a diabetic and I have allergies.

I thought about getting her some sexy lingerie, but let’s be honest. That’s just self-serving.

Maybe what we can do is go on a second honeymoon. I could recreate our first honeymoon down to the last detail. I would need to gather a goat, a feather duster, and a big tub of Cool Whip, but that shouldn’t be too difficult. The hard part will be sneaking back into the state of Wisconsin so we could go back to where we spent our first honeymoon. I’m not sure if the statute of limitations has expired or not. That first honeymoon was a real doozy. After all, how many couples have a state law named after them?

 

SDG