Peter and Penny

11 07 2010

First there was Peter.

Not because Peter was more important than Penny but rather Peter’s parents decided that he must be born and so he was. Penny’s parents had less resolve and were younger so she was a little behind.

For the first dozen years Penny was taller but she didn’t mind because she hadn’t met Peter yet. Without Peter to measure herself by she didn’t have to feel gawky. No girl likes to feel gawky, especially when she is very young. About the time Peter started growing Penny began taking piano lessons.

Peter’s parents bought him a red truck on his seventeenth birthday. They were not wealthy people but Peter’s father had certain ideas about what growing boys needed. These ideas included things like lots of protein, a dog of no small size (Peter’s dog was name Archie), tennis shoes and a truck.

Peter put a toolbox and his dog in his truck and was content. For a while, anyway.

Penny spent a lot of her time doing odd jobs like babysitting and lawn mowing and the occasional afternoon in her parent’s bakery. By the time she was eighteen she had saved up enough money to buy herself a piano.

The parent’s of Penny, who were supportive but not visionary, told her she must keep the piano in her own room. Penny’s room had been on the second floor but she gladly took up residence in the smaller downstairs room in order to have the piano near. She painted a daisy on the music stand and was glad.

Peter first saw Penny as he was driving through her neighborhood one summer afternoon. He was twenty and home from college and she was eighteen, still giddy from the novelty of her new piano. He glimpsed her as she fetched the mail. A flash only, of a bright smile and lean, freckled face.

Peter drove through that neighborhood a lot that summer.

Luckily Peter’s best friend Jeff also lived in the neighborhood so he didn’t have to think up many excuses to be in her general area.

September loomed on the horizon before Peter finally met Penny.

It was at a neighborhood barbeque. Jeff had mentioned it to Peter and Peter had shamelessly begged that he be invited. Jeff laughed at him and told him to bring watermelon.

So Peter came. He was late and a group of the younger kids had turned on some music and were dancing in the cul de sac. Penny was right in among them, swinging a pig-tailed little girl around in circles. She swung to a dizzy stop and laughed, wrinkling her nose at the kids.

She straightened and brushed her hair back, the kids swirling around her like water.

Like a man in a dream Peter shoved the watermelon into someone’s waiting arms and walked right up to Penny. His knees were curiously gelatinous but determination kept him moving.

“Hi.” The laugh was still in her voice.

“Hi.” He smiled.

They’ve been Peter and Penny ever since. We celebrated their fortieth anniversary last month.




4 responses

12 07 2010
Jennifer James

Perfect. A story that smells like summer.

12 07 2010

I was watching Kate plus Eight and there were two penguins named Peter and Penny. I couldn’t pass it up.

12 07 2010

I’ve been accused of being a romantic before, and after reading something like this, I suspect it might be true.

13 07 2010

Congratulations. I’m glad this story made you a little more self-aware. 🙂

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