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What it’s like to be married to Jamie


For those of you who haven’t met Jamie, she is the Event Coordinator for the Friends of Boston’s Homeless. This has several implications (all positive) for our family. My most recent example is last night. Here’s how events unfolded:

Jamie’s brother Michael (being the life of the party is a family trait) O’Neal, his wife Auntie (I’m only pretending to be patient with Michael) Susan and baby Annabelle paid us a visit. I was looking forward to their visit although it made the logistics for dinner a bit complicated.

The original plan was for my daughter, Michelle and my future son-in-law Steve to join Jamie, Hanna and me for dinner. We were to celebrate Michelle’s and my birthdays. In my experience, five is the optimal number of dinner participants. If you add one more to the mix, service somehow goes downhill. Entree’s arrive for most but not all of the dinner guests. Somehow, the person who ordered a salad doesn’t have their meal ‘cooked’ yet. The waiter seems to know they can count on that 18% automatic gratuity and stops offering drink refills to go outside to laugh at us and savor a Marlboro Light. Michael and Susan being added to the party virtually made certain for a poor dining experience but we enjoy their company.

I knew I was in for trouble when we were driving back from Menauhant Beach. Jamie asked me, ‘what are you wearing for dinner?’ It was one of those ‘pick your battles moments’. My first thought was ‘are you sh*ting me? We’re on the Cape! I’m wearing blue jeans and a polo shirt. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll wear the one without the stain.’ …until my brain kicked in and reminded me I rarely actually decide how I dress when Jamie is around. In fact, I wake up at 5:30am most days just to be the master of my own wardrobe…although all of the entire collection was originally purchased by Jamie so the system is rigged.

I wore a linen shirt (which I hate because it reminds me of gauze) and my Nantucket reds (which look incredibly comfortable but are not)…until I was corrected…’like the top, try again with the pants.’ My witty reply, ‘I totally agree.’

I should have known something was wrong at that point because we left the house on-time. We had a quick stop at the Falmouth artist’s guild to see my favorite artist, Sigrid Hecker. Sig sells her paintings for $300 or so; she could sell them for $5,000 but wants to keep them accessible. In that one respect, she’s crazy but that’s all part of the charm.

When we arrived at the guild, we were greeted by the executive director who asked us if we were here for the Sigrid Hecker show. She politely ushered us into the exhibit…when Jamie’s handiwork became apparent. She had arranged a private showing of my paintings with some of our closest friends. The catered (I’m definitely writing a great Yelp review) event featured an open (picture Niagara Falls) bar. It was a blast…right after I got over the sense of dread that people were actually looking at some of my most private works. No one seemed to understand my hesitancy because they seem to like the paintings…except they all said that my work showed steady improvement. Translation: your early work was abstract…or it sux.

Jamie thought of everything right down to the Oregon Pinot Noir. I cringed at the public exposition but gloated in my well-dressed and perfectly arranged evening…thanks to Jamie. She even managed to bribe Hanna to keep quiet about the event during its six months of planning. I now know that my precious Hanna can be purchased for the not-so-small cost of American Girl Doll accessories.

I feel sorry for those of you who aren’t married to my Event (and wardrobe) Coordinator – they throw great birthday parties! Thanks to you guys who battled Cape traffic to be there. I know that many of you are nursing that dreaded Pinot flu this morning…I was particularly over-served. If you’d like to surprise your spouse on their 50th birthday, I’d encourage you to do what Jamie did – do it 2 days before their 49th…they’ll be none the wiser but most appreciative…Jamie rox!

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Tim O’Loughlin

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