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    "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"...Marriage - The Best Game

    Joyce Faulkner is a freelance writer and the author of In the Shadow of Suribachi, ( and Losing Patience, ( which took "Notable" for Fiction in The Writers Notes Magazine Book Awards 2006. Find her at

    The Best Game

    My honey and I play “The Best” once in a while. Usually it’s on our anniversary – but last night, over a lovely Valentine’s dinner at The Good Wood Grille, we indulged just for fun. It’s the kind of game that only makes sense to people who’ve known each other a long, long time. The goal is to dredge up shared memories, categorize them – and ultimately, rank them. There are no rules. That’s what I like best about this little pastime. We don’t even have to agree – just remember. It’s our own little award ceremony based on a lifetime of adventures, jokes, songs, movies and days. Here are our top selections.

    Under parties, I voted for the one on the beach in Japan in 1970 hosted by our friend Leigh DeHuff. That was back when I believed that anything was possible and that all the bad stuff was in the past. We danced barefoot to the Stones and the Chambers Brothers and Wilson Pickett. I remember the stars and the warm breeze off Wakasa Bay – and that we all went skinny dipping in the Sea of Japan. My husband remembered Thanksgiving, 1971, in Monterey, California. We lived in a ground floor apartment on the corner. We left our doors open and people came with covered dishes and bottles of wine. We didn’t even know some of the folks who dined with us that year. We slow danced to Johnny Rivers and Carol King – actually, we just hung on to each other and swayed in time to the music – stopping only to welcome our guests when they came and say good-bye to them when they left.

    For best dessert, he went for Bananas Foster for breakfast at Bennigans in New Orleans – but, I maintain that dipping fresh strawberries into dark chocolate fondue at The Melting Pot is the best.

    In the adventure category, he likes Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania where we saw all five members of “The Big Five” – lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino and elephant – in one day. Of course, I’m not sure I saw the leopard. It was lying on the branch of a tree three hundred yards away. The only reason we think we saw it is that we think we saw it move its tail. Either that or the wind blew a vine. My favorite adventure took place three days later when we went up in a hot air balloon and drifted over the Serengeti at dawn.

    For weirdest food, we had a lot to choose from. There were the various categories of chimchee in Korea – but he liked them all. He doesn’t think they should count as weird, but I do. I tried fried alligator in Florida, Kangaroo Tail in Huntsville, Alabama, and Ostrich steaks in Washington DC, but they don’t count because he wasn’t with me. Raw Japanese octopus chunks that you pop and swallow because if you don’t, you’ll be chewing forever, ranks up there for me – but then I don’t care for anything that lives in the water. He voted for that strange creamy soup in Poland that tasted like Brussels sprouts – and something else that we couldn’t quite identify. We finally settled on Mexican food in Mannheim, Germany, that tasted sort of like – well, I’m not sure what it did taste like. It wasn’t like any enchilada I’d ever seen before though.

    I liked Antoine’s for best restaurant – mostly because I like that flaming coffee on the table cloth trick. He agreed because he likes their bouillabaisse that you have to order a day or two in advance. We both liked the waiter with the big curly white moustache.

    We agreed on several points. The best cruise was to Alaska. Our dinner table was under a big window at the stern and you could sometimes see whales frolicking in our wake. We never actually saw them but our dinner partners said that they did. The best train ride was in Germany with Japan a close runner up. The Intercontinental in Seoul, Korea won out over that fancy place in Berlin for best hotel – although the one in Berlin had a heated bathroom floor.

    I think our funniest day was the one where he mooned me during an argument. He likes the one where he suggested that I climb a tree -- and then he coaxed me out on a limb. He jumped down and left me hanging there -- squealing -- while he tickled me and took photos – but then again, he would think that was funny. He thought jumping out from behind the door naked was funny too.

    We picked the same ‘best’ days. One was August 31, 1972, when our daughter was born in Austin, Texas. She was small and perfect and an old soul. We agreed that there was no more beautiful baby in the whole world. The second ‘best’ day was on Groundhog’s day, 1975 in Pittsburgh, when our son made his entrance. He was big and brawny and funny. We agreed that there was no one like him. They are still miracles – both of them.

    Until next time, remember that time has a way of making small things precious. Our favorite night together? Last night, of course.

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