On Love
(on the tarmac)

My wife and I first met in the military in October 1983. I was 24 and a trombonist in the Air Force Band stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery Alabama. My rank was Tech Sergeant (E6) and I was the NCO in charge of the Jazz Ensemble, an 18-piece group consisting of keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, drums, trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a lead singer. Aside from the myriad of military performances we were tasked with, our primary emphasis was actually public affairs concerts in the civilian community. Every month we traveled throughout the southeast part of the U.S. anywhere from New Orleans to Orlando to Knoxville for seven to fourteen days at a time putting on free highly promoted concerts. Once a year we flew north to Canada to perform at the International Air Show in Toronto.

It was my job to choose and rehearse the music for our concerts, be the Master of Ceremonies for the group, promote the performances by appearing on television and radio, provide leadership and direction while on the road and generally manage the people and resources under my authority. Our commanding officer was fond of delegating and did so frequently, letting his staff do their assigned jobs with little interference. We had been without a dedicated vocalist for several months having lost the young woman who held the position previously when she left the service to be a stay at home wife and mother. Two of our male trumpet players were very versatile, doubling as outstanding singers in there own right, exceptionally contributing to our success with their diverse professional talents. Notwithstanding, I believed we needed a rose to perform between those two thorns and was looking forward to the day we would once again add a female voice to our company.

Chief Master Sgt Henley called me into the office the on the 2nd of October to inform me we had a new lead singer being assigned to our band. She was expected to be here on the 3rd of October, tomorrow. All he knew about her was that she was 23 years old, her name was Sally and she was supposedly quite good. She auditioned for the position while in basic training at San Antonio and would be coming to us directly from there. I was responsible for evaluating her abilities, insuring she had any appropriate training and generally helping her to integrate into the collection of military musicians under my influence.

She walked into the building on the October 3rd .met the commander, then the front office administrative staff, followed by an introduction to me. I couldn't help thinking, "Wow she's a pretty one; I hope she can sing." I asked her into the music hall where the rest of the crowd was already assembled for rehearsal. I introduced her to everyone and we hunted through our respective repertoires until we found a tune that she and the band both knew. When she opened her mouth and started to sing, I was elated. Not only was she a looker but she also had a voice that could melt the coldest hardened heart. She sounded tremendous!

I can't say it was love at first sight, because it just plain wasn't. She had just ended a bad relationship and I was involved with another person at the time. When she laid her eyes on me, her first impression was that I was intimidating. She wasn't even the slightest bit attracted to me, and I had no initial interest in her. As time went by, I began to increasingly feature her in front of the band as her experience and finesse as a soloist blossomed. Since I was her boss, and chose the music the vocalists would ultimately be performing, I spent extra time with each of them, discussing the best way to highlight their unique talents, insuring that each concert was as dynamic as possible. As I spent more time with this interesting new addition to the band's stage presence, we both were able to get to know each other as people. She started thinking of me as a nice guy, rather than that hard looking dude, and I was quite frankly taken with her, though I believed she was out of my league and unattainable.

The next summer, after spending months and untold hours together, touring the countryside, playing concerts, rehearsing, enjoying long talks over coffee and a host of other shared platonic experiences, we found ourselves booked to be the opening band for some headliner at the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans. One day between shows, she and I were strolling around the fair grounds looking at the sights, when I made my first move. I casually slid her hand into mine, holding it as we walked a few paces. She just as casually reached over with her free hand, patted the back of mine patronizingly, and released herself from my grasp. She never said a word, pointedly ignoring my wordless communique. was disappointed, but since she went on as if nothing had happened at all, so did I. Up to that moment, she hadn't thought of me as anything other than a friend at work, holding not the slightest amorous thought toward me whatsoever.

After that singular handhold, however, she was markedly aware of how my thoughts were turning and it set her to some personal re-examination and reassessment of the whole situation. This took place in July and beginning tentatively, we continued to explore the possibilities between us until June of the following year. Our germinating stab at romance was fraught with indecisive cautious hesitancy and numerous vacillations on both of our parts, but eventually culminated with confident committed wedding vows being exchanged June 9th, 1985.

We continued working together as Air Force Bandsmen for several more years before our children were born. I remained her supervisor at work while she remained my songster and it was a blast. Sally and I are happier and more secure together as each year passes by. Though over 40 now, I still think she is a ?babe? and sings better than ever. I can also honestly say that every single day, I strive to make her glad to be my wife while she succeeds in making me glad be her husband. Finally, though we have both been out of the service for several years now, she even now lets me believe I am still her boss. Written on February 10, 2001

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