In 2014 I published an eBook entitled How I Got Char to Go Out With Me. It’s a self-described “collection of tall tales with some resemblance to the truth” concerning how Char Magnifico and I became a couple. In all, there are 25 different versions of the story and then, the final chapter reveals The Truth… sort of. You see, all 25 tall tales actually have kernels of the truth in them and they are all based on real events. I published it as a Valentine’s Day gift to Char that year.
Today (October 26) is our anniversary and I’ve been thinking about some of these tall tales throughout the day and reflecting on what a remarkable love story we have to share. I decided to copy the preface and one other chapter (chapter 17) from the book for you in this post. If you want to read the rest, I’ll provide download links where you can obtain the book from Amazon or Apple’s iBooks Bookstore.
From How I Got Char to Go Out With Me by Louis Magnifico
“If I had my life to do over again… I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer.” So reads a tin sign that Char came home with one day in December, 2013. It’s a thought that haunts us each and every day: why did Char and I have to live so long and through so much before finding each other and discovering true love? People who’ve only met us since we became a couple are typically quite surprised when they learn of our pasts and all we endured on our journeys which led to one another.
Perhaps the reason we live with such passion today, taking not one moment for granted, is our similar pasts. Perhaps we appreciate what we have now because we lived so long without it. Perhaps it is the very trials which nearly destroyed us that ultimately shaped us into who we are now, allowing Char and I to love each other with a love that we never thought possible. If our past is a prerequisite for the present we now enjoy, then I’d do it all again to know this love. Even so, that saying on the tin sign lingers in my head. If I had my life to do over again… I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer.
Char and I are often asked by other couples how they can experience the type of marriage they see us enjoy. We touched on this a little in our first book, The Traveling Twosome: Live, Love, Laugh. We’re also asked to tell the story of how we met. The short, true answer to that question is, “This tall, sexy blonde joined my band as lead singer and we hit it off.” It’s an answer that fulfills my rock star fantasies but it’s also an easy answer and a cop out. There is so much more to the story that when it is told, the rock star one-liner is more a distraction from reality than an acceptable answer.
I actually love telling our story. But it can’t be told quickly. To understand the story, you have to understand our pasts. Most people aren’t prepared for that. Therefore, you’ll often hear me telling people how I married the sexy lead singer of my band. True. But not the whole truth.
Several months ago, I began writing short, humorous narratives entitled, “How I Got Char to Go Out With Me” and gave each one a non-sequential version number. I slapped a picture on them that matched the narrative and posted it on my personal Facebook blog. The tall tales are (obviously) not entirely true – but there really are kernels of truth hidden within every one of them. I have compiled several of these tales to publish in this eBook.
Even though these tales are meant to be entertaining, the truth is that I am baring my soul to you. Enjoy it. Laugh. All I ask in return is this simple favor: Follow our entertainment website, www.TheTravelingTwosome.com (sign up on our email list to keep up with what we’re doing) and check out our band’s website (you can find the website for Vintage at www.TheVintagePeople.com). We’ve got music there which you can download as well. And if we’re playing a gig in your area, come see us in person. You’ll be glad you did. We sound really great… and we’ve got a dynamic, tall, sexy, blonde lead singer. But she’s taken already. She married her bass player.
Version 614: Instant Char, Just Add Water
Some people meet their spouses in bars, some meet them at church. Some meet them in school, others at work. But I wonder… how many people meet their spouses in an envelope? I was looking through an old Iron Man comic book of mine from the 1970s when I came across an ad for the Johnson Smith Catalog of Things You Never Knew Existed. You know the catalog I’m talking about. The one that peddles things like X-Ray Spectacles, Free Money, Sea Monkeys, U-Control Life Size Ghost, Squirting Nickels, Joy Buzzers, Fake Dog Poo, Guides on How to Throw Your Voice, Magic Miracle Money Makers, Silent Dog Whistles, Foaming Sugar – this company had everything a teenager growing up in the the 70s and 80s could dream of. Every month as a child, I’d flip through my comic books and look at the Johnson Smith ads with awe and wonder. But I never ordered anything, not even once. I wondered if the company was still around and if they were, could I still send off for one of their amazing offers.
It was a joke – just something to do. I didn’t expect I’d actually get a response. I cut out the ad, circled that I wanted the “Instant Woman – Just Add Water,” and I included my 95 cents plus $1 for postage and handling. I dropped it in the mail and forgot all about it.
That is, until ten days later when a package arrived in the mail from the Johnson Smith Company. Inside was a small envelope containing one large tablet. Written on the envelope was the description of my order: Instant Woman – Just Add Water. The picture on the package showed The Perfect Woman kissing all over a guy that seemed ugly, weak, and nerdy. On the back, there were instructions: 1) Dissolve Tablet in Bowl of Warm Water, 2) Your Woman Will Grow Overnight, 3) Enjoy Your New Woman!
I filled a kitchen bowl with warm water from my tap, dropped in the tablet, and absolutely nothing happened. The tablet didn’t dissolve, it didn’t fizzle, it didn’t make a sound. No snap, crackle, pop. I thought about dumping it down the drain but a phone call came in and I left the kitchen, forgetting all about my waste of a buck.
The next morning, my alarm clock woke me up to the tune of “Light My Fire” by The Doors. The smell of French Toast awakened my sense of smell. I wrapped the warm sheets around me and continued to lay there for a moment.
I tossed off my sheets, ran into the kitchen and there she was! Char, my Instant Woman!
“You must be my master,” she said. “I’m Char. Your breakfast is almost ready. I hope you like it. You didn’t have all the ingredients I wanted to use but I think you’ll like it. Do you like your coffee with cream or sugar? I have so much to learn about you!”
I stood there speechless, glancing back and forth between Char and a large suitcase on the kitchen table that read “Complete Char Kit. Comes with everything you need to get started with your Instant Woman! Be sure to read your Master’s Manual (included) for more information.”
I felt like I was suddenly living in one of those bizarre fantasy films directed by Tim Burton. As we ate breakfast, Char was eager to learn all about me – get this – so that she could SERVE ME adequately!
After eating, she began reorganizing and decorating my house and it made all the difference! She swept the floors, washed my laundry, cleaned the house – all while preparing the most delicious smelling dinner for later.
I told her that if this was real then she needed to take time to enjoy her new life – not just work. She grabbed my hand and led me into my bedroom and gave me THE LOOK.
“Are you serious?” I asked, happily surprised by her idea of “enjoying her new life.”
“Why, yes. I belong to you. Unless, of course, you don’t want to…” Needless to say, we stayed in the bedroom for a while.
That evening, she explored the house, the yard, the neighborhood. She played in the backyard like a young child discovering toys and games for the first time. She rode my bicycle (she quickly learned to balance herself), she tried out my skateboard (not quite as successful with that), and then noticed my hot tub.
“Oh, that looks relaxing. Want to jump in? I can massage your back if you’re feeling tired.” It was like I had died and gone to Stepford.
So this is how it all began between me and Char. And this is why, when you see us together, we look so perfect as a couple. She was made for me, literally.
I didn’t tell anyone for years about this until one day when I confided in a lonely friend of mine. I told him the whole story and handed him an old Incredible Hulk comic book of mine from 1979. I turned to the Johnson Smith ad. “It’s yours, dude. Enjoy.”
About a week later there was a knock on my door. My friend. He threw my comic book, Johnson Smith ad ripped out, right at me in my foyer when I opened my door. Then he threw a mailing envelope at me. He turned and walked away and he’s never spoken to me since. I bent down to pick up the envelope. It was marked “Return to Sender – Address Unknown.”
If you’d like to read the rest of the book and learn more about the strange circumstances that brought us together, here are the links to download it from Amazon or Apple’s iBooks Bookstore.
Oh, and Happy Anniversary, Char. I love you!