As this story has gone through revisions, I've had abundant help. I'd like to thank Angle Love, Clayton, Mark and Erik Thread for all their help and their patience.
I'm not stupid, just dense. Actually, I'm a certified Genius, at least by MENSA standards. I don't belong, but I passed their test once on a dare from my wife, my wonderful wife. Therein lies the story. I met her while I was at UT. I was in the honors course at the McCombs School of Business and I was also in Plan II.
Everyone knows about McCombs, it's always in the top ten business schools in the country. Plan II is less well known and much harder to get into. They only accept about 100 or so each year. It's a liberal arts program started in the 1930s. Basically, you take special editions of the courses that the university requires all students to take. Those required courses are your major. They are all taught by University scholars and the classes are tiny. My Freshman English Class had 9 students and was counted toward my major. My American History had 15 and also was counted toward my major. It means, with your major satisfied in your first two years, the last two years you can take anything you want, but most of us choose to have a double major. Mine was in the business school. Plan II bills itself as Ivy League quality and it is. It is also full of pretentious intellectuals.
Plan II is where I met Cathy. It was love at first sight... on her part. It took me a bit longer to notice her. Not that she wasn't good looking; she was a knockout by any standards, and by Plan II standards she was Miss Universe. Her problem was that I hated all the Plan II bullshit. I loved my courses, and I loved the professors, but I've found that most intellectuals are so smart they're stupid.
It wasn't much better in McComb's. Not only was everyone trying to impress everyone else with how smart they were, but everyone constantly boasting about what wonderful jobs they were going to get or how fast they'd earn their second million. All those preening peacocks' egos left little room for my own modest ego. Of course I had to attend the little faculty teas and luncheons because that was where you got to know the professors and where they got to know you. The latter was crucial if you wanted the oh-so-important letters of recommendation.
Cathy wasn't in McCombs but she started showing up at those meetings in addition to the Plan II meetings. I only know this because she told me later. It wasn't until she showed up at my rugby match that I noticed her. Rugby isn't a UT sport, but the Department of Recreation sponsors the club team and we get not only to play the other Big XII teams, but to compete for a national title with universities across the country.
We have a blast, but a big crowd consists of all our girlfriends showing up. Cathy had been chasing me for almost a full year when I finally fell in love-at-first-sight with her. She had the most beautiful shade of red hair and the whitest skin to set it off. Her figure was such a knockout that I blew a scrum when I noticed her for the first time, a cardinal sin for a hooker.
After the game, which we lost to Rice, I walked over to meet her. It was one of the scariest things I've ever done. Cathy is every inch of 5'11" and I'm 5'3" in thick shoes. I'm a hooker because I'm compact. And yes I've heard all the 'short' jokes and all the jokes about 'rugby hookers' and 'street hookers'--I don't think they're funny! I'm compact but also one of the fastest and strongest guys on the team, and not just pound for pound. I have been accused of having a Napoleon complex because of my height. I don't think that's true. I just decided in first grade that if anyone confused compact with inadequate, they'd pay for their ignorance. I was always a great athlete, as great as a 5'3" 120 pound guy could be. Which meant I always made the varsity, but I was never a starter. An athletic scholarship was never a even daydream.
Somehow Cathy always made me feel like I was taller than she was, even when she wore 3" heels. I loved it when she wore heels. It set off her perfect legs, but more important to me, it was proof positive that my height didn't matter. Cathy was my dream girl. I was totally hers from the moment she smiled at me.
She came from a poor family in deep east Texas. Her father had been injured in the oil fields and died, drunk, in a one-car accident when Cathy was in second grade. Her mother was an office worker in a small insurance agency and Cathy was on a full academic scholarship, although I'm sure she could have gotten a needs-based scholarship if necessary.
We officially met in the fall of my junior year and were married at mid-term of my senior year. The only thing we fought over was sex. I wanted it on our first date and Cathy didn't. I was a virgin and Cathy wasn't.
Until Cathy, I'd been every girl's 'pal.' I had dates, but on them I always heard about who they really wanted to date. I know I could have gotten a sympathy fuck, but I wanted a girl who wanted me. Cathy told me that she'd had one boyfriend in high school. She had been certain she would marry him, but she found him cheating on her and she made a solemn vow not to have sex again until she got married. I'm not sure we would have made it if she hadn't defined sex as vaginal intercourse, she gave wicked head. It also made me admire her. She kept her word, her vows meant something. I knew there were time before we married when she wanted me as much as I wanted her, but she never lost her head. It gave me confidence in her and inspired me to do the same.
We didn't have our first non-sex fight until after we were married. Then it was a doozy. She had just assumed that I was going to go to work for my parents. I love my folks They own four franchises down in Houston. No, not McDonald's, but you've probably eaten at one, or at least seen the ads on TV. Each location nets between 75-100K per year so my folks are doing pretty well, not Texas rich, but comfortable. My dad wanted to expand, but couldn't without managerial help. The only managerial help he trusted was family. He defined family as me. I'm four years older than my sister and she had made it clear from kindergarten that she was pre-med.
He offered us a great incentive plan. I wanted to stay in Austin, but not only so Cathy could finish her degree. I loved the town and I hated Houston. I already had my eye on a small Austin computer company that was just getting started. It wasn't Dell but I thought they had a better business model! When Cathy saw the package they were offering me, she dropped her arguments and right after she graduated we bought our first house.
Life was good, but Dell grew and my company didn't, and soon I found myself on the street for the first time. Fortunately I had cashed in my stock options early so I decided it was a great time to pick up my MBA. I chose Wharton and finished in two years. I got a great job working for one of the big banks back in Austin and life was good again. I caught the Austin real estate boom and bust and boom. We had two kids and were living in too much house out on the lake with his and hers Beemers.
Then, after ten years of marriage, I decided I didn't care about being a multi-millionaire and I was sick of working for someone else. I told Cathy I wanted to start my own business and I used most of our liquid assets to buy a franchise, the same one that my dad owned. I had never worked in one of my dad places, and running one was more work than I thought. At first we didn't clear what Dad's stores did, but we weren't missing any meals. What I didn't tell Cathy was that my real desire was to write.
The old Plan II bug had finally bitten me and once I had the franchise running smoothly, I began spending most of my time closeted in my office writing. I didn't want Cathy to know about my perversion until I got published and made my delusion pay. All she saw was that we were only making a fraction of what I'd been making, and I wasn't pushing for expansion. We were not keeping up with the Joneses, to say nothing of all the Dellionairs (even assembly workers at Dell were making millions on stock options) who lived around us.
Yeah, we lived and partied with a very competitive crowd in laid back Austin. "He who has the most toys wins," was very much the philosophy and the toys cost a bundle. Even before I began writing, I'd decided that I didn't need or want the toys anymore. To be fair to Cathy, the decision wasn't discussed and it wasn't mutual That's when we had our next fight. It went on for almost a year, and life in our house was hell. Then almost overnight the fights stopped. That wasn't all that almost stopped. Sex and affection stopped, too, but I never suspected a thing.
I'm not dumb, I knew that money was very important to Cathy, but I thought I could make that as a writer. If I had researched what writers make I might have reconsidered, but that was just one more case of ignorance being bliss. I finished my first book and began shopping for an agent. I finished my second book and agents began to return my emails. I got my third book finished and one morning I received that oh-so-important call from the publisher. She was going to buy all three. What's more she was willing to give me a $30,000.00 advance on each! For an unpublished writer that's a homerun.
I had a little micro recorder that I used to practice dialogue aloud before I wrote it for my books. Elated, I got permission to record the publisher's offer so I could impress Cathy. I called Cathy and told her we were going to celebrate. I told her to hire a baby sitter and put on her best; I was taking her to Green Pastures, one of the best restaurants in Austin, for dinner.
.... There is more of this story ...