This is the fifth semi-annual Jake Rivers Invitational. The initial one was based on the Statler Brother's song, "This Bed of Rose's." The second used the Marty Robbins El Paso trilogy: "El Paso," "El Paso City," and "Faleena." The third had stories based on the various versions of, "Maggie May" or, "Maggie Mae." The fourth invitational was based on any Country and Western song.
The current invitational is based on any song written or performed by Merle Haggard. This song is about a couple who have let their love go stagnant and the steps they take to try to breathe life back into their marriage.
"If we're not back in love by Monday,
We can't say we didn't try.
Just before we bury our love,
Let's make sure we've let it die."
Marlene spent most of the flight to Miami silently staring out the window, trying, I guess, to glean wisdom from the cottony clouds that dotted the late summer sky.
But at least she was there.
I hadn't been at all confident that she'd agree to this trip when I'd first suggested it a month earlier. I really thought she'd shoot me down with some sarcastic comment, as had been her style too many times over the past couple of years, or claim she simply had too much to do at her job to take a week off.
Truthfully, neither one of us could really afford to take the time off work. I own a store that sells business machines and Marlene is an attorney specializing in corporate law in the mid-sized city where we settled when she finished law school and got her first job with the firm she's still with.
As busy as we were, however, we really couldn't afford not to take the time off work. To put it simply, if my wife hadn't chosen to make this trip, we were headed for divorce court.
Maybe we were headed there anyway, but I'd be damned if I was going to let 20 years together -- 19 as husband and wife, with three kids, to boot -- slip away without a fight.
How did it come to this? How did two people who were once crazy in love end up one step away from divorce?
Therein lies the story ... or at least the backdrop for the story.
My full given name is James Boswell Foster, but I have always answered to Jimbo. I'm not sure how that happened; maybe one of my younger siblings tagged me with it as a corruption of my first and middle names.
The only people who call me James are my wife and my mother, and it's ironic that my formal first name has become a pet name for my wife.
I come from a big, rambunctious Catholic family from a smallish town in the Mid-South. My dad was a pharmacist for a national chain and my mom was a housewife. I think the term, "domestic goddess," fit my mother, because she was no mere housewife.
For one thing, she gave birth to seven children in a 10-year period, and I'm smack dab in the middle. I have three brothers and three sisters -- two brothers and a sister are older, two sisters and a brother are younger.
And fie on anyone who said Mom didn't work. She was all the time cooking, cleaning, sewing and repairing stuff, plus she planted flower beds and kept a vegetable garden in the summer. Of course, that's not to even mention the job of simply shepherding seven very active kids.
My dad made a decent living, but he didn't do well enough to afford too many frivolities, and all of us kids were expected to pull our weight around the house.
Dad was a shrewd fellow and early on he devised a scale for our allowances, based on our grades and participation in school activities. The higher our grades and the more things we did at school, the more we got in allowances.
He and Mom weren't keen on us having part-time jobs while we were in high school -- as long as we stayed busy and productive while we were there.
As a result, I played all the sports I could at my high school. I wasn't a star or anything, but I wasn't a lump on the bench, either.
Well, let me back up a bit. I didn't get a lot of quality minutes in basketball, seeing as how I was a little too Caucasian to hang with the brothers on what was a really good small-town team.
In fact, one of the guys on our team made it to the NBA and stayed there for several years. So, needless to say, I was about the third or fourth guy off the bench, and the only time I saw any extended time on the court was during garbage time.
But I hustled in practice and I could bang on the boards some and maybe hit a jump shot or two, so that got me some props from the better players. And I just enjoyed being on the team. The guys were great, the coach was cool and we won a lot of games.
Baseball was really my thing, and I started in left field my junior and senior seasons. I was a good fielder and a decent hitter, especially in the clutch. I also started my senior year in football at strong safety.
But even though I loved sports, I knew pretty early that they weren't going to be my ticket to college. That would come from grades and test scores, and I'm proud to say that I did well enough at both that I earned a very good scholarship to one of the state universities.
And that's where I met Marlene. We had a class together my junior year and we got paired up for the big class project. I was a business major with a minor in computer science, while she was a pre-law major with a minor in business.
Even then, she knew what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to go to law school and become a corporate attorney. She was odd that way. Criminal law -- the glamorous aspect of the profession -- had little appeal to her.
But contracts, torts and other behind-the-scenes details of legality lit the fire of her ambition.
For me, it was love at first sight. I thought Marlene was the most beautiful woman in the world, and when I'd tell friends that, they'd look puzzled and ask what drugs I was on.
You see, to the outside world, Marlene presents a very brusque, very business-like persona. She's always kept her brown hair short in an easy-to-maintain style, she's always gone easy on the makeup and she dresses very conservatively.
Guys at college thought of her as an ice queen, but it didn't take me long to learn that behind that wall was a caring, warm and very sexy woman.
One thing I have always been able to do is sell things, especially myself. Some people have it, most people don't. I do. No brag, just fact.
I'm not a pushy person, just someone who can read people, knows the product he's selling and can convince people to buy that product, whatever it may be. Honestly, the trick is ... well, honesty. I don't bullshit people into buying something they don't want.
And I'm here to say the best sales job I ever did was selling myself to Marlene Fisher. Yeah, Fisher. That's how we got thrown together in the business school class. Our last names were next to each other on the class roll, and that's how the professor paired us off.
It took about half the semester for her to see me as anything but her project partner. She was a little hesitant about getting into a relationship, because she was a little shy, she was really, really serious about her school work, and she'd been burned by a high school boyfriend.
But, little by little, I drew her out. When we were together working on the project, we talked about ourselves, and I listened to her and paid attention to her. I would come to find out that hadn't usually been the case with the men in her life.
Eventually, we started dating, and the night after we turned in our final portfolio -- and earned the highest grade in the class on it -- we made love for the very first time.
I was quite a bit more experienced than Marlene was. In fact, I was only the third guy she'd had sex with, and it quickly became apparent that I was light-years better than the other two.
Again, I'm not bragging, but I'd been around. I lost my virginity when I was 16 to one of my mother's best friends, who caught me on the rebound from a demoralizing divorce.
I was doing some yard work for her that summer, one thing led to another and we ended up in her bed. There was no pretense that we were in love. We used each other, but in a good way. She showed me how to please a woman, and I showed her that she was still desirable.
After that, I was a pretty heavy horndog through the rest of high school. Ironically, I got far less pussy once I went to college, but only because I became a lot more choosy about where I put my dick.
In high school, I'd fuck any girl that would let me, and that resulted in a nice little dose of the clap not long after I graduated. Fortunately, it wasn't anything serious, and medication cleared it up.
Still, that was the single most embarrassing moment of my life to have to ask my dad, the pharmacist, to fill a prescription of antibiotics after my visit to the county health clinic. So I was careful about sex in college.
But once we took the plunge, Marlene and I were insatiable. We loved each other, and we loved making love with each other.
We both stayed at college through that summer, getting a few more credit hours in, plus I had a part-time job at an electronics mart that I liked. So we spent as much of our free time as possible together, a lot of it in bed.
Unless you see Marlene up close and nearly naked, and not many people have, you really don't appreciate what she offers as a sexual enticement.
She's slightly taller than average, about 5-foot-8, and slender, with a narrow waist, a tight little butt and a perky set of B-cups on her chest. Her best feature, by far, are a pair of gorgeous legs that just go on and on and on.
.... There is more of this story ...