Published 12:00 am Friday, February 11, 2000

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / February 11, 2000

Once in a while, my wife and I agree. After 20 years of marriage, we domanage to accomplish that achievement.

I’m told the biggest topic which sparks arguments between husbands and wives is money. Usually in a couple, one member spends a bit more thanthey should or is too tight with a nickel. Sometimes, checks get bouncedor bills are paid late or not at all. It seems to be all too common and somepeople have to deal with losing items to repossessing agents, or “repo men.”Fortunately, we’ve never had that problem. She was taught well by her dadto be frugal with a nickel and to look for every bargain while not stinting on quality. Early on, she also took over paying the monthly bills, managingthe checkbook and doing the taxes.

Once in a great while, something won’t balance out and it makes her nuts, trying to find the discrepancy. Invariably, she does.For all this, I’m profoundly grateful. I know she does a lot of work on herjob and she took all this on as well, not for any screw-ups I did, but because she wanted to.

My wife is also a terrific cook. People who remember me from childhoodbut haven’t seen me since high school are often surprised to know I gained 100 pounds since then.

Now, I can’t blame her for my weight gain. I did all that eating completelyon my own, and much of that was because of food she didn’t prepare, like that fast-food stuff I wolfed down before a night meeting.

However, when she has time, she really enjoys herself in the kitchen, experimenting and testing and making culinary discoveries. She’s greatwith a gumbo or Italian pastas, with Chinese stir-fry and with lasagna, with Indian ethnic dishes and with a meat loaf. She’s recently discoveredsushi.

She also manages the laundry and we split most of the other household chores. I do the lion’s share of the vacuuming, dishwashing and yardwork. What all this boils down to is that I’m a pretty lucky guy.

She works hard at her job (making more money than I do), cooks like a gourmet chef, is a whiz with the household finances and shares other work with me.

We also share a love of travel and some of our happiest memories are memories of taking her picture among the pigeons on Trafalgar Square in London, tramping around the Muir Woods near San Francisco and SCUBA diving in the Cayman Islands.

While my appreciation of art, humor and movies does not parallel hers, we do meet on some aspects. While I can enjoy the Three Stooges and HowardStern and she insists she has no sense of humor, she and I can sit down and both laugh out loud at “Will and Grace.”All of this boils down to the fact that I feel very fortunate, very grateful and very blessed to have her for my wife.

She’s stuck with me through thick and thin and carried with grace and charm, and I love her dearly.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Susie!

LEONARD GRAY is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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