Saturday, May 31, 2014

It's his birthday!

"Wait here. I'll be right back. I know exactly where we've been." — Paul Bridson, locator savant and husband of Kelly

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my irreplaceable Paul.

Here's a little piece of happy news. Yesterday Paul received a letter from the Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center Hall of Fame Committee notifying him that he has been "unanimously chosen" to receive CJC's Special Recognition Award for his "many accomplishments in the area of jazz." The ceremony will take place Sunday, October 19. YAY PAUL!!!

In other musical-Paul news, he's been asked to help put together a major central Iowa jazz event to be held in a few months. Because it's a big deal, it has to remain hush-hush until the official announcement. Details to come when we get the all-clear.

My trombone-playing husband.

To celebrate his last birthday, I listed one thing I love about Paul for every year he'd been on earth. I could keep doing that and not run out of things to say, however, this time I thought I'd list some notable characteristics you might not know about him.

1) Paul is 13 years younger than I am. I know!!! Trust me when I tell you that it wasn't my idea. I didn't know when I met him. I didn't know when I agreed to go out with him. I found out by accident after we'd made the date, but before I went on it, and I really, really, REALLY did not want to go. 

I would have cancelled, but I wasn't exactly sure how to reach him, and by the time I figured it out, it would have been backing out at the day of — which to be honest, I was perfectly fine with — but thankfully Susan Bergwall nagged me into going. I finally went just to get her to shut up, and thank goodness for that!

Cheering on the Lady Vols. We had so much fun.

I was incredibly uncomfortable for about the first half hour, but then I started laughing and laughing till my face hurt. We stayed out until four in the morning walking around downtown and the capitol grounds where he gave me a piggyback ride, listening to music and talking. Actually he was doing most of the talking, but that's a story for another day. Maybe June 6, the 22nd anniversary of our first date.

He showed up the next day and the next, and despite the fact that I'd had and was continuing to have a fabulous time, I was so freaked out about the age difference that I tried to ditch him. It didn't take. 

2) Paul is a jazz trombonist by training. Yup, he went to college to study trombone performance. Actually two colleges — Northeast Missouri State University and the University of IowaHis first instrument was the piano which his mom first taught him to play before he went on to take more formal lessons. When he started band, he originally played bass trombone and continued until he split his lip playing it in college and had to switch to tenor trombone.

3) He has big ears. Well, not literally. It's musician shorthand for having finely-tuned sound discrimination hardwired into the brain. Ever heard of that old, old TV show called Name That Tune? He would have killed at it. One note into a tune (I'm not kidding) and he'll say, "Oh, that's "Angel Eyes" or "String of Pearls", and with a couple of notes (he's faster with jazz) he can nail no small number of classical works and most pop songs from his era and identify what key they're in.

In New York City.

4) The whole big ears thing crosses over to sounds in general. From the time he was very small, he liked to repeat words or syllables over and over that had a certain rhythm or musicality he found appealing. Unsurprisingly he's a natural mimic and inherently gifted at language acquisition. He was so fluent in German from just taking it in high school that when he was in France with the University of Iowa Johnson County Landmark Band, he spoke French (just another language he picked up) with a German accent. And even though it had been a few years since he'd taken German, he took German literature classes at the U of I where they read books written by the likes of Goethe — in German of course. Meh. No problem.

5) Paul is an on-line Scrabble buff, and he has a very high ranking.

Paul reading Scientific American with Boy Boy.

6) Paul has been fascinated by maps since he was really little. I swear he has a GPS map in his head of anywhere he's ever been. Seriously! It's like some kind of savant thing or something. 

Some years back we were in a Des Moines-sized city in Illinois (see, I still can't recall the name of it, much less anything about its geography) when we stopped for lunch at a little out-of-the-way vegetarian restaurant. 

Fast forward at least five years later, maybe more, when we were passing through the same city, and I said, "Wouldn't it be fun to eat at that same vegetarian restaurant." 

Paul said, "Hey yeah, that would be!" 

I said, "We'd best forget it. I don't even remember the name." 

Neither could he, but he said, "I think I can drive us there, though." 

He drove right to it‚ not even any gradually homing in on it. Bear in mind that this restaurant wasn't located in some prominent, obvious or even moderately memorable part of town. It was just a little hole in the wall in a small, nondescript strip mall.

Navigating the rivers, canals, lakes and locks in Ireland on
a cabin cruiser we rented for a week.

On vacation in California one year, we rented a house in Joshua Tree National Park. We took lots of hikes, and I carried along a pair of cotton work gloves with me so I could climb rock formations if I took a notion. When we were almost back to the house after one particularly long trek, I discovered I'd lost a glove. I was disgusted with myself because we'd made a special trip into town to buy them in the first place, and town was a ways away.

"No problem. I can find it," says Paul.

I suggested that would be next to impossible given the amount of terrain we'd traversed, but he said, "Wait here. I'll be right back. I know where we've been."

Let me point out that Joshua Tree is high desert, so it's not like we were walking trails. But he did it! He came walking back, la la la, glove in hand.

One last little example of his paranormal path-finding-path-recall skills: we were in Las Vegas on business some years back. We had a series of events to attend one particular night and were carrying a change of clothes for me to put on prior to the final, end-of-the-evening do. I was changing into my fancy outfit when I discovered to my chagrin that the bottom half of it was missing. I was distressed!! 

Once again Paul said, "Don't worry. I'll find it." 

Searching seemed pointless to me considering the circuitous route we'd taken through hotels and casinos to get there, but he was back in about 15 minutes with my skirt which, sure enough, he'd found laying on the casino floor.

Decorating for Christmas, I snapped a picture of 
Paul and Shiva. He's wearing fuzzy reindeer antlers.

7) Paul is an information sponge. When he went to school at the U of I, in addition to his required work, he didn't just take electives, he took boatloads of them: science, science and more science, esoteric language and literature classes, poetry; you name it, he probably took a class on it. 

Of all the things that are amazing to me about Paul, his ability to pull knowledge out of thin air like an epiphytic plant astounds me the most. Many a time I've asked him how he figured out X or Y and he'll say, "Oh, I overheard a guy talking," or "I looked up an article on the internet," and honestly he'll end up knowing more about whatever it is than the people who are supposed to know about it. 

I can't count the number of times we've had some service person come to our office or home to fix something, and when they fail — because it's a tough problem to begin with or Paul would have already solved it — and Paul is forced to figure it out anyway, he ends up explaining the fix to THEM. Seriously!! And this is not me telling you something from his point of view; it's me having witnessed it time and time again.

Paul is very science-y smart. 
He fell asleep with Boy Boy reading Scientific American.

Paul is just so smart that the one thing I can not brook (okay, I'll be honest, there are other things I can not brook, but this is a big one) is ever having anyone imply that he's not smart enough to do a thing. 

For a few years we carried a line of trade show exhibits called Tigermark. The rep was an ass, and the owner believed himself to be some kind of genius — the only genius part I could ever discern was him having married a really rich woman who financed his company, but I digress. 

There was a trade show coming up in which we'd purchased space, and we decided to have Tigermark ship in a particularly snazzy exhibit especially for it. It arrived late the day before the show, so there wasn't any time for a plan B, but no worries, the rep assured us the exhibit was wonderful.

So here's Paul setting it up at the eleventh hour — at least he was trying to set it up — but it was not working. After trying six ways to Sunday, he figured out that part of the exhibit was actually missing! 

A little back story: A year or two prior to this show, before Paul worked at Brainstorm, I ordered my very first Tigermark exhibit. Theresamy one employee at the time, and I launched eagerly into setting it up. After puzzling over it considerably, I concluded that a certain set of hinges was installed in the wrong place, and as a result that portion of the exhibit would not assemble. Theresa agreed with my assessment, but just to be absolutely certain, I grabbed one of the architects form the firm down the hall and had him look at it to render an opinion. 

"Yup," he said, "There's no way that can go together with the hinges where they are." 

I called the Tigermark rep and told him the problem. His first mistake was referring to Theresa as "the girl." His second was his response to my description of the problem.

"Well (imagine the word drawn WAY out in a condescending way), I'm not there (also drawn out and condescending), so I can't tell (drawn out and condescending) if it's wrong."

I chewed him out, but regrettably continued to carry the line.

Back to the show hall. I reached the owner by phone and explained that part of the exhibit was missing. He hummed and hawed, and eventually he suggested that perhaps Paul just didn't know how to put it together properly.

This did not sit well with me.

I said (I admit that at this point I was no longer saying; I was yelling), "You are not going to tell me that Paul isn't smart enough to put together your piece of crap display!! Get your shit out of my showroom. You're done!!"

Guess what. They subsequently went out of business and deserved to.

8) He's loves and is kind to all nature, children and animals, and he adores our four furry babies.

9) Last and certainly not least. For some incredible reason, Paul loves me so much that I just can't believe my good fortune. When Paul and I were first together, he made some reference to Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.

"Huh?" I said, "What's that?"

"It's a who, not a what. You know, Eeyore, from Winnie The Pooh. The old gray donkey." 

"No, I don't know," I replied. "I have no idea what you're talking about." 

He said, with surprise and shock evident in his voice, "Didn't anyone ever read Winnie the Pooh to you?!"

In Ireland on Lough Key at Forest Park on the boat he navigated around for us. It's one of
both of our all-time favorite pictures.

Well, no, no one had. Or Dr. Seuss or name any other book for small children, it had not been read to me. Paul was aghast. He went to the book store, bought the entire set of Winnie the Pooh stories and Wind in the Willows and Dr. Seuss and read them all to me one by one, night after night, in bed before lights out. 

Who does that?!?!?! 


Happy birthday, you wonderful, loving, smart, soulful, funny, kind, capable, handsome man.


  1. Happy birthday to Paul and with such a great relationship going for both of you, I am sure it will be

    1. Thank you for your good wishes. We're lucky to have found each other. He thinks he's the lucky one, and I think I am, so it works out. <3