By In Family

Fifteen Years

Our first date was at a Kansas City Royals game. I remember it being a day game against the Detroit Tigers. I believe Chili Davis homered. I believe the Royals lost. One thing I remember for certain: Margo — she was Margo Keller then — had to pay for the tickets. I had forgotten to get cash.

Margo told me that the Royals had always been hugely important to her and her family. They were a team that filled her imagination. She grew up in a tiny Kansas town called Cuba, which is near Belleville, which is near Concordia, which is not too far from Salina. At that point, I had not heard of any of those places — maybe Salina. She talked about what it was like to grow up in a small town. I talked about what it was like to grow up in Cleveland. She said her high school graduation class was 12. I asked, probably too quickly, if she was class valedictorian. She was. I said that was good. I couldn’t be seen with someone who finished second in a class of 12.

I’m not much good at talking about love — not good at all, in fact — but what I remember about that first date was something that probably doesn’t sound too romantic. I remember how uncluttered and relaxed and genuine it was. I had been led to believe that love was supposed to make your insides hurt, make you tongue tied and self-aware and anxious. What did she mean by that? Why didn’t she laugh at that joke? How is this going? I had been on plenty of those kinds of dates. This was different. Everything felt natural. I thought she was beautiful and kind and smart and, heck, she was a sports fan on top of that. But there were no dead silences and there was no tension. The second date flowed naturally from the first. After a week, we were a couple. In less than a year, we were married. I don’t want to say it’s easy because nothing, after all, is easy. But it FELT easy.

The wedding was small and beautiful — everything was classic, black and white, the brass ensemble went rogue and played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in our honor. Our one disagreement was the music. She wanted the Chicken Dance played at the reception. She thought it would be fun. I despise the Chicken Dance. I pulled the bandleader aside and told him that I was paying him and that under no circumstances should he allow it to be played, even if the bride herself made the request. The band played “Just The Way You Look Tonight” for our first dance, and Frank and Ella and Billie all night. It was perfect. Years later, Margo grudgingly conceded I was probably right.

That wedding was 15 years ago today. And as I think back over those 15 years, I think about the amazing times — the French Quarter as midnight struck on Millennium Night, the moment Elizabeth was born, the moment Katie was born, the moment we rushed to the hospital thinking Elizabeth was about to be born only to be told by the nurse to “come back when you are more pregnant,” eating ice cream under the Eiffel Tower, playing miniature golf in the rain, wandering brain dead through the first three months of parenthood, sleeping straight through until 6 p.m. the day we returned from the Olympics in Australia, driving through Mission Hills and looking at the huge houses, eating corn on the cob and talking with friends on perfect spring evenings.

Sometimes, I still sit in the other room while she’s reading my column — she was always my first editor — and listening to hear if she laughs.

I also think about the rare fights — once, just before Elizabeth was born, I was outside working on securing the car seat. This is one of those parent requirements (like setting up the Pack n Play and changing diapers) that at first seems utterly unattainable and later becomes second nature, like driving a stick shift. We were both on edge in those final days, frightened, excited, nervous, feverish, ready and entirely not ready for what came next, and Margo was also 9 months pregnant. At some point in the middle of my wrestling match with the car seat, and I mean right in the middle, Margo wandered out, grabbed the car seat, shook it to show how loose it was. She pronounced, “Oh that will never do.” We have laughed about it many times since but not then. Margo says she never saw me madder than at that moment.

Margo has endured this crazy sportswriters life. I’m in Los Angeles now, in fact. We celebrated our 15th anniversary last weekend. You celebrate many things on the wrong date when you are a sportswriter’s family — birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. Well, what can you do? Father’s Day is the last day of the U.S. Open. The Winter Olympics engulf Valentine’s Day. March is for college basketball, October for the World Series, January for the NFL playoffs. You get used to the rhythms. But they are always a challenge.

Every single day of our 15 years together, I have told Margo that I love her. Sometimes, it was in an email, sometimes a text, sometimes via phone from the back of some press box or in the concourse of some airport or in a cab racing through the streets of some strange city. But every day. Even so, I know I can never say it enough. We have both changed over the years, but not in the most important ways. I can’t wait to share with her the good news, and I can’t imagine braving the bad news with anyone else. I still love it when I make her laugh, and I am still amazed at how kind a person she is, and I’m still tickled by the small things that make her happy.

I remember just before Margo and I got married, we got advice from a friend. He said: “It’s important to remember that marriage isn’t easy.” He was right, of course. There are little fires everywhere. There are small misunderstandings that occasionally flare out. There is the day-to-day toil of living, the responsibilities, the accidents, the plans that go wrong, the calls that disconnect. The dog gets sick. The older daughter remembers her project one day before its due. The younger daughter won’t eat her food. The air conditioner breaks. The office calls. A bill gets overlooked. The flu goes around. It is a blur, and it isn’t easy. But for 15 years, I’ve felt exactly the way I did that first date. I was lucky enough to marry Margo Keller. And it has been easier than I ever dreamed.

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30 Responses to Fifteen Years

  1. jac says:

    Most awesome! Our 15th wedding anniversary is tomorrow!

    • KHAZAD says:

      That was 4 days after my first date with my wife. I also remember it feeling completely natural, and I knew after the first date that if she would have me, this was it. My wife told her friends that after our date, her mouth hurt from smiling so much, which I consider a great compliment. It has only been 14 and a half years of marriage for us, as we took a little longer before the wedding. I consider myself lucky every day.

  2. Another great piece of writing. Wish you were still in Augusta. But then, you would never have met Margo Keller.

    • Jason says:

      Add me to the list of Augusta natives wishing you were still working at our humble newspaper — even though I’m too young to remember your time here. Congratulations, and here’s to 15 more years of happiness (and 15 more, and 15 more …)

  3. Good stuff Poz, e.g., “…how uncluttered and relaxed and genuine it was.”

    Happy anniversary.

  4. Your first date sounds a lot like my first date with my wife. Dating was always work before I met Jennifer, but it has always been natural with her. Hope you all have 50 more good years.

  5. Nice job, I feel the same way about my wife and our relationship. I also have a daughter named Katie (but you knew that). We also were brain dead for way more than 3 months after Katie was born. Congratulations.

  6. mickey says:

    Well, sure, that’s your side, but what’s Margo’s version? She hasn’t posted for 2 years.

  7. Mark says:

    She had to pay for the first date? Same with me and my wife!

  8. wscg says:

    Happy Anniversary!

  9. David says:

    Happy Anniversary! It’s mine, too, though it’s only three years for us. And while not each moment has been bliss, the sum of three years has been. Here’s to happy marriages, and more years than any of us can count!

  10. BobDD says:

    I’m in my 60’s – send Margo’s Aunt Rose out to visit me ASAP!

  11. Krista says:

    LOVE this!! And I LOVE that your beautiful, amazing wife practically raised me. I still do not know how her and Becky survived our family 😉 Congratulations to you both…15 years is definitely something to be proud of these days!! Jared and I were laughing so hard reading this post…we can totally relate!

  12. Matt Janik says:

    “I’m not much good at talking about love — not good at all, in fact… [900-plus brilliant words about love]”

    I will read everything you write, sir, even about sports I have no interest in… But, what I will NOT do is sit here and let you lie to me!

  13. Frank says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary.

    Your car seat story rings too true. Those things were invented by people who have three arms. I made the mistake of not doing the trial run before my first was born. Not a pretty scene in the hospital parking lot.

  14. Rob Smith says:

    Nice. When we took our first kid home from the hospital, our reaction was… “so, we can just leave and take him? We don’t need a license or something?” I’m sure the car seat was a pain too (they always are)…. I just don’t remember that part.

  15. This was super sweet. My boyfriend is a huge fan of your work, and sent me this to cheer me up while I work. A very good read. Congrats on your anniversary.

  16. Cindy says:

    This is one of the most lovely things I have ever read. Thanks for sharing.

  17. timeless46 says:

    what a wonderful column. This is simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

  18. Unknown says:

    Another great one. Sometimes I feel like you’re chronicling some parallel version of my life with these posts. I grew up in the midwest, son of working class parents, I’m a Royals fan and a Springsteen fan, I have two sons (11 and 9) – the oldest can’t make a decision in a toy store to save his life (like Elizabeth at the Harry Potter gift shop), the youngest grabs the first thing he sees on the shelf – and I celebrated my 15 year anniversary just a couple of months ago. It’s odd and kind of wonderful to see someone recounting these personal thoughts and moments that seem so similar to mine. Thanks, keep up the good work, and congratulations to you and Margo.

  19. LargeBill says:

    Joe & Margo,


    Interesting how we tie baseball into the fabric of our lives. Sometime after we met, my wife and I figured out based on game events that we had attended several games together before we had met. Started with an easy one to remember (1988 All Star game) then it took a couple details on each to make the connection. It’s a silly thing, but so is love.

  20. Joe says:

    So your first date was at a Royals game 15 years ago. And you still feel the need to tell us the Royals lost? Overkill, don’t you think?

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  22. Jeff says:

    I was also the valedictorian of a class of twelve.

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  27. […] 1.Fifteen Years – An article about being married 15 years to his wife Margo. I love when he writes about non-sports and I wish I could be this articulate about events in my life. […]

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