Dancing with Green-Teeth

By Charmin Foth

Flickr: sean-b

As our 20th-anniversary approaches, I am reminded of a skinny cowboy propping up the wall. My dear husband and I met twenty-two years ago on December 9th.

At the time, I didn’t want a relationship. I didn’t want to date, I was pretty much over romance all-together. I had been in an abusive marriage for seven years and couldn’t believe the person I had become in that time.

I had lost my self-esteem and my sense of who I was, or what I wanted out of life. I was burned-out, struggling with my faith and feeling like a failure. Years of being treated badly had led me to believe I deserved such treatment. I was just beginning to figure myself out again, thanks to the help of some great girlfriends, who dragged me out of the house and into the world again. They took me to line dancing classes at the local skating rink and concerts, and weekend trips, keeping me from drowning in a pool of self-pity.

On December 9th, my friend Beth, did exactly that, she drug me out of the house. Living in Nashville, there was always an opportunity for musical entertainment. On that night David Lee Murphy was playing at the Wild Horse Saloon, one of Nashville’s hot, touristy spots on 2nd Avenue, Beth suggested we go and try out our new line-dancing skills. So, rather than sitting at home on a Friday night eating fish sticks and tater tots, I agreed.

When we got there, we found a table and ordered Diet Cokes. Not my usual fare, I’m more a Mountain Dew connoisseur (diet – now that I’m older). I know you thought I was going to say something else, but alcohol was never a vice for me. I preferred to abuse myself with bad relationships.

So, I am truly a wild woman hanging out at a saloon drinking Diet Coke. Beth and I had fun people-watching and dancing. The wonderful thing about line-dancing is it doesn’t require you to have a date, and no one has to be in your personal space. Both of which appealed to me at the time, since I had sworn off relationships with men. I had a strict rule, I never slow danced with anyone. PERIOD. That was WAYtoo close for me.

While Beth and I were people-watching, I had noticed a cowboy in a fringed jacket, Resistol cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes, Wrangler jeans and boots leaning up against the wall. He was cute, in that lone-wolf kind of way.

The place was packed with people and we were lucky to have a table with a good view of everything. They were having a beauty contest before the concert so the dances were spread out between the contest events. The place was crawling with very pretty, scantily-clad girls and all types of guys, trying to get their attention.

When the guys couldn’t get the time of day from the pretty girls, they would begin to look around and ask the rest of us to dance. I wasn’t particularly looking for a dance partner, but this nice looking young man came up to me and asked me to dance. Since it was a “Boot Scoot Boogie” it wasn’t as if I had to get too close to the guy, so I said, “yes.”

It wasn’t until he got on the dance floor, and started smiling at me, that I realized he had horrible green teeth. When he got close enough to where I could actually hear what he was trying to say, I realized he had horrible green breath to go along with it. This is exactly the reason I was against dating. UGGH!

Beth and I laughed over the green teeth once I got back to the table, and I marked another notch in the list of THINGS I DON’T WANT. But, I was still keeping an eye on the cowboy holding up the wall across the way. Beth and I may have made a few comments amongst ourselves about him too.

The beauty contest continued for a little while and then they played a slow love song.  Beth and I were talking and minding our own business when I looked up and saw “green teeth” headed straight for our table. The cowboy holding up the wall must have seen the look of sheer terror come across my face, because just before “green teeth” stepped up to ask me to dance, the cowboy stepped in front of “green teeth” and asked me to dance.

In that moment, the cowboy rescued me from certain awkwardness, and left “green teeth” standing there looking dazed and confused.

Much to my surprise, when the cowboy asked me to slow dance, I said, “YES!”

“Green teeth” did not look happy, but I was so relieved the cowboy was taking me in the opposite direction, I didn’t care. It wasn’t until I was on the dance floor I realized I had broken my own rule. Here I was dancing close to a tall cowboy with a buzz cut. Oh, this could be trouble!

Not wanting to waste time I figured I’d find out exactly what was wrong with this guy and then get back to the table and enjoy the rest of my evening. We exchanged names, I told him I didn’t usually slow dance and apologized if I stepped on his feet. He told me if a horse could step on his feet, then me stepping on his feet wasn’t anything to worry about. I had a snarky comment about the horse thing, but I kept it to myself.

As we made small talk I found out he was a soldier at Fort Campbell, looking for a tourist to “date.” We had a lot in common, he was coming out of a bad relationship too.

I asked him at least twenty questions during the dance. I was determined not to repeat the bad relationships of my past. So I had this checklist in my head and on the first wrong answer, this guy was going to be history. The only problem was, he was getting all the answers right, and from the way he answered, he seemed to be pretty honest. That was different. He was different.

I asked him if he did drugs? No. Did he drink a lot? Mountain Dew (Hmm, that’s what I drink). Drugs and alcohol abuse were the big deal breakers, I had been around those guys, and wasn’t going down that road again. He passed the first two big tests. Time to just hit him with the big list of WHAT I DON’T WANT.

I asked him if he knew how to read? What was the name of the last book he read? You name it, I was straightforward, to  the point and more than a little obnoxious. I was sure I had put this guy off. He would never look my way again.

When the song ended, he followed me back to my table. He made me laugh and spent the rest of the evening at the table with Beth and I. He ordered a Coke (they didn’t serve Mountain Dew). I told him he was free to order a beer if he liked, he didn’t have to drink Coke just because we were.

He replied, “I’ve been holding this same beer all night.” One-half of a beer ALL NIGHT, what strange world was this?

He got his soda and we talked until they closed. He still got all the answers right. I was amazed. As he walked me to my car, he asked me out for the next night. The rest is history.

The first date is another story. 🙂

It’s hard to believe I have been with that cowboy all these years and I love him more every passing day. Amazingly, I owe it all to a guy with green teeth.

It’s strange how God works in ways we could never imagine. Be open to the possibilities, but never settle for less than what God has for you.

Thanks for reading.

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The Wedding That Didn’t Happen

Gary rockin’ in his room, trying to look tough.
I am going to delve into my past and tell you a very well-kept secret. I don’t know that I have ever shared this story with anyone. A few of my high school friends and family may know about it but it hasn’t been spoken of since 1983.


I have been married more than once, and the first time I was very young, seventeen to be exact. Many say that is too young. In most cases, they would be right. But not this time, even knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have traded that experience for all the riches of the world.

In 1982, dressed in flash dance fashion, I met a guy. I’d seen him around, he was friends with a friend of mine. I’d had a crush on him since I was a freshman. He didn’t know I was alive, or so I thought, until one night outside of a convenience store, three years later. I was acting out and being stupid, I was finally a senior and had no idea what the future held for me.

Blond and bouncy, he was full of life and energy; he wanted to be a rock star and played a sweet vintage Gibson Les Paul guitar. He was unlike anyone I had dated. He wanted to be wild, but he was too good for the wild life. It was love at first sight and he changed my life forever.

As with most teenage love stories, we were instantly inseparable. He was like oxygen and if he wasn’t near I couldn’t breathe.

Being your typical teenager, I had to push the limits, one night in March, I broke my 10:30 p.m. curfew. Yes, that’s right, 10:30 p.m., not 11, not midnight, 10:30 (and kids now think they have it rough). My mom, in true parental fashion, deemed my punishment was no phone, no outside contact. I was only allowed to go to church and school (which was right across the street from my house and the family business), for 6 months!

I thought my world had ended. As any warden would do, my mom allowed me one last phone call. In that phone call, two young lovebirds began to hatch a plan. Gary and I would see each other at church, but since he had been a senior when I was a freshman, that would be our only contact. I couldn’t wait to go to church on Wednesday and Sunday.

During Bible class and service Gary and I sat together and whispered or passed notes. In a Bible study on a note passed between us, he asked me to marry him. I couldn’t react; I could only nod my head and sniffle to keep from crying. I was thrilled, and that made the punishment seem all the more unbearable.

I knew my mom would never let me get married, I was seventeen. I had already been accepted at the Art Institute and we were planning a bright future. I didn’t see why marriage had to put an end to that. I knew Gary was meant to be in my life. There seemed to be such a feeling of urgency about it and I knew that if I went away to college alone, Gary and I would never be together. To the very core of my being I knew I had to do this. Now I know it was God winking at me, but then, I prayed and I cried and Gary and I covertly began planning an elopement.

Gary told his sister Tracy of our plight and this is where the story gets interesting…

From the moment I met Tracy I felt at ease with her, I could tell her anything and she would understand. I think Gary and I spent more time at her house than we did anywhere else. Tracy married her high school sweetheart Tim at around the same age. She understood the sway of young love and believed in its power. To this day, I believe she felt the same sense of urgency I did. She was always in Gary’s corner, and would do anything for him.

After Gary’s proposal, we began to skip church services and go to Tracy’s to plan our elopement. I know, it sounds so bad to say it, but it was a little easier than trying to skip school. At the time my mom didn’t go to church with me. (I’m not advocating skipping school or church at all, I’m just saying, I’m not perfect.)

Tracy was instrumental in helping us concoct a plan to run away together. She was a great planner, too. She told us how we could go across the border to Jellico, Tennessee and get married; we just needed copies of our birth certificates and to get a blood test.

We put the plan in motion. She and Gary took the day off from work and I skipped school. Let me tell you, skipping school when you live right across the street is no small feat!

Tracy helping me with my garter.
Little did they know this was the
2nd wedding we had planned.

Tracy drove because we were so nervous. We got our blood test, (back then you had to do that) and we headed to the courthouse. Well because I was underage, and Tracy couldn’t pass as my guardian, the covert operation failed.

We were all devastated. I had to go home as if I had come from school and act as if nothing had happened, but I couldn’t stop crying.

As soon as I got home I went to my room and closed my door. My mom came to see what was the matter and when I couldn’t quit crying I had to tell her what had happened. I was scared to death, but I figured the punishment couldn’t have been much worse than what I was feeling already.

I told her how I felt and the way I felt without him. We talked for a long time. I told her about the proposal the sense of need I felt. There were lots of questions. With every answer, she could see my resolve. I assured her that I would still attend art school and that I was certain of my feelings. Then, I took a deep breath and then I told her what we had tried to do that day.

She was shocked speechless for a few minutes. As I sat there in the silence, I prayed she wouldn’t kill me. Amazingly, she was much more understanding than I would have ever imagined. She told me if I finished high school and stayed on task for art school that she would give me her blessing and we could start planning a wedding in July.

I was so thankful that God had made a way where I saw no way and had given me this opportunity. My first call was to Gary, but my next call was to Tracy to ask her to be my Matron of Honor.

Through it all, Tracy gave me the courage to stand up and fight for what I believed in, to step out on faith and I will be forever thankful. Gary and I were married on July 16th, 1983. We were only married for two years and eleven days before God called him home. Our time here may have been short but it was priceless.

Gary and Tracy taught me to be strong, stronger than I ever realized I could be. Gary died 27 years ago. This year he and much of his family welcomed Tracy at the gates of heaven.