Rubber Chicken Scratchings: Are you man enough to say those three little words?

So, I was thinking about it the other day, and you know what I don't say to my wife, Sue, often enough? I bet you think it's "I love you," don't you? As a matter of fact, I say that all the time. Do you think I'm some kind of insensitive dork? We...

So, I was thinking about it the other day, and you know what I don't say to my wife, Sue, often enough? I bet you think it's "I love you," don't you? As a matter of fact, I say that all the time. Do you think I'm some kind of insensitive dork? Well, I am, but that's not the point here; I say "I love you" all the time, because I mean it all the time.

I've never been one of those guys who's at work talking to his wife on the telephone, and when he gets to the point in the conversation where his wife says "I love you," he hems and haws and says "Yeah, uh, I gotta go ... um, the boss' doohickey needs de-hickifying," then he hangs up faster than Todd Fedora puts out a press release. "Whew," the married man says, wiping the back of his hand across his sweaty forehead. "That was close." He almost had to articulate a feeling.

See, guys don't usually want their co-workers (or anyone, for that matter) thinking they actually care for the person they're sharing their life with. Heck no! We're guys! We're macho! The fat roll the size of an inner tube oozing over our jeans proves that. I admit I used to be in this club, but all that changed when I met Marsh Nelson.

When I worked at KDAL radio, I had an office next to Marsh, who was a Twin Ports TV sports guy legend and a super nice guy. "Brian! How the heck are ya?" he'd loudly yell every afternoon when our paths crossed in the hallway. "Great! Great!" was always his response when I told him I was doin' OK. (It usually came out in a squeak because I couldn't believe Marsh Nelson was not only talking to me but that he knew my name and wondered how I was doing. How cool was that? Very cool, is the answer.)

Marsh was not into subtleties -- or closed doors. I could hear every single discussion he had when he picked up the phone and was speaking with local high school and college sports directors, even members of professional sports teams. (Marsh had the phone number for Bud Grant ... again, cool!)


Marsh also logged two or three daily phone calls to his wife. Those phone conversations were nothing embarrassing -- no lovey-dovey talk or anything like that -- but I was always struck at how they ended: with Marsh's voice booming down the cramped hallway of the broadcast center. We would hear "Be home soon! I love ya, honey!"

Marsh was not ashamed of letting the building (or, judging by the volume, all of the 400 block of West Superior Street) knowing about his feelings for his wife.

So I took a cue from Marsh and I say "I love you" on the phone all the time (minus the volume). Heck, sometimes I even initiate the phrase. The conversation is wrapping up, and right as I hear Sue's slight intake of breath as she prepares to utter the beautiful sentiment, I slip a quick "love ya" in there faster than a certain Canal Park coffee shop can have a tourist's car towed. She'll sigh with a bit of fake exasperation, but I can still hear the smile on her face as she says "love ya, too" and we go on about our business for the day.

My wife and I were married 23 years ago this weekend, but we've been a couple for 25 years. (Yes, we lived in sin for two years. But it's OK: It was in Superior.) Since I'm 47, that means that I've been with Sue longer (25 years) than I have been without her (22 years). And, honestly, it feels like it.

But I mean that in a good way. For as long as I can remember, Sue has been there. I have had someone to complain to when the review of the current Rubber Chicken show isn't glowing, and I have had someone to celebrate with when the Rubber Chicken crowds are coming in anyway. I have had someone to run to the store with when I run out of bananas, someone to shave the back part of my neck that I can't quite reach -- someone who is always there, and has always been there, for 25 years and counting.

I am reminded how incredibly lucky I am every morning when I wake up, with Sue next to me in the dark, and I quietly get moving. (Being quiet is not a nicety, by the way. If I accidentally turn on a light, she'll smack me with a pillow faster than the Duluth News Tribune can put out an anti-UMD story.)

For all these reasons, and too many more to list in one column, I have no trouble stating for the record: Sue, I love you.

Now, back to the beginning of this column. Do you know what I don't say to my wife as much as I should? Easy. "I love you."


After 25 years, I still can't say that enough.

Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February of 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre and founder of Rubber Chicken Theater. He would like to say he loves the cast and crew of "Shout! The Mod Musical," running now at the Shack in Superior, but he really only likes them as friends ... singing, super-talented friends!

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