That recorder doesn’t make me nervous, incidentally. You’re going to ask me questions and you may not get answers. I’ll even try to make stuff up if I have to, but there’s a whole lot of blankness on the subject of love.
I got some general questions. You said you have a daughter, right?
I have two daughters.
Do they live around here?
No, unfortunately. They grew up here. They were both born in La Crosse, they both went to school here, they both went to university in Madison and they became entertainers. My youngest daughter, improbably, spent a few years working as an aerial acrobat with the Cirque du Soleil.
It was and I loved watching until I found out there were no safety devices, but by then she was out of it and she didn’t tell me or her mom until it was over. She married, of course, a helicopter pilot, naturally. So he’s in the Air Force, and they were just transferred from Vegas, and then they got transferred to Cheyenne, and now, just two weeks ago they were transferred to Shreveport, Louisiana. And the other daughter lives, still basically in Vegas, Henderson. She’s married a lawyer who works for a big firm there and it’s not likely she’ll be moving here any time soon. They’re both far away and that pretty much takes care of my travel budget. And the question of love, of course, they’re right at the top of my list. They’re my heroes – they are very, very decently good people.
That’s what I was kind of thinking. So, were you ever married?
I’ve been married a couple times.
Are your daughters from the same wife?
Yeah, they were born to my first wife within a year and a half of each other.
How old were you when you got married? Your first time?
I was just twenty-one.
And how long did you stay married?
Oh, that’s good. If you don’t mind me asking, what happened?
If it gets too personal or complicated, I won’t get into it. That’s a question not so much I won’t, but I probably couldn’t. It was more of a slow kind of separation. Separating took a long time. I just spoke with her this afternoon. She lives in Idaho now and we’re good friends. I’m still friends with my second wife as well.
How long were you married to your second wife?
We were together for close to ten years, but we were married four. So it was a much shorter marriage, but we’re still good friends. I came close to getting married a third time. At that point, a friend of mine said, “You know, You’re not good at this.”
I guess it depends on whether you feel like marriage is the goal of everything. I don’t know if it is or not. I don’t disapprove of marriage. I think it felt good to be married when I was married, for the most part, but I don’t advertise it for everybody, I really don’t. I think there are lots of other ways people can be really happy in relationships.
There are a couple of questions that I’m very shy of asking people. For example, if I see you together with somebody all the time, even if I know you live with the person, I would be very shy to say, “Are you married?” I’d also be very hesitant to say, “How much do you make in a year?” There are just some questions I don’t feel comfortable asking people.
I have one set of friends, a couple. Here I’ve known these people for twenty years, but didn’t know whether they were married or not. They didn’t fuss about it, but my first wife and I knew them quite well as a couple. “What do you think? Are they married?” We kind of batted it around ourselves, but we didn’t know. And then we were at a dinner party and I’m thinking maybe this was when I was single again; I don’t think my first wife was there. In the middle of the meal, a young member of the Spanish Department at the time suddenly said, “Well, you know, Joe, Sarah, everyone wants to know: are you married or not?” Everybody looked stunned, except Joe and Sarah. They were very happy to say, “No, we’re not married, we’re not going to get married, we don’t believe in that.”