Love Story Continued

The minute Kirt left the restaurant, I called Eric and said: "Quick, quick, fire up the hot tub!" (a 6-foot dia. 3-foot deep wood-fired hot tub from the Snorkel Stove Co.)

I added, "If you never do another favor for me as long as I live, do this one--hurry, fire up the hot tub! Keep putting wood in it until it's hot, OK? I have a date with that guy Kirt--remember him?--and we'll be up in only 3 hours. Help! Help! Remember all those diapers I changed? It's pay back time!" Eric laughed. He could tell I was out of control.

An hour passed and I called him back: "Is the water getting warm? Stir it with the paddle! Stoke the fire! Stoke the fire!" He assured me: "I'm stokin' it, I'm stokin' it!" (Those 6 words became a family mantra for all future panic attacks)

Thanks to Eric, when Kirt and I finally slithered into the nice hot water--which was a perfect temperature--it was a dream come true. The night was warm and breathless, and so was I. The submerged stove was cracklin', and Kirt was so gorgeous with his shirt off it was astonishing--he looked like a marble sculpture by Michelangelo. When we finally got brave enough to sidle up to each other, his alabaster skin over bulging muscles felt as lush and plush as velvet over boulders.

We talked until the wee hours and the more we found out about each other, the more we fell in love. Wrapped in towels, we sauntered down the little trail to the rustic cabin I lived in, and the rest of the night wrote itself. I still call the cabin "The Honeymoon Cottage" in honor of our "wedding night".

The next morning I offered to fix him breakfast before he went to his classes at the college. I asked: "Do you like Seven-Grain cereal?" He thought I said "Salmon-Brain cereal," and answered: "Sure." That's when I knew this guy was good-natured beyond belief!

Needless to say we fell madly in love and bonded forever from that first night forward, and began spending every minute together when we weren't at work or school. He quit going home where he lived with his parents, and of course they wondered why. They were good salt-of-the earth conventional hard-working people and naturally wanted the traditional best for their 3 kids--Kirt being the oldest. He didn't know how to tell them he had fallen in love with a MUCH older woman, so he told them he met a guy named Eric and had decided to move in with him and live in town--closer to college.

Kirt had to be on call to set out smudge pots in the orchard if a spring freeze was imminent, so he gave them Eric's phone number which was hooked up to an answering machine (before cell phones). Every time they called for any reason, they would get Eric's voicemail and have to leave a message. They started to get suspicious. Kirt's dad told his mom he thought maybe their son was gay. His reasoning was, why on earth would Kirt all of a sudden not come home anymore and say he was living with a guy named "Eric"?

This was a son, who like their other two kids, had never given them any trouble. He didn't drink, smoke, dope, party, or even get traffic tickets, nor was he rebellious. Kirt was close to his mom, so the next time they talked she told him what his dad had said. Kirt said: "Me? Gay"?? He was furious (and hurt) that his father didn't know him any better than that, and would immediately assume he was gay over any other options. So, on the spot, Kirt confessed everything, and courageously but unapologetically, said he was actually living with Eric's mother, Dorothy, and would continue to live with Dorothy no matter what they said. They were shocked--and horrified--but slowly and reluctantly came to accept it over the next few months, and even warmed up a little after they met me.

Of course they wanted their son to marry a prom queen upon graduation, and have 2-3 children, and buy a big brocade couch, and live happily ever after. Instead, he fell in love with a woman 26 years his senior and was living in a barn and a rustic cabin--not to mention the outhouse. His parents had to stretch and grow--or be alienated from their good son--so in silent resignation and in respect of his independence--they accepted his choice.

I totally understood their concern, but Kirt and I knew it wouldn't be forever. Considering his off-the-chart libido, I like to think I might have "saved" him from being dangerously promiscuous, or impulsively marrying the wrong gal. But that was neither here nor there--we were in love and there was no putting the genie back in the bottle. Nothing had been premeditated or planned; we were simply living life to the fullest one day at a time.

The great thing about Kirt I admired was how unruffled he was about change; he adapted to my primitive life style without batting an eyelash. He switched from a mansion with a pool to almost "camping out" and it didn't bother him in the least. He took a whizz over the deck railing like he'd been doing it all his life. He never complained, never got angry, and never criticized anything we endured together on my undeveloped property. He was the most non-judgmental person I had ever met.

Eric was living in the completed piano studio, and I was in the process of building my own house on the hill but only had the foundation in so far. Eric and I had plans to go get the logs out of the woods for my house as we had for his piano studio. When I told Kirt about that, he said: "Let's leave Eric out of the equation--I'LL help you get your logs! School is out in June; when do you want to start?" It sounded too good to be true, but Kirt INSISTED, so we decided to gather logs as soon as school was out.

Meanwhile, from April to June, Kirt courted me in his own sweet inimitable way. A conventional courtship it was NOT. Instead of going OUT, we stayed IN. Our time together was relaxed, playful, and spontaneously passionate.

One memorable day, as new lovers are wont to do, we didn't get up for 24 hours, except to have a snack. Kirt made me feel like the most beautiful and desirable woman in the world; I could do no wrong. And to me, he was the sexiest man alive.

On school days, every chance he got, he'd speed up to see me on his lunch hour or between classes and we'd have a picnic under the old oak tree, then go into the little cabin for dessert. Having to be at work at the cafe at 2 PM was the only unavoidable inconvenience that separated us. But without my asking, every night he came down to the restaurant at 10 PM and helped me close the place by sweeping and vacuuming, so we could be back home together as soon as possible.

We were on a perpetual honeymoon and spent most of our time in each other's arms intertwined like squash vines. He said I was a fantasy come true--he had his own Playboy bunny. And for me, his masculine presence and beautiful voice heightened every sense--visual, tactile, and auditory. The alpha waves were flowing; I found myself sighing and swooning even at work as I floated around on air waiting on my customers.

We were building a relationship one day at a time as we would soon be building a house one log at a time. In June we packed up my old truck with a chain saw, a jug of water, and some peanut butter sandwiches for energy, and off we went to tackle the forest--20 miles up the road. Kirt had never used a large chainsaw before but he was a quick study. He amazed me with his skill and grace in cutting up the logs, which were lying all over the forest floor--downed by the USFS in the beetle kill area designated on my permit. We were allowed to get as many logs in any size we needed (for a personal residence) for 3 cents a lineal foot. I carried my end of most of the 8" dia. logs, but Kirt had no problem carrying the 12" dia. 200-300 pounders on his shoulders, so we loaded up a pickup bed full of 8-footers within a few hours and headed home. It was a great day because we each had the kind of personality and attitude that made hard work seem like play. I asked him: "Where have you been all my life?" He quipped back: "Sorry, honey, for the first half I wasn't born yet". After that first logging trip we knew without a doubt we were a perfect match.

People liked to whisper behind my back that I had deliberately set out to find a guy at the fitness center to carry my logs. The truth is it had never entered my mind when I was falling in love with Kirt. I am NOT one to exploit a man (or anybody), and have a hard time accepting help from anyone--EVER--unless they won't take no for an answer. Kirt was a REAL man in every sense of the word and it wasn't in his DNA to stand by and let a woman do all the heavy work. Meeting a man of his caliber in my lifetime was sheer luck, like winning the lottery.

Knowing that some unkind people were calling us Jock and Jill and gossiping up a storm, I wrote this satirical myth just for a laugh:

Dorothy's technique for building a log house:

"First choose the biggest straightest most beautiful tree, make it fall (in love), limb it so it can't get away, put the tenon in the mortise to make sure it's a perfect fit, repeat as often as possible, and Voila! It's here to stay."

I'm of a scientific mindset, but finding Kirt DID seem almost preordained. I mean, how many WOMEN are building a log house solo, and how many men are as strong as Paul Bunyan? He was there for me like a one-man CREW whenever I needed a seemingly impossible task done, and he accomplished it in short order. I had an electrical problem with my well pump so he pulled the whole submerged pump straight up out of the well casing--single-handedly--along with 300 feet of water-filled poly-pipe attached. We had a little help carrying the long snake out into the yard as he pulled it up, but it sure beat calling a crane operator! Within an hour, Kirt said: "There you go, honey, re-wire it and I'll put it back down in the well for you".

I was having a problem with my windmill and he pulled up what he thought was only the pipe, but ended up lifting the whole mill and motor along with it. He said: "I wondered why it was so dang heavy!" I mean, the guy was Hercules! He didn't get injured and didn't complain, or say he wished he had a "normal" girlfriend. He matter-of-factly did whatever he was capable of doing to help out. And he was unbelievably capable.

I gave back in every possible way I could. I cut his hair regularly, cooked his meals, did his laundry, tailored his T-shirts so they would go in at the waist and not look like tents, photographed everything he did to help, took bodybuilding portraits of his anatomical "work in progress" (as he called himself), and made photo albums for him. He was so witty and funny when we worked together that I kept a notebook handy and jotted down his quotes. We were a mutual admiration society.

Kirt loved my cooking and complimented me profusely on every delicious meal. If there was anything I knew how to do it was to whip up a great nutritiously dense meal from scratch in record time. I wasn't a half-fast cook; I was a fast cook! That was good because he didn't like waiting more than 20 minutes when he was hungry. He expended huge amounts of energy on a daily basis in work AND play. He had to eat 10,000 calories a day just to maintain his 200 lbs. of muscle mass on a 5'11" frame. I've always been a health nut so I made sure he got a well-balanced diet.

Our agreement was he would buy the food and I would cook it. A free loader he was NOT. If a special dish required a long simmering time (such as spaghetti sauce) I prepared it the day before so all I had to do was heat it up. The way to a man's heart is indeed through his stomach, perhaps more than 'that other place'. Well, first the kitchen, then the bedroom, then the kitchen again... well... not necessarily in that order.

One time I accidentally washed all his new white skivvies in with a red rag and they turned pink. Did it bother him? NO! He wore those pink shorts to the gym and deflected comments in the locker room with a chuckle. He truly didn't care what other people thought. He carried my purse when I asked him to, and held his arms out like a rack to hang bras on when we went shopping for lingerie so I could try them on one at a time from the fitting room. There were a few raised eyebrows and snickers from amused shoppers but Kirt just winked back.

When we worked out at the fitness center, he'd come over to me between sets and give me a little hug and kiss--in front of his college friends. He never spoke of our age difference and never said an unkind thing to me in the ten years we were together. We were both in suspended denial that our love affair would have to end someday, and we didn't think about it.

Eric was commissioned to compose music for the Oregon State Ballet every season because he was friends with the director and his wife, and they loved his fresh originality. They were putting on "The Nutcracker Suite" one Christmas and asked Eric to ask Kirt if he would be the Arab. The wife had seen Kirt at the fitness center where she also worked out, and thought he'd be perfect for the part. She envisioned him bare-chested, wearing gauzy pantaloons, glittering arm bands, and a turban, and she could see he moved gracefully. Kirt said laughingly, "ME in a ballet? Well, I don't know how to dance, but if it doesn't require anything but lifting the ballerina up and parading around, heck, I'll do it"--and he DID. Never in his wildest imagination did he think he'd ever be in a ballet of all things. We all went to opening night at the theatre (including his parents), and he was fabulous!

He was always open to learning new things. After all, he had spent his youth in the pear orchards. He knew a lot about pears, and saving and investing money, but he hadn't learned to ski or skate or dance or anything like city kids get to do. He HAD learned to play the saxophone in junior high but that was it. When he met me and Eric, he was exposed to Bach and Beethoven for the first time. He took to Beethoven immediately and loved his powerful music filled with passion and energy. When we drove 300 miles to Reno to visit my mom, we listened to all nine Beethoven symphonies--full blast--all the way there, and another wild composer--Rossini--all the way back. It was crazy and exhilarating--we didn't drink or do drugs, but we were high on Beethoven! On some of our logging trips we listened to Beethoven's Emperor Concerto all the way up and all the way back. Call us nerdy, that's OK; we'll take it as a compliment.

Oddly enough Kirt also liked my collection of oldies but goodies from the 50's, 60', 70's, and 80's. He didn't care about being cool--he liked what he liked and was always true to himself. No matter what we were doing--even working at the building site--when "Donna" (by Ritchie Valens) came on the boombox, Kirt would spontaneously grab me and we'd slow dance to it. How charming can a man get!

Kirt didn't sweat the small stuff. I only saw him angry a few times (at others), but he's not a guy to ever try to cheat in a business deal. Heaven help you! He might be good-natured and easy-going but he's nobody's fool. His character was impeccable and he expected others to be the same. He was confident, good at setting boundaries, and could never be talked into anything he didn't want to do.

Kirt continued to work for his parents in the pear orchards driving forklift during packing season, but he supplemented his income with an odd job--literally "odd"--and macabre. He was on call to pick up dead bodies whenever, wherever, and however someone died locally. He got $20 a "stiff" to put them in a body bag and unload them at the morgue (usually an hour's work). It didn't bother him at all--even the plane crash site he had to clean up. He considered disposing of bodies as a part of life, and was able to be logical and pragmatic without getting emotionally involved. He said: "Somebody has to do it". He made an extra $100/month on average--and back in the early 90's that was good money.

I had more building experience than Kirt and he gave me full credit. Often, he'd sweetly and sincerely say: "You are so smart, honey" when I worked out a solution to a building problem, and he always praised me when I did an exceptionally good job on something. His kind words blew me away--and I blossomed. I was not used to compliments and encouragement; I had grown up with criticism.

He was a dream to work with because he was a perfectionist and great with tools--hand tools or power tools--and was very patient. He was good at math and could visualize flat things in 3-dimensions--before they were put together--such as when we were working on mortise and tenon joints with logs lying unassembled all over the subfloor. He attributed his "training" to playing complicated video games!

We both worked carefully and deliberately (to avoid mistakes) but I was a lot more "animated" by nature. He affectionately called me a "squirrel" and himself a "sloth". He kidded me in his droll way: "You can run circles around me panting and wasting energy, but it doesn't mean you get more done".

When I got overly excited about something--which was often--he liked to playfully grab me and hold me so tightly against him for a few seconds that I couldn't move. He knew I'd squeal and squirm to get loose, and then we'd both burst out laughing. He had a mischievous side, but it was tempered with kindness.

My only complaint in all the years we were task masters together was when he left a hammer on top of the ladder and it fell on my head, and HIS only complaint was when I asked him to hold 2 pieces of wood together while I pre-drilled them, but I slipped with the bit and drilled through his fingernail. Other than that, we were a great team. Building a log house was not easy work--it was gut-busting, painful, and intense--but we bantered and laughed while we strained and swore, and our comraderie was deeply satisfying. My memories of working with Kirt are absolutely priceless.

We both worked fulltime jobs and didn't have a lot of down time. One of my greatest pleasures at bedtime was watching nature documentaries together. I had signed up with Time-Life to get a new David Attenborough VHS tape every month. Kirt grew up watching action and horror movies, so this was something new to him but he seemed to enjoy them in small doses, and said he was learning a lot about plants and animals. After several months of it though, he finally set his foot down--gently, of course. He said, "Honey, tonight we're going to watch something I want to watch--something scary and violent". He continued: "If I have to watch one more film about little birdies tweeting and bunnies hopping around, I'm gonna have to feel 'down here' to see if I'm still a man". And of course he felt "down there" to fully demonstrate his point. It was cute, even though the movie we watched wasn't. Freddie Krueger comes to mind...

My kids really liked Kirt. They were accepting and supportive of such a man who obviously made their mother so happy. For an outrageous laugh they sometimes called him "Dad" even though they were quite a bit older (5&6 years older). Occasionally a tactless person who knew I had a young son AND a young boyfriend, but had not met either, would eventually see me with Kirt and ask, "Oh, is this your son?" I would shock them with: "Oh, NO! My son is much older than this!" One woman looked too confused to be embarrassed. In this day and age, you shan't ASSUME an overweight woman is pregnant and ask when the baby is due, or ASSUME a younger guy with an older woman is the son. In his reassuring way, Kirt would just smile at such remarks and give me a little squeeze..

But, fact is stranger than fiction: If a movie of our love story was made NOW, Kirt could play Kirt, and my daughter Cynthia could play ME, and Kirt would still be the younger man! LOL

After we finished the second log house and got all settled in, Kirt made a habit of bringing coffee up to me in the loft in the morning. I'm not one to get spoiled--in fact it would be impossible to spoil me--but this is the closest I've ever gotten to feeling totally and tenderly cherished, and I allowed myself to accept it. It is the warmest sweetest memory I have of our life together. I had never been nurtured, served, or given to so lovingly by a man. The contrast between his size and his gentleness was incongruous--and touching.

While I was sipping coffee and waking up slowly, Kirt would say endearing things such as: "Honey, if you ever get too old to climb the stairs to the loft, I'll carry you up." Of course we'd laugh because it sounded so silly--like that day would never come.

Another time he said : "You know what I'd do if you asked for a divorce?" I said, "What?" He said, "I wouldn't give it you."

Even when I hiccoughed he thought it was cute. He would say--like a wolf in sheep's clothing-- "My, what beautiful legs you have, my dear". He loved me the way most women would like be loved: not to be put on a pedestal, but as a best friend in a natural comfortable way. It was so easy being with Kirt; I could totally be myself and so could he.

When the house was finished, Kirt kept surprising me with large practical gifts: He hefted a washer and dryer--brand spankin' new--into their spots, rolled a new refrigerator into its spot, carried in a glass-top range, and then a new TV. I was shocked, but thrilled to tears. I wasn't the kind of girlfriend to ask for things, or expect gifts. We each handled our own hard earned money separately but we shared living expenses.

Kirt was wisely frugal, but also wisely generous. He knew I was always struggling financially so when he saw an important basic need, he filled it.

We worked on the log house for six years and when it was almost done, it burned down. Kirt came home from work to no house on the hill and when he saw the fire trucks he realized what had happened. He was devastated and cried real tears. I respected that about him; he was man enough to cry.

The first thing he did after everybody left and we were alone and hanging onto each other for dear life, was to take my hand and walk across the road to the stream. He picked up several big flat river rocks and said: "I'm going to build you a stone house that can never be destroyed by fire". We staggered back across the road loaded down with all the rocks we could possibly carry in one trip and dumped them in a pile. I think he was still in shock, but it was a gesture that made me feel more loved than I have ever felt before. His first thoughts were how he was going to bring my house back for me.

Logging for the second house was the most amazing feat of strength and determination in a man that I have ever witnessed. As if the first time around wasn't impressive enough, the second time around was shock and awe! Kirt was a human forklift. This time he had to FELL the giant trees, limb them, buck them to length, and carry each GREEN 300 to 500 pounder on his shoulders 50 to 100 feet or more to the truck. In the real world, each log would have required 2 or 3 ordinary men to carry it and it still would have been a struggle. We hauled 300 logs in 25 trips in only 3 weeks, and lived to tell about it!

We tried to make it fun. Going back home down the steep mountain loaded with a ton and a half of logs in a half-ton pickup, meant I had to stay in granny low and go very slowly with the hazard lights blinking. On one trip we were so hot and sweaty that Kirt took his shirt off, so I followed suit. I took my shirt AND bra off and drove down topless. We laughed and giggled whenever people passed us and their eyes bugged out. I'd do just about anything for a laugh with Kirt. We took advantage of every opportunity to enjoy small and simple pleasures. Free fun is the best kind, and we excelled at it!

To fill in the timeline: Kirt and our newfound craftsman friend, Vadim, did all the basic rebuilding of the second house, and I did all the finish work. Then they became partners in their own construction business called Home Renaissance and ended up building 44 beautiful high-end houses until Kirt took over the pear orchards for his Dad, and Vadim took over Home Renaissance by himself.

It came natural for Kirt and me to have a good time together--we couldn't help it. We didn't ONLY work. Every Halloween we dressed up and went downtown. One Halloween Kirt decided to be a "ballerina" and it was the most ridiculous outfit I've ever seen on a guy. I was "Doris Day" with a polka dot dress and a blonde wig. "Oh, what a night"...

Kirt remembered every romantic occasion through the years--every birthday, anniversary, and Valentine's Day. To celebrate, he always took me out to dinner at a special (expensive) place and our conversations were as juicy as the steaks. He gave me beautiful gifts that he carefully chose to honor my femininity. Although we worked side by side like partners in grime, to him I remained a beautiful soft feminine woman. Seeing that reflection in his eyes, I couldn't help but have a perpetual little smile on my face when I was with him.

Kirt wanted to go to Reno for his 21st birthday (Dec.26), and stay at the high rise Bally's Hotel. He wanted to do something completely different and exciting on his 21st and of course I agreed that he should--and while we were there we could visit my dear mom. We left about 1 PM Christmas Day and arrived about 6 PM to check in at the hotel. As soon as we walked into our elegant and lavish room on the 21st floor, the phone rang. I answered, and the caller introduced himself as the hotel security officer and stated in a deep serious monotone voice: "Ms. Ainsworth, you are harboring a minor in your room, and it's against the law! We're coming up to press charges."

I was too shocked to even respond. All I could think of to say was: "He'll be 21 in 6 hours", but I was speechless. After a few seconds of agonizing silence, the same caller said in a normal relaxed voice: "Hi Dorothy. It's me, Bill, from the fitness center. I'm spending Christmas here myself and I saw you guys check in and I knew it wasn't quite Kirt's birthday yet so I thought I'd play a trick on you." Whew! The truth was it was NOT against the law for minors to stay in the hotel rooms; they just can't gamble. Bill took me by surprise and had his gottcha moment; I was royally punked. I hate practical jokes (and their jokers), but all in all we had a fabulous time in Reno. Kirt and I stayed up half the night to herald in his 21st year, and we even went so far as to go bowling in Bally's basement bowling alley at 2 AM. Gleeful nerds again...

When Kirt was 21 1/2, he decided to enter the Bill Pearl Body Building contest in the middle-weight class (176 lbs.). He had perfect symmetry but was too young to look "ripped" enough. The judges like contestants to look like skinned monkeys. He was natural (no steroids or drugs) so he had to really work at losing the youthful plumpness under his skin. He dieted and jogged until he lost 20 lbs., but still didn't look shredded enough. He placed fourth and was terribly disappointed and discouraged. I remember him saying: "I was the best of the worst, and the worst of the best".

He inherited the tightest skin I have ever seen or felt; it was impossible to pinch him, and his muscles felt like iron. When a massage therapist student volunteered to give him a massage--her assignment required massaging a weight lifter--she couldn't press hard enough to make a dent in his muscles so she had to pound on him with her fists and stand on his back and jump up and down to complete the job.

He decided he would never compete again except in strength contests--the reason being that after losing all that weight he said he felt "as weak as a cat" and didn't like that, and he wasn't willing to take drugs. So he put the pounds back on and his next competition was a bench press contest where he won first place in his weight class (benched 450#).

Then, on the spur of the moment, he entered a strongman contest without even training for it. He placed well in almost every category, and won one event overall--in the number of times he could raise 220 lbs. straight up overhead (from chin level) in one minute. He did it 31 times, beating the national champion by 11 presses!

He hasn't competed since, but enjoys his life as it is: staying strong, healthy, and productive, and being satisfied with setting goals, competing with himself, and doing his own personal best. As gorgeous as he always looked to me, he was reluctant to ever go shirtless in public. When I asked him why he was so darn modest, he said in jest: "Like a sculptor, I'm not ready to unveil my work yet".

When I think back about how I met Kirt, and recall so vividly our first night together, it brings to mind the old song by Dinah Washington: "What a difference a day makes... 24 little hours..." Indeed, my life went from famine to feast in 24 little hours.

Kirt at 35