by Valerie Nusbaum
When the letter arrived in the mail, my first thought was, “Oh, no.” My second thought was, “There’s probably a column in this.”
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) wrote to me and told me that I would need to round up five documents, proving that I am who I say I am, that I am a United States citizen and a resident of Maryland. Randy received one of those letters, too; in addition, he got a notice that he needed to renew his driver’s license as well.
My letter from the MDOT urged me to go online and schedule an appointment to make my visit there faster and more efficient. What the heck? It was worth a try. I told Randy that I’d schedule an appointment for him as well, and we could go in together. It took a while for me to figure out how to navigate the website, but I soon got it done. Strangely, I did this on a Sunday morning, and Randy and I were able to get appointments for the very next afternoon. We scurried around finding a birth certificate and passport, marriage license (because my name is different now), Social Security cards, old bills, and so on. We each had a folder full of papers.
The next day, I hurried to Frederick to meet up with Randy. I’d been to my mom’s and to an appointment in Brunswick, and Randy was at home working. We met and he drove us to the MVA office in Frederick. Our appointments started at 3:15 p.m., but we arrived at 2:45 p.m. The line was very long. Randy then discovered that the line for people with appointments was in another spot, and there was only one person in front of us. After a quick check-in, we took our seats and settled in to wait for hours. My number was called within two minutes, and as I was heading to my station, I heard Randy’s number being called. I gave the very pleasant clerk my documents, and we chatted about the weather, husbands working from home, and she told me that green is definitely my color. I was finished in five minutes. Randy’s visit took a little longer because he needed to renew his license, have his photo taken, and read the vision test. After another couple of minutes, he paid for his license and we walked out of there and climbed into the truck. The clock read 2:59 p.m. I kid you not. It was as though we were in an alternate reality.
I apologize, dear readers, that there wasn’t really anything column-worthy in that ordeal. It wasn’t even an ordeal. My only reason for writing about it at all is to let you know that it is possible to go to the MVA and come out smiling. I whole-heartedly urge every one of you to make an appointment any time you need to go there.
Our second recent outing was to Way Off Broadway dinner theatre, also in Frederick. We don’t venture far from home these days. Mom had given us two tickets to the theatre for a show of our choice. The tickets were a gift for our wedding anniversary, and we’d been looking forward to using them. We decided to skip going to the Christmas show last year, and we scheduled our “date” for the first show of 2020, which happened to be Little Women (the musical).
I had, of course, read Louisa May Alcott’s book when I was a young girl, and I’d seen at least one version of the book on film. The film version I remember starred June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Peter Lawford, among others. Randy hadn’t read the book or seen the movie, so I felt obliged to fill him in on some of the key parts so that he wouldn’t be shocked. Frankly, I had a hard time imagining how a musical could be made from such sad material, but I was curious to see it. I told Randy about the four March sisters and their Marmee living in relative poverty during the Civil War. He was hooked when I mentioned the War. I explained that Jo was a girl and Laurie was a boy. And I told him that Beth died halfway through the story. Randy said that he felt sure that the musical would have been rewritten, and that Beth likely recovered because, after all, who could stand on stage and sing a song about something that sad?
Randy was wrong. Beth died. Not only that, but the young actress who portrayed Beth in the show was also our server for the night. The poor thing passed away right after she brought us dessert. I cried a little, and I think I heard Randy sniffle. It was scarlet fever, you know. Randy swore it was scurvy because he said he didn’t see a single piece of citrus in the March house. It was war-time and they were poor.
As if losing Beth wasn’t hard enough, Laurie had to go and fall in love with Amy after Jo rebuffed his advances. Randy was angry that poor Jo was left with only one option, the awkward Professor Bhaer.
Randy’s complaints aside, it was a nice evening out. So what if the theatre was so cold that we all had to wear our coats through dinner and the performance? Adversity builds character. Ask Marmee.