Scott and Michelle. "She suggested going back to Cleveland to visit her family. It started as a misunderstanding, like most disagreements do."
  • Scott and Michelle. "She suggested going back to Cleveland to visit her family. It started as a misunderstanding, like most disagreements do."

Donna and Eugene

Donna and Eugene. "Everything is not going to be all beds of roses and bluebirds fluttering around the window."

How long have you been a couple?

Donna: Since the summer of 75.

How did you meet? ?

Donna: The first time we met, Eugene followed me into the Little Chef restaurant and asked me if he could buy me a malted. But I didn’t want to be committed for a whole malted ’cause a malted cost two bucks, so I said, “No, but you can buy me a cup of coffee,” ’cause a cup of coffee was a quarter, ’cause I figured for a quarter even if I just let the guy sit by me and be nice to him, that’s worth a quarter. And I had already planned to give the wrong phone number if he asked me for it. So he asked me for my phone number, and I gave him the wrong number, and that was the end of that. Two weeks later I saw him on the beach—I didn’t realize it was the same guy — and he was playing his guitar. And this time, I guess ’cause I’m a music fan, the muse in me was all a sudden interested in him even though I had not been interested in him without the guitar. So I sat there and listened to him play, and it was like he was playing all his songs just to me. It was like from his heart to my heart. We fell in love and we’ve been together ever since that day.

Do you remember it different?

Eugene: Well, I remember in regards to the malted — I knew you really wanted a malt. I knew the game you were playing. And as I was about halfway through my malted, you were done with your coffee, and I had to make a decision. Do I ask her, “Are you sure you don’t want a malted?” And I thought, “No, I’m not gonna play this game. You asked for coffee; you got coffee.” And then, in my memory, we had made plans to meet at the place that I was staying later that night, but I had a chance to play a gig with my cousin at a club called Elmer’s in Kensington. So I put a note for her on my door in case she did show up.

Donna: So we both ended up kinda standing each other up that first meeting. Did you recognize me as the girl from the restaurant when I saw you at the beach?

Eugene: Yes.

Donna: I didn’t recognize him ’cause when I first met him, he had his hair all pulled back. He was lookin’ all like he was out on the prowl, lookin’ for a woman. You know how men get, all duded out. When I saw him on the beach, he was not out to impress anyone. He was just being himself. And that’s what I think girls like. Well, at least I do. And after he played an original called “Fortunate Lady,” he sang “Oh Donna, Oh Donna” [singing], the Ritchie Valens song. I didn’t think he remembered my name.

Eugene: When I was done, she came up to me and kinda breathlessly handed me a matchbook with her number on it and said, “Please call me.” It reminded me of Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki. She put her phone number in his ukulele.

Donna, could you describe Eugene for me?

Donna: Wise, patient, generous, manipulative, lazy about some things—not about his art, but we are both lazy about things we don’t want to do.

And could you describe Donna?

Eugene: I respect her, and I respected her when I met her. She’s a lovely person who is oriented towards spirituality, which I see as her strongest point, which would override any of her weaker points in the long run. And I’d say that our 25 years have proven me correct She’s a wonderful mother. We have two children together. And she’s been a wonderful mother to children I have from previous relationships that don’t live with us at this time. I would say that over 25 years I have been more fortunate than not to have her as my wife.

Okay, onward to your last disagreement. What happened and how did you get through it?

Donna: We’re not really over it all the way. It was last Sunday night and Eugene and I had had good sex. He has to take Valium at night to relax. It helps him sleep. He’s an insomniac. So on Wednesday night—and I’ve noticed this before — when he takes his Valium, when he takes it before our sex, he has a hard time getting an erection. And that’s not much fun for me; I can’t bring him to a climax. I could do it from now to forever and it wouldn’t work. So I was complaining the last couple of times this happened. It’s frustrating and it makes me feel inadequate. So on Sunday I noticed he had a nice erection and it responded really well and he came nice and I felt secure about my womanhood. And I asked him, “Honey, did you take your Valium?” And he said, “No.” And I said, “Thank you for not taking it before we had our sex,” ’cause I thought that he was doing it out of consideration for me. It really meant a lot to me, and I really enjoyed the sex a lot better. So what does he do? The first thing out of his mouth was, “Well, I’ll take a Valium next time.” How could he say that when I just said what I said? And I didn’t want to touch him after that. And that’s where we’ve been pretty much since then.

Eugene: Well, it’s kind of ironic because, first off, what it led to was that I didn’t want to touch her because it would have been her turn [laughs]. It was really a misunderstanding, and I explained it. And I’m going to explain the misunderstanding again. I am a person with formal education in psychopharmacology and I monitor substances and my reaction to the substances when I take them. Now, although she did quote me correctly, this is how something taken out of context can be misunderstood. What I said was, “Next time I’m gonna take a Valium.” However, she got so overwrought by that statement and what it meant to her that she did not hear the rest of what I said even after repeating it numerous times and trying to set the record straight. In my mind, as a scientist, the Valium was immaterial because a Valium — which surprised me many years ago —


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