The Sleeping Girl

My wife is asleep on my shoulder. She is out like a light. This is a sweet moment between husband and wife. Wait a second. Is she drooling? If she is, so help me, I will gag.

Yes. I can clearly see saliva on my shirt. My gag reflex kicks in.

But I decide not to wake her because she is sleeping too soundly. And because I enjoy watching her sleep.

Long ago, before her, I dated girls who never seemed to actually like me. One girl in particular forced me to attend a fancy New Year’s Eve party at her aunt’s house. She told me to wear a sports coat. When I showed up, she chewed me out.

“What’re you wearing?” she shouted. “You didn’t wear a tie! I told you to dress up.”

“You told me to wear a sports coat.”

“But where’s your tie?”

“You just said ‘Wear a sports coat.’ So I bought a sports coat at a thrift store.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t wear a tie.”

“I clean up pretty good, huh?”

“You’re gonna have to borrow a tie from my uncle.”

“This is genuine Scottish tweed.”

“How could you do this to me?”

“You can’t even see the hole in the elbow, can you? This jacket smells funky.”

“Why do you always dress like a slob?”

“I think whoever wore this jacket before me must’ve died in it.”

She fitted me with a necktie. Before her aunt even served the salad, I was already in my truck on the way home. Her uncle’s necktie died a slow death on I-10.

But the woman who I married actually likes me.

We went to Charleston for our honeymoon. We had a famous time in South Carolina. Charleston is one of the most historic cities in the world—second only to Rome. On every corner you see American history. You can visit the place where George Washington slept, or where Thomas Jefferson hung out, or where Garth Brooks once ate cheese danishes for breakfast.

On our first night in town, we were about to eat at a fancy restaurant. I changed into dress clothes in our hotel bathroom. When my wife saw what I was wearing she giggled.

“Why’re you wearing a necktie?” she said.

“I thought you might want me to.”

“You look weird in it.”

“Define weird.”

“You in a necktie. Take it off before you suffocate.”

And I knew we were made for each other.

After dinner we were walking Broad Street, talking in the happy way that newlyweds do. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a better mood. We bought a handmade basket from an old woman who was weaving them out of sweetgrass. Her baskets cost a small fortune.

Then, a young man approached us and asked for spare change. I told him I had no money. But my wife reached into her pocketbook and gave him a twenty.

“Why’d you do that?” I asked her.

“Because he looked hungry.”

“What if he just blows it on liquor?”

“What if he buys a sandwich?”

They don’t make them any better than my wife.

After the honeymoon trip, we made a long drive back to Florida. On our way home, she fell asleep in the seat beside me. She drooled. I dabbed her sticky chin with a handkerchief and tried not to gag. And I kept watching her sleep. It’s one of the perks of being a husband.

It was hard to keep my eyes on the highway and watch her at the same time, but I managed.

This woman might have been the first person who ever truly saw me. A man can go his whole life without being seen. All my life I felt overlooked.

I was the kid who stood in a line, waiting to be chosen for the backyard football team.The team captain would choose his team and you would wait, holding your breath. Your entire boyhood reputation rested on this moment.

The captain chose Ben first. Then Andy. Then Nelson. Nelson? The human stink bomb? Instead of me? That hurt.

And you reminded yourself, “Hey, it’s alright, being chosen fourth or fifth ain’t bad.”

Next, the captain chose Chad, Randy, Billy, Nick, Tom, Michael, and Harrison. Pretty soon, you were left standing alone with Charles Walborski, who you were pretty sure ate glue. The team captains didn’t want you or him. So you and Charles both went home. Your mother asked about this at the supper table. You were too embarrassed to talk about it. That was how it was.

But then came her. This girl doesn’t just like you. She chose you for her team.

That’s what I was thinking about when leaving Charleston. That’s what I’m thinking about now. About this woman, her head on my shoulder. I’m thinking about how she has never—not even once—asked me to wear a necktie.

I’m thinking about the sweetgrass basket on our coffee table. I’m thinking about going back to Charleston this year for a visit. I’m thinking about how if anyone, for any reason, ever appointed me as team captain, I would choose Charles Walborski first. And I’m thinking about how I am going to gag.

Because this woman is drooling on me.


  1. Pamela Williams - October 11, 2021 12:57 pm


  2. Alan Jamison - October 11, 2021 1:07 pm

    I would love to hear her side of your story

  3. Karen - October 11, 2021 1:08 pm

    What a blessing to find such love. My husband is a no tie guy and always in his favorite tee shirt. He is the love of my life. You would like the Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Palloco. It’s about the kids that don’t quite fit in.

  4. Cathy - October 11, 2021 1:08 pm

    You two have something very special and it touches my heart

  5. Dean - October 11, 2021 1:15 pm

    So glad you’ll found each other. ♥️♥️♥️

  6. beachdreamer1 - October 11, 2021 1:22 pm

    Love it! You and Jamie are so blessed with a rare and very special love❤️ And you, dear Sean, also blessed with a very, very special gift for words!
    Thanks as always for sharing this love and this gift.

  7. Laura - October 11, 2021 1:23 pm

    True love can be a little “gaggy”, if that’s a word. But as you’ve explained better than I could, it is totally worth it.

  8. Connie - October 11, 2021 1:29 pm

    You help me heal from my childhood trauma by writing about yours. Thank you.

  9. Joan Moore - October 11, 2021 1:42 pm

    When she gets up, take her out for pancakes. Love you both.

  10. Angel Alexander - October 11, 2021 1:48 pm

    Sean you are so fortunate to have found someon when sees you. I see you too!!

  11. Melanie Herr - October 11, 2021 1:54 pm

    I love your compassion expressed repeatedly through your writings! Your transparency, your honesty, your God given talent! You define “normal “ by showing us “better”

  12. C Maddox - October 11, 2021 2:17 pm


  13. cflowers - October 11, 2021 2:31 pm

    I love this so much! I was tht kid too…Then when I grew up I was elected Mayor of Mount Pleasant SC…I don’t worry about that stuff anymore because like you, I have my own team. I am glad that you like the Charleston area…I have lived her my entire life. I also want you to know that you make my days better when I read your e-mails!
    Have a blessed day!

    • Karen Snyder - October 11, 2021 6:51 pm

      ❤️ Written for every introverted, shy, awkward, socially inept, last-chosen-for-the-team “kid” everywhere. Thanks! P.S. Neckties do not make the man!

  14. LeAnn - October 11, 2021 2:46 pm

    I like it… makes me hope and wish I really was that kind of girl to my dear hubby who died 3 years ago… I tried, but I worry sometimes that it wasn’t enough and then I remember that where he is now he is perfectly happy… and I remember that he told my son sometime in the last year that life just kept getting better… and that is a huge relief to me to know he said that and meant it…

  15. whitakerbe - October 11, 2021 2:58 pm

    Brother Sean, good job calling out the most important created thing there is — love. You keep on keeping on!

  16. Susan - October 11, 2021 3:07 pm

    You are a sweetheart

  17. Alan Jamison - October 11, 2021 3:08 pm

    I would love to read her side of your (plural) story.

  18. Kay Williams - October 11, 2021 3:29 pm

    I met my now husband when we were both 12 years old. It was love at first sight on my part but he, having the eastern PA dialect, was turned off by my southern accent. We had moved there because of my dad’s job transfer and I started 7th grade in a new school with kids whose language I couldn’t really understand. Instead of saying, “beg pardon” or “I don’t understand you” the common reaction was to say, “Well?”. I interpreted that as meaning, “So what?”and thought those kids were the rudest people on earth. So I ‘stalked’ my intended for 2 years and finally nabbed him when we were 14 and kept him. Our 61st wedding anniversary is next Friday! He later admitted that I had started to physically develop and he could overlook the accent. We are best friends and have no language barrier. We live in VA so have the best of both worlds.

  19. Christina - October 11, 2021 3:44 pm

    Drooling wives are the real deal and Jamie picked the best guy for her team!

  20. Richard - October 11, 2021 4:35 pm

    Thank GOD you stopped writing about angels. You already have one, right there, drooling on you.

  21. Linda Moon - October 11, 2021 6:26 pm

    Sometimes being liked is better than falling in love. No one trips and falls and gets hurt. I like ratty corduroy sports coats and guys who wear them. Your wife, lucky man, saw you and loved you as you are. And I’m glad you made me think of Charleston, my sweetgrass basket on the kitchen desk, and sweet Jamie, too! All this gladness is making me smile RIGHT NOW!

  22. Sonya Tuttle - October 11, 2021 6:37 pm


  23. Steve McCaleb - October 11, 2021 7:18 pm

    I hope somewhere along the line you’ve realized how insanely lucky and blessed you are. And I’m absolutely sure….knowing you that you have and are. You are the most appreciative of men. Good bless you and the drooler.

  24. Shirley - October 11, 2021 7:42 pm

    Too funny! Thanks for brightening my day😊

  25. Rebecca Souders - October 11, 2021 8:24 pm

    Yes, go back to Charleston. Buy your loving wife a fine neck scarf for the drools.

  26. Phil Hawkins - October 11, 2021 9:28 pm

    Sean, there’s one thing worse than being chosen last. It’s when they say “If we get stuck with him, then we get _________!” That happened to me in elementary school. No, I wasn’t any good at sports. Still not, at 71 years old. But I’ve had a pretty good life. BTW, I also play guitar and worked construction most of my life.

  27. AlaRedClayGirl - October 11, 2021 9:30 pm

    Jamie didn’t just choose you for her team…she chose you FIRST! There would be fewer divorces if all newlyweds truly understood what real love is all about. Yes, go back to Charleston.

  28. Debbie g - October 11, 2021 11:03 pm

    You make me have those smiling tears again Love to you and Jamie and love to all of us

  29. MAM - October 11, 2021 11:37 pm

    It’s probably a good thing you never had kids! Drooling is the absolute LEAST of what you encounter with kids. The only times I’ve thrown up (unless I was the sick one) were while cleaning up my kid’s throw up, and my beloved husband had to clean up after both of us! We’re still together and loving one another after more than 53 years married!

  30. Jo Ann Golden - October 11, 2021 11:41 pm


  31. Debbie - October 12, 2021 1:53 am

    Absolutely beautiful.

  32. Dawnie B - October 13, 2021 7:37 pm

    Well, I am the jeans & casual wear person & my husband has always been the dress-up necktie kind of guy. After retirement, he finally loosened up a bit & wears jeans more & neckties less! The longer we are together, the more we become alike! I love him just like he is, no matter how he is dressed, because he knows me right down to the core! He loves me just the way I am, too! Don’t sweat the small stuff, it really doesn’t matter.


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