Nick Adams and Carol Nugent
The first year of marriage can be the wackiest . . .
One night, just a few months after their wedding, Nick came home, only to find Carol in tears.
“What’s wrong, honey?” he asked. ‘“Whatever’s the matter? Did something happen to you?”
“Nothing . . . nothing’s wrong,” she replied, whimpering, and she disappeared into the kitchen to prepare dinner, leaving Nick standing there.
“But honey,” he said, following her. “I know something’s wrong. Please tell me, what is it?”
“Oh, now, you know very well what’s wrong.”
“Well . . . gee, no . . . I sure don’t think I do.”
“Discount clothes for our little baby, indeed!”
“Oh,” he said, finally understanding it all.
Just that morning he’d mentioned to her over the telephone that, on his way to the studio, he’d passed a discount house which was selling cute baby things. He’d suggested to Carol that she might look there. Their baby was due in the spring. “But what’s wrong with that . . . why the tears?” he asked, puzzled.
“Because . . . because it means you don’t love me any more. You can’t love me any more if you can make such a cheap suggestion for our baby. And only yesterday you said that nothing, not anything in the world, would ever be too good for me. Men are so unpredictable,” she finished. “Husbands especially.”
Nick looked startled, then for a moment they just stood staring at each other, not saying a word.
Suddenly Nick blurted out, “No kid of mine is going to wear fancy clothes when all he’ll do at the beginning is run around and wear them out anyhow!”
Another silence followed.
“Maybe I never really knew you,” said quietly.
“You’re so sensitive,” Nick grumbled. I only suggested. . . .”
There was a knock at the door. Nick went over to answer it. It was a neighbor from across the hall who was standing holding an empty cup in her hand. “Could you spare a little coffee?” she asked. “I’m completely out.”
Carol hung her head, hoping the neighbor wouldn’t see her red eyes. Then, as Nick went into the kitchen to fetch some, she fumbled in her pocket for a handkerchief and began blowing her nose vigorously, as though she had a heavy cold. “I can’t let her see I’ve been crying,” Carol thought, embarrassed.
“Hay fever?” asked the neighbor.
“Oh . . . yes,” Carol answered. “I’ve suffered a lot this year.”
“That’s a shame,” said the neighbor. And, seeing Nick, added, “Your poor wife.”
“Poor wife?” repeated Nick, looking puzzled.
“Yes . . . her hay fever.”
“Yes, darling,” said Carol thinking very quickly, and deciding how slow men can be to catch on at times. “You know how I suffer.” Then, turning to the neighbor, she added, “He’s been so sweet about it. Keeps insisting I take pills although I know they do no good.”
The woman took the coffee from Nick, thanked them, started to leave, then turned and said casually, “You two certainly have fixed your place up grand. You are really lucky kids. Yes, you sure are lucky . . . my daughter’s been married eight years next March. She and her husband haven’t been able to have a child yet. Oh, they don’t say anything, but you can tell they feel something’s missing in their lives . . . well, I hope I haven’t bothered you. . . .”
As soon as the door closed, they looked at each other sheepishly.
“Hay fever,” scolded Nick, playfully. “Only my wife could think of something like that.”
“I guess she’s right, Nick. We are lucky.” And she ran over to Nick to kiss him. “I’m sorry I shouted,” she said. “It’s all my fault.”
“No, it was mine,” Nick insisted. And for the moment, everything was quiet again. Then they both roared and Nick grabbed her, lifted her up and dumped her on the sofa. “It was my fault,” he insisted, threatening to tickle her if she didn’t agree. She nodded yes because she was laughing too hard to answer.
“Remember,” she asked, when finally she caught her breath. “Remember we said we’d never argue again—after our first one on our honeymoon.” And she smiled as she pushed back his hair gently . . .
he and Nick had been sitting close together on an old-fashioned love seat in front of a crackling, red-orange fire. It had felt cozy and warm, just as she’d dreamed it would be. Outside, the wind was blowing gently, making a whistling sound as it rushed past the trees.
They’d been married just forty-eight hours and were spending their honeymoon in a white-frame cottage, snuggled in between giant fir trees, and overlooking a big blue lake. The resort, Lake Arrowhead, only a few hours drive from Hollywood, was nearly deserted at that time of year, so she and Nick had almost an entire mountain to themselves. It was beautiful and quiet; a perfect place, she had thought, for two people in love who are all involved with the newness of each other.
They had sat silently, for a while, holding hands and then suddenly they began talking about the future, about all the things they were going to do together. Then, almost together, they got onto the question of the past, learning all the little things about each other that they hadn’t had time to discuss during their very brief courtship.
In fact, they’d only met a month before—when they’d gone, separately, to a big Hollywood party and, they later decided, were drawn to each other by some magnetic-like force that was neither explainable nor logical. He’d asked her name. They’d begun to chat. He’d taken her home. They’d sat parked in his car in front of her house talking until the first rays of the sun came up. Later that day, they’d gone to the beach, then out to dinner. Twenty-one days later, Nick had slipped a diamond ring on her finger and, after an eight day engagement, they’d flown to Las Vegas, along with her parents and sister and a few close friends of Nick, to be married. Then they’d flown right back to Hollywood, spent their wedding night in Nick’s bachelor apartment and, since he had only two days free before starting a TV show, they’d left early the next morning for the lake.
“Nick,” she’d said suddenly. “When—when we have children, what would you like to call them?”
“Children!” Nick quipped. “Sounds like you have a whole brood in mind.”
“No . . . not really. Just maybe two . . . or three.”
Nick had been silent for a moment. “Reb’s a good name for a boy,” he said at length. “But it’s a long way off.”
“Reb . . . Reb,” she’d repeated. strong. Or Mark?”
“Mmm,” said Nick, not so convinced.
“Bet you’ll be a strict father,” she’d teased.
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing,” she’d laughed at his stern expression. “It’s good . . . as long as you’re not too strict.”
Well, I don’t believe in sparing the rod,” he’d said. “And I also think a kid should learn by his own mistakes.”
“. . . by his own mistakes! That’s an awful way to treat a child!” she’d said.
And suddenly, they were having their first argument—about how to raise children . . . and they were only on their honeymoon. And they learned something. When you’re deeply in love, when you’re learning to live together, when you want to be perfect for each other, just everything is important. And when everything is important, as Nick would laugh many times, you’re sure to argue.
“It’s because I love you so much that every little thing matters,” Nick had said when, two seconds later, they had made up and were appalled that they should have shouted at each other. And she had agreed.
“Sometimes it’s hard to understand the person fully when you’re so caught up with the newness of marriage,” Carol says today. Now she knows why Nick feels this way about bringing up children. What’s more, she agrees with him.
It was because they’d been raised differently. She’d always been sheltered, surrounded not only by close family ties but by economic security. She’d never known hunger or what it was like to scrounge for a living or how it felt to want something so much you could almost taste it. But Nick did.
He’d been raised in a hard working family who’d never had more than basic necessities—something he wanted his children to know about so they could appreciate all that they had.
After their two-day honeymoon, they’d come back to town, found a nice apartment and moved right in. Nick had teased her and insisted she’d only wanted the place because of its pink kitchen.
And she’d laughed and admitted that maybe this was true. And they’d gone to look for furniture and had fun picking out the pieces they wanted. It had all been so wonderful, setting up their new home.
She had promised herself that she was going to be an understanding, thoughtful, practical, helpful—well, just perfect—wife.
She’d even decided she would never let her husband go to work without getting up at 5:30 in the morning to make him a good breakfast. It was the duty of a good wife to do so. So, very quietly, she’d slipped out of bed at five o’clock and tiptoed into the kitchen to begin preparing it. Meanwhile, he’d gotten out of bed and by the time he was washed and dressed, she had had an inviting meal of bacon, eggs, toast and hot sweet rolls waiting for him. He’d gone whistling into the kitchen, yet, the moment he saw the meal, an odd, disappointed expression clouded his face. But he didn’t say a word. He just hugged her and sat down and finished everything she’d set before him. “After all that bother,” she’d thought, when he left, “he didn’t so much as say ‘thank you.’ Just like a man.”
So the next morning, she didn’t bother to get up at all. But she couldn’t resist peeking, from behind a screen, as he made his own breakfast. And then she had had the shock of her life. For he had gotten out the electric blender and was filling it with orange juice, a raw egg and some wheat germ from a can and mixing the whole lot into a horrible mess.
“Oh, no!” she whispered, putting her hands to her face. And then she realized she’d never asked him what he ate for breakfast and he’d eaten all her breakfast and not complained.
Being perfect took all day, Carol soon learned. She’d busied herself around the apartment, dusting even where there was no dust. Then she’d gone down to the neighborhood market and introduced herself to the grocer and then the butcher, giving her name, very proudly, as “Mrs. Adams.” She must have stood in front of the meat counter for almost an hour, she remembered, not wanting to admit she didn’t know one cut from another and yet wanting so much to get the right one. Finally, she bought a lean cut of roast beef. Then she hunted through the packets of frozen vegetables until she’d found two she thought Nick would like. And she also bought some jello for a mold and a cake mix.
Then, she’d gone home to devote the whole afternoon to preparing just about the best dinner she knew how. Nick, she remembered, must have called almost ten times that afternoon . . . just to tell her how much he loved her. She was still a little nervous about calling him, in case he was busy.
She hadn’t told him that, when he called, she was standing in a kitchen piled high with dishes and pots and pans. She hadn’t wanted him to know what a muddle she’d gotten herself into trying to make the cake. It should have been so simple. At least that’s what the directions said. Even the roast presented a problem and the peas had burned. Finally, though, she peeked in the icebox to find that the jello had set. The finished cake, she had to admit, didn’t look bad at all. And the roast looked like a roast! So, about the time she expected Nick to arrive home, she ran into the bedroom to get dressed. She’d made up her mind that her husband would never come home to find her a mess.
But, just as she’d decided what to wear, she heard his key in the lock. Her hair was still falling all over her face and her skirt was covered with flour.
When he came in, he took her in his arms, kissed her gently, and then, holding her at arm’s length, whistled softly, “You look wonderful. . . I have a beautiful wife, that’s for sure.”
What! She couldn’t believe her ears. She knew she looked a mess.
It was true, only a husband could love you looking like that. When Nick had first said it, she’d thought he was fooling. But he wasn’t, because he kissed her behind the ear and sighed, “Mmm. You smell good too.”
“Garlic,” she laughed.
The dinner had turned out perfect. And Nick was delighted. She’d set the table with their best pink cloth and the elegant silver and dishes they’d been given as wedding presents. And he’d said how lovely everything looked, noticing even the flowers.
She vowed it would always be like this, until two days later . . .
That day, she happened to meet a girlfriend while out shopping. They’d begun talking, stopped in for coffee together, then gone bargain hunting in a store that had Before she realized what had happened, the day had flown by and it was already six o’clock. She had rushed into the nearest supermarket, bought a quick TV dinner and a carton of ice cream and arrived home just a few minutes before Nick.
When he got in he seemed tired and, taking off his coat, had said, “Boy, what a day I’ve had. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of you . . . and the wonderful dinner that would be waiting for me. And am I hungry! You know I’m a lucky guy. I’ve told everybody what a great little cook I married.”
She didn’t know what to do. She just began serving the TV dinner.
“I was out shopping and I met a girlfriend. I guess I must have forgotten about the time . . . I am sorry,” she said quietly.
Nick looked up. “What do you mean? This is exactly what I wanted.”
She could have hugged him. Instead, the next day, she especially telephoned him at the studio to ask him what he’d like for dinner that night, apologizing for what seemed to be the hundreth time—for the night before.
“What would you like, Nick,” she’d asked. “Name anything.”
For a moment there had been silence, then he said, “How about a chicken TV dinner. You know, I kind of like them . . .”
And there had been so many wonderful things, too, that they’d shared during their early wacky months of marriage.
Sometimes, Carol felt, she loved Nick so much she could never show him how much. They had so much happiness. And then, when the doctor told her what she had hoped might be true—that she was to have a baby—she felt that it all couldn’t be possible.
The first time she put on her maternity clothes, Nick had laughed happily and joked, “You look just like a kid playing at dressing up.” And in a way she felt that, too. She was only five feet tall and she looked like a little girl who’d stuffed herself with a pillow. But she was wonderfully healthy, and if pregnancy disrupted the household, it was only because Nick had food cravings.
And around that same time they’d gone house-hunting because the apartment they had wasn’t big enough for three and she’d discovered a wonderful “kookie” type of place sitting on a hillside. It was round and made of attractive flagstone and it had two bedrooms as well as a guest room. There was a big kitchen, a dining room, and an alcove off the master bedroom to be turned into a nursery. The living room was large and in the center was a fireplace that reached to the ceiling, and from anywhere in the place, you could look through the glass roof and see the sky.
Then Nick came home one night to tell her he’d sold his idea for a TV series and on top of that Mercury had asked him to record “Born a Rebel” and “Bull Run.” “You’ve brought me luck,” he’d said, hugging her tightly. “You know that . . . everything good has happened to me since I met you. And you’re the most precious. I love you, Carol, very much.”
She wanted to tell him exactly how she felt, but all she could say, shyly, was “Me too.” Somehow, he seemed to understand because he said, “I know.”
Nick had to work seven days a week after the series started filming. She hardly ever saw him, and she began to worry as thousands of other new brides have, “If he loved me, he’d come home—no matter what.”
Then one night she couldn’t stand it any longer. When Nick came home, she didn’t meet him at the door and when he finally found her, she asked quietly, “Nick, why . . . why are you away so much? Is there that much to do? Is everything else more important than me?” The words just seemed to flood. She couldn’t stop them.
Nick didn’t answer. He just paced up and down. “I . . .” he began, then stopped and paced a little more. “It’s like this . . .” he tried again. And stopped a second time.
“You don’t love me any more. Is that what you’re trying to say?” Carol shouted.
“No, Carol. No!” he said, with anger in his voice. “It’s not that at all.”
“Well, what is it?” she screamed.
He came over to where she sat on the couch and sat down beside her. “Carol,” he said. “I have to work hard . . . it’s for you. It’s all for you, and our baby. So that I can be successful and my family can have everything. I know I’m out in the evenings and away sometimes on weekends, but believe me, it’s not because I don’t love you. It’s just the opposite. Carol, I love you more than anything else in this world . . .”
She bent her head onto his shoulder. She was so ashamed for feeling sorry for herself, she could only say over and over, like a broken record, “I’m so sorry, so sorry, Nick.”
They were learning all the time.
Gradually, Nick became more mellow and Carol a little stronger. They argued but she didn’t collapse into tears and he didn’t clam up. She still missed him and maybe he couldn’t call her five times a day from the studio, but he still called twice. And when he came home late at night and more and more of his weekends were crowded with publicity tours and appearances, no matter how busy he was, they still found time for being together. Daily, their understanding grew. They became more natural with each other and felt more sure of their marriage, more contented. They were growing sure of each other’s love.
And then, one Friday night, Nick came home to find a roast beef dinner waiting for him. There was a pink cloth on the table and candles lit and music playing and all their best china and silver neatly arranged. Carol’s hair was combed back and she had on her best black maternity skirt and a frilly white lace top.
After the meal, Nick put a few logs on the fire and Carol curled up on the sofa. Nick sat beside her and they talked quietly. . . . About the nursery complete with Mother Goose linoleum, a crib, and drawers full of diapers and homemade booties supplied by the two prospective grandmas.
They talked about names for the baby. It was to be Reb if it was a boy and Linda Lee if the baby was a girl.
After a while, Nick got up and went into the kitchen. It was time for Carol’s nightly bubble gum—her only craving—and, as he handed it to her he said casually, “Honey, I saw the funniest thing today. A camel’s hair coat, size one. Can you think how it would look!”
She laughed, knowing it would cost a great deal.
“But you don’t believe in expensive clothes for a child,” she chided.
“Oh, well,” Nick added quickly, “Of course, the baby would have to wear it at least four seasons!”
They’d been married nearly a year—it had been a wacky, wonderful year—and amazing, too, when they remembered that not so long ago they’d been perfect strangers. Now they were a man and a wife who not only loved each other, but understood and knew how to live together . . . naturally and happily. “Who was it that said the first year was the hardest? He must have been crazy,” Nick said recently, looking at Carol.
NICK STARS IN “THE REBEL,” SUN., ABC-TV, 9 P.M. EST. HE ALSO RECORDS FOR MERCURY.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE APRIL 1960