Daryl decided it was time to show Mary how he felt, so he bought her a single rose. Mary broke it in half and gave it back to him.
And their romance began.
|I toured the Lincoln Park Zoo with Amelia, Logan and the grown-ups|
The story of how a snapped rose became the spark of true love has three different beginnings — 1994, 1991 and the late 1980s. Way back then, Daryl was a psychology student at Kansas State University, and he also drew a comic strip for the school newspaper; Mary was a high school student in a nearby town who picked up the KSU paper from time to time. The “Double Barreled” strip made a strong impression on her…not in a positive way.
“I remember reading his cartoons when I was in high school and thinking ‘Wow, this guy is weird,’” she tells me.
She was soon to meet Mr. Double Barrel.
“We kept crossing paths,” she tells me, “we just didn’t know it.”
|Mary checks out one of the parrots|
By 1991, Mary had enrolled at K-State, and Daryl had paused his publishing career to focus on psychology classes. His advisor put together a collection of upper- and underclassmen for a mentoring program; Daryl and Mary signed up, and happened to attend the same gathering.
“The only thing I remember about that meeting was the girl across the table from me,” Daryl recalls.
Two things about this girl stood out to Daryl:
1. She was beautiful.
2. She had a gob of toothpaste drying on a corner of her mouth.
The group talked a bit, and Daryl made some time with The Toothpaste Girl (who had no idea she was talking to Double Barrel), but he let her leave without getting her name. And that was very nearly the one and only end to what would have been a pointless story…except for Mary’s sister being a fashion major. And over-protective.
By 1994, Double Barrel had “extended my stay” at KSU by adding graphic design to a double major; one day, he dropped by the student union and spotted a fashion show going on. Mary’s sister, Sandy, organized this event to display styles from past decades, but when she found herself in need of a model from the 1960s, she recruited Mary and outfitted her with their mother’s DayGlo orange go-go dress.
“All of the sudden, I see Toothpaste Girl coming down the runway!” Daryl tells me. “She just stuck out in my mind.”
But Daryl made no move. The Toothpaste Girl got away again.
|I captured Amelia in her natural state — chilling|
But Daryl got another chance, because his roommate volunteered at the student union — with The Toothpaste Go-Go Girl. They bumped into each other again when Mary came over to their place to meet his roommate…right as Daryl got out of the shower.
“I had to put clothes on, and stuff like that,” he told me.
So an acquaintanceship began. Daryl liked Mary a lot, but was uncertain of what to do; Mary warmed up to Daryl, but was waiting for him to make a move.
By the night of her 21st birthday, Mary was still waiting — but she’d invited Daryl along for the party. Sandy organized a bar-hopping tour for her baby sister…but she was not excited about that Daryl guy coming.
In one of the bars, a woman was walking around selling roses, of many colors. Daryl decided that the moment had arrived — he would reveal his real feelings to Mary with one of those roses. But he knew nothing about what rose colors symbolize…
…So he went to Sandy for counsel. Sandy advised him to give Mary a yellow rose, assuring him that the yellow rose symbolized “forever.”
“Never listen to my sister,” Mary cautions me.
Daryl handed the girl he was attracted to a rose that he did not know actually meant “friendship.” Mary knew what it meant, and was perturbed about receiving it from the guy she really liked.
So she went to the bathroom, snapped the stem in half, returned and handed the broken flower back to him.
“It wouldn’t be broken,” she told him, “if it was red.”
Daryl recoiled for a moment — but even he knew what a red rose symbolized. He now knew what Mary wanted from him.
“I took this as a good thing,” he told me.
And starting soon afterward, Double-Barrel Daryl and The Toothpaste Go-Go Girl dated for five years. Their love came to a fourth beginning in 1999, at their wedding.