Kris and I have been together for 20 years now! Though sometimes we bicker (as all couples do), mostly this has been a wonderful experience. I am overjoyed to be spending my life with a partner I love, trust, and respect.

I had promised Paul and Amy Jo that I would share the “application” I completed to become Kris’ boyfriend 20 years ago, but she’s asked me not to share it. I did find it, and it’s fun to read, but I’ll respect her wishes. I will, however, reveal that her number one concern at the time was that I wasn’t serious enough, that I was just too glib. Twenty years later, that’s still her top concern (well, that and cleanliness). Kris often says: “I’d laugh more if you weren’t so funny all the time.”

To celebrate our anniversary, we spent a day together on an extended date.

“You need new shoes,” Kris told me recently. “Especially if you’re going to be doing public speaking, you need a new pair of dress shoes. Quality, not something cheap.”

I am not a shopper. As has been established here and elsewhere, I buy most of my clothes at Costco, supplemented by an occasional trip to Goodwill. “I don’t know where to go to buy new shoes,” I said. “Nordstrom?”

“No,” she said. “Nordstrom is too expensive. Why don’t you call Chris Flick? He has nice shoes.” Chris Flick has nice shoes? How the hell does she know this stuff? I couldn’t tell you which of our friends wore what kind of footwear — nice or not! Shoes just aren’t on my radar.

I called Chris Flick. “This is kind of an awkward question,” I said, “but where do you get your shoes?” Chris laughed, but he didn’t hesitate. He told me that the best place to buy good shoes at great prices was Nordstrom Rack, Nordstrom’s outlet store.

Kris and I drove downtown to buy shoes at Nordstrom Rack. It was overwhelming. Their were aisles and aisles of shoes, most of which looked the same to me. “What kind of shoes do you want?” Kris asked. I didn’t have a good response. The shoes I want are my Timberland boots that I wear around all the time. (These boots are actually the root of the shoe dilemma — it’s my insistence that I can wear these for all occasions that led us to the point of shoe shopping.)

So Kris picked out several shoes for me to try on. We discussed color and fit and comfort. My eyes grew big at the prices. ($60 for a pair of shoes?!??! I’m accustomed to spending $20!) I was taken aback when Kris suggested we buy two or three pairs of shoes. “We’re not going to solve all of your shoe issues with one pair of shoes,” she said.

In the end, we bought four pairs of shoes. I can hardly believe it.

After shoe-shopping, we continued our 20th anniversary extravaganza by spending too much on popcorn and a movie. (Good grief, but I’ve become a skinflint in my old age!) We walked up to the Fox Tower 10 to catch a showing of Slumdog Millionaire. Slumdog Millionaire is about a young man from Mumbai whose own life provides him with the knowledge necessary to answer the questions on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

There is much to love about this film — the music, the actors (especially the children), the style — but I felt parts of the story were, well, formulaic. And if you know even the barest outline of the plot going in, then the climax is telegraphed from the very beginning of the film. Foreshadowing is too subtle a word for how clumsily this is handled.

Still, it was good. Best Picture good? Meh…

For dinner, we headed down to Dan & Louis Oyster Bar. The food was okay, but the atmosphere was ruined by the man urinating on the front steps as we entered the restaurant. (It’s located on the edge of a sketchy part of town.) I was bold and ordered the crab. I love crab meat, but I’ve never ordered a whole crab before, and I was lost. I was also messy, splattering butter all over myself. Kris just shook her head.

In the end, it was a fun day. Kris and I rarely do dates anymore. We should do them more often. Just not to buy shoes, and not to spend a small fortune on a movie, and not to eat crab. I think that cheap pizza and a discount theater are more our style!

Update: Yikes! A few hours later, there was a deadly shooting just around the corner from the restaurant. As most of you know, I’m not one who believes in the supernatural, but as we were walking to the restaurant last night, I had a terrible foreboding at this spot. I’m not kidding. But it was about bodily harm to me, not others. Just coincidence, I know, but still freaky.

7 Replies to “20-Year Anniversary”

  1. Amy Jo says:

    I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to sample the questionnaire, but I too can respect Kris’s wishes. Just knowing that she made you fill one out, way back when, is truly enough. I’m happy that each of our friends has his or her own special quirks! Makes for interesting dinner conversations!

  2. Dave says:

    Although I steadfastly refuse to admit this to SWMBO, she’s gotten me hooked on good shoes. Since I wear dress shoes all day at least 5 days a week, investing in quality shoes is worthwhile for me. For what it’s worth, I’d recommend the Allen-Edmonds Walden loafer if you want a slip-on (warning- expect to pay $225+), or the Ferragamo Newland Oxford cap toe if you want a traditional cap toe lace-up. (BIG WARNING- expect to pay $350++ for these, but they’re the most comfortable pair of shoes you’re going to find)

  3. Dagny says:

    Just think, JD… Castle & I spend our weekends down in that “sketchy part of town” being a part of what makes Portland great at Saturday Market. I’d venture a guess that suburbia en toto gets more shootings than downtown, but downtown shootings make more compelling evening news.

  4. Joel says:

    Congratulations! I’ve always loved seeing the Roth-Gates Ongoing Romantic Experiment play out (I just made up that title), you are in so many ways my favorite couple. Twenty years!

    I’ve been Aimee’s man-friend for eleven years, now, and the other day, when thinking about this stretch of time, I mispoke and said something like, “Wow, I’ve known you longer than I’ve been alive.” Which isn’t technically true, but has a trueness about it.

  5. Tamara says:

    Congratlations! You and Kris sound a lot like Keith and I. He hates shopping and will wear a pair of shoes until they are literally falling apart. I can’t get him to go buy new clothes, so when the situation is getting desperate, I bring some choices home and then take back what he doesn’t like.

  6. Kristi says:

    “In 20 years time will we still ask why?” I know I’m slow to respond, but I couldn’t resist the quote.

  7. Lauren says:


    I have one thing to say: classic (and classy) clothes will make you look and feel awesome. They don’t have to be expensive ($500+) or flashy. However, I CAN attest to that the more expensive the shoes ($60+), the longer they will last and still look and feel good.

    Many shoes you may wear long past their looking and feeling good… but the better shoes WILL look (to others) beautiful, and feel good to you, and will help your biomechanical issues. (Remember the running-shoe subject…)

    Really nice clothes can be beautiful and comfortable. A crisp white shirt, blazer, and black pants (or khakis) can present you in style anywhere… speaking engagements, lunch, a meeting with your publisher.

    Congrats on your 20 years. And Kris Gates is always right.

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