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She Truly Knows Meaning of ‘For Better or Worse’

She became “the wife” 30 years ago Monday, in a rush, obviously, to walk down the aisle and change her last name from Gizzleman to you know what.

“For better or worse,” she said, and how much worse could it get than Gizzleman?

Her father, Frank, escorted her down the aisle and appeared reluctant to let her go, apparently not exactly thrilled at the prospect of his daughter marrying a sportswriter.

Frank is no longer with us, but I imagine he’s up there somewhere, a big smile on his face whenever he thinks about the Grocery Store Bagger.

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Her three brothers--Bubba I, Bubba II and Bubba III--like her father, were also not happy, but that’s because the ceremony lasted an hour, and they had nothing to eat.

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THE BRIDE wore white, and I can’t say the sportswriter was pleased. It had been a very long wait, but something Bubba I, Bubba II and Bubba III had insisted on.

The bride was beautiful--a little short, but still gorgeous. As the bride remembers it, the groom was “shaking” as she walked down the aisle, and maybe it was the thought of sharing every Thanksgiving dinner with Bubba I, Bubba II and Bubba III for the rest of his life.

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At the reception, the bride danced and the groom watched, and across the country USC celebrated with a 51-6 victory over Oregon State. It would be almost 30 years before anyone thought about divorce, and it would only be Trojan fans mentioning something about irreconcilable differences with the sports columnist, who loves them so.

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THIRTY YEARS. Friends have come and gone. Good and bad times have come and gone. But the wife remains short--and still gorgeous.

There were homes, some of them dream homes, in Coeur d’Alene, Beloit, Morristown, Memphis and San Diego. There were the French doors she always wanted, finally bought for a home in Denver. But those houses, and all the improvements, have been left behind because the sportswriter would usually be run out of town. I know, hard to imagine.

She became a mother, the very best in the entire world, and is best pals now with her two adult daughters, which is right up there with anything Barry Bonds, Jerry Rice and Wayne Gretzky have accomplished. Unfortunately, that usually makes it 3-1 in family votes, which accounts for the Grocery Store Bagger’s still being around.

She has a master’s degree, having somehow combined housekeeping, career and night school to get it, and she isn’t the first one to fall asleep at night.

She became a teacher and a running character in a sports column. People began to call her a saint, although I have never understood why.

Charger owner Alex Spanos took a liking to her and made a point of calling her “the better half,” whatever that means. Ryan Leaf felt sorry for her. Some people refer to her as “Maris,” like Niles’ wife on “Frasier,” claiming she doesn’t exist, but I have the Nordstrom credit card bills to prove it.

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She had a thing for Jimmy Stewart and had her picture taken with him, and I would imagine that in her version of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” an angel provides her with a glimpse of life had she never been married. I know in my version, Salma Hayek plays the role of the angel.

She wants to meet Andy Garcia some day. She also wants to clean out the garage some day. Andy Garcia cleaning out her garage would probably have her screaming like that woman in the airplane restroom in the Herbal Essences commercials.

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THIRTY YEARS. I wonder if she’s expecting a gold watch.

She has taught grammar school much of that time, and as the very best teacher in the entire world, how many young lives has she touched? But it’s the sportswriter, of course, who gets the attention and the invite to the Playboy Mansion, and while Hef said I could bring the wife along, why would I do that?

Now don’t get me wrong. I took her to a Super Bowl in 1984 and a Cub game in 1991. I even got romantic once and took her back to the same hotel where we spent our wedding night, and even though it had been converted to some kind of porno palace where folks paid by the hour, I sprung for all night.

I suppose I could have taught her how to play golf, but why would I do that?

She has no problem with any of it, of course, because she’s my best friend now, and I allow her to fall asleep at night watching reruns of “The Golden Girls” when I know darn well “Taxicab Confessions” is on HBO.

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She finds it amusing when women get so angry at a sports column. “Try living with the bum,” I’ve heard her say, and I remember a time when she referred to me as “Snuggle Bunny.” See if I ever take her to a Spark game now.

She was right there, though, when each of my parents died, the compassionate leaning post everyone should have at that time. And of course there’s no decision in life too tough when you have someone you admire making it with you.

But she’s also a Charger fan, loves the Clippers and hockey, laughs at Tom Lasorda’s stories, no matter how many times she has heard them and has two friends who want me to get Eric Karros’ autograph for them. So we have our problems.

I mentioned in a recent column that she blocked the view of our big-screen TV, and you can imagine the huge problems we would have if she didn’t have a sense of humor. Or read my columns.

But I’m lucky, and I know it.

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.


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