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Everybody Has a Story: Sad to be thought ‘too happy’

I filled up my car with gas and headed out on Interstate 5 south toward Lincoln City, Ore. I mapped out every turn I was to take to get to Chinook Winds Casino.

I was celebrating that night. I finally had documented proof that my divorce from a very rich man, some 40 years ago, was completely phony. It had been staged by my attorney and my husband at the most vulnerable time in my life. The proof had been a long time coming, but in the back of my mind I’d always known I was still legally married to him.

Decked out in my finest clothes and mink jacket, I brought along $400 to gamble and have fun at the casino. I had not been drinking nor was I on any drugs. I brought along my camera to take pictures of everything I did during this trip.

It was close to 4 a.m. It was a beautiful night with very little traffic on the road. I had been driving for a while when I decided I should check in somewhere and make sure I was headed in the right direction. Passing through a small town, I happened to see a nursing home with all its lights on. I pulled in and parked. It would be nice to stretch my legs and maybe use their restroom. I slowly pushed the door open and looked around for anyone in sight.

A nurse’s aide appeared, asking what she could do for me. I told her the story of why I was there and she enjoyed the brief interruption in her otherwise mundane night. After confirming with her that I was on the right track, I asked if she would mind taking a picture with me, and she agreed. Little did I know, all the other workers wanted to be in the picture too.

The picture was taken, and I thanked them for their time and proceeded out the door. Coming up the walkway was a police officer, with a hand extended out to stop me. I noticed he had blocked my car in also.

I said, “Don’t tell me — too happy?” He said yes.

While the picture was being taken, the night manager had been in the back office, calling the police. She reported that a woman at the nursing home was “too happy,” and to send over an officer right away. But he only asked for my ID and made me repeat my home address to him. I informed him that I had just found out that I was still legally married after 40 years, and that my husband married me because I looked like his mother. He replied that they call that the “Oedipus Complex.” I couldn’t believe they had a name for it.

He let me go. I asked him how many “too happy” calls he had responded to that night, but he didn’t answer. We were both on our way.

My mental well-being was worth more than dwelling on the why, but I do remember a sadness overcoming me as I returned to the road — a sadness for the person who made that call. To have such a fear of happiness that they’d want to lock me up.

I still have the photograph, which shows me looking so happy. Without it, the whole experience would be unbelievable, even to me. I still wonder, should that police officer have responded to that call?

Everybody Has a Story welcomes true, first-person tales by Columbian readers, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.


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