R.L. Burnside and his wife Gracie of Snow Hill have been together for 47 years.
“When she took my order at McDonald’s all those years ago, I thought she was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen,” R.L. said. “She didn’t laugh when I asked for the Smurf toy in my Happy Meal either; I knew right then and there she was the one.”
Until meeting Gracie, R.L. says he filled the void in his life with boorish behavior and Smurf collecting.
“I used to go out with the boys and hang out all weekend,” he said. “Come Sunday morning, we were all pretty stanky and hungry. I ordered a Happy Meal on a dare and that’s how I obtained my first Smurf – Hefty Smurf.”
Having an addictive personality, Burnside says it became his mission in life to collect all 10.
“It was easy to get a Grouchy Smurf or a Greedy Smurf, but Smurfette was the tough one,” Burnside said. “I once spent my entire paycheck going through the same drive-thru 50 times in one day trying to get a Smurfette, only to end up with 49 Papa Smurfs and a Gargamel.”
After a three-year courtship, R.L. and Gracie got married and went on to have two children – both of whom are now out of the house.
“The dynamic of the house really changed when the kids moved out,” Gracie said. “Usually me and our two daughters would be in the kitchen talking while R.L. tinkered around in his shop out back. Now that the girls are gone, I’m seeing a lot more of R.L. – so much so that if he doesn’t find a hobby, I might sign him up for the Army just to get a moment’s peace.”
Sensing their parents were just a few weeks away from being the focus of an upcoming episode of “Dateline NBC”, R.L. and Gracie’s daughters suggested they renew their vows.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Gracie said. “R.L. wasn’t very keen on the idea, but he said if he didn’t have to do any work and we could have McDonald’s filet-of-fish at the reception, he’d put on some clean drawers and show up.”
Since her husband had no interest in the preparations, Gracie saw this as her chance to set some ground rules that would hopefully carry her and R.L. peacefully into their golden years.
The following are the vows Gracie Burnside wrote for her husband R.L.:
I, R.L., take you, Gracie, to be my lawfully wedded wife.
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
I promise to make myself scarce between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
I promise to cut the grass before it grows taller than our mail box.
I promise to stop using excess ear hair as a comb over.
I promise to sleep on the porch if I eat more than 3 pounds of dried butter beans at one sitting.
If I sleep on the porch after eating 3 pounds of butter beans, I promise not to blame any resulting unpleasantness on the dog.
I promise to stop telling the grandchildren that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.
I promise to stop telling our neighbors that my mother-in-law used to date Rick James.
I promise to stop telling people in the grocery store that Vienna sausages are made from stray cats.
R.L. Burnside’s mother-in-law could not be reached for comment.