Love is a funny thing. • Not strange funny, haha funny. • If you remember that, you'll never have another lousy Valentine's Day. • Just ask Earl and Opal Pickles (we did, with a wink to Brian Crane). They should know. The 70-something couple who love each other and drive each other crazy every day on the comics pages have been married for half a century. Now, that's a long time. • Might just say they're experts on keeping love from souring. • But, not to leave out the more than 400,000 of you in the Tampa Bay area who are over 50 and single, widowed or divorced, they also have some advice for finding love. • So, read on. After all, the worst that can happen is you'll get a brief respite from crying in that box of Russell Stover chocolates you bought for yourself — at half price — the day after Valentine's Day.
Q: Hi, Opal and Earl. We want to ask you about love. Who's the expert?
Opal: In matters of the heart, I suppose that would be me.
Earl: She's right. Dear Abby even calls her for advice when she gets stuck.
Q: How did you meet and fall in love?
Opal: Well, Earl started out dating my sister, Pearl.
Earl: That's right. But I dumped her for Opal. She was the "Opal of my eye," to coin a phrase.
Q: And, you've been married for 50 years? What's the key to a long and happy marriage?
Earl: Always make sure your wife is happy. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. If Papa ain't happy, don't nobody care.
Q: What do people think is important in a relationship that isn't?
Earl: Seeing eye to eye. I don't think it's important for a couple to agree on everything.
Opal: What? Yes, it is.
Earl: No, it's not.
Opal: YES, IT IS!
Q: Okay, okay … let's go on. What do people think is NOT important in a good relationship but it is?
Earl: Television. What has saved our marriage time after time is having two TV sets.
Opal: And a half-dozen remotes to replace the ones you keep losing.
Q: The reason we're asking is because a lot of people were alone on Valentine's Day. We thought maybe you had some advice so they would never have to spend another Valentine's Day alone.
Opal: Come over to our house. We're not doing much, but you can eat popcorn and watch I Love Lucy reruns with us.
Q: Before you go, would you tell us some funny love stories?
Earl: I remember our big wedding anniversary party a few years ago. We were out on the dance floor dancing and Opal whispered in my ear, "Thank you, Earl."
I said, "For what?"
And she said, "For 40 years of happiness."
I replied, "But we've been married for 50 years … "
And she said, "Yeah, I know."
Opal: Speaking of anniversaries, what about the time you gave me an anniversary card and wrote on it "To My Dearest Sweaty Pie"?
Earl: Hey! So I'm not a great speller. You know what I meant.
Q: What do you know about love that you wish you had known 50 years ago?
Earl: Love means never having to say you're sorry for leaving the toilet seat up.
Q: Why do you think older people are afraid to go looking for love?
Opal: Well, it's been years since I've been in that situation, but I think it probably seems like a lot of work to make yourself attractive enough to be out in the dating market again.
Earl: That's right. I wouldn't grow out my comb-over again for anybody.
Q: Is there anything we forgot to ask that you'd like to tell people?
Opal: Whatever you do, don't become one of those terminally serious people. No one wants to be around them. Remember to keep your sense of humor and you will never be alone.
Earl: That's right. Laughter is like changing a baby's diaper. It doesn't solve any problems permanently, but it makes things better for a while.