When A Man Loves A Woman

I had just turned 39 years old when I fell in love with Selena.  I knew it was love because that’s when the song started playing in my head.

When a man loves a woman…can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else…

It’s the Percy Sledge song about—well, you know.

According to Percy, when a man loves a woman he tends to do things that are out of the ordinary.  At least, out of the ordinary for Mr. Sledge.  In addition to having the inability to put his mind onto anything else, Percy’s girl had him doing such things as spending his very last dime and sleepin’ out in the rain.

My entire life has been like a really long movie playing in my head.  There are heroes and villains; triumphs and tragedies; and sometimes it’s fiction, based on actual events.  Most importantly it’s full of music.  It’s not a musical, but it has a fabulous soundtrack.  In my brain, such that it is, there is a song for almost everything.  All it takes is a keyword, an event, or a certain person and, as Steve Miller might say, Abracadabra…a song.

Selena is really special to me.  She’s my whole world.  So while there are probably dozens of songs that I associate with her, the Percy Sledge song was probably the first.

Of course like I said, Percy’s girl had him goin’ broke with his head in the mud; and in the end, she sucked the soul right out of the poor man.

She can bring him such misery

To be clear, Selena wasn’t like that at all.  I was wholly smitten and only the first line of the song would play at the appropriate moment.

When a man loves a woman, can’t keep his mind on nothing else…

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In 16 years, that song has played a lot.  It will undoubtedly play when I am a little resistant to something that she wants me to do.  And don’t misunderstand, it’s not because she’s making me endure something horrible, or even unpleasant.  Many times something really cool happens.


Discovery of one of my all-time favorite movies was borne of just such an event.

Me:  So what are we watchin’?

Selena: The Princess Bride

My Brain:  Princess?  Sounds like a kissing book.

Me: Oh…?

Selena:  Don’t worry, you’ll love it!

My Brain:  When a man loves a woman…

Reflexive resistance isn’t the only thing that can trigger this song.  I’ve had it start in moments of trial.  Not big trials, I’ve got a different song for that.  I’m talking about small trials, like trying to get Selena a present, or getting something done that I know that she’ll appreciate.  A little obstacle rears its ugly head and for encouragement the song plays.

When a man loves a woman…

Whatever the task, it soon becomes easier because Percy just reminded me that no matter the difficulty, I do love the woman.

I may live to regret sharing all of this information.  Sometimes I disclose too much in an effort to give a story context, but I want you to know what’s going on when Percy Sledge starts singing right in the middle of my story.  If you knew me as well as Selena knows me, you would know that this is a risk I constantly have to take.


Once upon a time, early in our relationship, Selena put me on a project.  We were settling in for movie night at her apartment and she was preparing snacks.  She thought it might be nice to have some Kraft Philadelphia Dip to go with our assorted veggies and crackers.

“They have several different flavors,” she said.

“I’ll get two. What are your favorites?” I asked enthusiastically.

“How about dill pickle and urban spice?”

“I’ll be back in a flash!”

I raced to the closest convenience store, determined to earn boyfriend points for efficiency.  I ran inside and found a small assortment of dips.

Dill pickle, urban spice, dill pickle, urban spice, dill pickle, urban spice

“Crap, they only have dill pickle!  That’s okay, I’ll try the 7-Eleven!”

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Store number two was also a bust.  They too had the dill pickle, but not the urban spice.   I was discouraged and quite certain that impressing Selena with a quick return was no longer in the cards.  The simple errand had become a challenge.  But my sweetheart wanted urban spice!

The song began to play.

When a man loves a woman…he comes back with the dip she wants…

I decided to up my game and go to the closer of two grocery stores.  Once again I ran inside hoping to find the elusive condiment.

Dill pickle, urban spice, dill pickle, urban spice, dill pickle, urban spice

The store was bigger but all they had was the same variety as the other two stores!  Of course, I would make the trip to the only other grocer in Ponoka, Alberta but I could sense that failure was becoming a real possibility.  Thank goodness Percy Sledge was there to remind me of the reason for my effort.

When a man loves a woman…he goes to the last dang store in town…

My heart sank as I arrived at the dairy case of my last hope.  The fourth and final store had only the same variety as the other three stores and NO URBAN SPICE!

I would have to call Selena and confess my failure.

“What’s taking you so long?” she asked.

“I went to four stores and none of them had the Urban Spice,” I said, sounding like a bad boyfriend.

“Do they have the Dill Pickle?”

“Yeah, I can get that.  What else do you think you would like?”

“What else do they have?” she asked.

“Um, let’s see here.  Besides Dill pickle, they have Onion, French Onion, Jalapeno, and Herb & Spice.”



There was a moment of silence to adequately observe my ineptness.

“Okay,” I said.  “I’ll just go pay for this and I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

I could sense that she smiled sweetly.

Urban Spice.  The official potato chip dip of the ‘hood.urban spice; pannellbytes; 3000 miles to eternity; duane & selena pannell

When a man loves a woman…

~Duane Pannell aka Majestic D

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