Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley and his wife survive another relationship test.

One of my favorite places to be when the river is up, as it was much of the past week or so, is on top of the city of Hannibal’s flood wall. Yes, I’m facinated by the awesomeness of the mighty Mississippi, I won’t deny it. But what I particularly enjoy are the people I encounter.

Last Thursday evening I set out for the levee in hopes of taking a photo of the nearly full moon rising with flood water in the foreground. While the photo didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, the excursion was hardly a waste of my time.

The top of the levee, between Broadway and Center Street, was literally a melting pot of people. There were people representing a variety of generations. In addition to locals, also present were families from both ends of the country – New York and California.

I mostly just listened as people expressed awe over the river and how fortunate Hannibal is to have a flood wall.

Obviously, not everywhere along the Mississippi has an earthen structure capable of withstanding the river’s will. One of the couples I encountered last Thursday evening shared a story about a resident of the small hamlet of Monkey Run, south of Hannibal.

I was told of a man who must park his vehicle close to Missouri 79 and then boat in the rest of the way to his residence. On one recent occasion, the man was rowing in with either his wife or girl friend (not insinuating he might have one of each). While I’m no expert at canoeing, I do realize there has to be some level of coordination between the rowers if the boat is to successfully reach its destination.

According to the storyteller, such teamwork did not exist and as a result their boat started heading in the direction of the fast-moving river. According to the tale I was told the frustrated man turned to his female companion and said, “Would you stop rowing and just sit there and look pretty!”

Boat rowing is just one of many things that can test the strength of a couple’s relationship. Some others include:

• Teaching your better half how to drive a stick shift. This is a big leap of faith because who wants to have a new clutch put in, let alone a new transmission?

• Giving driving directions to your significant other. Which is more annoying, telling someone that they’ll have to look for a turnoff that’s still 200 miles down the road, or being told to “turn now” when there’s two tractor-trailers you must cross to reach the desired exit?

• A guy and gal working on a meal in the same kitchen. The old adage “too many cooks spoil the broth” may have been coined after just such an experience.

• Teaming up to put something together.

In our almost 39 years of marriage, my wife, Nancy and I have survived learning to drive a “stick,” being in a navigator-driver situation and cooking together. Last Saturday, we survived another relationship test – putting an item together.

After getting my lawn only halfway mowed before my mower quit and then wouldn’t start, and then being told the repairman would be charging $50 an hour to tear into it, Nancy and I decided to invest in a new mower.

“What features would you like in a mower?” Nancy asked.

That it go, “B-a-a-a-h,” I replied.

We scoured Hannibal for the cheapest new mower we could find. And when we settled upon the one we wanted, instead of asking for the one already put together that was on display, my bride asked, “Do you have one in a box?”

I winced at the thought of having to assemble a mower. But when we got home, while I dug out the assembly instructions, Nancy gathered her tools. Before long, Nancy had all the washers, nuts and bolts organized.

We emptied the mower pieces onto our yet-to-be mowed back yard and proceeded to begin the assembly chore. And while the sun was beating down on us, neither one of us ever got “hot under the collar” with the other.

Approximately 45 minutes later, as I was using my new mower, I vowed to never again grimace when I see the phrase “some assembly required.”