In the previous installment, you read (or re-read) about how MY WIFE and I met. Now you get to attend (or re-attend) our wedding!
Yes, it's The Wedding Of The Decade.
(That would be the 1990's, by the way. Yes, we were married before some of you were born. Despite the circumstantial evidence, that does not make us your parents.)
This originally appeared in six installments because it was a great wedding and full of fun stuff to write about. I have edited it down to three parts. It took all of my willpower to do so and that's why I haven't quit smoking yet.
Without any further ado - because ado want to keep my job and I can't spend all day writing these silly introductions to old material - here's...
THE WEDDING OF THE DECADE (PART ONE)
Most marriages begin with a proposal and so did ours. Many women tell charming stories of how their future husbands creatively proposed to them. For instance, they might have been sitting in the stands at Fenway Park and, during the seventh inning stretch...
***Felicia, will you marry me?***
... flashes onto the scoreboard while Felicia’s boyfriend, Archie, suddenly drops to one knee in the aisle. Everyone in the park cheers; Felicia tearfully says, "Yes! Yes!"; and she wraps her arms around Archie, hugging him tightly.
(Meanwhile, Archie is thinking, "What the hell...? I dropped a quarter here. Why is she so happy I found it?", while in another part of the ballpark, there’s a totally different Felicia telling her ex-boyfriend, Rocky [they broke up in the sixth inning in an argument over the infield fly rule] that she wouldn’t marry him if he were the last man on earth, so he can take that cheap ring he got from a Crackerjacks box and shove it up his ass.)
Well, there was - I’m sorry to say - nothing so glorious about my proposal. It was one of the worst proposals ever. It was so bad, MY WIFE will probably be extremely embarrassed (for both of us) if I go into detail about it. So, I shouldn’t. However, I know that I can’t totally cop out, so I’ll try to put it as delicately as possible, using all of the linguistic powers at my command to make it sound more romantic than it actually was.
We had just finished doing the horizontal bop and, between gasping breaths, I said, "Hey, would you like to get married?"
(Don Juan? Casanova? Those bums have nothing on me.)
MY (future) WIFE said, “What do you mean by that?”
She was not joking. You see, for the previous 12 months I had been telling her – whenever marriage happened to come up during conversation – that I had no desire to ever get married and that I didn’t believe marriage was necessary if two people really loved each other. She had no reason to believe I had been lying when I said those things, so her question was certainly pertinent.
And I wasn’t lying when I said those things. I had, at the time, no desire to get married and I really did believe (still do) that marriage isn’t necessary if two people truly love each other. However, just because something isn’t necessary that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice, and the desire to get married is always affected by whom you have the opportunity to be spliced with.
My most previous relationship had been hideous. It was full of trivial arguments that escalated into full-scale shouting matches and an almost totally-at-odds-with-each-other view of what our future plans should be. Whenever she brought up marriage – which was every other day – I cringed.
Now, understand that I was no saint in that relationship. I was probably as much to blame for the ridiculous amount of fighting we did as my girlfriend was. And not all of the arguments were trivial. We had some extremely major philosophical differences and they were, in my view, irreconcilable. However, we soldiered on – an apt description, considering how much of our time we spent at war with each other – until she finally had the brains to leave me.
(She didn’t tell me she was leaving me. She told me she was going to visit some friends of ours in Florida and that she’d be back for Christmas. Then, a couple of days before Christmas, after I had spent half of a months pay on gifts for her, I received a “Dear John” letter. Nice.)
Anyway, I had been completely and utterly soured on the concept of marriage, mostly because, from my limited experience, it seemed like something that a woman wanted to force on a man much more than something a man might actually want and find pleasant. Being a contrarian by nature, the easiest way to get me to NOT want to do something is by telling me that I have to do it. So, I never gave marriage any sort of serious consideration, nor did I think I ever would.
Sometimes, though, you realize that the situation you’re currently in isn’t anything at all like the previous ones you’ve experienced. At that point, if you have any brain, you understand that the situation calls for a different approach altogether. So, I had to consider whether marriage was actually something that could be a good thing. And I had decided that, yes, it was - if you were married to the right person.
MY (future) WIFE was the right person. I had no doubt about that. And I had no doubt whatsoever that we could live together and be happy. So, would a proposal be in my best interest? Most assuredly yes, because I figured that she might not be willing to stick around if I didn’t propose. Therefore, I had been considering proposing to her for a few weeks before I actually did it. I hadn’t made any real plans concerning HOW I would do it, but I had been a musician, so I figured I could improvise.
And, although I didn’t know it at the time, MY (future) WIFE was pondering whether or not she could continue as we had been. Some time after the fact, she told me that had I not proposed she was probably going to tell me that her values wouldn’t permit her to continue our relationship without being married.
So, there you have it. I proposed, albeit in a truly non-spectacular fashion, and she, being caught totally off guard, told me that she had to think about it.
Yup. She had to think about it. Which meant that I, too, had to think about it, until she had an answer for me, which meant that I became a basket case until she told me yes or no. I had assumed that she would break down into tears of joy and immediately say "yes" - I was a catch, after all - but my expectations were not met.
(The word "catch" in the preceding sentence can best be defined in the same sense as what might be found at sea - something fishy.)
So, I awaited her answer.
Before we pick up the story, I have some words of advice for the guys in my audience. There is absolutely nothing - and I mean not a single solitary thing - that your wife will not remember about your wedding and anything that was even remotely connected to it. That's just the way it is, so don't try to fight it. It is the nature of the beast, so to speak.
You know how you can recall that ballgame you played in high school? You remember that there were runners on second and third, the count was 2-and-1, it was slightly overcast, the leftfielder was shading you towards center, and the pitcher threw a curve that hung and you laced a double down the line that made the score 6 - 5 in the fifth inning? Women do that with weddings.
I mention this because I showed Part One to MY WIFE and she immediately corrected five or six mistakes.
Now, I'm not going to go back and correct everything as MY WIFE picks off the mistakes. Instead, I'm going to go ahead and relate the story as best I can with my man-wedding-memory, and then if she wishes to post a guest blog afterwards, showing all of you how pitifully I recalled things, OK.
Oh, OK, I'll add one more thing. MY WIFE says that we were fully clothed when I popped the question. Nah.
So there I was, being a basket case all day while MY (future) WIFE decided whether or not to accept my proposal. I've never liked waiting of any kind, but to wait for an answer that will decide my future? Sheer hell.
She said, "Yes."
(Well, what did you expect? I haven't been calling her MY (almost-but-not-quite) WIFE. Wouldn't have been much of a wedding if she had said, "No.")
Having received the positive answer, we now had to tell people that we were getting married. Not a big problem, really. Her folks liked me and my folks liked her. However, there were extenuating circumstances.
My Dad was in the hospital and my Aunt Jeanne, my Mom's sister, had just passed away. It didn't seem like a propitious moment, so we held off. We also didn't want to just blurt it out like a couple of silly boobs before we had some details taken care of; for instance, the date.
We tossed around a couple of ideas. October may be our favorite month, all things considered, and both MY (future) WIFE's parents and grandparents had been married on the same date in October, so we gave serious consideration to getting married then. However, when we looked at a calendar, we saw that something somewhat rare was happening in the next year and we both immediately knew it was the right date for us to get married on. It was both serendipitous and goofy, just like us. We settled on February 29th.
Yes, February 29th. February 29th is not an easy date to forget. It only happens once every four years. I'm willing to bet that every person who attended our wedding remembers the date of our anniversary. And I certainly do, so that takes care of any of that "forgetful husband" crap when our anniversary rolls around. For another thing, 29 had always been a lucky number for me. It's the number I like to get on all of my softball uniforms. And the actual date would be 2/29/92, which is certainly... something. And it fell on a Saturday in 1992. Perfect!
Meanwhile, we had dinner one Sunday at my in-laws. I liked them a lot. Bill and Eleanor were nice folks and I miss them. Anyway, there we were sitting around the table - me, MY (future) WIFE, her mother and father, her sister Victoria, and Victoria's two daughters, Caitlyn, 5, and Alyssa, 3.
You have to understand, for this part of the story, that there was something otherworldly about Alyssa when she was very young. She saw things that other people didn't. Not dead people, but she was very much in touch with some sort of cosmic force, and you can call it God or something else if you like, but whatever it was, she was a spooky little kid sometimes. If I go into a lot of detail here, it would be far too much of a digression, so you'll have to take my word for it. She just knew stuff and nobody knew how she knew.
We're sitting there eating and she asked me to pass the bread. After I did, Victoria said, "What do we say, Alyssa?" and she said, "Thank you, Uncle Jimmy."
There was a collective gasp at the table. We hadn't said a blessed thing yet about being engaged, so everybody (except MY [future] WIFE and I) got all flustered and embarrassed and started to tell Alyssa that, while I was a nice guy, I wasn't really her uncle, etc., but we figured that was as good an opportunity as we were likely to get, so we said, "No, she's right, sort of. We are getting married."
(By the way, as Alyssa got closer and closer to puberty, she lost more and more of whatever connection she had. Not that she isn't still a sweet kid - she is. It's just that now I can't ask her for some numbers to play when I go to Las Vegas and have any expectations that those numbers will turn a profit. They did for a while and I gave her 10% off the top. I should have laid it in heavier than I did. Oh, well.)
When we told my Mom that we were getting married, she was delighted. After all, she had introduced us. We tried to be subtle about it. We were at my Grandmother's house, listening to some old recordings from my late Grandfather's collection of dixieland jazz, and MY WIFE said, "Do you have any wedding music in there?" Neither one of them took the bait, so we had to spell it out.
Once my Dad left the hospital and we told him about the wedding, he was very happy also. He liked MY (future) WIFE a lot. He certainly liked her a lot more than he liked my ex. As he told his racetrack buddies after meeting MY (future) WIFE, "Jimmy's stepping up in class."
As for how we told the rest of the world? Well, whereas some folks have their wedding announcement in the society pages of The Times, we had ours in Moos From The Farm.
Moos From The Farm was a newsletter published by Stonyfield Farms, makers of fine yogurt. We had both "adopted" cows through a fun program of theirs (Susie and Sadie were their names) and we received mailings from them on a regular basis telling us how our cows were doing and other stuff pertaining to dairy farming in New Hampshire.
Well, they had a regular feature called Mooers Profiles. Remember the scotch ads - Dewars Profiles? Like those, only with cows. And the prize for being featured in a Mooers Profile was a lifetime supply of yogurt. We figured that they wouldn't be able to pass up two of their "cow parents" getting married and we were right. So, we had our wedding announcement in the pages of Moos From The Farm and got a lifetime supply of yogurt, to boot.
(The "lifetime supply" was actually a huge stack of coupons, each one redeemable for a 32 oz. bucket of yogurt, which is a big bucket. We still have a couple of those coupons and we will never cash in the last one. We figure that when we do, we will die. It is a lifetime supply, after all.)
(I wanted to include the actual announcement here, but as with so many of the treasured mementos of things in my life, it is packed away somewhere in one of the many boxes full of crap in our basement. I'm happy to report, however, that Moos From The Farm is still being published. You can find the latest issue here. Unfortunately, the archives only go back to Spring 2002, which is after we were married. I suppose this is because, prior to our wedding, it was a print-only newsletter. Yes, we became engaged in THE BEFORE TIME!!!)
You women will get a kick out of this next part. Since we were being married in February, I figured we didn't have to really do anything about it until January.
You can stop laughing now.
Oh, OK, keep on laughing. You may as well enjoy yourself before the next installment, which is...
*THE SHITLOADS OF THINGS THAT GUYS WOULD NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS THINK HAD TO BE DONE BEFORE A WEDDING BUT (who woulda thunk it) YES THEY DO NEED DOING*
See you then!