Thursday, February 23, 2012
Last re-printed story in the MY WIFE chronicles. There will be new ones soon enough, I'm sure. We're headed out of town for our anniversary, so this will be the last posting until at least March 5th, perhaps longer. Here's hoping your coming days are filled with as much love as I expect ours to be.
Yesterday, I rode the Zamboni.
If you're from a foreign country, such as New Zealand or Alabama, that may sound like a euphemism for some sort of salacious act, but it's not. A Zamboni is the machine used to clean and re-surface the ice between periods of a hockey game. Here's a picture of a couple of them in action before a game.
How did I get to ride the Zamboni? Good question. Allow me to explain.
My birthday was Monday. I was - and am currently - fifty-two. MY WIFE, marvelous creature that she is, wanted to do something wonderful and different for my birthday. So, when I awoke on Monday, she greeted me with a Ring Ding into which a candle had been stuck. That was certainly peculiar at 7 o'clock in the morning, but more was ahead.
She then handed me a gift bag. I reached in to get whatever was there. My hands found a coffee mug with a Boston Bruins logo on it. Inside of the mug were two tickets to the game versus Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Very nice, if a bit puzzling. I'm a fan of all sports, so hockey is among them, but it isn't my favorite sport among the "major four" North American sports (baseball, football, basketball, hockey) and MY WIFE knows this. As great a game as it can sometimes be, I'd have to say that hockey finishes fourth out of four on a fairly regular basis. When I was younger, it was sometimes higher, but so was I.
Anyway, I expressed my honest thanks for the mug and the tickets. The Bruins are hot stuff again, in first place in their division. They have a real chance to win the Stanley Cup, which would be the first time in over 35 years. The seats were in the loge, fairly costly. It would be a fun evening, for sure.
MY WIFE then said, "If you went to a hockey game, what would you like to do most of all?"
I knew something was up, but I couldn't imagine what. I thought about an answer to the question, but I was drawing a blank. I had just awakened, hadn't had any coffee, and also needed to take a whiz. She saw the vacant look in my eyes and re-phrased the question.
"What do they have at hockey games?"
I thought about it for a moment.
"Well, yes, but what else?"
"And what do they use to clean the ice?", she said, as though prompting a not-particularly-bright four-year-old.
The light was still a ways off from dawning on Marblehead.
She exclaimed, "You're going to ride the Zamboni!"
To say I was dumbfounded would be an extreme understatement. I was not only dumbfounded, I was bemused, flummoxed, befuddled, wondering, confounded, puzzled, astonished, and also totally excited. I had no idea how this was going to happen, but if she said I was going to ride the Zamboni, I knew it was the truth. When MY WIFE wants to make something incredible and fun take place, she will make it happen. She had previously shanghaied me, by the dictionary definition, and we spent a couple of days aboard a boat named The Golden Slipper in Boston Harbor. Not once, but twice, she had pulled off major surprise parties for my birthday without me having even the faintest idea of what was about to happen. If she said I was riding the Zamboni, then riding the Zamboni I would be.
I had woken up five minutes ago and now I knew I was going to be gliding over the ice at TD Banknorth Garden in front of more than 17,000 people tomorrow night. Life is exceedingly strange some mornings. I kissed her, then went to take that whiz.
After I returned from the bathroom, MY WIFE explained that she had previously attempted to do this for me, as a Christmas present, but wasn't able to make it happen at that time. However, she had kept at it and found out that the day after my birthday was a game night, and that the slot for riding the Zamboni that evening was open. Apparently, the Bruins sell rides on the Zamboni every night during the season. In order to ride it, you need to make a contribution to the Boston Bruins Foundation, a charitable organization run by the team. MY WIFE made a donation, so I was going to be the lucky fan who got to ride the Zamboni between the first and second periods on Tuesday evening.
Oh, I guess I left you hanging at one point. If any of you were wondering why MY WIFE put a candle in a Ring Ding, it's because it looks like a hockey puck. See?
MY WIFE is unique, and I love her dearly.
We had to be at The Garden by 6pm for instructions. The game was scheduled for a 7:00 start. MY WIFE met me at the west entrance to The Garden at 5:45. We entered and went upstairs to level four. We had been instructed to meet Liz Serpico of the Boston Bruins Foundation, at their table near the entrance to the loge seats.
After introducing ourselves, she explained that we had to be back at her post with approximately 10 minutes remaining in the first period, at which time we would be taken into the “backstage” area of the arena to await my ride. She had me complete a waiver form absolving the Bruins from any lawsuits should I somehow fall off of the Zamboni, get sucked underneath it, and become part of the ice surface for the second period. Then we went to our seats.
We sat in Loge 6, which is a section more-or-less behind one of the goals. They were great seats for a hockey game. We were high up enough to have a magnificent view of the entire ice surface, but also close enough to actually hear some of the sounds of the game, such as that made by skates shaving ice when a player put on the brakes before hitting the boards.
I had been to Bruins games before, of course, but not for a few years. And this was MY WIFE's very first professional hockey game. I had forgotten what an intimate game hockey can be. What I mean is that, unlike some other sports, a hockey game continually brings the action close to the spectator. The physics of the game, and the construction of the rink, tend to make much of the action happen on the edges of the playing area, near to the fans. When players chase after the puck, their faces often are right up against the glass partitions that serve as a barrier, and fans in the first row often pound on the glass at that point, usually when an unlucky opposing player is trapped there. Fans probably feel more a part of the action in hockey than, say, basketball. Rarely does a Kobe Bryant or Paul Pierce get physically interacted with by the rabid crowd.
As we watched the game unfold, I had one eye on the clock. Stoppages in a hockey game are usually fewer than in most sports, so the game clock tends to move rather quickly. I wanted to be sure we made it to our designated spot at the appointed time. When a whistle blew at the 12-minute mark, we said, “Excuse me” to the other folks in our row and left. I assume they wondered why we were apparently leaving the game with only 8 minutes having elapsed.
Back at the charity’s table, we were met by a young woman named Stephanie. She would be taking us downstairs to the Zamboni. We had to wait for the other lucky rider to show up. There are actually two Zamboni machines used during each intermission, and I would be riding one, he the other.
To my delight, the other guy turned out to be a grown-up, too. I was somewhat worried that a little kid might be the other rider, in which case I would look somewhat goofy by comparison. Well, goofier than usual, anyway. He was also there with his wife. In addition, they had brought their three-month-old son to the game, dressed in a baby bruin costume. Too cute. Here’s a picture.
Stephanie now led us down into the bowels of The Garden, and a fascinating quick tour was given. She pointed out where the opposing team bus parks, and brought us past various locker rooms, food prep areas, and storage spaces. The Garden is used for multiple sports, of course, and when the rink is not in use, the famous parquet floor of the Boston Celtics has to be laid down for basketball games. We were shown where they kept it stacked, and it was quite odd to see and recognize various parts of it in its unconnected fashion.
With the backboards down, MY WIFE took the opportunity to slam one through the rim.
And then, the Zambonis!
I was told that I would ride the orange Zamboni, with the other fellow on the yellow one. As it neared intermission, they rolled out into position and we climbed on-board with the drivers. My driver was a real personable guy named Paul, a Zamboni operator at The Garden for the past 14 years. Here he is.
I asked him how he got the job. So far as I knew, there wasn't some sort of Zamboni school you graduated from with job placement services as part of the deal. He explained that he had been part of the "bull crew" (the guys who change the playing surface from ice rink to basketball parquet, and vice-versa) for a few years when one of the Zamboni operators retired. He, and 12 or 13 other guys, applied for the position, and were taken to a skating rink in the North End of Boston to see how they'd do on the machine. Paul had never driven one before, but he was a natural. He got the job. As he confided to me while chuckling, he doesn't even skate, so he figured my being in his care, while out on the ice, was like someone who doesn't swim taking me out to sea.
Here's the view, from under the stands, as we prepared to make our entrance.
The Zamboni machine is about 10 feet long and 5 feet wide (my best guess) and the seat I rode in was perhaps 7 feet up from the ice surface. As we entered the arena, I felt somewhat like a pageant queen riding in a parade. I wondered if I should be waving at the crowd. I decided not to. Another thing I decided was to take our camera out onto the ice with me, rather than have MY WIFE shoot pictures of me riding. I figured a birds-eye view of the proceedings would be interesting.
Here are a few shots showing what I saw as I rode.
I've got to tell you, it was a total blast being out there. I felt surprisingly at home being in the center of the arena with 17,000+ staring down at me. My ego is even bigger than I previously thought.
As I rode around, other folks were taking snapshots. Then, they announced my name and showed me on the Jumbotron. I got this self-portrait.
Well, all good things must come to an end. After about 7 minutes of tooling around the ice at a blazing 8 mph, the ride was over. Paul drove our Zamboni back under the stands and I disembarked. MY WIFE was waiting for me. I hugged and kissed her, thanking her profusely for one of the most wonderful birthday presents I had ever received. She said that I didn't stop smiling a single moment while I was out there. I believe her.
Soon, with more better stuff.
(Some of you may be interested in learning more about the Zamboni ice re-surfacing machine. Here is the story of The Man Behind The Machine.)
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
My life with MY WIFE, continued.
WHAT COLOR IS YOUR APPLESAUCE?
I know, I know. That’s a provocative question, and not one that’s usually asked in polite company. However, I want your honest answer. Don’t be shy! We’re all friends here. Nobody’s going to laugh at you if you say that your applesauce is a different color from everybody else’s applesauce.
So, what color is your applesauce?
Really, think about it – or, since it’s not really the type of question that should require deep thought, don’t. I would appreciate it, though, if you’d give me your answer before you’re unduly prejudiced by anything that follows.
I will now tell you why I’m asking what color your applesauce is.
The other night, during dinner, the subject of the color of applesauce came up in conversation.
(Yes, this is why MY WIFE and I have such a successful marriage. We’re not afraid to tackle the really important issues head-on.)
I have no idea why the topic even came up, but I had served us both a small dish of applesauce as part of our meal, so we had the evidence for answering the question right in front of us. All I had to do was look at the applesauce and report on what color I considered it to be.
I said applesauce is green.
MY WIFE made the same sort of face you’re probably making right now. She said, "Green? You think applesauce is green?"
"Yeah. What color do you think it is?"
"Yellow? No way! It’s not YELLOW!"
And so forth.
I should explain that we’ve previously had minor skirmishes concerning color. I have a green shirt that she swears is blue. Or it’s a blue shirt that she swears is green. I forget now. Either way, I was right. She won’t admit that I was right, and she says that I’m colorblind.
OK, I am a little bit colorblind. But it has nothing to do with green. I sometimes can’t tell whether something is blue or purple. It usually turns out to be deep purple (which is my favorite band, so it’s all good.)
Putting aside the blue-purple thing - which, if something is blue-purple, it’s probably a good idea to put it aside permanently - I’ve taken tests for colorblindness. You know the ones, where there are all of those differently colored dots and there’s a number hidden in the dots? Like this:
I always see the correct number (which, by the way, is 29 in this instance. If you see 70, you have either red or green colorblindness. If you see neither 29 nor 70, you're just plain blind, I think.)
I’m not colorblind.
(Except for a very slim range of blue and purple.)
Be that as it may – and it usually is - I then took a really good look at the applesauce in front of me and I have to admit it looked more yellow than green. I’m not saying it didn’t have any green sort of look to it, but...
Oh, hell, it was most definitely NOT green. Not that I was willing to admit it. Not yet, anyway.
The next day, at work, I asked some of my co-workers what color they thought applesauce was. I didn’t say, "Hey, co-worker, applesauce is green, right?" I just asked them what color it was, with no indication concerning the answer I desperately wanted at least one of them to give me. Here were their answers:
After receiving these answers, I ventured forth the thought that, perhaps, under certain circumstances, given the correct lighting conditions, applesauce might be considered green.
Upon hearing that theory, the verdict was unanimous. I was a nut.
The only one who offered me any hope concerning my sanity was Dan (he of the "light beige" response.) He asked me what color my kitchen was. I told him blue.
He said, "What about your kitchen when you were growing up? Could it have been green?"
I said, "Maybe. I can't recall for sure."
He replied, "Well, since applesauce is light beige, which is really just another name for off-white, maybe your applesauce was reflecting the green from the walls of your kitchen."
I thanked him for the out he was trying to give me, but by that time I knew the jig was up. Applesauce isn’t green. Not even a teeny tiny bit.
Now, I want you to understand something important. When MY WIFE and I had the original debate about the color of applesauce, I didn’t say my applesauce was green because I had just then looked at it sitting in front of me and, after careful consideration, come to the conclusion that it was green. No, this was just something I thought I knew. If you had come up to me on the street, totally out of the blue (or purple), with no applesauce anywhere to be seen, and you had asked me what color applesauce was, I would have replied, "Green, of course. Anything else you need to know? How much 2 + 2 equals? How to spell cat? What planet we’re on? Duh!"
I truly don’t know how I came to think that applesauce was green, but it’s something I’ve considered a rock-solid truth for 50 years. Now that I know I was wrong about that one, what other of my assumptions must I question? Are cigarettes actually bad for me? Were The Beatles NOT a cynical moneymaking rip-off of The Monkees? Is Roger Clemens actually a nice guy? Is my nothing but red meat, cheese, and peanut butter with saltines diet unhealthy? Does Pauly Shore have talent? I am completely flummoxed, bewildered, stunned, and flabbergasted to find out that I could have held such an obvious untruth in my head for so long.
All dark clouds have a silver lining, though. At least, they look silver to me; I may be wrong. In any case, the other night, after an extremely beery excursion to Fenway Park with my Cousin David, I arrived home in a less-than-sober state. I decided that I wanted something to eat. I went out to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. This is what I saw.
I laughed like a loon. While I was off getting drunk at a ballgame, MY WIFE was home dyeing our applesauce green. Now that's true love.
She rocks my world, whatever color it may be.
Soon, with more better stuff.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
More from the MY WIFE files. This one is nearly six years old, therefore there may be a few things in it that would have benefited from an update. However, as we are both close to FIFTY years older than the story, and we haven't invested in much upgrading for ourselves, I didn't bother. It should still be an enjoyable read, though. If you don't think so, leave a comment telling me why you didn't enjoy it and maybe I'll do something about it after a few cookies, a cigarette, and a nap (unless something good is on TV.)
THE LAST DAY OF MY MINI-VACATION
6:48am - It is Monday. This is my fourth and final day off. I am feeling refreshed and much less psychotic than I did on Thursday. The funny thing (or maybe the sad thing) is that I've gotten up at about the same time as I would have for work, every day. However, I can take a nap - a glorious uninterrupted totally guilt-free nap - during any portion of the day I wish, so getting up early is almost like investing in a good time later.
I have a cup of coffee heating in the microwave for MY WIFE. I am going to bring it to her in bed and wake her up. She has to go to work. I will offer her a ride to Harvard Station on the Red Line of the T, Boston's public transportation system. Normally, she takes a bus to there.
(It wouldn't do to drive her all the way to work. She works downtown and it will actually be slightly faster for her by taking the T from Harvard. Cutting out the walk to the bus, the waiting for the bus, and the actual ride on the bus to Harvard, is the best I can do.)
OK, I'm going to go get the coffee and bring it to her. When she actually comes out of the bedroom and goes about her getting-ready activities, I'll be writing about her. Let's see how long it takes for her to figure that out.
6:59am - "Thag you," she said, as she took the coffee from me.
I said, "Just bringing you coffee. I'll give you a ride to Harvard."
"Thag you. Whar you doog up?"
"Just bringing you coffee. I'm doing a bit of writing."
"Mmmmmphh", she said, putting the coffee mug on the floor by the bed. She slipped her head back under the covers
7:01am - WROR is now on the radio in the bedroom. She likes to listen to the Loren & Wally Show in the morning. WROR is a classic rock station and Loren & Wally are the morning team. She has almost always listened to Loren & Wally in the morning since the time I first met her. The interesting thing is that the station has gone through a complete metamorphosis twice since that time. The call letters were originally WVBF and the station played middle-of-the-road stuff. Then they switched to a country-western format for about a year. Then they changed the call letters to WROR (which were the call letters of a top 40 station in Boston during the 1970's) and began playing classic rock.
MY WIFE likes Loren & Wally and she adjusts to whatever music they play. They could probably play Tuvan throat singing and it wouldn't matter to her. There was a very brief interlude of Don Imus listening a couple of years ago, but when she tired of hearing him bitch about the same things day after day after day, she went back to Loren & Wally.
7:12am - I just went in the bedroom to give her a second wake-up. She almost never gets up on the first attempt.
I gave her a slight shake and said, "You should be getting up."
"I am gettig ummmhmmh", she said, and then stuck her head back under the covers.
I will repeat the procedure in a few minutes.
7:20am - Third wake-up call.
The radio just finished playing My Best Friend's Girl by The Cars. Ugh.
I can't listen to more than fifteen or twenty minutes of any classic rock station. They play music from the time period I like, but they hardly ever play anything I'd really like to hear. When they play Led Zeppelin, it's almost always something like D'Yer Maker and never Communications Breakdown. Bachman-Turner Overdrive is usually represented by You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, which is their most annoying song. Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper? Hush, not a damned thing, and School's Out, but only in June. Where is the station that plays Highway Star, Paranoid and Under My Wheels? Nowhere except in my imagination, and what you get instead is an endless parade of The Police, Phil Collins, and Boston. Why don't you just drive roofing nails into my ears and be done with it?
A regular feature on Loren & Wally is Men From Maine. It is playing now. It is a short skit about, yes, men from Maine who are incredibly thick, the general idea being that everybody from Maine is a dumb-ass hick. This morning's entry went as follows:
(organ music fades up and then down to background)
Announcer: Time now for another installment in the exciting adventures of Men From Maine. As we join today'’s action-packed episode, Eephus is walking down the street when he runs into an old friend.
Eephus: Why, Carl Lumford, look at you. The last time I saw you, you had a full head of hair, but now you've shaved it all off. Looks like you've lost about 50 pounds. And you had a mustache, too, but that's gone.
Other Man: Eephus, I'm not Carl Lumford. I'm Ferd Johnson.
Eephus: Why, Carl, you've changed your name, too.
Announcer: Join us tomorrow for another episode in the exciting adventures of Men From Maine! Ay-yup.
MY WIFE gives out with a giggle and sticks her head back under the covers.
7:35am - Fourth wake-up call.
Now they're playing That's The Way I Like It (uh-huh, uh-huh) by K.C. And The Sunshine Band. If I hadn't just bought this radio for MY WIFE's birthday last month, I'd shoot it (if I had a gun.)
"But that's the way uh-huh uh-huh I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh. I like to sleep."
She is actually awake now.
She says, "I had a very busy dream."
"A very busy dream?"
"Yes, it took all night. Lived in a shanty on Tremont Street and was watching parades."
"We lived in a shanty on Tremont Street?"
"Not us. You weren't there. Just me and (unintelligible)."
"Just you and who?"
"The Greeleys. The people who lived next door in Duxbury."
There is no further elucidation as she goes out to the kitchen to re-heat her coffee.
7:41am - The coffee is re-heated and she is now sitting on the couch with a blanket wrapped around her, drinking the coffee. Loren & Wally are still on in the background, now talking about the Red Sox.
"So, what's this blog about?"
"This morning", I say.
"This morning? About how I didn't get up?"
She has caught on quickly.
"Mostly", I say.
She says, "But you're not supposed to write about me. Tell me what it says."
"Just a minute", I say, as I type this last bit of conversation.
And now I am going to read it back to her. I may not survive. If I do, I'll see you tomorrow.
8:02am - Actually, she laughs like hell as I read it back to her. And that's why I love this woman.
Soon, with more better stuff (but I don't know that it gets better, really.)
Monday, February 20, 2012
Continuing with the love stories of MY WIFE...
Since today is a holiday (at least in The United States) I figure this is as good a time as any to re-publish the following. It takes place on a holiday (although not a holiday celebrated anywhere outside of Massachusetts) so it is semi-appropriate. Of course, since today is a holiday (at least in The United States) that means the only people reading this might be from places outside of The United States and that means much of the humor could end up being lost on you. Oh, well. Muddle through the best you can.
MY DAY AT THE MARATHON
MY WIFE and I talked about it Sunday night. Since she was still on vacation, and I had the day off, we would probably go to watch the Boston Marathon on Monday.
We had done so before and had a lot of fun. That was maybe 10 years ago. We had taken the T to Coolidge Corner in Brookline, about two miles or so from the finish line, and stood on Beacon Street cheering the runners as they passed.
We gave hearty applause to the leaders, of course, but the best part was cheering for the guys who had no chance whatsoever of winning, but who ran just to be able to say they completed Boston. We took along the sports section from the Herald and looked up the numbers of all the runners named Sullivan, of which there were about 8 or 9. Whenever we spotted one, we’d yell, "Go, Sully! Just two more miles! You can do it, Sully!"
One runner from New York, named Sullivan, came into view. We started yelling, "Go, Sully! You’re almost home, Sully!" and when he got maybe three or four steps past us, he turned around and came back. His nipples were bleeding.
Struggling for breath, he said, “How do you (*gasp*) know my name?”
I said, “It’s in the paper, for goodness' sakes! Get back in the race!”
He turned around and started running again. I like to believe it gave him that extra bit of strength to finish, anonymous people knowing who he was and rooting him on. Or maybe he enjoyed being an anonymous runner and the fact that some strangers knew who he was spooked him so much that he dropped out at Kenmore Square and took the T back to his hotel, wondering for the rest of his life just which Boston newspaper had done a story on him and why. He could have had any number of strange thoughts. I admire their dedication, but people who run marathons are an odd lot, so who knows what he thought?
Since we were going to the marathon, I decided to get a really good night’s sleep. I didn’t want to be standing around for three or four hours without the proper rest. So, whereas I usually get up around 7 am on a Monday, I slept until 8:30.
You need the proper nutrition on race day. So, when I got up, I fixed myself a proper breakfast. There was leftover ham from Easter dinner, so I fried up two slices of it. Ham for breakfast isn’t any good without eggs, so I scrambled two. And what good are scrambled eggs if you don’t have toast? I popped two slices into the toaster. Of course, you want to make sure you have something healthy to drink, so I had a big glass of apple juice. And some coffee, of course; you’ve got to stay awake. I wanted to be healthy about things, though, so I only put half a teaspoon of sugar in it, along with my cream.
After breakfast, I joined MY WIFE in the living room. We had some time before we would have to leave, so we watched a bit of TV. There’s this excellent cartoon on Disney, called Charlie & Lola, and since its usual audience is 4 or 5 year-olds, we don’t often get a chance to see it at its usual time. We tape it, then watch a whole bunch of episodes at once.
(Really. It’s an excellent cartoon. The episode that was on yesterday was But I AM An Alligator! We had seen it at least three times before, but we watched it again.)
After the show was over, I decided to shave and take a shower. Even though I hate shaving, one should look his best when one will be a representative of one’s home state cheering on visitors from Kenya and Korea and the like who will be whipping the butts of the American runners as usual.
After scraping the hair off of my face and violently jamming Q-tips into my ears in an effort to get out the water that always finds its way into my skull when showering, I got back into my pajamas and lay on the couch. It was still a good hour or so before we had to leave to watch the race, so why not be comfortable?
I asked MY WIFE, "So, WIFE, do you still want to go to the race?"
She said, "I was just about to ask you if you still wanted to go. Do you?"
I said, "Well, I could just watch the Red Sox game and then we could watch the marathon on TV. Do you really want to go, or would you rather just hang around?"
She said, "I’d probably rather do nothing."
That was the answer I was looking for, so I was fine with that. She decided to take a nap. She had been up since before I was; perhaps 7:00 or so. While she went off to the bedroom to lie down, I put on the Sox game.
For those of you unfamiliar with what happens on Patriot’s Day in Boston – which is a legal holiday around here, by the way – aside from the marathon, the Red Sox always have a game at 11am. That’s right; eleven o’clock in the morning. They were playing Seattle. This means that, for the folks back in Seattle who might wish to see the game, it was beginning at 8am. Certainly the television folks in Seattle would have no trouble selling the usual beer and automobile ads for a telecast at that time of day…
Here in Boston, the game finishes at approximately the time the lead runners in the marathon are passing through Kenmore Square, so you get the marathon crowd, the runners, and the 37,000 or so who just saw the Red Sox game, all converging on Kenmore Square at the same time. Therefore, I congratulated myself on the wisdom of not being in the middle of that mob by enjoying a bowl of Golden Crisp cereal as I sat on the couch.
I watched the first three innings and then decided that MY WIFE had had a lovely idea, so I decided to take a nap, also. I put the game on the radio (which is actually my favorite way to enjoy a baseball broadcast, not TV) and lay down.
When I woke up, it was almost two o’clock and the Red Sox were down to their final out in the 9th inning, trailing by a run. I groggily went out to the living room and switched on the television in time to see Kevin Youkilis beat out an infield single and then Mark Loretta (Mark Loretta!) hit a walk-off home run over the wall. I celebrated with a piece of chocolate.
I switched the TV over to the marathon coverage on channel 4, just in time to see a Kenyan cross the finish line. It turned out he had broken the course record by one second! Yay! I had another piece of chocolate.
MY WIFE joined me in watching the trailers cross the finish line. She had started baking some white-chocolate-macadamia-nut cookies while I was finishing up my nap and the first of them were just about ready to come out of the oven.
The TV cameras were showing some folks further back on the course, not even through Natick yet. They said that some folks wouldn’t be finishing the race until 5:30 or 6:00. MY WIFE handed me a cookie and she had one herself.
"5:30!" I said, as I took a bite of my cookie.
"That’s awfully slow", she said.
She took another bite of her cookie and I took another bite of mine.
"Hell, I could walk the route in less time than that!" I said, as I wiped some crumbs from the front of my pajamas.
I finished my cookie and went in the other room to have a cigarette.
After I finished my smoke, I returned to the couch and looked at the program guide. Davey And Goliath was coming on in a couple of minutes, and after that Leave It To Beaver. We watched a few more runners drag themselves across the finish line. By this time, they were showing guys wearing viking horns and running the race backwards and wearing chicken suits, and telling us their stories. I changed the channel.
I mean, geez, who wants to hear about people so childish and unconnected to reality as that?
Soon, with more better stuff.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Continuing with some of the past postings starring MY WIFE, here's the one that has consistently brought in more people to this blog, via Google, than any other. See if you can figure out why...
CO-ED NAKED SNOW JOGGING
When my father retired, he bought a small house in New Hampshire. It was (and is, so far as I'm aware) a nice little place; four rooms - two up and two down - and a basement, sitting on about 6 acres of mostly undeveloped woodland. To get to the house from the main drag, one has to take an unpaved road of about a quarter-mile in length. A railroad - formerly a Boston & Maine right-of-way, but now usually used only once a day as a tourist attraction - runs along the eastern border of the yard.
When my father died, this property became mine. I liked the place, and the area, but couldn't really afford to keep it, since MY WIFE and I both worked in Boston and wouldn't be living there. We endeavored to sell it.
In the meantime, MY WIFE and I would take a weekend up there every couple of months. We did this to check on the place and make sure everything was OK, of course, but also because it was a nice quiet place to go, to get away from the Boston area. It was situated in a small town more-or-less at the beginnings of the White Mountains; very pretty area.
Well, very pretty area except for the fact that it sat behind what amounted to a junkyard.
On the main road, just before the turn-off to my dad's place, there was an auto repair shop called Smitty's. Smitty was a nice guy. While my dad was still living, Smitty would plow the dirt road, whenever there was a snowstorm, all the way down to my dad's place, free. When I needed to sell my dad's car after his passing, Smitty put it up on his frontage by the main drag with a "For Sale" sign and took care of all potential buyers. He charged me no commission when he sold it. However, he did keep a whole bunch of junkers and wrecks within sight of the house, which cut down on the scenery, and we could have complained to the town about that, since he wasn't zoned for a junkyard, so it was sort of a quid pro quo.
(Funny story, wholly unrelated to the main one: When my dad moved there, the little dirt road had no name. Whenever he needed to tell someone where he lived, he had to say, "Behind Smitty's". He got tired of that and finally petitioned the town to name the road. They said OK to his request and he named it Sullivan Lane. He put up a nice hand-carved wooden street sign and was pretty proud of it. However, here's what happened. Someone would ask him where he lived. He'd say, "Sullivan Lane". Invariably, the other person would say, "Sullivan Lane? Where's that?" Then my dad would have to say, "Behind Smitty's".)
We were taking one of our mini-vacations up there, over Martin Luther King day weekend, when it snowed. And snowed, and snowed some more. By Monday afternoon, when we would normally have been on the road in order to be back at work on the Tuesday after the holiday, there was an accumulation of at least two feet, with drifts much higher. The driveway - that is, the dirt road - was totally impassable. We were stranded at the house and had been for the past two days.
We knew that sooner or later Smitty would come down and plow the road, since he still did that following my dad's death, but we had no idea when. He had no reason to plow out his own business, as the main road was only barely drivable itself - I found that out by taking a hike up there through the drifts up to my waist.
Monday evening came and went. It was now Tuesday and we both called work to tell them why we weren't there. Well, the only thing to do in that house was sleep or eat, basically. The TV and radio reception was horrendous. The house wasn't hooked up with cable. There was a satellite dish my dad had purchased some years back, but it was now fairly rusted out and the wires were no good. So, the only outside world we knew of came from WMUR-TV, channel 9 in Manchester, and a few weak radio signals once the sun went down. There wasn't much to read, either.
We're fairly good when it comes to self-amusement, but you can only find so much to stave off the boredom after four days together in a confined space. We were going stir-crazy. Cabin fever had set in.
MY WIFE was the first one to crack. She said she was going to strip naked and run around the outside of the house in the snow.
I said, "Oh, you're full of shit."
She was as good as her word, though, albeit with boots and a Burberry scarf. After making a circuit of the house - with me inside, going from window to window, incredulously following her progress - she came back in and said it was invigorating and great and then started calling me a series of non-masculine names, in an attempt to goad me into doing it also. Well, I'm easily goaded, I guess. I stripped down, too.
As she jogged out the door the second time, I followed her. Of course, I didn't have boots or a Burberry scarf, so I wasn't nearly as dashing. And the one lasting impression I got from the whole thing - aside from the sight of my wife's lovely ass bobbing through the snow in front of me - is that the ancient Greeks, who supposedly did all of their athletic contests naked, must have been built entirely differently than I am. I was extremely uncomfortable running, what with things bouncing up and down and side to side.
(But this is all probably too much information, eh?)
When we did it, I was thinking that either the train would pick this inopportune time to come or, worse, some freakin' hungry bear with insomnia, just happening to amble around the other side of the house searching for food, would run us off onto the main road. There would have been no good explanation in either case. And what if we were running around, bollicky-bare-ass in the snow, when Smitty decided to start plowing? Luckily for us, none of those eventualities... eventuated.
When we got back inside, we were invigorated. I, personally, found a new desire to do many interesting things other than eating and sleeping. It certainly shook out the cobwebs.
That night, around 10pm, we heard this big rumble and at first we thought it might be some sort of avalanche nearby. However, it got closer and we soon saw the headlights on Smitty's plow. He cleared the driveway and, huzzah, there was much rejoicing! Even though the way was cleared, we stayed for the night, since it was so late to start traveling.
And that's the story of COED NAKED SNOW JOGGING. So far as I know, we're the only participants in this sport, either amateur or professional, so we're thinking of petitioning to have it included in the next Winter Olympics. Since we're the only ones with any experience, we should be good for the gold - as long as I can keep that bouncing thing under control.
USA! USA! USA!
Soon, with more better stuff.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Now that we're past The Shish-Kebob Incident and The Wedding Of The Decade, it's time for some of the stories of our life since then. For the next couple of weeks, I'll be re-posting those tales, starring MY WIFE, that best exemplify why I love her. They won't be in chronological order, so there may be an anachronism or two. That's OK. So are we.
I think this is a good one with which to begin...
PLAY LIKE A CHIMP TODAY
If you’ve been coming here for any significant length of time, then you know that MY WIFE is my soul mate. We live well, laugh often, and love much. We play like a chimp almost every day.
That’s an inside joke between me and MY WIFE. I could just leave it at that, but since that would leave this entry at about 1,400 words short of my usual neoplasmic postings (as well as leave you utterly bewildered) I’ll explain, instead.
See, we were watching a Notre Dame football game one Saturday, and...
No, that’s a lie. We weren’t watching a Notre Dame football game. I was watching a Notre Dame football game and MY WIFE wandered into the room at a propitious moment. Soul mate though she may be, I don’t believe MY WIFE has ever voluntarily watched an entire football game in her life. She would rather spend three hours having her nipples twisted with a pair of needle nose pliers than spend an equal length of time watching a football game.
(Just so you know, I really tried to come up with a better equivalent than the needle nose pliers thing. I considered the following:
"She would rather have her bum nibbled by a dyspeptic goat."
"She would rather strip naked, tape cashews to her body, and spend three hours inside a hamper full of rabid squirrels."
"She would prefer dressing up in a Harley costume, going to a biker bar in Oakland, and saying, 'Vroom! Vroom!'"
[No, wait a minute. That’s what I’d rather do than watch another episode of Wife Swap. Nevermind.]
"She would rather have sex with me."
At that point, I knew I was making up stuff that nobody in their right mind could possibly believe, so I decided to just go with the pliers and move on.)
So, during this Notre Dame football game, there was a feature about the preparation leading up to the team going out onto the field. At the end of that vignette, they showed the Fighting Irish leaving the locker room and heading for the stadium. Just outside of the locker room (in a stairwell, as I recall) there was a sign hanging on the wall. Every player on the Notre Dame team touched that sign as they passed by it. It was meant to remind them of their mission. The sign said "Play Like A Champ Today."
Well, MY WIFE thought it would be more fun if the sign said "Play Like A CHIMP Today." She then started running around the room like a monkey, scratching her armpits and making "ooh-ooh-ah-ah" monkey sounds. I thought it was a great idea, so I joined in. We BOTH ran around the room scratching our armpits and making "ooh-ooh-ah-ah" monkey sounds. Then I twisted her nipples with a pair of needle nose pliers and we both slept well that night.
The next day, she made a small sign out of construction paper and hung it over our door. It read, of course, "Play Like A Chimp Today." And, for a couple of years, every time we left our apartment, we would reach up and touch that sign. Sometimes we made the monkey noises again.
There. Aren’t you glad I took the time to explain it?
Soon, with more better stuff.
(By the way, any of you know where I can rent a hamper full of rabid squirrels? It doesn’t have to be immediately. Next Valentine’s Day will do.)
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I'm sorry - you're not allowed into the reception unless you attended the wedding. Luckily, the wedding is perpetually attendable by going HERE for Part One and THERE for Part Two.
Alrighty, then. Come on in! Have a seat at your assigned table.
What's that you say? You can't find your place card? Oh, that's OK... just choose a table.
(If you want a closer look at anything, move your mouse onto it and click. For printed materials, click again. I hope.)
Perhaps you'd like to sit at the Fenway Park table. Be careful of the green monster in left field!
The Boston Center For Adult Education table is popular with some. Yes, that is a pair of tap shoes to the right.
Perhaps you'd like to do some travelling. If so, the T table is for you! Turn on the cassette deck and hear 20 minutes of actual train sounds, recorded by the future bride while riding Park Street to Ashmont on the Red Line! Please step into the car. Watch the closing doors.
The Lyric Stage table comes with a disguise for our guests who wish to remain incognito.
The groom assures us that the Celtics will be contenders again soon, so perhaps you'd like to get in on the ground floor?
The Boston Public Library table comes with its very own librarian. Shhhhh!
Of course, the Museum Of Fine Arts table is always popular, especially with dancers from Bougival.
Or perhaps the Pitbulls table, where you'll sit with Jim's friends and former band members, as well as his MVP trophy and an old cleat.
Of course, you received your program at the church. Now would be a good time to look it over, so you don't miss any of the fun.
Oh, wait! It's time for The Scavenger Hunt! When you fill out your sheet, bring it to our Scavenger Hunt Co-Ordinator, Valerie, and you might win a fabulous prize!
Oh! Oh! Here come the newlyweds! Give them a warm welcome (you can go back to the open bar and the sumptuous buffet later. You'll even have a chance to make-your-own-sundae!)
(Yes, we had a make-your-own-sundae station - don't you wish you were there? We had caviar, too - or, at least, so we heard. That was gone even by the time we arrived.)
Why, here are the newlyweds now! Hurray! Remember - no tinkling! They're both packing water pistols!
But... But... The last time we saw them was at the wedding and this is how they looked:
Why, those jolly jokers! They went home and changed clothes! That's why they gave us all these things to do, like anacrostics, while we were waiting for them to show up!
It seems to have kept everybody happy!
Hey, wait a minute! I bet this isn't really a Parker Brothers press release!
And isn't this thing below copyrighted by King Features Syndicate? I think that's a copyrighted character from Warner Brothers, too. Oh, well - they can try to get blood from a stone if they really want to ruin our wedding 20 years after the fact! We're so happy to be married, we'll just apologize upfront! Love and kisses, big businesses!
Oh, boy! Cake!
And here's where Jim and HIS NEW WIFE, rather than feed each other cake, gave the first slices to the oldest person in attendance (Jim's grandmother, lurking in the weeds here) and the youngest person (Spooky Alyssa, the first person to know about them getting married, even though they hadn't told anyone yet - which you'd know about if you read Part One, of course.)
And here is what is probably Jim's favorite picture from the reception. The little person with hands on hips, looking at Jim's NEW WIFE, is Spooky Alyssa. Father Vinny is immediately to the right. Scavenger Hunt Co-Ordinator, Valerie Smith-Sheehy, has her hand on Father Vinny's shoulder. The amazing Peggy Lavoie - artistic director of the tables - is wearing the red dress. Jim's Mom (who has learned far more about Jim by reading this blog than she ever thought she would or wanted to) has her hands on Jim's shoulders. Everyone else in the picture is swell, too!
But, for heaven's sakes, why isn't anyone looking at the camera? What the heck are they looking at? Your guess is as good as mine and I was there!
Here are the puzzle answers, as well as the credits.
And, thus far, they lived happily ever after!
Soon, with more better stuff.
Soon, with more better stuff.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
(You can read part one HERE.)
There are vast differences between the way a man's mind works and the way a woman's mind works. Generally speaking, men do one thing at a time. They concentrate on the task at hand to the exclusion of whatever else is happening. Women, on the other hand, tend to multitask.
Guys, this is why when you are making love to your wife and you want to forestall the end a bit, it helps to do something distracting like calculating batting averages. On the other hand, it's why your wife can honestly say that, yes, it was good for her, too, but while she was moaning, she made out the grocery list in her head, noticed a spot on the ceiling that needed painting, and oh, by the way, you have to remember to pay the gas bill by Friday or the heat will be shut off.
This is why - being a guy - I had no idea that there was so much crap that had to be done before a wedding. I figured you told people about the wedding, they came, and the wedding happened. MY (future) WIFE - being not a guy - knew better. We were not unlike that scene in The Odd Couple when Oscar comes home late from work and Felix stands accusingly before him with a dry overcooked roast. Oscar says, "Well, just put some gravy on it" and Felix says, "Put some gravy on it? Where in the hell am I going to get gravy?" and Oscar says, "I thought it just comes when you make the meat."
The thing of it is, I'm such of a guy's guy I'll probably still forget half the stuff that needed to be done, even in the retelling. As the details were piled on while it was actually happening, I was completely flabbergasted.
Invitations had to be made and sent, flowers had to be ordered and placed, a hall had to be rented, the church had to be reserved, food had to be taken care of, the music, the priest, reply cards, blood tests, licenses, place cards, video, programs, photographs, a cake, transportation, rings, best man, maid of honor, ushers, bridesmaids, shoes, dresses, a tux, hair, readings, seating, vows, travel plans for the honeymoon, hotel reservations, vacation time from work, decorations for the hall, the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, at least fourteen other things I've blessedly forgotten and, God Almighty, none of it comes when you make the meat.
Was it too late to live in sin? How bad could Hell be? I'll be set on fire and poked with a pitchfork for all eternity? Lemme think about it.
The one thing that made all of this bearable was the fact that we were both over thirty.
No, I'm not saying that age had given us some sort of insight allowing us the ability to stand back and be free from stress. What age had done was grant us some freedom from conformity. Since we were both over thirty, we would do everything in exactly the way we wanted it done. It was our wedding and nobody else's. While younger couples sometimes follow the tradition of having the bride's family pay for much of what happens - and concomitantly have to make concessions to those footing the bill - we were old enough to forgo that nonsense. We both worked, so we'd pay for it ourselves. And since we would be paying for it completely on our own, we could include anything we damn well pleased and leave out anything we damn well pleased, too.
Now, we weren't (and aren't) rich. We weren't (aren't) even in the same area code as rich. We were (are) in the same hemisphere as three-paychecks-removed-from-debtors-prison-and-maybe-by-the-time-we're-seventy-dog-food-won't-look-too-unpalatable. As a result, we also decided that there was a lot of stuff we could do ourselves, as opposed to paying to have it done for us.
First off, being not so rich made us sensitive to the fact that many of our friends were in a similar situation. So, the first thing we decided was to not saddle them with extra expenses. Therefore, we did not make the bridesmaids or maid of honor buy dresses that they would never in a million years wear again, nor did we have ushers or my best man rent (or buy) tuxes. These people could dress in whatever way they wanted. We trusted that they would dress nicely. And they did.
We hand-made the invitations, the reply cards, the programs, and the place cards, 150 or so of each. You must understand that this was without the aid of any sort of computer or computer program. It was the dark ages - 1991 and 1992. When I say hand-made, I literally mean hand-made. The most sophisticated tools we had at our disposal were a typewriter and a copier. Here's one of our invitations:
And the inside.
I had barely begun my career in voice-overs and commercial production, so I was working a full-time job as a security guard. I painstakingly did the calligraphy myself during the midnight-to-8 shift. I had never done calligraphy before, but I figured I could fake it well enough to be serviceable. I did it with a felt-tip marker, not a calligraphy pen.
Once I felt I had a good sample (which was about 80 sheets of paper into the effort, what with getting it centered correctly onto a sheet that would then be folded down into a four-sided invitation) I handed it over to MY (future) WIFE for her to do the artwork. Thankfully, she got it right on the first attempt, otherwise I probably would have had to use another 80 sheets to re-do it. Then, I inserted that sheet into a typewriter and prayed to God that I could correctly line up what I needed to type. If not, back to the beginning.
Only after all of this did we feed that one precious sheet into a copier to make the 150 or so copies we needed. We then hand-colored the leaves on every copy - no color copier available to make that an unnecessary task. Finally, we made the heart. You'll see that it is made up of two thumbprints - one from each of us. We had to ink up our thumbs and make every heart from scratch, so each invitation was unique.
Similar work went into the reply cards, place cards and programs.
I recorded four one-hour cassette tapes containing all of the music to be played at the reception. I did this piece-by-piece, transferring the music from vinyl records to the cassette tapes. No digital downloads. No CDs. All vinyl and all one song at a time, and if I got the sound of the needle being lifted, or a skip or any other glitch, rewind the cassette to the exact point I had previously started at and begin again.
I had to plan each side so that it would be as close to thirty minutes as possible. I juggled my song lists for timing while keeping in mind the least jarring transitions. I did all of this on a commercial stereo set-up - no cross-fading, no ramping up the records to speed, no input volume meters to reference, nothing. After each song was recorded, I had to rewind to where it began in order to make sure that the volume levels matched and that I had the song beginning immediately after the preceding song and had not cut off anything.
One other thing: The recording cassette deck had a broken door. I had to physically hold it shut during the entire process. This means that during any time I was recording a song, playing back a song, rewinding, or whatever involved any movement of the tape, I had to keep my finger firmly pressed against the door of the deck. The recording process took some ten hours total. My finger was sore for two days afterwards.
I hauled my entire system (including my big-ass-for-those-days 75-watts-a-side speakers) to the hall, in my car, and set it up myself on the morning of the wedding. In addition, once the reception began I had to remember the playlist so that I could be ready to change the cassettes the seven times they would need to be changed.
MY (future) WIFE contracted the musicians for the wedding itself. They were all from the church group of which she had been a part. The lone exception was my best man and former band mate from World's End, Sean Flaherty, who played on one song at my behest. We picked out all of the religious music to be played at the ceremony. In addition, I wrote a song on which Sean would play lead guitar.
When I say, "I wrote", I mean I literally wrote out the song for the musicians; actual sheet music, which was something I had never done before. I had previously played in groups that used nothing but "head arrangements", i.e., arrangements worked out in rehearsals, and never existing on paper, but only in the musician's heads. I can read music, but only laboriously. The writing process was very slow.
The wedding musicians, who could sight-read, were unfailingly kind to me when working in rehearsal with my sometimes slightly off-time scratchings and they took my verbal corrections patiently. The only part not written out was Sean's solo following the third verse, but I coached him on the basic form I wanted him to follow - some octave-fingering a la Wes Montgomery - and let him take it from there.
No "Here Comes The Bride", either. We would both march down the aisle together as equal partners. This wasn't some extension of a tribal rite where I'd traded three goats for my woman, so MY (future) WIFE was not "given away" by anyone, nor did I pay attention to any of that silly shit about not seeing the bride before the wedding. I'd already seen every inch of her (and liked what I saw, too.)
We would both wear our nicest clothes, but not a tuxedo or a gown. We wanted the emphasis on the religious aspects of the ceremony, not the trappings. There would be a tuxedo and gown, but... well, you'll see later.
We planned out - and either bought, borrowed, made, or otherwise finagled - all of the decorations ourselves.
We had decided to use a different theme for every guest table at the reception. There was one overall theme - what we loved about Boston. However, each table would represent one place or thing in Boston that we particularly liked. For instance, there would be a Fenway Park table; a Museum of Fine Arts table; a Boston Public Library table; etc., and each table would have it's own distinctive decorations, place cards, centerpieces and whatnot.
In order to do this as inexpensively as possible, we sent letters to every organization representing these places or institutions, explaining what we were up to and asking them to mail us back whatever they were willing to give us as being representative of them. Most were marvelously receptive of the idea and responded with all sorts of interesting little bits of booty.
We'd await the mail each day with some excitement, wondering what it would bring. The Boston Celtics, for instance, sent us schedules and magnets. From the Museum of Fine Arts we received postcards of artwork and other doo-dads. We took these items, added them to what we had around the house already, and planned out each table as its own distinctive work of art.
I'll show you more later, when we get to the reception, but let me give you an idea of what our tables looked like. As a matter of fact, see if you can guess which table this is:
Yes, it's The HEAD Table.
MY (future) WIFE pored through catalogs of party favors and ordered lots of fun things to have at each table - little spinning toy tops; streamers; those things you blow into and a piece of fabric unwinds and makes a noise, like you see in pictures of New Years Eve (what are those things called?); confetti; candies.
Most of these items came from a marvelous company called Oriental Trading. We highly recommend them.
Of course, on top of these somewhat insane Herculean solo efforts, we also made all of the arrangements with the caterer, contracted the hall, worked with the church to stake out a time that wouldn't interfere with their regular Saturday masses, did the mailings and worked on seating arrangements, rented or bought all of our new clothing, made arrangements with the florist, booked a room for our rehearsal dinner, asked certain friends and family members to be part of the wedding party and do readings and such, and all of the other mundane pre-nuptial tasks.
We made a gigantic list of everything that we needed to accomplish and, as each thing was taken care of, we checked it off. Then we added two more things that we had forgotten about.
Here is what we looked like two days before the wedding:
Finally, came the morning of the wedding.
David Ortiz is too spectacular to put into words. He's the best clutch hitter of my lifetime. I saw Yastrzemski in 1967, and he was amazing, but Ortiz? He's established a new standard. On top of it all, he's a nice guy; humble and a great teammate.
Why would I interrupt this continuing saga to talk baseball - aside from the obvious fact that David Ortiz is magnificent? Well, it's the type of thing that guys will talk about at the reception. Women might discuss the beauty of the bride's gown or make fun of the hideous bridesmaid's outfits or perhaps they'll say how pretty the floral arrangements were - I can only speculate concerning these things since I don't own a vagina. Men, however, will not utter a single word concerning the groom's manner of dress - unless he got married in a kilt, in which case he becomes fair game. No, men will talk sports.
Also, you women need to understand that, if you decide to schedule your wedding on a day containing a major sporting event, there are only two possibilities.
1 - If you schedule the ceremony at the same time as the major sporting event, every guy in the church will be pissed. This includes your father, your brother, and the groom himself.
2 - If you schedule the ceremony to happen before or after the major sporting event, that's better. However, if you schedule it before, every guy at the reception - once again including your father, brother, and groom - will try to find a TV to watch the sporting event. If you schedule it after, they will spend the reception talking about the sporting event. As a matter of fact, they may still gather around the nearest TV, beers in hand, and watch the replays.
The only guys the above does not apply to are your gay friends and those guys in the wedding party who are trying to hit on your bridesmaids. And if you're not hitting on bridesmaids or talking sports, it will be assumed you are gay.
Two stories that prove this:
1 - MY WIFE, prior to meeting me, volunteered to write and send out wedding invitations for a friend of hers. On the invitations, it was supposed to say "So-and-so & guest". Well, when she sent them out, it did say that on the female invitations, but not on those going to men. Her Machiavellian idea was that this would bring many single dateless men to the reception. Then she and her friends could troll the waters for a catch.
It was a fine idea, except for one thing. The wedding happened during the World Series. Every man at the reception, dateless or not, gathered around the TV at the bar and watched the game. MY WIFE and all of her friends didn't go home with a damned thing except experience.
2 - MY WIFE and I attended a wedding reception in 2004. Nice couple, now residing in Brooklyn. The wedding reception was in October. The wedding reception was held in a suburb of Boston.
Boston. October. 2004.
The groom spent nearly the entire evening in conversation with various buddies rhapsodizing about how sweet it was that the Red Sox had come from 0 - 3 down to beat the Yankees. Luckily, his bride was also a Sox fan, so she wasn't pissed. Wouldn't have mattered if she was, though. Some things are just in the genes and if you schedule a wedding or reception at certain times, the genes will out.
My best advice, ladies? Schedule your wedding during a time when there are no playoffs happening in any of the four major North American sports. Also, no Olympics, World Cup, major golf tournaments or NASCAR championships. For instance, February 29th.
So the morning of February 29th arrived (arrove?) and we were ready. Every detail was taken care of and all of the stuff we had to bring to the hall and church - for decorating, etc. - was packed up in boxes and bags and ready to be loaded into the car for transport. A couple of very close friends and relatives had agreed to help us that morning with the actual decorating.
I loaded the stuff into my car and drove over to the Knights of Columbus hall we had rented for the reception. I would drop off the stuff with our very good friends and oversee the set-up. I took this task onto myself as a solo venture voluntarily. MY (future) WIFE was on the edge of clinical exhaustion and remained at home taking care of last minute clothing details and popping tranquilizers. I say that not unkindly. She was subject to amazingly hideous migraines and had copped a scrip to make a preemptive strike against that possibility. I was all for her avoiding migraines, of course.
I parked the car, got out, and went into the hall. I then stood there in drop-jawed amazement, not believing what my eyes were seeing.
The entire floor of the hall was covered with trash and I literally mean every inch of it. The hall had been used for a bingo game the night before and it was strewn with discarded bingo cards, scratch tickets, markers, paper plates and drink cups, cigarette butts, and every other bit of detritus that could possibly be associated with a night of gambling.
After the bingo game, whoever was in charge had just swept everything on the tables onto the floor, folded everything up and gone home. Our friends and I had to actually clean the place and set up the tables and chairs before they could even begin doing the decorating.
Before that happened, though, I had to go home. MY (future) WIFE expected me to take perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes at the most to drop stuff off and go over a few details with our friends. There was no way in hell I was going to tell her about what was transpiring. So, I went home, made some sort of lame excuse about having to head back to the hall, and then did so - pissed and ready to start busting my balls cleaning.
Thankfully, MY (future) WIFE had a serious case of Bride Brain, so I didn't have to be too effective in my lying.
I went back to the hall and joined in scooping up trash - by hand. I had a change of clothes at home, of course, but the other folks were already in their beautiful wedding duds. They hadn't expected to be working shin-deep in filth that morning. But they did, God bless them, they did.
After helping to dispose of the greater part of the mess, I had to head back home to continue with our pre-wedding prep. I left everything in the capable hands of Peggy Lavoie and she, along with my future brother-in-law and sister-in-law... well, she absolutely guaranteed herself a spot in heaven, if there's any justice in this universe. She took all of the boxes of stuff, along with my hurried instructions concerning set-up details, and she did as magnificent a job with that hall as we could have done given three days to accomplish it. She set up every table with the specific decorations for that table's theme and did so with her marvelous eye for artistry. I won't show you the details yet - that will come later, at the reception - but you need to know that, without her efforts, our day would have been fairly much ruined.
Back home, we packed up the programs we had made and readied to bring them to St. Gregory’s, the church we were being married in. Our greeters (photo above) would hand one to each of the guests as they entered the church. Since we had many friends who were not Catholic, we included fairly much every word of the liturgy within the programs so that they could follow it easily and participate without hesitation or embarrassment.
After dropping off the programs, we had to go to the florist and pick up the floral arrangements, bring them to the church, and set them up on the altar. MY (future) WIFE also had to get her hair done. We both had to dress in what we were wearing for the ceremony. And I had to write a speech, too.
You see, it was our idea that we would both address our guests at the ceremony. I would give a welcome and MY (future) WIFE would say a couple of words after we were married, including pointing out that directions to the reception were in the program.
Remember how this whole story began with an improvisation on my part? I hadn't learned my lesson from that. After all, horrible improvisation though it may have been, she had agreed to marry me. So I figured I could wait until the last minute to come up with something to say as an introduction to our guests.
You know what? I was right this time.
After picking up the flowers, and while MY (future) WIFE was having her hair done, I was at home reading the funny pages of the Boston Globe. I had it in the back of my head that I had to come up with something to say, but I wasn't too worried about it. I could wing it, if need be. I came from a long line of successful b.s. artists and panic is not a trait you inherit from folks like that. As I was reading Andy Capp, Bringing Up Father, Blondie, and other fine literature sure to instill confidence in a soon-to-be-married man, I glanced down the page and miraculously found the text upon which to base my pre-game talk.
A regular feature on the comics page was the Quote Of The Day. In this case, it was from someone named Festus. The only Festus I knew was the deputy from Gunsmoke, but I assumed it wasn't him and, miracle of miracles, I was now right twice in the same day. As I later found out, he was a Roman philosopher. At that moment, however, he was a gift from God that I gratefully accepted. I clipped the quote out of the page and put it into my pocket.
Her hair now done, MY (future) WIFE was ready for the wedding. We got into our car and drove over to the church. I'd say we had at least twelve or thirteen minutes to spare before the ceremony.
At the time, I was driving a 10-year-old monkey-shit brown Oldsmobile that was not without its charms, but had acquired 10 years worth of dents, dings and other personalizations. We pulled up in front of the church and were immediately accosted by a helpful church official.
"Hey! You can't park there! There's a wedding today and that space is reserved for the limousine!"
"We are the limousine", MY (future) WIFE said, as she moved the orange traffic cones out of the way.
We waited in the sacristy, peeking outside every now and then to count the house - not unlike performers on opening night. I fingered the quote from Festus in my pocket, figuring out my opening lines.
The third person "on stage" with us that day would be Fr. Vincent McKiernan, CSP. We knew him as Vinny. When we decided to get married, he was MY (future) WIFE's immediate choice as celebrant and I agreed wholeheartedly.
Vinny was currently in residence at Ohio State University, but he had previously been a resident at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston. This is where we knew him from. He had been a great help to MY (future) WIFE during a time of great distress (prior to this time of great distress) and a friendship beyond the usual priest-parishioner relationship had developed. I didn't know Vinny as intimately, but I did know him as a kind and gentle man with a wonderful sense of humor, especially adept at punning.
(Since Vinny was from out of town, we had to get special papers to allow him to perform a wedding in Massachusetts. Conservatives want more people to get married and stay married? They want to cut down the divorce rate? Have the government get the hell out of the marriage business. If you left marriage to the religious institutions and dropped all of the hideous paperwork and blood tests and licensing and permissions and fees and other crap, more people might find it easier and might do it. In addition, most churches consider a marriage final. They don't grant divorces; the state does. Mini-rant over. Sorry!)
Vinny was ready. MY (future) WIFE was ready. The musicians were ready. The gathered guests were ready. I pulled Festus out of my pocket and walked out to the lectern on the altar. I began...
"Thank you for coming here today to join us in our celebration of marriage. I'd like to read you a quote that we've pretty much based our entire life together on."
(I had never seen the quote until about an hour ago.)
"The quote is from Festus."
(I here explained that it was not the same Festus as the character from Gunsmoke. I still had no earthly idea what Festus he might have been.)
"We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial."
"We have tried to live our life together thus far by following these words."
(This was pretty much true, but we had never actually seen the words before.)
"Each one of you holds a special place in our lives and it is our fervent hope that you'll find the deeds, thoughts and feelings, expressed today, filled with love."
(Whatever the hell that means. I know it sounded good because everybody was smiling.)
Having now baffled everybody with bullshit, it was time to begin the actual ceremony. I stepped off of the altar and joined hands with MY (future) WIFE, who was giving me a "Who in heck is Festus and we do what with who now?" smile. We made our way to the back of the church via a side aisle and then followed the rest of the wedding party up the middle aisle towards the altar.
Why, here we are now!
I have to condense slightly here, otherwise I'll have to rent out space on another blog to finish. If you know the Roman Catholic liturgy, you more or less know our wedding.
Husband and WIFE...
(A few minutes before this shot, when Father Vinny actually said "...husband and wife", we had exchanged a high five.)
And then we went home, while everyone else...
... headed to the reception. Why did we go home? You'll find out at the reception.
(See you there soon!)