Fifteen Years Ago Today.
Fifteen years ago today, I got up with a little bit of a hangover, and went to play a miserable game of golf with my two best friends, Scott and Bill. Y'all may have noticed that I don't talk much about golf on this blog. That's because it doesn't interest me to talk about. But it's a pleasant walk with a pair of good friends, and occasionally hand-eye coordination pays off. Also, it's an excellent way to polish your judgement of distance and wind.
After putting up a score well north of 100 (I never have seen the point in fudging my score, or adjusting the way my ball lies without taking a penalty. What's the point?), I went back to my house to get showered and changed. My fiancée was at the hairdresser's, getting ready. I was to meet her at the church.
We were getting married that afternoon.
I was muddy, and sweaty, and probably non-too-savory from the toxins that I was sweating out from the shindig that my friends had thrown me the night before. I got in the shower and drained the water heater, and then had to wait for the water to heat back up to shave. Finally, I glanced at my watch as I put on my tuxedo. Ooh-- 3:20pm. Cutting it a bit close, for a 4:00pm wedding, with a 15 minute drive.
This was when I discovered that the vest was a size Small.
I'm not a Small. I'm not even a Large. I'm more in the range of XXL.
They had gone on and on about how the groomsmen had matching vests in one color, and the groom had another colored vest that complimented them but was distinctly different. I thought about where the tux place was-- 3.8 miles away, through town. I got my keys, and left at 3:30pm. Driving through town, there wasn't much of a way to speed up the drive. I arrived at about 3:40pm. I dashed in, told the girl at the counter the problem, and demanded a larger vest. She searched and found one, and then removed, if I recall correctly, about 19 straight pins from it before adjusting it to me. I was impatient, and told her that we'd have to make do with how it was. I fled the store, and hopped into my pickup, at about 3:53PM.
Google Maps claims that the 8.5 mile trip from the mall to the church takes 13 minutes to drive. Under normal conditions, I would have to agree, and on weekdays at drivetime, you can double that. But this was a Saturday, and I was wearing my wedding tuxedo and was en route to my own wedding. I decided that I would never in my life have a better excuse to speed.
The 1989 Ford F-250 extended cab pickup with full-length bed was a big old beast, somehow the same length as the King Cab that year. It's heavy, and handles like an ocean liner. Mine had dual tanks and a 7.3 liter International diesel engine, that put out stupid amounts of torque, and seemed to want to give me 12.5mpg no matter how I drove it. The speedometer only went up to 85, but playing around with a GPS, I had learned that it would do 103mph before the governor kicked in. I jumped the median from the access road, and floored it.
While en route up the hill to the church, I saw a slow-moving car tapping its brakes, as if the driver were lost and checking the house numbers. I blew past my friend Bryan and his wife, parked at the church, and walked in. It was 4:00:30 PM by my watch. My dad, who was standing in the lobby and looking anxious, laughed and shook my hand.
I joined the pastor and my two groomsman in the anteroom, off the side of the church. We sent someone to inform the bride that we were ready. And we waited. And we waited. For over 20 minutes, we waited. It turned out that my mother in-law, not content with the professional hair-do that my wife had just gotten, wanted to mess with her youngest child's hair some before sending her down the aisle.
Finally, the music played, and the pastor (a retired military man) led the processional to the alter. Interesting training kicked in; we all began on our left foot, and marched at 120 steps per minute in 30 inch steps to our places. Such is the so-called Quick Time march, which my friends and I had learned in high school JROTC. Thus, in very short order, we were in place, and watched the woman who presently would become my bride be escorted up to us by her elder brother. It seemed like that their march took several minutes.
The rest is kind of a blur. The pastor used his opportunity to give a sermon that I didn't want. We picked up candles and used them to light a single candle together, and I found that the candle wasn't really a 24" taper, but was actually a white-painted metal tube with a spring pushing up a small insert candle, to keep the "tapers" the same height. I grabbed the thing, and the spring shot out the bottom, and I somehow caught it, shoving up the wax insert just before it went out. I managed to light the communal candle without burning down the old church.
Then, it was over. I kissed the bride (as such she now was), and we turned to meet our future. A friend caught this moment with her camera. It was murky in that old church, so I hope you'll forgive the poor picture. (I think she only had 100 speed film.)
We retired to my amazing friend Paula's house, and took some more pictures. My friend Blake served the most amazing barbecue and beans and smoked ham that I've ever eaten. My friend Kevin served the beer that he and I had brewed using his grain sparge system. (I got rave reviews on it, but of 10 gallons, I only got half a plastic cup. Figures.)
Friends, this makes no sense at all. Here I was, at a party with everyone that I gave a damn about in attendance, and I had to leave it early. What we SHOULD have done was go back to our house, changed out of our finery, and re-joined the party in blue jeans and flannel shirts. If you're getting married, do that, friends.
We went to a lovely bed & breakfast place that my best friend and his wife had provided for us, took care of a necessary formality, and watched Rowan Atkinson performing a stage bit, on the televisor. In the morning, there were chocolate banana muffins, and strada.
And we went home, a married couple.
My bride has borne me two amazing children. She has my love, and my loyalty. This is just the first multiple of 15 years.