Marsha and I were married at Trinity Methodist Church in New Albany, Ind., on a hot summer Saturday evening on June 26, 1971. We and our guests adjourned to the Elks Club where we snacked on peanuts and crackers and drank wine and beer for free and mixed drinks from a cash bar. The next day the happy couple went on a driving vacation to Virginia Beach in my dad’s aging Ford LTD that overheated in Charleston, W. Va.
Just last week the oldest of my three sons, Chris, married the lovely Sarah Kupec in Cleveland, Ohio. The wedding took place at the Old Stone Church where Lincoln was waked on his funeral procession from D.C. to Springfield. After the ceremony there was a sit-down dinner for 175 in a big room overlooking Lake Erie. After a Sunday brunch for all the guests, the newlyweds flew off to Hawaii for a two-week honeymoon.
Times change, but some things about weddings remain the same.
First and foremost. Weddings are: by, for and about women. Men are necessary props to the occasion. Just stand up straight and keep your mouth shut. If you do speak, confine your responses to: “Whatever you say, dear.” “You look beautiful.” “I’m so sorry. It won’t happen again.”
Speaking of beautiful, Marsha looked great. I told her she reminded me of The Sistine Chapel at St. Peter’s. She seemed pleased. I even noted that it took her about as long as Michelangelo did to achieve her beauty. She seemed less pleased.
Liquor is an essential element of weddings. The key here is balance. On the one hand too little liquor results in only the young people dancing, and far too many conversations about declining home prices and health problems. Too much liquor presents the possibility of the wedding pictures being confiscated as evidence.
After a long and unsuccessful career I retired from the consumption of alcoholic beverages. However, I was tempted to come out of retirement at the wedding. My pathetic efforts to dance to that silly YMCA song and The Humpty Hump may have scarred me for life. (Post Bad Dancing Syndrome). The importunings of the sweet little bridesmaids caused me to hit the dance floor only to utterly humiliate myself. One consolation though was the knowledge that in all likelihood I am the only human ever to “dance” to these songs stone cold sober. Aim low. Don’t be disappointed.
However, there were lots more good parts than bad. As I drove to Cleveland on Thursday morning I thought that these nuptials, while no doubt important, were something to be completed, even endured. But as I drove back to Chicago on Sunday I reflected that the four days had been among the happiest of my life. The coming together of our many Oak Park friends and our families from New Albany for the sole reason to celebrate the marriage of my son was much more meaningful than this cynic could have ever anticipated.
As a parent, seeing your children happy is simply the best, and Chris sure seemed happy as he and Sara danced their first dance as a married couple. Marsha and I sat and watched them as another chapter of our lives unfolded.