Remembering What It Was LikebySlirpuff©
As I watched my daughter stand at the altar my eyes started to get wet. I wasn't crying, it's just that all those pent up emotions were starting to come out; after eight long months it was finally over. She is my little girl and always will be, but after today, she will also be Gary's wife. The way she looks at him reminds me of the day twenty-five years ago when another couple stood at the altar and pledged their love to one another. That couple is still together, but the undying love portion of those vows has faded and now they're comfortable with one another. Comfortable, that's an open-ended word. They kiss, hold hands and even do the big nasty as it was called way back then. But if truth be known, and one of them was out of the picture, the other would be heartbroken but not devastated as would have been the case say ten years earlier. So, they're comfortable. God, I'm growing to hate that word.
Linda flew through the door almost taking it off at the hinges waving her left hand screaming at the top of her lungs that she was engaged. Then she and my wife, Jean, talked a mile a minute all the while never taking their eyes off the ring. Gary walked in, about twenty paces behind her, and shut the door behind him. He had a smile on his face but it was a controlled smile.
"You got anything to say for yourself," I asked looking at the ongoing commotion in the kitchen.
"I guess you know I asked Linda to marry me and she said yes," he said looking at me for some type of reaction.
"I thought you two would end up just living together just like everyone else these days."
"Your daughter said without a ring on her finger there would be no cohabitating so, I figured it was time to make my move."
"She sounds like her mother and let me guess, you haven't talked her into letting you slide into home base yet either, have you?"
He fidgeted and looked extremely nervous like he'd been caught by his mother playing with himself in the bathroom.
"What do you think?"
I smiled and inside I was pumping my fist and yelling out YES! I guess all those late night talks weren't in vane.
"Well Gary, the next couple of months are going to be hell on the both of us so prepare yourself. The women are going to try to drive us nuts, and my suggestion to you is to get that damn smile permanently tattooed to your face. Just remember one thing, a wedding doesn't a marriage make. After the ceremony, the reception and the honeymoon, reality is going to set in, and that's when the hard work begins. You're going to find out soon that marriage is nothing like dating, and it sure as hell is not all peaches and cream. So, after you've had your second or third big fight you're going to question yourself whether you made the right decision marrying my daughter. I've got two bits of advice, take them or leave them, but I'm going to give them to you anyway. Number one, always treat her like she's the most important thing in your life and second, never let the honeymoon end. Gary, the honeymoon only ends when you let it." He looked at me kind of strange but I knew he'd understand, not now, but in about nine months.
"Mr. Moore, I was going to ask you for Linda's hand but she told me that no one does that any more, and besides you didn't own her," he said a little sheepishly. "But I do love your daughter, and I'll do my best to keep her happy."
"Gary, there is no such thing as trying to make someone happy. If you treat her like you want to be treated, it will just happen. Now comes the hard part, we've got to go into the kitchen and face two crazy women with a smile on our face. Just nod your head, say yes sweetheart to whatever they say, and with a few beers under our belt we'll get through this night." And the two of us did.
If someone would have told me what the two of them were going to put me through I would have signed a blank check and went on an eight month fishing trip to Canada or taken a cruise around the world.
"Jean, you've got a budget of fifteen thousand dollars and that's it," I told my wife. "That should be more than enough to give Linda the wedding and honeymoon of her dreams."
"Steve, do you have any idea what things cost these days? The dress alone could cost upwards of two grand and don't get me started on the food or the guest list."
"Honey, listen to me. I won't go to the poor house over this wedding; it's not going to happen. Why don't the two of you make a tentative list of what you need and we'll all sit down when it's done." I don't think she was very happy with me right then.
I had watched my older brother put on a splash for his daughter two years ago. Hell, they arrived at the church in a white horse drawn carriage no less. I was told her handmade dress set him back over five grand, and that even though he'd set a limit of two hundred and fifty guests it had ballooned to over three hundred and seventy-five by the date of the wedding. And I know his bar tab had to have been well over four grand by the way everyone was drinking. It seems that when the booze is free people drink a lot more. Now it's rumored that the two of them are having issues. As I said, a wedding does not a marriage make.
"Holy shit," is all I said when I went over the list my wife and daughter had put together, it was two pages long. "Three grand for a damn wedding planner? What do we need a wedding planner for?" I asked.
"They make sure everything goes smoothly and that everyone shows up on time."
"If I hire a caterer I tell them what I want and what time I want them there. We sign a contract and if they fuck up I don't pay, it's as simple as that."
"Well, Connie had one and everything went great," my daughter replied.
"Sweetheart, Connie had a budget larger than they had when they made the movie Titanic," I said trying to interject a little humor into what was becoming an out of control budget discussion. "And if my idiot brother wouldn't have had his head up his ass, he wouldn't have had to borrow from his 401K to pay for the wedding, I'm not going to do that."
"Fine, I'll get married in the back yard wearing a sack cloth dress," she said sarcastically.
"Breath," I said to myself. "Relax, this is not reality, or shouldn't be."
"Look, give me a couple of days to review this extensive list. Nothing has to be done today or tomorrow so we have time. I've got a lot of connections in town and more than a few people owe me favors I'm now going to collect on." They weren't happy but I gave them no choice.
"Steve, I know it's a lot of money, but she is your only daughter," my wife said to me when we were getting ready for bed. "And she's using Connie's wedding as a guide on how she wants hers to be. I guess she doesn't want to be outdone by Connie and I can understand that."
"Dale went into debt thirty-two thousand dollars between the wedding and the honeymoon. Why don't we give then a check for fifteen and a big party and call it square. This way they'll have money for a down payment on a house, we'll have a nice party and we all will come out of it better off." The look she gave me was one of are you nuts?
"All I'm saying is just do the best you can and I know you will."
She slipped into bed, cracked open her book and started reading. I watched her for a couple of minutes before asking her if she wanted a foot rub.
"Steve, it's not a foot rub you want to give me and we both know it. It's late, I'm tired, and you've got to go to work tomorrow. Maybe we'll find time this weekend," she said giving me a peck on the lips.
What happen to the passion we once had? I remember when getting a goodnight kiss went from one to two and finally to a whole hell of a lot more. Clothes came off, fingers and tongues did what they do best until finally two exhausted people lay there smiling, holding one another until they fell asleep. Now that was my idea of a good night kiss.
"Steve, I said maybe this weekend," she said for a second time as I kind of zoned out.
"You never used to say that," I whispered to her.
"Well, back then we went to bed right after dinner and didn't have the responsibilities we have now. "Go to bed or you're going to be cranky in the morning," Jean said giving my forehead a quick kiss before going back to her book.
The next couple of months were hell on earth. I think everyone in the world hated me for what I was doing or not doing. I took half days of vacation to negotiate pricing on flowers, food and the hall. And when I started cutting people off Linda's guest list she about had a cow.
"Gary, how are you holding up?" I asked one Sunday afternoon as we sat, beers in hand, on my back deck. "Am I still the penny pinching asshole?"
"Mr. Moore," he started to say before I stopped him.
"Steve, my name is Steve. Hell, in a couple of months we're going to be family. Please, call me Steve."
"All right, Steve, Linda isn't happy about a lot of things and now I wish we would have eloped. I made the mistake of telling her not to sweat the petty stuff and she almost took my head off."
"Gary, make me the bad guy, ok? This way we can play good cop, bad cop with the two of them. You're going to be the one living with her after this all goes down not me; so like I said make me the asshole, I've got big shoulders." He laughed at that.
"Have you seen her planner and countdown calendar? Linda and Jean talk a minimum of twice a night going over every detail. She said if you wouldn't have been so cheap and gotten her a wedding planner she wouldn't have had to worry about every detail."
" I did it just for that reason. The more they've got on their minds, the faster the time is going to go and the less time they'll have to dwell on the two of us. So drink up, we're in charge of dinner tonight and it better be good if we know what's good for us."
At T-minus seventeen days we ran into our first major problem. The drummer for the band we'd hired was in a car accident and broke his arm. It was too late to find a replacement group so I called a DJ friend I went to school with and told him I needed help. Twenty-four hours later we had someone to spin tunes for us and Linda and her mother made a list of songs that they wanted to be sure he played.
"Boy, weddings sure have gotten complicated, haven't they?" I mentioned to my wife as we lay there in bed. "Remember our wedding? It was just our family, a few friends and the minister. We had the reception at my parent's house and my family prepared all the food from scratch, those were the days."
"Steve, we had fifty people; Linda is going to have a hundred and thirty- five; that's a big difference."
"Besides the two families and her two best friends, the rest is just fluff. It's basically people who have invited them to their weddings and others from both of their work places who couldn't really give a tinker's damn. The only reason they're coming is for the free booze and food, not because they are about the two of them."
"You're probably right, but it's her wedding not ours."
For the fifth time in three weeks I was shot down that night. We were now doing it once a week at best and that was usually a quickie. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, being with my wife always was wonderful, but over the last couple of years the raging fire had become a pilot light and I wasn't happy about it.
The rehearsal and dinner afterwards went off without a hitch and even though the morning of the wedding was crazy, everything worked out ok. We all made it to the church on time, the hall, flowers and caterer all did what they were supposed to do, and with two plane tickets in my tux inner pocket I walked around the church just biding my time until the ceremony started.
"Gary, I'll give you five grand and a half hour head start if you want to call this all off," I said to him with a smile.
"Mr. Moore, I mean Steve, I just want it over and our real life back."
"Sorry, that's not going to happen, those easy days are long gone. It's no longer you or her; it's now 'us', and will be until you pass on. And unless you're totally nuts, wait on kids until you've had time to enjoy being married. Travel, have fun and live before you decide to tie yourselves down with rug rats, and take my word for it, they will change your life. There will no more just picking up and going out to dinner or even a show. There will be car seats, backpacks and sleepless night when all you want to do is close your eyes for a second, but the baby lets you know that's not going to happen. You two owe it to yourselves to live a little before that.
At T-minus twenty minutes and counting I was at the back of the church alone with my daughter.
"Honey, you look beautiful, just like the angel you were in that first grade play," I said kissing her on the cheek. "Are you ready for this?"
"Dad, I've been ready for this my entire life. I love Gary to death and I can't wait until I'm all his," she said straightening her dress for the umpteenth time. "I'm sorry I've been such an ungrateful bitch lately, it's just that I wanted everything to be perfect on this day."
"And it is sweetheart."
The music started, we walked down the aisle together smiling, and I handed off my daughter to her future husband with a combination of joy and sadness. The minister said all the right things and no one screwed up their vows like they had at the rehearsal. At the end when they kissed, I leaned over and kissed my wife and whispered to her that I love her. The new husband and wife walked back down the aisle grinning ear to ear since now the hard part was over. People walked through the line and congratulated the two of them and it was on to the reception.
Pictures, food and music took up the better part of the next four hours. I danced with my daughter and my wife danced with our new son-in-law. I smiled a million times for pictures that would be put in an album only to be stuck in a drawer in about a year and a half. The one picture I wanted more than any other was one with my wife, daughter and myself. I told the photographer he'd better not screw this one up, he took four just to make sure.
I stayed sober while I watched everyone else drink their fill. I told the bartender earlier that if someone was drunk not to serve them anymore. He cut a few people off but the majority of the people took it easy; no one wanted a DWI on their way home.
I played my role of host to a tee as everyone raved about how nice the wedding was. One by one the guests left saying goodbye first to Linda and Gary before searching out Jean and me to thank us for inviting them. I hired two cousins to take all the gifts to their apartment and by eleven thirty they were ready to head out. Linda was feeling no pain but Gary was in full control. I hired a limo to take them to the hotel and then to the cruise ship in the morning. I figured seven days alone, away from everyone, is what the two of them needed to wind down.
A big kiss, a hug and a handshake and they were gone in a flash. I recalled our wedding night, which brought a huge smile to my face. They would figure it out just like everyone else had before them for the last thousand years. I thought of giving them a box of condoms as a joke but my wife informed me that she had made sure Linda was on the pill months earlier. I guess great minds think alike.
Now with everyone gone it was just my wife, my brother, his wife, Ann, and me left. I pulled Ann off to the side and asked her if she'd done what I'd asked. She smiled, gave me a kiss and just nodded her head.
"You guys better get out of here she whispered, we'll make sure everything gets cleaned up."
"Jean let's get the heck out of here shall we? I'm tired and need to unwind, how about you?"
"I absolutely agree with you. I'm just glad it's all over."
We walked out of the hall and I directed her to a limo just off to the left.
"I wasn't sure what condition we'd be in after the reception so I rented this," I told her.
"Boy, you sure did think of everything didn't you? It was a nice wedding wasn't it?" my wife inquired leaning back against the seat. "Our little girl is now a married woman," which I think brought a tear to her eye. "Well, it'll be just the two of us now, do you think you'll be able to handle it?"
"I'll try my best," I said opening up a bottle of our favorite wine and pouring us each a glass. "To us," I said touching her wine glass to mine.
"This is nice and I had such a great time even though I was worried something was going to go wrong. I should have known you wouldn't have let that happen."
We had two more glasses each before Jean realized we'd been on the road for about a half hour.
"Boy, it's sure taking a long time to get home, what are you paying him by the mile?" she snickered. With blackened windows Jean didn't have a clue what was going on but when she heard the planes overhead she gave me that look I'd recognize anywhere.
"Here, let's finish this bottle," I said pouring the last drops into her glass. "To our new life." She chugged down the last of it just as the limo stopped.
"Mr. Moore, we're here," he said stepping out of the car.
The driver had all ready gotten the bags out of the trunk and was checking them in with the porter by the time we were out of the back seat.
"We'll take that one with us," I said grabbing a leather backpack and slipping everyone a few twenties.
"Steve, we're at the airport," said a surprised Jean.
"Good, you're still sober. Now lets get a move on, our flight leaves in a half hour and although we're checked in, we still need to get to the gate," I said grabbing her hand.
How often do you see a man and in a tux and a woman in a formal gown scurrying through the airport? I guess we made an impression as most people gave a more than a second glance. Jean kept pelting me with question after question and my only response was I'd tell her everything once we were on the plane.
"To where?" she wanted to know.
"You'll see, but for right now lets get a move on."
We made it through security and to the gate just as they were starting to board the plane. I handed the agent at the gate our two tickets, our driver's licenses and we walked down the corridor on to the plane.
We were in the third row of seats in first class. I helped her into the seat by the window, threw our backpack in the overhead and sat down next to a woman whose eyes were the size of dinner plates.
"Better buckle up we're going to be taking off soon," I said pulling out my own seat belt adjusting it and then clicking it into place. "Wow, we just made it."
"Made it to where? Steve, you're starting to scare me, where are we headed?"
"We're going on our honeymoon silly," I said maybe a little too loudly because the older couple across the aisle was now looking at us. "It's been a hectic day for us, as you can probably imagine," I explained, and the gentleman relayed to his wife that we were newlyweds.
"That is so special. And the two of you look so elegant," his wife told us.
"We just left the reception and are on our way to our honeymoon cottage. I wanted to go on a cruise, but she insisted that she wanted me all to herself. Who am I to disagree with my new bride," I said smiling.
"Sweetheart, remember, don't try to wear him out the first night," she said elbowing her husband.
"Oh my God," Jean said sinking down into her seat trying to hide.
When the cabin steward came by and the older couple said we had just gotten married and were going on our honeymoon, she brought us out a little bottle of champagne.
"Compliments of Delta Airlines," she told us. Everyone around us now got into the act.
There were questions about how long we went out and what was the wedding like and if we were planning on having kids. I just told them that we'd know each other for a while and the wedding had been like a dream come true but we weren't sure about kids. I told them that my bride wanted one but I thought we might be a little too old.