A Bourbon Street Wedding March

We’ve stood on our third-floor balcony at the Royal Sonesta Hotel the past few days and watched a number of wedding parties go marching and dancing past on their way down Bourbon Street.  Tonight’s wedding group was a particularly festive one, with some great music from a great band and a bridal party that was happy, energized, and ready to party and celebrate a fabulous day for their soon-to-be-married friends.

I don’t think anyone thought it was ominous that the bride and groom in their white outfits were walking past a “Temptations” sign.

30 Wonderful Years

Today is Kish’s and my 30th wedding anniversary.  They have been 30 wonderful years — but it’s still hard to believe it has been 30 years since that special day when we tied the knot.

It had been warm and in the 60s only a day or two before, but April weather in Ohio is notoriously unpredictable.  A cold front moved in, and when April 3, 1982 dawned in Vermilion, Ohio it was frigid, with snow falling and a brisk wind blowing.  We were married in Kish’s family church by a minister we really didn’t know.  He had insisted on counseling us about marriage; it’s always made me chuckle that he was divorced within a year or so while Kish and I have somehow muddled through and remained happily married for decades.  Perhaps he’s just an example of the old saying “those who can’t do, teach.”

We kept the ceremony as short as we could, consistent with the requirements of the church.  The entire service, from beginning to end, took about 12 minutes.  We planned it so that we didn’t have to light candles, read scriptures, or really do much of anything other than remain upright and repeat our vows.

I was glad the ceremony was short and simple, because I was nervous.  UJ, my best man, and I stayed in the baptismal tank until we were summoned into a full church.  I stood there, uncomfortable being the center of attention in my traditional black tuxedo, but felt a lot better when I saw Kish coming up the aisle, looking cool and beautiful and radiant in her lacy white wedding gown.  I knew that I was making a smart decision, and I was right.

The “Bootsie, Winky & Miss Maud” Test

When Kish and I lived in Washington, D.C. back in the ’80s, one of the hot restaurants in town was an eatery called Bootsie, Winky & Miss Maud. Seriously.

The name probably tells you everything you need to know about the place.  It was the era of the Yuppie.  Bootsie, Winky & Miss Maud was targeted to appeal to just about anyone, so long as they had two X chromosomes and were over the age of 30.  It was the kind of place where you would take your Mom and your maiden aunt during their visit to the Nation’s Capital.  Over the tastefully decorated tables, small talk was made, happy chit-chat and talking with hands was everywhere apparent, and polite laughter rang out.  As I recall it, the menu included delicate salads, delicate quiches, delicate sandwiches cut into quarters, and light desserts.  I think every dish — even desserts — featured asparagus.

So, what to do when your lovely wife suggests that you try a restaurant called “Bootsie, Winky & Miss Maud”?  How to respond when every meat-craving fiber of your being knows to a mortal certainty that there isn’t likely to be a cowboy cut ribeye steak or a baked potato as large as a small dog on Miss Maud’s menu?

Why, I went, of course — admittedly after a small bit of manly grumbling — and enjoyed Kish’s company and, ultimately, the atmosphere and the quiche as well.  I ended up being glad I had the experience, although I’m not sure we ever went back.  And then, when it was my turn to pick the restaurant, I chose Bullfeather’s.

On A Romantic, Court-Ordered Date At Red Lobster

In Florida, a judge hearing a domestic violence charge has ordered the husband accused of the misconduct to take his wife to dinner at Red Lobster and then bowling.

The case arose when the man failed to wish his wife a happy birthday.  They got into a fight, and she says he pushed her against a sofa and grabbed her neck.  The judge noted that the husband had no record and concluded the incident was “very , very minor.”  So, rather than setting a bond or requiring jail time, the judge ordered the husband to buy flowers and added, “then he’s going to go home, pick up his wife, get dressed, take her to Red Lobster. And then after they have Red Lobster, they’re going to go bowling.”  The couple also will be required to get counseling.

Grabbing someone’s neck doesn’t seem “very minor” to me — although, in fairness,  I haven’t heard the evidence or presided over countless domestic violence cases — and a husband who doesn’t remember his wife’s birthday has committed an unforgivable sin.

In any case, the sentence seems ill-advised on other grounds.  For example, why would you order a husband who has been accused of domestic violence to stoke up on fried foods at Red Lobster and then take his wife to a place where the guy will be provided with 16-pound projectiles and expected to hurl them with as much force as he can muster?

The case raises other questions, too.  Will the couple’s attorneys accompany them on the date?  (“Honey, I think I’ll order the Ultimate Feast.”   “Objection!  That’s the most expensive entree on the menu!”)  As between the generic dinner options available in suburban America, how did the judge decide that Red Lobster was more romantic than, say, Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse?  And finally, how many people eating at Red Lobster on any given evening are there by reason of court-ordered punishment?

The Inoculatory Pre-Golf Personal Information Exchange

If you are a married man, you’ve probably experienced this scenario.  You and your wife are friends with a couple.  You innocently mention to your lovely bride that you are going to have lunch, or a beer, or play golf with the male member of the couple.  When you return home afterward, your spouse bombards you with questions.  How is Mike’s mother adjusting to the new iron lung?  Has little Elroy accepted the riflery scholarship to Duke?  How is the family dealing with the mysterious, apparently voodoo-related death of the family cat?

You sheepishly admit that you didn’t talk about any of that stuff — or anything else of significance, besides.  And your wife, arms crossed, fixes you with a withering glare of disbelief — causing you to shrivel inwardly with intense embarrassment, realize for the first time the full and tragic extent of your brutish insensitivity, and vow that you will finally become a decent, nurturing member of human society.

Well, we all know the last part doesn’t really happen.  After your wife gives you her amazed reaction, you actually think:  why would I want to talk about any of that stuff that when I’m playing golf?  Still, the encounter with your wife was somewhat unpleasant, and it would be best to avoid similar occasions in the future.  But how?

Here’s a suggestion.  The next time, spend the first five minutes exchanging high-level family information with your friend.  Nessie has been named citizen of the week at the juvenile detention facility!  Sally’s aunt has developed a powerful rash of unknown origin!  The Jones family had a grand time at their bullfighting camp!  Seize on those drab nuggets of personal information and lock them away in the recesses of your brain, because they will be your lifeline when you get home.  Then, turn to more interesting conversational areas — like sports and which episode of Seinfeld was definitive.

At home that night, when your wife asks the inevitable questions, you can retrieve and the casually throw out the stored personal information, perhaps with a little embellishment.  Sure, your wife will have countless detailed follow-up questions that you can’t possibly answer.  Don’t even try.  Just shrug and say that Ken said he didn’t know — and then add, with a hint of sadness, that you sensed that he really didn’t want to talk about it, and you didn’t want to intrude into what might be an area of intense personal concern for him.  Who knows?  Your wife might actually conclude that you are making progress as a human being and now possess more sensitivity than a gnat.

A Ringless Day

Yesterday I did something I just don’t do.  In the post-shower hustle and bustle of the morning, as I tied my tie and put on my belt and retrieved my wallet, keys, cell phone, and other paraphernalia, I somehow forgot to put on my wedding ring.

During the more than 29 years Kish and I have been married, slipping that gold band onto the ring finger of the left hand, and then having it there during the day, has been an unvarying part of my life.  Yesterday I noticed that I had forgotten it when I was on the freeway headed to the office, because my hand just felt . . . different.  And then, during the day, the ring’s absence became increasingly noticeable.  I realized that I often unconsciously swivel the ring around my fingers or slide it up and down as I am reading, and I missed doing that.  I missed its exquisite heaviness — to steal a phrase from Auric Goldfinger — and its warm, glittering color.

The ring also is a powerful, visible symbol and affirmation of the fact that I am a lucky man, and I often look at it and smile inwardly at my good fortune.  I missed wearing the ring for that reason most of all.