“Marriage is like a dull meal with the dessert at the beginning.” Henri, Comte de Toulouse-Lautrec, French painter (1864-1901)
Someone once asked a famous WW2 general, “What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?”
He replied, “To marry the girl I did.”
“And who gave you that advice?”
My wife gives good advice. And so it came to be that on an October day many moons ago, she decided that we should get married. While I was crazy about the woman, I had cold feet. She suggested thicker socks. That seemed to do the trick.
The wedding was to take place in a beautiful catholic church here in the Northwest. Unfortunately, the beautiful Catholic Church was yet to be built—and so the service was set for the parish’s temporary quarters: A school gymnasium.
Further mention of that gymnasium in a moment.
It seems like in recent years, a number of my acquaintances maintain that the idea of getting married has become rather quaint. What used to be called “tying the knot” has changed to “tying the square knot.” According to them, it just isn’t very hip.
Pew research studies lots of things—and not just pews. Pew has found that 20% of people over 25 have never been married—and don’t plan to. Simply living together works best for some folks—and doesn’t require a blood test, marriage certificate—or rented tuxedo and shiny shoes.
But on my wedding day, a basketball uniform and Air Jordan’s seemed more suitable—especially since the make-shift church was better geared for a game of horse than getting married.
The night before, we’d held a rehearsal in the place. Regular churches often smell of incense and floral arrangements. This one smelled like P.E. clothes—the kind not laundered for at least two semesters.
As soon as I entered the gym, the familiarity of my school basketball days came flooding back—and I immediately walked over and sat in my customary position at the end of the bench. My wife gave me a look. “You’re not sitting this time, Cashman, “ she said. “You’re a starter.”
The next morning, the guy who agreed to be my best man picked me up for the short drive to the wedding place. I was a mess. A rock of pudding. Spineless as a marshmallow.
Jumpy as a fire-walking rabbit.
When the car approached the turnoff for the church-nasium, I told the best man to continue straight. “Just keep driving,” I said. “I’ve always wanted to see Florida.”
But after a couple of blocks, we turned around and drove into the parish parking lot.
My bride was waiting with tapping foot. “Did I just see you driving past here a couple of minutes ago?”
“Uh, yea,”I attempted. “I forgot exactly where this place was.”
“Since last night’s rehearsal, you forgot?”
“Well, one gymnasium looks pretty much the other,” I said—a response lamer and more clumsy than an ox with gout. If my wife had second thoughts, she overlooked them. It was game-time!
The lines on the basketball court made it easier for me to remember where I was supposed to go. When the procession music started, I moved from the scorer’s table straight down the mid-court line to the center circle. I stopped there—did a stutter step—gave a quick head fake—and then cut right.
I slightly turned my ankle as I sauntered down to the free-throw line, but knew my best move was just to play through the pain. Once at the top of the key, I turned and waited for the bride.
She entered the room—radiant as a sun lamp—and moved far more gracefully than me. I took one look at her and knew I had made two great decisions:
Getting married to her.
Giving the quick head fake.
The presiding priest gave a longer than-planned-for homily. We told people later that the
ceremony had simply gone into an overtime period.
But the final score was official: We were hitched.
And despite the opinion of Toulouse-Lautrec, my marriage has been years and years of nothing but tiramisu, apple pie and cheesecake.
Yes, Mrs. Cashman suggested I write that.