As it happens sometimes in my narrow life, a friend started me thinking. It was when she spoke of her husband in his rented tux and she in her linen suit with dyed to match heels, setting out on their road of life together many years ago…and some of the rocks that litter that very road. It brought to mind weddings, two of them to be exact, both of them mine.
When I was young, too young most probably, the drummer in the band I was playing with at the time had a girlfriend. That girlfriend had a female cousin who lived about 150 miles away who she invited to visit. I was conscripted to join in their company as a blind date for the visiting cousin. Her name was Sharon. An attractive dark-haired lass of startling pulchritude, Sharon dressed conservatively, was demure, rather shy, and quite proper. Over the next few months we saw each other as frequently as the distance between us would allow. A relationship blossomed. After seven or eight months when it seemed we were in love, she relocated to my hometown so that we might be closer together, got a job, and a roommate named Janice.
Sharon was a rather conservative young woman and quite religious. After taking a year or so off from church, I began to attend regularly again in her company. Everybody liked Sharon and, after nearly a year, I popped the question. She said yes, and the wedding date, four months away, was set. It was a proper wedding.
The ceremony was held in a Baptist church, complete with organist, flower girls, best man and maid of iron, the entire gaggle of ugly dresses and ill-fitting tuxedos, and the rest of the traditional foofarah. The service went quite well with the exception of some misbehavior in the back row by the members of the band I was with. It created enough of a stir when five males with long hair came tripping in with their girlfriends, but when I kissed the bride and that same back row broke into applause and shouts of encouragement, I do believe Mildred Hyde, Minnie Parnell and their ilk felt scandalized. I can understand their feelings. After searching the bible carefully, I can find not a passage where the words “Suffer the long-haired musicians to come onto me” were written. Sharon and I attended church there every Sunday, and I attended choir practice every Wednesday. When the longhaired, hippie freaks did not show up again, I was forgiven and welcomed back into the fold.
After our wedding, I discovered that someone had painted various phrases on my 1964 black Pontiac LeMans convertible with what appeared to be white shoe polish. I did not concern myself with the disfigurement of my auto at that time. It was, after all, my wedding night. We went to our hotel and I watched my new wife drink champagne for the first time in her life. She got hopelessly blasted and passed out on the floor. With little else to do, I checked on my car and found out the white shoe polish appeared to be permanent. With my automobile irrevocably inscribed, and my bride irreparably sloshed, long before the days of cable TV, I spent the night musing on better things to come.
Sharon was somewhat less than chipper the next morning, especially when she found out my car was going to look like that for at least the entire five-day honeymoon, but it was a beautiful day. We put the top down and set off for Indianapolis with hope in our hearts. Shortly after we crossed the Indiana State line, on a 55 miles-per-hour limited access highway, we encountered a U.S. Army convoy of six by six trucks, canvas rolled up, each carrying the maximum load of testosterone-ridden, sexually frustrated young warriors. The convoy was nearly two miles long, and installed with enough troops to take Stalingrad in a short afternoon. Army convoys run 45 miles per hour. We were driving at 55 miles per hour. It takes a long time to pass a two-mile convoy at that speed differential. It takes even longer when your black convertible has things like “hot springs tonite” and “nookeymoblie” written on it in white paint. By the time we actually left the column of soldiers behind and could no longer hear the shouts of encouragement and appraisal the young men offered, my wife was in the fetal position, drooling on the floor mat. Sharon and I were married for two years, three months and two days, and I don’t regret one day of it. I just can’t remember which day that was.
Laura, my second, current, and last wife, moved in with me after our first date. After living in sin for six months, we were married in the county courthouse by Judge Skillman, a man who once asked me in open court, “Officer Lewis, why didn’t you shoot the bastard?” We spent our wedding night at her parent’s home, a consideration we were forced into when we told her mother, who wanted to organize the wedding of the century, there would be no ceremony. When we walked in the front door, Laura’s mom demanded to view the marriage license. She grasped it from out of Laura’s delicate fingers, and neither one of us has seen it since. We have never attended church together, we have been separated twice, and the first time I ever saw my wife, she was so hung over, that had she opened her eyes all the way, she would have bled to death. It has been very challenging, it has been very difficult, it has been very loving, and it has been over forty years since we got married. Having had two wives, I can truly say, the first was small price to pay for the second.