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And they're off

And they’re off

I don’t know who took the picture at our wedding. If it was you, please let me know. You need to read around a thousand words before you get to an explanation of what is happening in the picture.


Today is Cindy and my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Looking back I can only shake my head and wonder where the time has gone. Parts of that day seem as clear as yesterday, while other parts seem hidden behind a dense fog. For instance, it was only when drafting this post that I realized that almost all of my memories of the actual ceremony come from the videos, not from being there. But we do have the videos and still pictures that I can draw upon, as well as picking Cindy’s brain for her recollections.

In 1990, the twenty-seventh fell on a Sunday. It was race day for the Indianapolis 500 auto race. That also means that it was in the middle of the Memorial Day weekend. I don’t know why we chose that date. I do remember thinking that those facts would suppress the turnout for our wedding. That was one of my first errors in judgment.

It was a beautiful day. That’s not just my memory; pictures bear it out. I woke up early in our new home. We had bought the house a few months before, but I had stayed in my apartment in order to set a good example for Cindy’s teenaged children. Check with them so that they can explain how well that exercise went. Cindy had spent the night with friends to prepare for the big day.

We had taken care of all of the arrangements for our wedding. We didn’t have a wedding planner. I’m not sure such an occupation existed back then. Cindy was quite practical (except for the three or four wedding dresses that she bought) and I was cheap. We were both State employees, so there was not a lot of money to spend extravagantly. Also, we had to set funds aside for a two-week honeymoon road trip through the southwest.

We arranged for the wedding ceremony to be in the Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Indiana, which is only a few miles from Lafayette. The ceremony was conducted by Dr. Paul Kitley. We chose the music; Sandy, one of Cindy’s friends, agreed to sing; Cody, the son of another friend, agreed to start the taped instrumentals at the appropriate times; other friends used their video cameras to tape the event, and others took still photos; another of Cindy’s friends, Candy, agreed to cater the reception; I printed the order of service on the blank service forms that we purchased; and I also made three or four tape cassettes of music that we wanted to play at the reception. We got the Moose Lodge for the reception very cheaply because I was a member (a long story that doesn’t belong here). Everything seemed well in hand.

I remember getting up the day of the ceremony, putting on the coffee, and thinking that this was the big one. Family members who were coming from a distance started arriving at the house. More coffee would need to be brewed. My parents, as well as Cindy’s would be staying in our house that night while we left on our honeymoon. My aunt and some cousins came to the house; more coffee was brewed.

I drove over to the Moose Lodge where Cindy, my sister (She Who Must Not Be Named), and Betty (Cindy’s first mother-in-law (another long story that I don’t want to get into in this post)) were setting things up for the reception. The caterer had been in a rush to drop everything off and to get on to their next catering event. It was a larger affair that was paying her more. In her rush she erred by not leaving the potato salad (we went inexpensive by offering cold roast beef and ham, potato salad, etc.) and instead left cherries that were to top the dessert at the other event. Great. The caterer also promised to supply the champagne flutes for the bride and groom. The flutes weren’t to be found. So I left to buy champagne flutes on a Sunday morning in Indiana. Someone else was dispatched to buy a lot of potato chips to replace the salad. We got the reception back on track.

I returned home where I took a shower and got dressed for the wedding. I climbed into my slate gray Firebird (a bachelor’s indulgence) and drove to the church, leading the way for the gathered families. At least I think that I did, because at this point my memory has pretty well faded completely. From this point I am relying on the video for documentation.

There are a lot of people in the videos whom we had invited but didn’t expect to be there. The invitation had been more of an announcement to friends and family that we were actually going to take this enormous step. People came from out of state! My friend Jerry and his daughter Angela drove up from Tennessee! At one point, as people were being seated, the tape overhears Cindy’s grandmother notice Cindy’s father and says to Cindy’s mother, “Why, he can’t sit there.” They were not the best of friends. Of course he could, and did, sit there.

Cindy told me that our friend, Sara, was trying to calm her before the ceremony. Sara, of course, had never been married and had no idea how unnerving a wedding could be. My mother, ever the optimist, had told Cindy that she would believe the wedding would take place when she saw us at the altar. She Who Must Not Be Named told us that she had decided that I was gay because I was in my forties and had never been married. When Cindy had told her father that I had proposed, his response was, “How did you tell him no?” The consensus was that the marriage wouldn’t last because we were so different from each other.

Little things about the ceremony stand out. Cindy was crying (nerves?). Cody fell asleep and missed his cue to start and stop the music for the singer, Sandy (too much partying the previous night?). My voice boomed out during the question/response part of the ceremony (nerves?). The extraordinary length of the final prayer (get it over Dr. Kitley!). Also, if Cindy had been wearing flats she would have set a land speed record for bolting out of the church at the end of the ceremony.

We didn’t stick around long for congratulations and such. In fact Cindy was in such a rush to leave that Trina, Cindy’s daughter, got left in the church parking lot and had to hitch a ride with my friend Hank and his family.

Things went fine at the reception except that we hadn’t anticipated so many people showing up and we ran short of food. Lee, Cindy’s son, who acted as our DJ decided to scrap most of the music tapes that I had made and to go with music that he liked; so long Sinatra, hello AC/DC. Betty spiked the punch and enjoyed it quite a bit. Who would have thought that woman could polka? Cindy and I were able to spend time with our friends and family, some of whom we hadn’t seen in a long time. People started drifting away, and eventually we realized that the reception was over.

Part of the deal we made to get such a cheap venue was that we had to clean up after the reception, so we and a few friends pitched in to get the place back in order. That’s when we found the caterer’s champagne flutes hidden under a table. Well, we could return them along with the cherries. I was surprised to find that the sun was still shining when we opened the door to carry out the trash. We would be able to get some miles on the road before finding a place to stay on the first night of our honeymoon. Great!

And that’s when I remembered that I had been so distracted the previous day that I hadn’t gone to the bank. Twenty-five years ago our bank didn’t offer ATM cards, and the only credit card I had was issued by a gasoline company, to be used only at gas stations. I asked Cindy if she, by any chance, had gone to the bank to withdraw money for our honeymoon. She had not. We were not getting on the road that Sunday evening. Neither were we going home, because our house was filled with parents.

What were we to do? Tune in tomorrow to find out.