Friday, August 18, 2006

"Hell and Cheese" Love

"Who is that? She's holding a flute... in the red shorts. Who is that?"

You never know who you are going to marry. That day on the parking lot during marching band practice at Lima Senior High School, I saw for the first time the woman who would be my wife. At the time she had a boyfriend, so it wasn't all that clear, but it works that way sometimes.

We were married on August 18th, 1990. Way back in the last century. A different Bush was president. Michael Jackson was only a little crazy. Nirvana was still just an obsession of Eastern mystics. The Cold War was over and the world's future was wide open. Nothing, to my knowledge, was made in China. Americans were as yet ignorant of cheap cell phones, email, and the internet. Flat screens were in your windows. You could still buy a Ford Tempo, brand new.

We were so young when we got married that the first question people always (and I mean, ALWAYS) asked was, "When's the baby due?" It turned out the answer was "eight years". We were just young, dumb, and in love, so desperate to be together that we were willing to work 100 a hours a week all that summer to save enough money to buy a 14x70 trailer. A trailer in trailer park, I might add, so rough that church groups would stop by to give us bread, government cheese, and "Are You On The Highway To Hell" tracts. We were possessed with "hell and cheese" love.

The service was beautiful, but hot. It was the hottest day of the summer (above 100 degrees), and this would be the last un-air conditioned wedding at Trinity UMC. To compound matters, I had picked out the tuxedos in February, so they were made of wool. Thus all I really remember about the service was that it was hot... real hot... a-five-weasel-orgy-in-a-gopher-hole hot...

and, that she was beautiful.

The reception was hotter. Another un-air conditioned building (the UAW hall). Just imagine 300+ guests sweating profusely, draining the free bar dry, and dancing to the beat of music that's now is considered "oldies" (what's that say about me?). To this day, many of my friends from college and high school call it the best wedding reception they can't remember. Frank and Sharon Dugan loaned us their cottage in Galena, Illinois for our honeymoon. The only money we took with us (cause it was the only money we had) was the take from the "dollar dance", and the 200 bucks my Uncle Fred slipped in my pocket as we left. Our car was decorated with condoms.

It was a great day!

But, now, looking back at it, my favorite memory from our wedding day was this moment at her parent's house after the reception. The plan was to drive to Fort Wayne to stay (not sleep) at a Marriott in the "Honeymoon Suite" (which turned out to be a regular room with a King Size bed and a bottle of champaign). We had changed out of the now foul smelling sweaty wedding clothes, loaded up the suitcases, and were imagining our good fortune at now having $356 to blow. I was standing alone in her bedroom, about to go downstairs, and it hit me like a ton of bricks:

I had no idea what was going to happen next.

Sixteen years, one trailer, three parsonages, two mortgages, four states, three kids, two cats, a dog, four degrees, three churches (one of them, twice), lots of fights, and lots of making up, I still feel that way.

I'm glad we did it, all of it, together.

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