This is ONE OF 3 responses to VC 24 John 17 ("Getting Married")...
The wedding came, and it went. All to quickly for me. It was a lovely affair. Kathy and I drove up from Columbus that Friday afternoon, after I had bustled through a meeting that morning at school. As we drove in, we didn't know what to expect. One thing I didn't expect was that John and I almost wouldn't recognize each other, with me in my professorial beard and John, all beefed-up, hunked-out, and cool-dressed, nicely showing the results of his Betsy-approved diet and dress code.
That night the wedding party convened en mass at a Japanese restaurant, John trying vainly, along with the beleaguered folks in the restaurant, to organize us into various cadres at various tables, since there wasn't room to fit us all around one. That was the night I met Betsy. Betsy is one of those warm, charming people who you feel you've known for years after only talking to her for two minutes. She and John are a perfect couple - intelligent, funny, sweet, whimsical - just adorable. In every picture we have of just the two of them, John seems to be leaning his head on Betsy's shoulder (I think he should switch shoulders now and then, lest he develop neck problems later on in life).
I also met Roger that evening. Before I had met him, I had ridden up the hotel elevator with him, his lovely wife, and John's grandmother. I remember thinking, "Wow, what terrific-looking people. I hope I can age as gracefully that these folks." Roger and I got along wonderfully all weekend long, but then Tienneman Square didn't come up once (Good idea, John, to take out the reference to it in your wedding vows).
And then there was Paul. He has the most Yoda-like eyes of anyone I've met: They're intelligent AND wise, as well as kind. Thankfully, however, Paul is taller. I also met Janine at the dinner. She fabulously ebullient, funny, and easy going. Both of them are the high quality, ponarvian, witty, sweet, imaginative idiosyncratic folks that you would expect to attract and to befriend John and Betsy (I sometimes wonder how I got in the group). There was a lot of good, loving energy going around the various tables at which we were scattered. I sat next to Betsy's mother and found her utterly charming.
The next day, John, Paul, John's father, and I went to get fitted into our tuxes at some venerable habadashery in South Bend. There were various accoutrements to the get-up that we had to figure out - how to clip the tie on, the cumberbund, and the damn cufflinks - but with ponarvian tenacity we prevailed.
That was followed by the wedding rehearsal at this wonderful old, turn-of-the-century building that is now one of the synagogues in town. I think the word, "funky" would be a good way to describe the building - lots of creaky, old, hand-detailed wood and ornamentation to the stair railing, floors, walls, and pews; a large, domed, starry eyed ceiling; a rickety bima, or sort of stage, where the rabbi leads the service and where the torah is stored in its ark, that seemed to lean wearily to one side and was surrounded by a little forest of Doric pillars and a sort of picket fence with beautiful lamps hanging above, lamps for which we couldn't find the light switches. All in all, I would say the architectural style of the building was Lewis Carrollian, or Victorian bric-a-brac, a perfect place for happy, loving spirits to haunt.
The wedding rehearsal went as such things do - with more laughing and joking than rehearsal, with John and Betsy delightedly stealing off every few minutes for some rather ardent smooching, and Betsy's father and myself in our little Yamulkas extolling the virtues of that brand of Judiasm called Reconstructionist, as we searched hither and yon for the switches to the bima lights.
Then it was off to a park in southern Michigan (this part of Indiana - the nothern end that abuts Michigan - is called Michiana) for a casual catered supper/picnic. It was raining, but the roast beef was rare, the Frisbees were flying, and the birds and spirits were soaring. After that, the fabled bachelor party, hosted by the best man, Paul, occurred back at the hotel. It wasn't very wild, as most things go, I suspect, just a little poker and beer, but we did cheerfully toss the Doritos around, being sure to smash them into the sofas and carpet of the hospitality suite, and we were pleased to be crashed in upon by Betsy and her bevy of beautiful bachelorette party people (what do you call a woman's bachelor party, anyway?).
I must say, John did not seem to be having any second thoughts whatsoever during the whole weekend. He was in a happy fog, the happy genius of his household, as W.C. Williams would put it - relaxed, happy, and completely at ease, and thoroughy enjoying the moment. Dressed in his elegant, long tails at wedding time (he only lacked a top hat and white gloves), he looked like the conductor to this marvelous, symphony.
And Betsy... Wow! She looked incredible in her lush white dress with its draping, long train. Absolutely delicious.
The ceremony was wonderful: there was the usual clutter of left-footed people like myself stumbling down the aisle in the wedding parade; the stupid remarks to the groom just before the ceremony, such as "trading in your freedom for a ball and chain, eh?", were kept to a minimum; the photographer was only a little obnoxious, as photographers are wont to be; the florist only stuck one person as he attached our flowers; and the parents seemed to be holding up well.
During the ceremony, John's mother was smiling and proud; John's father looked introspective and dignified; Betsy's mother, I detected, shed a tear or two; and Betsy's father smiled broadly, if a bit inscrutably. John and Betsy, though. . . , John and Betsy looking into each other's eyes looked so entwined in their love that I doubt if they knew anyone else was in the room.
And then it was over. Somehow the wedding train got off the bima and back down the aisle, though a bit more rag-tag than when we came down (I think Janine and I, or just me, forgot our places in the group). After the ceremony, there was the obligatory photo session for the main participants, while the rest of the guests cooled their heels with hor d'oeurves and drinks back at the hotel. Then we all went back to the hotel for the meal and the dancing, and then Kathy and I were off, punctually at 4:00, back to Columbus, happy, exhausted, wondering just what all had happened. All we knew was that it was something magical.
John and Betsy, you had a wonderful wedding. May your lives together go as splendidly as this weekend. L'hayim.