The arrival of June signals the start of the peak season for wedding planners and others who are bent on reining in the happiness of young men and women.
Soon, the telltale signs of cars lined up outside churches, Legion halls, and other venues will begin to manifest themselves every Saturday. Guys, some dressed up in shirts a size too small, will gather uncomfortably outside these places, smoking, nervously fingering their collars, and poking at one another as they reminisce about the days when it was their turn to stand in the spotlight in rented shoes.
I don’t attend weddings, on the grounds doing so would be a bit like parachuting behind enemy lines.
There seems to be a lot of folklore attached to these proceedings. I don’t understand all of it, and my perception may be slightly skewed, owing to the fact most of my experience with these dog-and-pony shows has been based on movies and television, but on the rare occasions I have been present, the actual productions haven’t seemed all that different from the fictional representations.
One of the bits of wedding folklore that seems to have survived without a shred of evidence to support it is the notion that opposites attract.
What this absurd fiction really means is that wedding proponents are willing to throw any two people together in the name of connubial bliss. What they don’t tell you is that oftentimes the bliss is enjoyed by those who are determined to get all the content single people in the world paired up, not by the condemned couples.
The external factors acting upon these once happy individuals may be much stronger than any attraction between them.
This was certainly true in the case of my old pal Skippy Sorenson.
Skippy, like many young men, was basically neutral on the subject of marriage. He wasn’t necessarily opposed to it, but he viewed it as a challenge that might have to be faced at some distant point in the future.
No one had ever accused Skippy of being the brightest bulb on the tree, but he was a jolly fellow.
The trouble for Skippy began when he was attending the nuptials of a mutual acquaintance of ours. As is often the case with unattached individuals at these affairs, Skippy found himself seated next to a distant cousin of the bride at a tableful of strays during the reception.
Her name was Victoria. On her face, she wore a pinched expression, as if her shoes were too tight, but Skippy, being a gentleman, was determined to make polite conversation. He was not a churchgoing man, but he had heard she was a religious person, so he seized upon that subject to get the conversational ball rolling.
“That was a nice service,” he ventured brightly.
Victoria regarded him suspiciously before agreeing that, yes, it had been a pleasant service.
“I understand you are involved in the church,” Skippy continued. “My friend, Sara, is one of those Bible-thumpers, too,” he said cheerfully, trying to put his listener at ease. Not being an especially perceptive man, he didn’t notice the frosty expression that had begun to cross Victoria’s face. “I enjoy a good sermon, myself,” he forged ahead. “There’s a lot of interesting stuff in that Bible. My favorite part is John 2:1-11. I wish I could do that. It would sure save a lot on the old liquor store bill,” he chuckled.
It should be noted that Skippy was by no means a Biblical scholar. His ability to quote a few verses was based entirely on the fact that over the years, when he heard about things in the Bible that impressed him, he wrote down the verses and stuck them on the wall above the workbench in his garage.
Victoria’s expression went from frosty to fiery.
“The point of John’s story about the wedding at Cana was NOT about saving money on the catering bill,” Victoria snapped. “It is a beautiful description of the first of the signs through which Jesus revealed his glory.”
“Really?” Skippy replied, astonished. “Well, I’ll be . . . I mean, I’m shocked.”
“Changing water into wine was not about saving money and it was not some kind of party trick,” Victoria said.
“If it had been a party trick, it would’ve been a good one,” Skippy replied judiciously.
After this inauspicious start, one might have been excused for thinking Skippy and Victoria would never have crossed paths again, but strange things happen at weddings.
Victoria continued to lecture him about the Bible, and Skippy, fascinated by her apparently limitless scripture knowledge, made notes on a napkin for future use above his workbench.
This could easily have been the last meeting between Skippy and Victoria, but upon hearing that the pair had had a long conversation about the Bible at their reception, the newly-married couple, operating on the principle that misery loves company, decided to push the thing along, and contrived to find excuses to bring Skippy and Victoria together.
It was just over a year later when I saw Skippy at another wedding his own and, by some strange twist of fate, Victoria was the bride. I encountered him outside the church shortly before the kickoff. He wore the haunted expression that many prospective bridegrooms wear, coupled with a mild air of surprise, as if he wasn’t quite sure how he got there.