People’s parents have been married this long. You see their pictures in the newspaper announcing the twenty-five years of marriage they’ll be celebrating with a party that their children and their families are hosting and then a trip to Hawaii. I see my parents when I read those announcements, minus the trip to Hawaii. We had a big 40th anniversary party for my grandparents (they married in their mid-thirties and we were afraid they might not make to 50. They did) and they had to have been about 106 years old then. Then I realize that if my dad wasn’t dead my parents would have been married – how is it possible – 49 years a couple of weeks ago. And then I remember that my brothers and I had arranged a party for their silver wedding anniversary, when I was 26. And that I told my daughter two years ago (only 18 at the time) that there was to be no public party for our 25th anniversary because that’s not something we’re interested in. Not that I thought she was going to be planning a bash while she was getting used to being a freshman in college, but just in case anyone else were to suggest it to her (I needn’t have been concerned, but at least I was able to say “Because I told them not to” when asked why they hadn’t planned a party). I wasn’t too worried about anyone approaching her 22-year-old brother and asking him about seating charts and choice of entrees, so I didn’t warn him to not throw a big party. For our 25th anniversary we went to one of our favorite places and settled on fireclay instead of silver and are still happy every day about that choice.
Twenty-seven years ago tonight we got married. It was a Thursday and the ceremony started at 7:45 PM. Thursday because we went on a cruise for our honeymoon and our plane left for Miami on Friday morning. A weekend wedding was out because I didn’t want to get married and then have to spend the next few days doing mundane things, like feeding the dog and watching Captain OCD load the dishwasher, until it was time to leave for the airport. Seven-forty-five because we timed it around a ferry because many of the guests were coming from Seattle. They were going to arrive about that time anyway, and there was really no reason to make them stand around and wait for an acceptably even hour: The Propriety ship had sailed with the Thursday-night part. Neither the day nor the time seemed to present a problem because there were a lot of people there. Maybe they’d heard that there was going to be an open bar. It would have been nice if they’d told me. Not until halfway through our honeymoon did I find that out, when asking my new husband if he’d seen so and so after the ceremony: “Yeah, they were in the bar. Lots of people were in the bar. Ike opened it about ten minutes into the reception.” Apparently I was the only one who hadn’t been apprised of the bar situation. My family is not well-versed in the etiquette of serving alcohol at events (like dinner), but Captain OCD’s mother and stepfather were more schooled in such social protocol so our guests, I’ve been told, didn’t want for an evening tipple.
I missed out on the open bar but we had a couple of cases of champagne left over, which I was looking forward to having on hand for the next year or so. Until we discovered that it had all been returned to the liquor store and we had to buy a bottle to celebrate our honeymoon homecoming. We had the neighbors over and they helped us toast our new marriage. After a toast at some point the glasses have to be put down. Obviously not trained in how to manage a tall champagne flute, I knocked over one of our wedding flutes, one of the set I’d picked out especially for the wedding toast (working downtown Seattle gives a future bride with long lunches entirely too much time to shop for seemingly essential wedding items). The top snapped off at the fancy stem (landing on the carpet, so it didn’t shatter) and don’t think I didn’t spend a month trying to figure out how to glue the delicate, paper-thin clear flute back on the frosted, gently carved stem. They were beautiful – not the kind you see with Bride and Groom etched on the side in Nuptial Script and fake baby’s breath tied around the stem with a ribbon to match the printing on the napkins. The glass didn’t shatter but I did: We were supposed to use those glasses to toast ourselves every year on the anniversary of our wedding, every year symbolizing how far we’d come. That’s how I justified spending $50 we didn’t have on them. I didn’t know then that those glasses were no more important than the napkins we had at the reception, the napkins that we, well, I, spent two weeks on trying to decide what to have printed on them. Brides can be such idiots and there aren’t enough people telling them to relax because in a year you won’t remember if your guests had to wipe their hands on their pants.
On our first anniversary Captain OCD did the gallant thing and used a plain old champagne glass while I used the remaining wedding flute to toast our first year of marriage. That didn’t seem quite right, but we decided that we’d alternate years (my attachment to the symbol that represented our marriage came in at less than $25, the cost of buying another flute). Except we couldn’t because I broke that one, too. That was clearly reason enough to restrict me in the future to drinking out of the bottle. While wearing a bib. I’m still afraid of tall champagne flutes, although not afraid enough to forgo using them. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Twenty seven years later we made a lovely dinner, ate it, drank cheapish wine out of the utility wine glasses (I’m not the one who usually breaks them, but I’m not the chief dish washer), I whacked Captain OCD upside the head a few times while yelling at him to stay awake long enough to eat dessert, and then he went to bed because he gets up early and works hard and I don’t.
We have a choice of several nice champagne flutes now and in a few weeks I’ll pack a couple of them in the car, we’ll go back to one of our favorite places, and he’ll go for long walks on the beach in the morning before I get up. And he won’t whack me upside the head while yelling at me to wake up. He never does. He’s a nice guy.