Much of November 26, 1983 is vivid in my memory. Much of it is a blur. You could say it was the pivotal day in my life – the day I married Helaine.
That I was even getting married was surprising. Years earlier I had put marriage on the same list with liver and opera – fine for people who had the desire, but not me. Helaine changed that for me.
Though it could be argued I entered matrimony kicking and screaming, I made an incredibly good decision those 21 years ago.
We were married in the suburbs outside Philadelphia. Friends and relatives, many traveling long distances, fought their way to the hotel on November 25th in snow! It wasn’t a terrible storm… in fact it was quite beautiful and gone the next morning. It was enough to give us a scare.
I rented a tuxedo for the occasion. Sometime the afternoon of the wedding, my friends Paul and Howard (though I suspect mostly Paul) got into my hotel room, took the black tuxedo and replaced it with something polyester and cream colored.
In an incredible leap of faith, I believed somehow I had been given the wrong tux and set out to get the right one. I panicked, called the store and went as far as getting in my car to drive an hour for the exchange until I notice another friend, Bob, lying on the hood, snapping photos of me and laughing.
At the time it was not funny.
Over time, that same tuxedo has showed up under similar circumstances at other friends weddings and (as I remember) even replaced one friend’s clothes in the suitcase he took on his honeymoon!
I’m not mentioning names because I don’t think these events happened with ‘current’ wives.
We had a beautiful, wonderful ceremony. In the photos my family is smiling and excited. They knew I was marrying a wonderful woman. Helaine’s family frowned and seemed apprehensive. After all, she was marrying me.
Everything went smoothly at the service. Even the flower girl, my now grown-up niece Jessica, walked the aisle admirably. It was only later I learned that she balked at first, only to be ‘gently’ cajoled by my sister.
I won’t tell you exactly what Trudi said to her, because I’m not sure there’s a statute of limitations on this kind of thing. As far as I can tell Jessie has grown up unscathed by the incident and my sister never faced formal charges.
My father-in-law threw a tremendous party for our reception. I remember remarking at the time how little I got to see of Helaine that night. We were constantly separated, seeing friends and relatives.
Even when the police came to tell my father-in-law his car was in a fire zone and it was going to be towed¹, and when my grandmother collapsed and fell to the floor while dancing², the party went on! It was an incredible night.
It is 21 years ago and yet in many ways it feels like we’re still newlyweds. How I could have been such a fool and resisted marriage (believe me, I did) is beyond me today.
This morning the doorbell rang and flowers, beautiful orchids, were delivered to Helaine. They are just a small token of the love I have for her – love that continues to grow, even after 21 years.
¹ – My father-in-law claimed to have parked the car elsewhere. I totally believed him. It was all very puzzling to all of us then, as it is now. He moved the car, but it was weird.
² – My Grandma Rose was very excited about the wedding. I was the first grandchild, which I suppose gave me a favored place in her life. She danced until she dropped, literally. An ambulance was called and she went to the hospital. Later she would say the hospital in Jenkintown, PA was the nicest she had ever seen and they had treated her like a queen. If it’s possible, the hospital was a positive experience for her.