... I was fortunate enough to get married to a woman who learned to put up with all my bullshit over the years. But what was that time really like?
Our wedding was scheduled for a Saturday at noon. We were both living in Springfield, IL at the time, with most of my family living in west suburban Chicago and most of my wife's family living in northern Wisconsin. Everything seemed to be planned out pretty well. My big night was the Thursday before -- my bachelor party.
I got together with a group of my friends and we hit the bars. There was a late night stop at Deja Vu, the local strip joint that at least promised you a chance of getting out and back home alive. I knew I was pretty drunk when one one the dancers came up to me and asked me for money ... and I actually got out my wallet. As I opened it up she was saying "Yeah - there's a ten. That good." The strippers did their usual bachelor party routine -- got me up on stage, had me take my shirt off, and then danced around me and rubbed up against me. I still have a polaroid picture somewhere. It ended up being a really fun night. And then there was Friday.
Oh my goodness! I had never felt so sick in my life. My family was coming into town for the rehearsal dinner and I felt totally like crap. I couldn't help with much of anything. The only thing I had to eat the entire day was a chicken leg. To make matters worse, my tux didn't fit properly and I had to have it altered. It would be ready for me -- when the store opened up the next morning at 10:00 a.m.! So I had to hope that my pants fit correctly and was picking them up two hours before the wedding. Sheesh!
On Saturday morning, I was pretty friggin' nervous, as you might guess. I decided to go to the tux rental store at 9:15 a.m. just to keep my anxiety level down. Around 9:30, a guy came to work at the shop. He said "I had a feeling you'd be waiting for me, so I came in early." Dang -- what a life saver. I got my pants and headed back to my house. My younger brother, Dan, was in stitches because I was so nervous. I was pacing back and forth, which surprised him because he always saw me as being calm in almost any circumstances.
Once we got to the church, two of my friends -- college students at the two-year school I worked at -- told me that there was a car that was running right outside the church in case I wanted to make a last-minute dash for freedom. It was tempting!
The wedding ceremony, which was a Catholic mass, took just over an hour, as I recall. There is one part of the ceremony where the bride goes in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin, kneels and prays for guidance in being a good wife. She seemed to be there forever. Of course, my friends all kidded me afterward, saying that she needed the extra time since I was such a dick!
We had a reception for about 300 people. There were lots of relatives and many of the students that I worked with on a daily basis. Still not feeling right, I had nothing to eat at my own wedding reception. The guests all got a great bonus because there was a mistake in the food order. Instead of having fried chicken and beef for 300 people, we had fried chicken for 300 people and roast beef for 300 people. Everyone at the reception was able to take home a big plate of food if they wanted.
After the reception, there was the tricky matter of getting to our hotel for the wedding night. One of my friends was determined to mess with us that night, so I had reservations made at several hotels in town, then canceled all but one right after the reception. I borrowed my Dad's car so that my friends couldn't find me by looking for my car. I thought I had all my bases covered. We checked into the Ramada Renaissance Hotel at had a room reserved on one of the upper floors -- the nice limited access section. We opened the door of our room, and within 30 seconds our phone was already ringing. Shit! The hotel operator told us that we had a message from a Mr. E. E. Springs. My bride said "What?" I replied "That is Sharp (my friend) trying to be funny. As in the noise of the bed springs during sex is ee ... ee ... ee."
We told hotel security that we were not accepting guests under any circumstances and that they should feel free to kick out people who came looking for us downstairs. Sharp, who was a relatively new attorney, was paranoid about being involved in "moral turpitude," and paraded the group out of the building. From our 19th floor room we could see our disappointed friends heading back to their cars!
We ordered room service, as I was finally able to eat. In about 48 hours all that I had to eat was that solitary chicken leg, so I was starving, as you might expect.
So, fast forward 28 years, three kids, lots of great memories and our share of difficult and challenging times. That's where we are today. We went out for breakfast and are going out to a popular steak house for dinner tonight. Hopefully, our health and good times will continue over the next several years. As I did 28 years ago, I consider myself a pretty lucky guy.