GOING TO THE CHAPEL AND GOING TO GET MARRIED AGAIN
The following is a true story. The names HAVE NOT been changed to protect the innocent. No one was innocent.
GOING TO THE CHAPEL
I’M GOING TO GET MARRIED ….AGAIN
Once upon a time there were three friends. For want of better names, we'll call them Dick, Ray and Tucker. Their friendship went back to their freshman year in High School. They were cool. They grew up together each marrying high school sweethearts and each participating in the others wedding.
Years passed the friendship grew. Ray and Tuck remained married. Dick married and divorced two women before moving in with a lovely woman named Dee. Dee knew that Dick vowed “to never marry again.”
Dick’s first two wives and eventually Dee discovered Dick had bad habits. Bad habits that we will leave to the reader’s imagination.
One afternoon, about an hour and a half into HAPPY HOUR, Dick got very happy. Dick's lady Dee was not. She raised her gavel and threatened, "Richard, either change your ways or I'm out of here!" Only his mother and Dee called Dick, Richard. And only when they were angry. Dick didn’t change his ways. So Dee left San Francisco, and moved into a condo with a swimming pool, two tennis courts and a golf course.
Dick, Ray and Tucker love golf. Three weeks after Dee departed Dick, Tucker and Ray drove to Monterey, to commiserate and play Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach is expensive. But the trio got their money’s worth by hitting their golf balls many, many, many times.
On the way back to San Francisco, Ray and Tuck quizzed Dick about his new single status.
“Are you happy?”
Dick, grinned. "Are you kidding? I’m free. Man you wouldn’t believe how many terrific ladies there are on this planet. Wait till you meet Lydia,” Dick made a bubby chest gesture. “And she loves cribbage, crossword puzzles and sudoku. I’ll never marry again, but if I did, Lydia…” Dick continued to expound as they crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.
Twenty-four hours after Dick had stopped expounding, Tucker received a phone.
"I'm getting married," Dick celebrated.
Tucker gasped and said loudly, much too loudly "You’re out of your mind! You are kidding, right? You just met. What’s her name … Lydia? The sudoku lady?” In the background, not far away, not down a hall, or echoing from a cellar, Tuck heard, “Who the hell is Lydia?” Tuck knew that voice. A familiar voice. Dee’s voice. “And what the hell is sudoku?”
Tuck liked Dee. And before that fateful call, Dee liked Tuck. But after the ‘You’re out of your mind!” Or the,”You are kidding, right?’ Before, Tucked asked about ‘Lydia.’ “Lydia,” became a blunt, verbal cleaver severing their relationship for almost a year. Dee or Tuck never did discuss sudoku. People should tell people when you’re on speaker phone. It’s the polite thing to do.
Tucker was not chosen to be best man at the wedding, which may have been the original intent of the call. Ray was chosen. A wise decision. Ray never mentioned Lydia or sudoku. Never.
Dick and Dee decided to have a destination wedding. Not too far. Close enough so close friends could come. A small contingent joined their celebration.
The wedding was held at the Chapel of Love in South Lake Tahoe, overlooking Harvey’s gambling casino.
Reverend Gregory Luste presided. Reverend Luste, stoic, sixty, with white hair, with a tiny blond streak combed straight back, was a no-nonsense-marrying-man. Marrying was Luste’s vocation. But the contingent consensus was Luste could have made a fortune on a T.V. ministry fleecing money from god-fearing Christians.
He gestured to the neon lights blinking around the ceiling and staircase of his knotty pine chapel. “When the lights go on, the bride will descend the stairs. Do you understand?” Tuck and Ray and the rest nodded vigorously. Luste fingered a tall, plastic Calla Lily and leaned against a six foot ebony box. The assembled realized it was a coffin. The Chapel of Love was used for more than one purpose. No one wanted to tell the Bride or Groom.
Suddenly Reverend Luste exclaimed. "This a temple of the Lord," he pointed to two video cameras mounted on opposite walls. "Once you're in a seat, STAY THERE! Do not get in the way of my cameras. Do you understand?”
Dick and Dee’s wedding party understood. Ray was in the bathroom, but the message would be related.
Luste continued. “Dick and Dee’s ceremony will be professionally taped for friends and relatives unable to attend this sacred event." He wiped a bead of sweat which oozed through the make-up on his forehead. He spun around, "Of course, tapes will be available at the door for those of you who did attend. Nineteen, ninety-nine. Two for thirty-five." Luste hit a switch. The lights dimmed and stopped blinking. A side door opened. Luste disappeared.
Ray returned to his folding chair and whispered. “That guy’s not right.” Tuck nodded. “Do think Dick’s happy?”
“They say three’s a charm.” Tuck shrugged. “I’m still trying to make peace with Dee. You’re his best man, ask him if…”
The room went dark. Reverend Luste’s brother-in-law, Bucko, entered the room and played a rendition of the Wedding March on an accordion. Bucko, the resident musician, squeezed his accordion and blew a few accompanying bars on a harmonica he wore strapped to his mouth. Sadly, Bucko’s music turned out to be one of the highlights of the evening. Bucko sold C.D.s of his latest album: Trashy Tahoe Tunes for the Timid.. “All original tunes,” he promisded. Ray bought one immediately. On the back side of the CD was a small card:
SOLID OAK FUNERAL CASKET
HANDMADE IN GOOD CONDITION
A WORK OF FINE CRAFTSMANSHIP
ONLY USED ONCE
WILL FIT UP TO SIX FEET TWO
CALL: BUCKO LUSTE
TAHOE 555- 696- 7718
The ceremony began. The room went dark. Bucko blew a few dissonant minor notes and on cue, splashes of neon light chased each other up down the stair case.
Dee descended the staircase. She looked radiant. At the bottom of the stairs, Dick took her hand. Dick didn’t look radiant. He looked lost. Befuddled. The ceremony proceeded nicely until Reverend Luste asked if anyone objected to this marriage taking place.
Dick turned to the crowd. His eyes seemed glazed. He lifted his hands, palm up. A gesture that could have been interpreted as a plea for help. Or, just as easily a ‘Hi, everyone, I’m so glad you’re here.’ Dick turned to his “Best Man,” and mouthed, ‘say something, Ray.”
"Way to go!" Ray said.
A few people clapped. Ray’s speeches were always noted for their brevity.
Dick turned to Tucker who might have been ‘Best Man.’ Dick mouthed, ‘say something.’
Thirty years of friendship. High School. The Marine Corps. Two previous wives.
Tucker raised his hand. Reverend Luste stood stunned. Dick stifled a smile.
Reverend Luste moved Dick aside and glared at Tucker. "You
have an objection to these proceedings."
Dick stood tall. Tucker shook his head no and pointed to Bucko. "Does he know, “When the Saints Go Marching In?’"
Bucko did. He puffed his chubby cheeks and quietly blew his harmonica and squeezed his accordion through a medley of tunes throughout the rest of the ceremony.
Dick and his new bride left shortly after. Luste and Bucko ushered the guests from the Chapel of Love. Maybe to prepare for a late wedding or an early funeral.
In the parking lot the guest decided to celebrate with cocktails and have a pee-wee-golf tournament. Ladies vs. Gents.
It was over cocktails when Tuck offered to set up a Marriage Pool. He explained to the looks of confusion. “Dick’s been married three times. Actually, four because he married one of his wives twice. We’re surrounded by casinos. I’m taking bets, how long do think this one will last.”