|Dude requested a picture of his namesake be placed below the headline. |
Image from http://adudesguide.com
“Are you getting nervous?” they kept asking me.
“No, no I’m alright,” I responded, again and again. “It’s my job to keep Neenuh calm.” And so it went, a very stereotypical sort of setup, the female sweating bullets in a panic to make everything perfect, reading too much into everything that anybody said while the dude (or should I say, The Dude) kept calm, cool and collected, largely by staying as far as possible from the bulk of the heavy-duty wedding planning work. Personally, I thought it was a pretty good system.
Fast-forward to last Friday night: The Wedding Rehearsal. It’s a pretty casual affair, me in khakis and a polo shirt, just a few dozen friends and family around, with all of us in the wedding party lining up outside the event room at Minnesota Valley Country Club preparing to practice our processional. There I am, watching my Uncle the Priest walk down the aisle, followed by the chuppah holders. Then I step forward, my feet just outside of the room, my eyes directed inside to the assembly in the room looking back at me.
Bump-ump, bump-ump, bump-ump.
“Oh. My. God.” I think to myself, my jackhammer heart placing periods behind every word my mind makes. “I. Am. Getting. Married. Tomorrow. Oh. My. God.” So I put my best foot forward and the rehearsal goes by pretty much without a hitch. Dad reads his letter from Paul to the Corinthians brilliantly. Brother Jake nails “Unchained Melody.” Anna and Tom twee the hell out of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” But there was one thing missing from the rehearsal: the vows.
Which is to be expected. I mean, you don’t want to let your beloved know your vows the night before the wedding. It’s a special thing and should be a surprise, tailor-made for the occasion. “Unchained Melody” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” are well-established parts of the public consciousness by this point, and Paul’s letters have been around long enough to be public domain. You’re not surprising anybody there, so you might as well let the speakers/singers get some extra rehearsal time in at the rehearsal.
But yours truly thinks himself something of a writer. A musician, too. And I wanted to put those talents to use letting my little Neenuh know how very much I love her. But I could barely breathe during the rehearsal and, as we’ve already seen, my brain couldn’t even get its punctuation right, my heart was beating blood so hard. And this was during the wedding practice, with only a few dozen people there. How in the hell was I going to sing and play harmonica and guitar in front of more than 200 people while wearing a hot tuxedo on a humid summer’s eve, when I was not practicing but doing it for keeps?
Another problem? My vows weren’t finished. Oh, I’d had the song finished for well over a month and knew it pretty well. But suddenly I begin rethinking the lyrics in my head. Also, perhaps the chords should be changed? There was also to be a spoken word part of the vows. While I had been telling Neenuh for months that the vows were finished, that was only partly true. There was a prose poem I wrote when the two of us were in Berlin, recounting our earlier trip to Florence, which I realized upon completion would be perfect for my wedding vows. It needed something more to be more than an exercise in writing memories down in rhythm, buffers before and after to make them, you know, vows.
So it was very hard to relax after at the rehearsal dinner that night. There I was, talking to friends, aunts and uncles, eating a roast beef sandwich, only paying half attention to their speech as I juggle my own around in my head, remembering the whole time the nerves I felt at the rehearsal. At the rehearsal! “My. God! What. Am. I. Going. To. Do. At. The. Real. Wedding?
The muses (or at least my muse) must’ve been smiling on me later that night, because I wrote the rest of the vows with no problem. The next day, while we were taking wedding pictures, the vows were all I could think about. “When. Will. The . Wedding. Get. Here?” one part of me thought, sick of the nerves there in the waiting, while the other part of me said, “No. I. Hope. The. Wedding. Never. Comes. I. Will. Totally. Forget. The. Words. To. The. Song. As. Well. As. How. To. Make. A. D. Chord.”
At this point, not only had I lost control of my mental punctuation, but I had become two people. Why oh why did I decide to sing a song? It’s not like a wedding isn’t stressful enough without adding to it one of the single most nerve-wracking things a person can do: public performance.
The wedding itself was a blur. I’m pretty sure I walked down the aisle. At any rate, I at some point found myself at the front of the room looking back at a woman wearing a white dress standing in the back, framed by two other people. “She’s. Beautiful. Hey. Wait. Those. Are. Neenuh’s. Parents. Waitaminute! Is. That. Neenuh?” And let me tell you reader, it was, it surely was. It’s hard to describe what I was feeling as she walked down the aisle and took her place next to me. I kept looking over at her, trying to determine if it was all real. Then, at some point during her aunt’s reading of a poem, my heart opened up. Not even metaphorically. It was like a big warm ball bloomed in my heart, and suddenly my nerves were gone. Neenuh read her vows, written with that famous sense of humor so well known to readers of this blog, and I actually laughed! “That’s so funny! I love her so much!” passed through my mind, followed by “Holy crap! My punctuation’s back!”
I read my vows and, not only did I not place a period behind every word, I didn’t even stammer once. Not too bad, considering I never bothered to read the vows aloud after writing them the night before. And when I picked up the guitar I remembered how to do a D chord, as well as a C, F, G and even the E 9b5. Also, I didn’t forget a single word, and even sung them with a full, relaxed throat. It capped off a unique (if I do say so myself) wedding that led into a truly rocking and awesome (in my humble, unbiased opinion) reception.
The lesson, as always, is that true love conquers all, even a ridiculous stress level. Either that, or it’s truly best to be ridiculously stressed out before you do anything important, a lesson I almost missed out on with my zen-like nonchalance in the weeks leading up to the ceremony. One or the other. Or maybe something else altogether. Or maybe this need to find lessons in everything is an artificial convention of narrative that I’m grafting onto a real life even to make a more compelling blog post out of it. And maybe that’s the real moral of the story here.
I don’t know. Take your pick. This is my first ever blog post and I’m nervous as hell about it. You can’t expect me to make these kinds of decisions.