Simple Love

A story: Gayle and Frank Newby met one day on a triple blind date. Unlike the two other men, Frank couldn't afford to buy Gayle a Coke, so they sat in the car and talked. A few days later, she stood him up for another date. But she apologized, they did their second date and two days after that they were married. They were engaged for 24 hours. Their honeymoon cost $20, consisting of a $3-a-night motel room and a beer garden, which had a good deal on burgers. They've been married now 57 years.

I hate two things in life: The Yankees, and romantic comedies. And yet I'm drawn to this NPR project called StoryCorps, where regular people visit a van and record their personal stories for archiving at the Library of Congress. Specifically, I can't stop listening to these stories about romance.

I'm drawn to how simple all of it seemed back in the day -- not just engagements, weddings and honeymoons, but love and life in general. Is that the way it's supposed to be? Is it in our new nature to complicate everything? What about worrying about her previous sexcapades and how much money he makes and what your friends think and whether you're "ready to settle down"? What about keeping it cool and playing the game and waiting three days to call and oopsies, let's run to CVS and get you some RU-486?

The StoryCorps true-life tales include the woman who sent her husband 700 letters while he was in the Army -- and he kept every single one. There's the teacher who fell in love with the custodian, convinced him to go to college and become a second-grade teacher. They married on the auditorium stage at the school and served milk and cookies to the guests. There's also the toll collector who married a driver who frequented his booth, and old-timer Danny Perasa, who said this: "Being married is like having a color television. You never want to go back to black and white."

Ha! As if there were ever black-and-white TVs. Now that really would be simple.

So on that note, as covered in cheese as it may be, here's wishing all of you a happy, healthy and simpler new year, in both love and life...

photo credit: NPR's StoryCorps


Getting Paid To Go On A Honeymoon? Moi?

We just watched the documentary "Sicko" on the NetFlix, and there was a lot of universal health care this, and socialists are awesome that. Whatevs. This is what really blew me away: France, on top of the four weeks of paid vacation allotted to every worker, offers one-week additional vacation time to all newly married couples. A honeymoon, on the feds.

Of course, I'd love it if you, the American taxpayer, funded the humus we'll be overdosing on while lounging on the beaches of Greece in approximately 6,096 hours (we have an LCD screen with a honeymoon countdown ticker over our toilet). But, uh, really? Is that the job of the federal government?

Beyond the fact that singles and gays and non-married couples get totally screwed (or not) by this program, what about the fraud? I'd be on my 7th marriage if I could squeeze more vacation time by having a marriage document to show my boss.

Of course, I haven't even been able to verify that this is actually true. All the crusading anti-Moore folks are blogging in their parents' basements about the "Sicko" filmmaker being a lying, fat, anti-freedom, Clinton-hugging "sicko." They love using "sicko" to make fun of him. Get it? Hilarious!

They've got their American flags in a bunch over health care in Cuba and whatnot, but they're missing the point. They need to concern themselves with the heart of the matter: Vacation Time. There is no other issue more important in America today than a paid vacation. Whether your vaca-steeze is lying on the beach or cruising the Mediterranean or smoking reefer in the Sinai or sitting on your couch for days on end drinking Red Bull and playing XBox, let's be honest -- vacation time is the only thing that makes us truly happy.

I'm too lazy to call the French Embassy to check to see if the honeymoon thing is true. Plus, I feel like it's anti-American to call. If I talk to a French-speaking receptionist at a townhouse in Washington, the terrorists win.

Speaking of which, what kind of honeymoon vacation package do you think Al-Qaeda offers?


What A Crappy Wedding

The bride said "I do," but it looked as if she had to make do-do.

Yes, a couple got married Wednesday in a temporary bathroom at Times Square, and the bride wore a wedding dress made entirely of toilet paper.

"You may kiss the bride," the officiant said, "but please don't squeeze the Charmin dress."

The dress was commissioned by a web site devoted to keeping expenses down for weddings, cheap-chic-weddings.com. For the Kentucky couple chosen to get married in the Charmin-sponsored bathroom, it was the first time either of them had visited New York from Kentucky -- or seen toilet paper firsthand. What an exciting day!

I have a number of questions about this, not the least of which is why the groom got to wear a tux. Couldn't he have worn tissues? A napkin? Kotex pads?

Still, I endorse the idea. You don't wear a wedding dress more than once anyways, and if Grandma in the front row cries, she can wipe her face on the bride. Very convenient, and a touching moment for the wedding album.

So, to recap...

Rolls of Toilet Paper: 6
Number of news outlets documenting the toilet-papered affair: 7
Convenience of not having to take off your wedding dress for that after-party B.M.? Priceless

Photo Credit: Reuters


The Wedding Industrial Complex

At our wedding, what if we had dudes dressed like Orthodox Jews, complete with fake beards, black hats and bottles balanced on their heads? What if Kool & The Gang showed up while the guests munched on mixed greens? What if Cirque du Soleil-style performers suspended themselves from the rafters during the Horah? What if we had air-brush tattoo artists, stilt walkers, Paris Hilton-look-alikes, mini-casino tables, photo booths, drag queens, cigar rollers and magicians stationed at all corners of the affair?

How about
paid models popping out of rolling dessert tables made to look like an enormous tiered wedding cakes?

Or, I don't know, call me old-fashioned. Or call me a bleeding-heart hater. But what if the ridiculous people featured in this New York Times article concentrated on actually getting married, and redirected a few hundred thousand dollars spent on some form of self-aggrandizing, irrelevant "entertainment" and, as a real sign of their love, maybe offered that money up to some of the millions around the globe who don't have food, drinking water or shoes?

Just a thought.

Pic Credits: BottleDancers.com; ScreamingQueens.com


Another Reason To Get Married

I'm psyched to get a wedding band, which I will use to scare off single women, lonely men, coin thieves and would-be assassins. Mine will be silver, or at least gray, and I assume it will look like everyone else's. I can't wait to make that annoying tapping sound on the table with it, too.


Worst In-law Ever?

This is an update from a previous blahg, "Worst Wife Ever?", about a bride in New York who sued her florist for $400,000 because the wedding hydrangeas were green and "pastel pink" instead of green and "dark rust," like the ones she expected. This color clashed with the linens, favor boxes, wedding cake and decor, so clearly the place to resolve this issue was a 200-year-old American institution, the judiciary.

The Wall Street Journal, as our nation's second largest newspaper and probably one of five most important news sources in the world, has been on top of this critical story and obtained the latest legal filings by, thank God, sending a reporter to the courthouse.
According to the defendant's response in court, the bride and mother-in-law each gave separate demands to the florist that "were often in complete or significant contradiction to one another."

As you know, I was squarely in the anti-bride camp on this issue. But maybe it was this mother-in-law's fault? Was arguing with mom-in-law over wedding plans so traumatic that the bride was forced to feel the need to get reimbursed for the $400,000 that it cost to put on the very thing that was the source of all the drama? If so, that is deeply, deeply fucked up, and for some reason it makes me glad that I'm not a lawyer in New York.

The real victim in all of this, of course, is the groom, who allegedly had no involvement at all in the arrangements. The florist said he never even talked to the shell of a man who lives among the two most intense women on earth.

Meanwhile, we can't even get a florist to give us a quote or call us back. Can you sue for that?

UPDATE: Apparently people get upset when you don't credit them for hooking it up with the ideas. So, Randi and Zach, thanks for keeping me up to date on the best wedding-related story of '08!


BREAKING: Our First Dance Will Not Be Ironic

Today's Latest Wedding Craze is the surprise, ironic, choreographed First Dance. Since everybody is doing this these days, and since we don't want to be like everyone else, we will defy this tradition and do something that involves neither irony nor choreography.

This is the clip I've received 85 times in the past week. It's the most popular first dance circulating online, probably because the couple is hot:

Traditional Indian wedding gets suddenly, shockingly ghetto-fabulous:

Classical music ends in a bad-ass breakdance:

This is some crappy pop song that turns into a hot Boyz II Men "Motown Philly" jam:

Jack Johnson > Michael Jackson:

And finally, the wedding party gets involved:


Surprise Wedding Planning Bonus: FREE THERAPY!

This past weekend we went for our first of three (four? five?) appointments with the rabbi who will marry us. And, by God, we're happy.

I had always imagined pre-wedding meetings with religious leaders to involve multiple-choice tests about the various things that can happen during sex that will cause you to go to hell. Maybe that's the second session with the rabbi; I'm not sure. But for the first one, we shot the shit for two full hours -- talking about the history of my family, the relatively awesome story of the big courtship and the Vegas odds on whether our Philadelphia status would prevent us from getting into the New York Times Wedding Section.

The rabbi, who incidentally reads every single edition of the New York Times in chronological order (he's up to the spring of 2002), has the requisite floor to ceiling bookshelves and NO computer. It was the most time I had spent away from technology since I was in Africa, and it was awesome.

Rabbi dropped the f-bomb within the first two minutes of our conversation, and we were off from there. We got a chance to unload a bit about the whole wedding process, and suddenly we were BFFs: Laughing up a storm, sharing stories, getting all sensitive.

Agenda for next session: Formally request that he rocks his bow tie for the ceremony.


Rent A Wife

Europe used to be like America, but with tighter pants and better sex and drug laws. Now, Europe is suddenly even more lame than we are. The above hilarity is a web commercial for a Netflix-like company in Belgium. I don't speak Belgish, but apparently it's comparing the awesomeness of getting DVDs in the mail to the awesomeness of getting wives delivered in massive plastic G.I. Joe cases.

Unfortunately, according to this boring article with a lot of legalese, the company was fined and a judge ordered that the commercial be taken off the web site and replaced with text of the court's verdict. The verdict! Good thing this isn't Belgium. If we didn't have misogynistic-tinged advertising with narrow, base prescriptions for gender roles, traits and tendencies, what would we have?


Why does Facebook, AmericanExpress and The Man gotta get involved in my wedding planning?

Recently I've been falling deeply and passionately in love with Facebook. I'm getting the same goose bumps I got back in the heady days of MySpace, when I could legally stalk anyone I wanted and get flirty messages from women who didn't exist. And I'm getting the same way-back-in-the-day excitement I got from Friendster, when everyone I ever knew could be found in one single corner of the interweb, and even though I had no interest in talking to them it was strangely satisfying to know that they didn't look as good as they used to.

I now have that same early-in-a-relationship buzz with Facebook, where the only thing I want to do is roll around with it all night and then spend the morning making omelettes together and listening to Jack Johnson.

But today, the honeymoon ended. On
my Facebook page is a surreptitiously-designed advertisement for AmericanExpress, made to look like a message from one of my friends and the answer to all of my dreams: "Save time and money on your wedding. Plan for your big day, save money, and earn rewards, from dresses to dahlilas."

I clicked anxiously, but was directed to a site with some crappy AmericanExpress hotel offers and not a single thing about dresses, or dahlilas. Clearly, Facebook told AmEx that I was engaged, and because I clicked on the ad Facebook made a buck off that engagement. Facebook is already embroiled in a mini-controversy over how it peddles private info to advertisers.

So here's my message to the Internet: Patriot Act my ass all you want and steal whatever personal info you need in order to make a buck for yourself, but you best be making my life easier in the process. If you promise dahlilas, Corporate America, gimme dahlilas. And a dress, too.

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