the diary thing 
MY WIFE OVERLOOKED one thing when she took my name. Three days into our honeymoon -- spent quietly at home while we try to save money for a trip to Spain in the spring -- and she's on the phone, trying to leave a message.

"Kathleen McGinnis. That's M...C...G...no A. Just M...C...G..."

A pause.

"Uh huh. G...I...N...no U. Just G...I...N...N...that's right, two Ns."

I'm lying on the couch with a book, grinning broadly to myself.

"N...N...I...not E -- I...then S. One S. That's right. No, not like the beer."

I'm laughing now. Forty years, at least, of this. That's what she has to look forward to. Hickey was, after all, such a simple name, by comparison. Almost anybody could spell it right. While I'm pleased that there's one more Mrs. McGinnis in the world, I don't envy her the ritual she's taken upon herself.

McGinnis. Not MacGuinness, or MacInnes, or McInnis, or McGinness, or any of the dozen or so other variations on the name, the precise lineage of which, back to Celtic, I honestly have never had the time to trace. Welcome to the family, Kathleen Joyce McGinnis (née Hickey).

IT WAS A LOVELY DAY. Rain was predicted and failed to show, leaving us with a brisk but not chilly autumn day, the sun bright, the air clear, the light specular and vivid. It was as if the weather was ensuring that our memories of the day would be crystal clear.

I left for Greg and Vicki's with my suitbag and the portable stereo we'd need for music at the reception, leaving K. and her family in the apartment. When I was Greg's best man, I showed up at their apartment viciously hung over and not much good for anything but the trip to the barber and a round of coffee. Greg, thankfully, was more concientious, and cooked me up a plate of eggs and ham. Off to the barber for the ritual shave and back in time to change. The months at the gym had done their job -- my suit, tailored four years ago, fit beautifully in the waist, but had lost room in the shoulders. I looked like a bouncer, all shoulders and chest, the ex-boxer's physique shared by my father's side of the family.

At the church, K. was already there with her family, greeting guests and looking lovely (and period-perfect) in her 1952 dress, tailored from a vintage Butterick pattern (see below). Her sister Alex had also gone the period route, as had her mom, in a borrowed trousseau suit that K.'s home economics teacher had worn on her honeymoon, also in our "target" year of '52. My buddy Scott's wife Christiana also went the period route in a tweed suit. I'd given my buddy Rod nothing but black-and-white film to cover the day, hoping that some accident of lens, guest and light might produce provide us with a counterfeit antique photo of the day. We'll see when I get the shots back next week.

Both my brother-in-law and my friend Alan ended up giving me grief for the rather graceless way I walked up the aisle with K. -- "You looked like you had a gimp leg, dragging your foot behind you!" -- which only underscores the only bit of advice I can give anyone else planning to get married: Rehearse the walk. It's a lot harder than it seems, especially with fifty or so people looking at you. The sole misstep (no pun intended, believe it or not) in an otherwise perfect day.

I pronouned my vows without butchering the Latin or lapsing into Spanish pronuciation. ("Caterinam, a-thee-pay hunc a-noo-lum in si-nyum amorith mei et fideli-ta-tith meae. In no-minay Patrith, et Filyi, et Thpirituth Thancti." Love that Castillian lisp.) My brother did a bang-up job as reader (in addition to affording us all the spectacle of seeing him in an altar boy's cassock and surplice). The choir and organ sounded magnificent, especially on the motet, Tomas Luis de Victoria's "Ave Maria". ("No German stuff," I'd begged Peter, the choirmaster. "French, Spanish, Italian -- but no German stuff.") 

The ring fit. We signed in all the right places. There was crying. A real wedding.

My buddy Bob, who'd sent an e-mail regretting that his schedule would be keeping him away, suddenly appeared in the crowd as we were walking down the aisle, having managed to squeeze out an hour in the middle of a hectic schedule travelling around the world, raising cash for his hedge fund. My niece Melissa showed up, not the little girl I remembered but a poised, pretty college student. (Her sister Katharine, alas, was suddenly hit with a stats exam that day -- curse those college eggheads.) My cousin Terry, who was so looking forward to the day, had broken two ribs that week but gotten a friend from her building to drive her to the church. We were thrilled. It seemed like such a good omen that friends and family had made it in spite of the schemes of itineraries and bad luck.

Weddings and funerals -- they always bring out the crowd.


"Therefore shall a man leave his father, and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh."
- Genesis 2:23

Here's a book review I wrote almost a year ago, when the tome in question -- Robert D. Kaplan's latest report from a geopolitical hotspot -- was in hardcover. Now in paperback, my review was finally printed this week. In the light of current events -- how ominousthat sounds -- it actually holds up well. I even stand by my line about "stereotypical cries of alarm over Islamic fundamentalism"; even as those cries have become the dominant chorus, I still think there are more important issues. Like Palestine, and Saudi Arabia. And Pakistan and India's nuclear arsenal. And the long-term vision of U.S. foreign policy. Time, of course, will tell.
K.'s wedding dress
Here's the pattern K. used for her dress. The dress was in pink shot silk, the coat (or overdress) in light blue, not black. She was lovely.

THE BUS TO THE HOTEL wasn't the big thrill the vintage "Red Rocket" would have been, but it was nice -- a pleasantly communal mode of conveyance, keeping the party together. Greg gave a lovely toast, and my sister made a short speech, in memory of our folks. "They would have been so proud."

K.'s dad, though, made the barnstormer of speeches, the kind of thing you'd expect from a veteran sportswriter. 

"I was a little bit anxious when I hear that my daughter was seeing a journalist. I was even more anxious when I discovered he was an Irish journalist."

He was setting up his laughs, like a real pro.

"Hell, I thought, at least it's better than a rock musician!"

Roars of laughter, followed by a long moan, while K. blushed fiercely. (The inevitable, sly reference to K.'s first marriage.) I couldn't resist; I'd been given my straight line.

"I've been waiting twenty years to hear that!" I shouted. "I'm better than a rock musician!"

Big laughs. Welcome to the family.

BACK AT OUR PLACE, the family after-party was underway by the time we'd had a quiet moment together, smoking outside the entrance to the hotel. We got out of the wedding gear and into comfortable clothes and I finally had a chance to talk to people who'd travelled miles for the day. K.'s little brother Simon walked around with a backpack full of candy while I had the usual needling contest with her stepdad, Greg. ("This is Greg, my...gasp...Dad!" I said for the first time, exaggerating my horror for much-appreciated theatrical effect. "You're in for it now, boy," Greg said with relished menace.) We all talked politics and books and shared family stories and people got drunk and left us with a suprisingly manageable stack of dishes and a fridge full of leftovers.

Downstairs, the stack of presents waited, which we opened, tired and wired after the day. Housewares galore. We now have the most obscenely well-equipped kitchen in the city. We will never need another glass, tea-cup or mixing bowl.

IT'S BEEN A NICE, quite week. We saw Monsters, Inc. and I took K. to the war art show at the art gallery. We were appalled by the nasty rabble of public high-schoolers; more particularly by the girls, who made the boys seem like retiring, Taliban wives. While the boys huddled quietly together, murmuring over the activity sheets they'd been given, the girls ranged everywhere, half of them dressed like they were extras in a Destiny's Child video; hip-huggers and platform shoes and wide belts and headbands. They used the walls as desks for their activity sheets, hit the paintings with their shoulder bags and tapped the canvases to see if the paint was dry. 

"We're sending our kids to a strict, private Catholic school," K. declared, mortified. I couldn't think of a single objection.

and writing 
Rick McGinnis
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