|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
"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
"N...N...I...not E -- I...then
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
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.