Best laid schemes o’ brides an’ doves

We have all been there at one time or another. We spend hours, days, weeks, or even months making plans for an important event. We take into account every conceivable variable, leaving nothing to chance. We play out scenarios in our heads and make adjustments along the way as we try to predict how every second will unfold. We write and rewrite schedules, have meetings with all the key players, and make sure that all participants understand their roles. We even have a rehearsal, a “dry run,” in attempts to catch any last-minute omissions and pave the way for a smooth, flawless finish. All of this careful preparation, and still, something unexpected happens. Something goes terribly wrong. This frustrating scenario is played out at festivals, concerts, conventions, board meetings, and many other gatherings; however, the one place we all hate to see it happen most is at an occasion that is expected to be nearly perfect — a wedding.

Wedding bands
Wedding bands

As an amateur musician and performer in a small town, I was hired to sing at weddings several times each year for a period of about twenty-five years. I saw a lot of couples get married. I also witnessed some unusual rituals in the preparation for and implementation of the ceremony. Brides and grooms are typically nervous as the big day approaches, and some even need to be medicated just to make it through the wedding. I once had a request from a mature bride preparing for her second marriage who wanted to practice standing face-to-face and holding hands with her fiance in my living room while I played the entire song to be included after their exchange of vows. “We need to be prepared for how awkward this is going to feel,” she said. I’m quite sure neither of them felt more awkward than I did at that moment.

Some weddings end up being less than what was planned simply because of unrealistic expectations. There will always be those couples whose wedding fantasies are so removed from the realm of possibility that disappointment is the inevitable outcome. Here are a few examples.

  • Outdoor weddings in the South during summer – everything and everyone melts
  • Weddings on the beach – frat boys on spring break live for this crash opportunity
  • Very young children as attendants – they invariably cry, run, pick their nose, or pee
  • Including animals of any kind – could there be a more unpredictable element?
  • Reciting vows totally from memory – they forget each other’s names AND their vows

Of course, all the careful planning in the world cannot prevent the occasional catastrophe. I have heard photographers stumble and crumble down the steps and land loudly in the bottom of an empty fiberglass baptismal pool ten feet behind the alter where the minister is rendering an eloquent prayer of blessing for the couple. We have all seen, either in videos or in actual attendance, members of the wedding party fall out on the floor after locking their knees and fainting. I have seen my share of wardrobe malfunctions, coughing or sneezing fits, uncontrollable nervous laughter, power outages, and the all-too-familiar dropped wedding bands rolling down the center aisle of the church.

One of the funniest mishaps occurred at an outdoor wedding back in the 1970s where I was hired to play my guitar and sing a song during the ceremony. The weather was pleasant that day with no rain in the forecast. The venue was a lovely public park with a small fountain covered by towering oak trees. The plan was for the wedding party to walk down a series of steps along an embankment leading to the lower level of the park where the service would take place. A groomsman was put in charge of providing a recording of Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” on his cassette player, and the sweet, elderly woman serving as the wedding director had the responsibility of hitting the switch to start the song when the bride made her grand appearance at the top of the steps. We all sat and watched as members of the wedding party made their way down the steps to take their places without a single stumble or hitch. There was a brief pause, and then the bride, escorted by her father, crested the hill in her flowing white gown, took her place at the top of the steps, and waited for the music to begin. The groomsman’s “boom box” was a state-of-the-art dual cassette player, and for reasons defying all comprehension, he had failed to remove the second cassette from its deck. When the director flipped the switch, instead of hearing the most recognized wedding song in modern history, we were all assaulted with the Blues Brothers’ rendition of “Soul Man.” It was breathtaking.

Is there one particular wedding disaster that rises to the top of the pile in my memory? Well, of course there is. I was hired to play the guitar and sing two songs for another outdoor wedding at a National Historic Landmark in middle Georgia. It was late July.  At 6:00 p.m. when the ceremony began it was hot and humid enough to wilt silk flowers. The wedding party was large, and they all had to process across an expansive grassy lawn. The minister decided that weddings, like all religious services, are an opportunity to give an abbreviated version of the gospel message, which he did with all the fervor of a tent-revival preacher. My musical contribution was to take place after the exchange of rings, and my cue was the release of two white doves from behind a drape that served as the backdrop for the minister and the bride and groom. Just before most of the guests expired from heat exhaustion, the rings were exchanged with the appropriate promises and proclamations. And, then I waited for the doves to ascend to the scorched heavens. And I waited. The guests began to turn to one another, realizing that someone had dropped the ball. I felt several hundred eyes staring at me as I sat on my little stool over to the side nervously waiting for an aviary extravaganza to commence. As my face began to turn an even brighter shade of red, I saw a young man come running from behind the drape, around a long privet hedge, and toward my direction. He skidded to a stop beside me, leaned over, and whispered loudly, “The doves died! Sing the damn song!”

Southern Word of the Day (Part 4)

Here is the latest installment of my favorite Southern words, and perhaps Jeff Foxworthy has used these too.  No plagiarism is intended here; I can only plead ignorance, which for me is not a stretch at all.

Ratified.  Usage: “I could have killed that ratified had my pistol with me in the kitchen.”

Fertilize.  Usage: “Earl’s gonna pay dearly fertilize he’s been telling about Billy Bob and Charlene.”

Barn.  Usage: “Times have been tough lately, and we’ve been barn money from my parents just to make payments on the truck.”

Bayou.  Usage: “Do you mind if I sit bayou at Thanksgiving dinner?”

Canopy.  Usage: “I know we’re in a hurry, but canopy before we go?”

Nominee.  Usage: “I fell off the four-wheeler and nominee is swollen and hurts something awful.”

Doctorate.  Usage: “Billy Bob cut his hand, and Charlene needs to doctorate before it gets infected.”

Commodious.  Usage: “Quick! Somebody run in there and tell Billy Bob that the commodious on is clogged up!”

Shawls.  Usage: “This casserole dish left from homecoming at the church last Sunday isn’t ours, so I guess its shawls.”

Automated.  Usage: “It’s almost midnight. Billy Bob and Charlene automated home by now.”

Benefited.  Usage: “Billy Bob’s already benefited for his tux, and he’s a-getting real excited about being the best man at my wedding.”

Coffin.  Usage: “This summer cold has got me coffin up a storm!”

Election Obsession

You might have election obsession (with all kinds of apologies to Mr. Foxworthy):

If 9 out of every 10 posts you share on your Facebook page are “breaking news” stories designed to “expose” the “truth” about one of the candidates, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If you can’t have a conversation about something as benign as your last vacation without eventually referring to a political party or a candidate, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If your Facebook page has turned into a news feed from sources that have titles including words like liberal, conservative, left, right, progressive, or patriot, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If you are convinced that everything that is wrong with America is embodied in one candidate while everything that could be right about the country can be achieved through the efforts of the other candidate, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If photos of candidates show up on your Facebook feed more often than your family members or your pets, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If you know more about the personal life and background of a candidate than you do about some of your best friends, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

And finally, if you have contemplated leaving the country if your candidate of choice doesn’t win, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

Southern Word of the Day (Part 3)

Here is the latest installment of my favorite Southern words, and perhaps Jeff Foxworthy has used these too.  No plagiarism is intended here; I can only plead ignorance, which for me is not a stretch at all.

Iota.  Usage: “Just heard from the accountant that iota IRS some more money for 2015.”

Fawn.  Usage: “I never woulda believed it could happen, but I think Billy Bob is fawn in love with Charlene.”

Defensive.  Usage: “The deer ain’t able to jump defensive you make it high enough.”

Napkin.  Usage: “If I get drowsy after lunch, taking a quick napkin usually get me through the rest of the day.”

Conjure.  Usage: “Billy Bob, I can’t believe you conjure way out of going shopping with Charlene this weekend. What kinda story did you make up this time?”

Urinal.  Usage:  “Charlene heard about us going out last night, Billy Bob, and now urinal lot of trouble dude.”

Foamy.  Usage: “It’s gettin’ cold in here.  How about shuttin’ that door foamy.”

Avenue.  Usage: “I heard they avenue ride at the fair this year that’s making everybody puke!”

Southern Word of the Day (Part 2)

This is the second installment of Southern words.  For the last couple of years, I have been entertaining myself (not difficult) and my Facebook Friends with posts that I have coined “The Southern Word of the Day.”  Obviously, this gig is a direct rip-off of the comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck words, and there is certainly some overlap.  However, I have imposed some rules on myself that Foxworthy didn’t always follow. For instance, I only use legitimate English-language words, which includes the occasional place name but mostly just regular words.  So I would never use Foxworthy’s “widgedidga” because it isn’t a legitimate word, even though it clearly is a phonetically-correct Southern word that translates to “with you did you.”  So Foxworthy’s word “mayonnaise” as a substitute for “man there is” serves as a good example of my method.  I also try to stay away from the simple two-syllable rip-offs like aster = asked her, or cider = beside her, or otter = ought to, or stark = it’s dark.

I have decided to put together a list of my favorite Southern words that I have posted, and perhaps Jeff Foxworthy has used these too.  No plagiarism is intended here; I can only plead ignorance, which for me is not a stretch at all.

Memberships.  Usage: “Back in the day when we was bar hoppin’ on River Street in Savannah, I memberships used to come by on the river so close you thought you could reach out and touch ’em.”

Artichoke.  Usage: “As cold as it’s been lately, you really artichoke that lawnmower engine before you try to crank it.”

Classified.  Usage: “I’d have been early to classified been able to find a parking place on campus.”

Tortoise.  Usage: “It scared me when I saw Billy Bob coming tortoise with that chain saw in his hands.”

Animator.  Usage: “The hamburger would be so much better if you’d put some bacon animator on it.”

Diversity.  Usage: “Earl did a good job singing, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard diversity was singing on that song at the Uncle Ned’s funeral.”

Mariner.  Usage: “I heard Billy Bob was dating Charlene; then the next thing I know he was mariner.  I wonder if she’s in trouble?”

Hibachi.  Usage: “How can you say Billy Bob don’t love you when hibachi that brand new set of steak knives just last month?”

Southern Word of the Day

For the last couple of years, I have been entertaining myself (not difficult) and my Facebook Friends with posts that I have coined “The Southern Word of the Day.”  Obviously, this gig is a direct rip-off of the comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck words, and there is certainly some overlap.  However, I have imposed some rules on myself that Foxworthy didn’t always follow. For instance, I only use legitimate English-language words, which includes the occasional place name but mostly just regular words.  So I would never use Foxworthy’s “widgedidga” because it isn’t a legitimate word, even though it clearly is a phonetically-correct Southern word that translates to “with you did you.”  So Foxworthy’s word “mayonnaise” as a substitute for “man there is” serves as a good example of my method.  I also try to stay away from the simple two-syllable rip-offs like aster = asked her, or cider = beside her, or otter = ought to, or stark = it’s dark.

I have decided to put together a list of my favorite Southern words that I have posted, and perhaps Jeff Foxworthy has used these too.  No plagiarism is intended here; I can only plead ignorance, which for me is not a stretch at all.

Fornication.  Usage: “Charlene’s dress is perfect fornication like tonight.”

Covetous.  Usage: “It was so cold that Momma pulled out a blanket and covetous up with it.”

Quesadilla.  Usage: “You need to have your brights on in quesadilla runs out in front of us.”

Spectators.  Usage: “Broccoli is fine, but I spectators would taste a whole lot better with that steak.”

Anemone.  Usage: “I was running just fine anemone started hurting, and I had to stop.”

Ammonia.  Usage: “Would you come open the door?  Ammonia front porch!”

Motif.  Usage: “Billy Bob would smile more if he just had motif.”

Enema.  Usage: “My mother-in-law is always sticking her nose enema business.”

Pasteurize.  Usage: “I walked right pasteurize, and you didn’t even see me!”

September.  Usage: “We have grown everything on that 40 acres you can imagine September.”

Annuity.  Usage: “He was having trouble getting it out, but annuity was trying to say.”

Annihilator.  Usage: “We got stuck in traffic and ended up getting there annihilator than we thought we would.”

Free at Last

I made the final visit to my orthopedic surgeon today, who said my x-rays from my broken ankle look fine and that I am good to go.  He actually said I can even try to jog a mile to see how the ankle behaves.  I’m not exactly anxious to start jogging, but the walking is getting better every day.  I still have a bit of tightness, mostly in my lower leg muscles, and the swelling hasn’t completely gone.  At any rate, I don’t have to go back unless I have a real problem.  It was just under two months ago when I broke the ankle, and I am very relieved to be at the end of the initial recovery period of 6-8 weeks.  I shook my doctor’s hand, thanked him, and told him he is the best doctor I have ever had.  In his typical self-deprecating manner he said, “I didn’t do anything!”  I respectfully disagree.  He was wonderful.

It is a little embarrassing how carefully I walk now, especially on grass.  I hope my fear will subside as I get more strength in the left leg and gain more confidence about walking.  I need to be in shape for next spring, when I plan to hike to the top of one of the highest hills near our home.  And, I certainly want to be ready to get back in the Hobie kayak when the weather turns warm again in 2016.  Don’t let anyone tell you that grass isn’t harmful — it will knock you off your feet!