Seven years ago today, my wife and I stood under a chupah where the Rabbi had just married us, and I smashed a glass under my foot. We strode down the steps of the Synagogue in between crowds of friends and family who cheered as they tossed birdseed in the air around us. We rode to our reception in the back of a borrowed Rolls Royce, and danced a rhumba and a special-surprise tango in front of our guests. We boogied down on the dance floor amidst lots of loved ones and in general just had an amazing, extra-special time which still stands out so clearly in my head that I know I’ll never forget any details of our wedding day.
Of course, that means I also won’t forget how earlier that morning, I made my wife cry. Yes, cry. On her wedding day.
That morning started off inocuously enough – it was a cold, grey morning but the forecasted snow was supposed to hold off until at least the next day, so the weather was hardly a concern at all. Dee had spent the night before with her sisters at their hotel, and that morning they all drove out to the Spa at the Hotel Hershey for various and sundry spa treatments, lunch, and girltalk. I myself was having a nice relaxing morning, although not quite equal to the pampering my finacee was receiving.
I had one more task to do that day before the wedding activities commenced that late afternoon – I had to go drop off some arrangements at the country club where the reception was going to take place. Since Dee had our car, I asked to borrow my brother Ben’s car. He happily obliged me, and I grabbed the bags of stuff and headed out to his ride.
My parents’ house is on a road that runs down a fairly steep hill that dead-ends at the bottom in a cul-de-sac. My brother had parked on the street across from their house, facing downhill, so I was faced with a choice – I could either pull into the driveway and then back out and go up the hill, or I could drive down into the cul-de-sac, go around it in a little circle, and head up the hill. Since his car was a stick-shift, I decided to do the latter and save myself a little gear-switching and a sucky shift from neutral into first on a steep hill.
Unfortunately for me, the road surface, which had meltwater running down it on the way to the storm drain at the bottom of the cul-de-sac was not all as it seemed. Yes, there was running water on the road’s surface. However, it was making its way downhill under a thin sheet of completely transparent black ice. As soon as the car’s tires hit the ice, my car stopped turning and instead slid increasingly quickly down the hill towards the house at the end of the cul-de-sac. The brakes and steering did nothing to change my course or slow me down, and I remember gripping the wheel tightly with a white-knuckled grip and thinking to myself “Oh god the car’s going to jump the curb and I’m going to end up in their living room and I hope I don’t die I’m supposed to get married later today!” Then my seatbelt pulled taut as the car slammed to a halt with a loud *CRUMP*.
Turns out not only had I bent the rim of the tire that slammed into the curb (and stopped the car), I had busted the car’s axle as well. With the help of my father, we managed to get the car to limp its way back into their driveway (after copious application of rock salt to get some traction on the now-apparrent icy expanse that sheeted the entire cul-de-sac from end to end). My mother, lovely soul that she is, decided I must have been so nervous/overwrought about it being my wedding day that I was unfit to drive, and “volunteered” to take me over to drop off the decorations for the reception (despite my insistence that it was a stupid mistake and I was fine to drive).
After accomplishing the errand without further incident, my mother was driving me back home when Dee called my cell from the spa. She gushed about the spa treatments and the lunch they had, and how wonderfully relaxed she was, and asked how I was doing.
Not really thinking, and being VERY self-conscious of my mother sitting two feet away from me, I think I said something along the lines of “I’m ok. Can you call me back in about 10 minutes?” With zero explanation, and as I now know an uncomfortable “something is NOT ok” tone in my voice. Dee, puzzled and taken aback, didn’t know what to say, so we exchanged quick goodbyes over the phone and she hung up.
We pulled into the driveway about 5 minutes later and I hurried to the privacy of the guest bedroom, where I waited anxiously for Dee to phone me back, only to find her in anguished tears, wondering what the hell was going on, why I was sounding so strange, why I wouldn’t talk to her, etc. To my growing horror, I realized that I had not said one thing on the earlier call to give her any indication of what was going on or why I had been so reserved and curt on the phone. My wife was in tears, and even though it was a misunderstanding, it was all my fault.
To make a long story short (too late!), after I had managed to convince Dee that NOTHING was wrong between us, and the only reason I hadn’t wanted to talk before was because my mother was completely embarrassing me by treating me like an 1860s Southern Belle with The Vapors, she relaxed a bit and tried to put my actions behind her. She made very clear, however, that I would never live down the fact that I had made her cry on her wedding day. I never have lived that down, and I don’t expect I ever will.
Happy 7th Anniversary, my darling. Here’s to many many more together, with only tears of joy shed by either one of us…