June, the traditional month for brides, is fast approaching, and this pastor has been hard at work praying I won’t have to put on my suit and officiate at any June weddings this year so I can spend those four Saturdays riding my motorcycle instead. My wife and I were married in June 32 years ago, and when I think of what we put our poor minister through, I want to dig him up and apologize. We were married 100 miles from his house, which meant he had to drive down the day before, conduct the Friday night rehearsal, and then sleep in the only hotel in town — a buggy hovel that rented rooms by the hour — because it was too far to return home. I’ve had to do the same thing more times than I can count, and I usually ended up wishing the couple had just eloped and saved everyone the trouble.
I’m not sure how June became the month for weddings. It’s a tradition we seem unwilling to shake, even though February is a much better month for weddings because we’re all tired of being stuck inside and could do with a good party. Then the couple could honeymoon in the Caribbean, and it would be a nice escape from winter. What good is the Caribbean in June, when it’s just as warm and sunny back home? Plus, there’s a symbolism to winter weddings, the inference that it’s just the bride and groom standing together against a cold and gloomy world. All June promises is endless stretches of sunshine and roses, which is why so many people married in June get divorced when they hit their first patch of trouble. A wedding should prepare us not only for the best life has to offer, but also the worst. Sickness and health, richer and poorer, for better or worse. In June, it’s nearly impossible to convince anyone there might be sickness or poverty awaiting them. In February, sickness and poverty are all we expect, so health, wealth, and happiness are a nice surprise.
Every year, I ask my wife what she would like for our anniversary, and she always says the same thing: “There is nothing I want nor need.” This is the problem with being married to a Quaker. Just once, I wish she’d pretend to be an Episcopalian and say jewelry or flowers or candy. I would especially like it if she said candy.
It’s interesting, and I hadn’t considered this until now, but in all the years we’ve been married, my wife has never asked me what I wanted for our anniversary. The cultural expectation seems to be that wives should get anniversary gifts, but not husbands. There are a whole bunch of things I want, and would happily provide my wife with a list were she to ask. Which might be why she doesn’t.
I have three motorcycles, each of them long in the tooth. One is 17 years old, another is 32, and the third one is 42. That’s close to 100 in human years. I’m long overdue for a new bike, so that would be the first thing I would suggest. I already know she wouldn’t get me that, so I would have to go to the second gift on my list — a new truck, which she also wouldn’t get me. Which brings us to my third gift request — a new pocketknife, which is what she always buys me for my birthdays. I own 34 Case pocketknives, most of them gifts from my wife. I like pocketknives, but I can only use one at a time, so my other 33 knives sit in my sock drawer, tarnishing.
This year, I hope we make it to the fourth item on my list — Saturdays off. This means my wife will have to officiate my weddings for me, which will give me more time to ride the new motorcycle I’m going to buy for myself just as soon as my wife isn’t paying attention.