Ah, 1993. Grunge was slowly taking over the airwaves, Prince made a huge marketing blunder my changing his name to a symbol and most importantly, I meet a then-teenager by the name of Ann.
She sort of came out of nowhere when I think about it. While driving home from work, I happened to come across Bonnie, the mom of an old friend by the name of Bill who had moved away a few years earlier. In his haste, Bill departed without much fanfare and didn’t call me with his new contact info. He was pretty much gone without a trace as was Bonnie.
But I wanted to stay in touch with him so seeing Bonnie zooming down the street, I followed her burgundy VW Beetle with the white paint spots on the hood (or trunk, if you please) to the next stop. Remember that this was a time before the Internet was commonplace and obviously way before social networking, which meant that getting in touch with that long, lost someone meant that you had to have a connection with one of their friends/relatives.
I pulled into the space next to her and called her name. Not knowing what to think after witnessing some stranger trail her into a parking lot, she was surprised to see me standing there smiling at her. We spoke for a few minutes and then she asked the following question.
“So are you seeing anybody?”
I was taken aback as it seemed like an unlikely question, especially coming from someone’s mom. I said I wasn’t and without hesitation, she spoke again.
“I’ve got the perfect girl for you. She works with me at House of Fabrics in the mall and her name is Ann. If you want, I can let her know you are interested and give you her phone number.”
“Uh…okay,” I said stupidly, not knowing what in the world was going on just yet. Rather sudden, I thought.
Note: In this whirlwind of a conversation, I never got Bill’s number from Bonnie. I did, however, recently contact him via LinkedIn and he didn’t seem interested in taking the conversation beyond his confirmation that he was who I had been looking for. Oh well. I guess his not giving me his number was intentional.
A few days later there was a message on my bed taken by Mom. It read “Ann 555-1212. Call after 3 pm.” And that’s exactly what I did.
While I don’t remember the nuances of our first conversation, I do know that Ann was every ounce a shy teenager but not quite introverted, if that makes any sense. We had arranged our first date that night: miniature golf at Golf N Stuff where The Karate Kid was filmed, and dinner at her restaurant of choice.
The date was awkward to say the least. I hadn’t been on the dating scene since, well, who knows when and my dates never amounted to anything other than the usual “Let’s be friends” ending at the end of the night on the front porch. But this one seemed different.
As we played our round of miniature golf, there were moments of affection: gentle hugging after a good shot, high-fives that led to hand-holding, the simply looking directly into each other’s eyes and having them dart the other way. Awkward, yes.
But something more, definitely.
At the end of our games, I asked Ann where she wanted to have dinner.
“We can just go to McDonald’s if you want to,” she said. And as I’ve told many, it was under the romantic glow of the Golden Arches that I knew I had made the right choice. (The McDonald’s we went to is down the street from Golf N Stuff and is the oldest operating location in the world.)
The dating continued for months – 6 in total. And then, while leaning against my red 1991 Nissan Sentra under a full moon in the driveway of her parent’s house, I asked for her hand in marriage.
The ring I gave her wasn’t fancy but she loved it – and said “yes.”
Within a month, we had made plans to go to Las Vegas and become a couple for life.
I arranged for the date of June 19, 1993 at 2:30 pm at the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel. Russ, a friend from high school whose parents were already living in Las Vegas, was the only witness to the event aside from the minister.
Before the ceremony, we had to go downtown to get a license which were being issued like hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts on a Sunday morning. I remember seeing men — more like teenagers — in uniform, standing with their girlfriends and blank looks on their faces as they waited in line. It was such a powerful moment because you know that these couples were taking the plunge right before deployment, with them not knowing if they would ever see each other again.
With license in hand, we went to the chapel. The ceremony was quick and all I can remember is standing there, looking through welled-up eyes at Ann’s smiling face and holding her hands, knowing that this was the woman I was promising to spend the rest of my life with.
By the way, what’s with men fainting at their wedding? I see it all the time on AFV was just wondering. Man, if you can’t handle it, don’t go through with it!
Sadly, the memories of the get-them-in-and-get-them-out ceremony are all we have: an audio recording of it has somehow gotten lost as have our original wedding certificate and license, and worst of all, the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel was destroyed in a fire about 10 years after we exchanged our vows. While it was in the process of being rebuilt, it caught fire again and was shelved altogether. And while Russ did take a few photos of us, finding them has been next to impossible.
Also memorable: seeing an Elvis impersonator and a showgirl enter the chapel after us. Whether they were getting married or were part of another ceremony was anyone’s guess but I do know this: only in Las Vegas…
We began a new life that day and since then, we’ve had our share of challenges, wonderful moments, ups and downs. I’m pretty sure we’ve endured sickness, health, better and worse. And despite it all, we’ve come through alright.
Then in 2004, after nearly 10 years of trying, the gift of a child was given to us and our roles as parents began. While a child definitely added to the stress of our daily lives, like everything else, we’ve pulled ourselves through and have discovered ways to get by.
Oh, and there’s also this: Ann and I have never fought. We may have disagreements but we have never raised our voices at each other, except perhaps when one couldn’t hear what the other one had said. Getting old will do that to you.
So after 20 years of wedded bliss, things are great. We have our health, a fantastic son who is as funny as he is smart (as well as one heck of a golfer), and it appears we finally have our finances in the best shape they’ve been in a very long time.
We are by no means The Cleavers nor do we have a white picket fence around our house, but what we do have is our commitment to each other and a houseful of love, a love that is as strong today as it was when we first looked into each other’s eyes and shared our first kiss.
Mushy, I know. But it’s something I’m very proud to share with anyone who listens. We’ve outlasted the marriages of many friends and relatives (sometimes two of theirs) as well as celebrities (not shocking). And it’s always a treat to brag about it, especially when we could potentially reach 60 years of marriage.
Granted, I’ll be 84 and Ann 79 by then but no matter what, she’ll always be my one love.
Happy Anniversary, Ann. Here’s to many, many more years of fun that can’t be measured.
This song is one of my favorites. I want this played at our 25th anniversary. That or I will sing it and embarrass her 🙂
UPDATE: While cleaning in preparation for our garage sale, I found pictures from our wedding day. Here we are, age 19 and 25. Nothing has changed, eh?