Thirty years ago today, my wife decided to follow through with the “till death do us part” thing. We were young. She was 24 and I had just turned 25. She had a job, and I was a clerk on the floor of CME. We sort of knew where we wanted to go, but nothing was certain. We didn’t have money or security. We didn’t have a hard and fast rigorously tested plan. Of course, “till death do us part” means something in our families. I met her grandfather when he was 103. He died at 106. My grandparents passed when they were 98. Yes, we started saving for retirement in our 20s.
We met in college the first day of senior year classes. August 1983. She was pinned to a guy in a fraternity but since I wasn’t in a frat I didn’t care. I was never a rule follower anyway. She walked into the classroom I was sitting in at David Kinley Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois in a lime green Izod and khaki shorts with top siders. It was the 80s. She sat down next to me and said hello. Then, when her sorority sisters came into the room she got up and moved to sit by them. All my roommates were engineers so I didn’t know too many people in the College of Business. The rest is history.
I bought Lisa’s wedding ring from my friend’s “guy”. Cash. A few years later, that “guy” was gunned down by the Mob. Gambling debts. Make sure you pay ’em. Juice too. My friend was uh, loosely connected. He knew people but he wasn’t one of them. If you go to some of the old timers at Jewelers Row, they still remember the jeweler and what happened. Fast Eddie. 4th floor. Corner shop. By the way, Chicago is like that. Not necessarily Mobbed up or mob connected, but people have “guys”. My shoe guy, my coat guy, my hot dog guy. Everyone has a guy. Those guys treat you well.
Our wedding was in the evening. My friend Scott drove me and my best man Kevin to the church. When he said “Hey, there’s an exit to Wisconsin”, I told him to take it. He said that was why he was driving. I was sweating bullets up at the altar. Literally sweating. Flop sweat, nervous sweat. Dripping off your nose and falling on the floor sweat. We shouldn’t have shot hoops in the parking lot before the ceremony. It was an out of body experience. At the very moment Pastor Struckmeier said, “Let them speak now or forever hold their peace” one of my groomsmen fell over and whacked his body on the pew behind him. It sounded like a shotgun blast and echoed through the church. At that moment, I didn’t know if it was a frat boy or what, but I was glad I paid cash for the ring. From then on it was fun and games.
We had a great reception. It wasn’t over the top like you see on Bridezilla, but it was a helluva party. At the end Lisa was doing flips on the dance floor in her wedding dress. Just a typical suburban Chicago Midwestern wedding. Perfect.
Marriage was the perfect thing for me (and I hope her too). You never know where life will take you or how you will actually get there but it really helps to have a good partner. I was lucky and had one. I think that too many people these days believe 50% of marriages end in divorce (they don’t). Too many people are afraid of taking the risk. I am glad I did when I did and lucky I did when I did and who I did it with. I wouldn’t be around typing this today if I wasn’t married.
If you are thinking of it, you don’t need to be fancy when popping the question and you don’t need a million dollar ceremony. You don’t need to have your entire life mapped out in front of you and you don’t need a ton of money. You just need each other.
We had all our kids by the time she was 30. They are 26 and 23 now and I am glad I am young enough to have fun with them.
There is that holy shit moment when you get married and the realization sets in. Sometimes, it still happens. Life is good that way.
Here is the requisite shot post ceremony and on the way to the reception 30 years ago today.