Almost every family has one. It might be in that cabinet that no one uses, or in the bottom of “that drawer.” It could even be out in the barn or in the attic.
It is the wedding book.
You look at when it first comes back from the wedding photographer. Everyone who visits is required to check each photo and make appropriate remarks. Then it gets stored away, maybe taken out for the first few anniversaries.
Then it gets stored away again — and forgotten — for 50 years, if you are really lucky. If your marriage has somehow survived five decades, the wedding book has taken on a new life.
Now it has become an historic document, earning its very own table at the anniversary party.
At the 50th anniversary party last Saturday in Middleborough, Mass., the wedding book was the first thing the older generation checked out. The kids, naturally, didn’t care. I had to see myself in that suit on Sept. 19, 1959, when I was still 18. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know yet. But I thought I did, naturally.
I always thought I looked like Ricky Nelson. If anyone else ever noticed the resemblance, they never mentioned it.
Every page was shocking. People long gone. People still living, attending the 50th anniversary. Those pretty bridesmaids are now in their 70s. So many have fallen along the way, just like any family. Aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers.
You look at those young, earnest faces. No one knew what was ahead, the births and deaths, divorces, the horrible illnesses. That was probably a good thing.
Sept. 19, 1959. Fifty years ago. Where has all the time gone?
The kids love to look at it and how funny everyone looked in their homely gowns and stiff tuxedos. They have their own babies now and don’t have much interest in Sept. 19, 1959, exactly a half-century ago, for heaven’s sake.
We used to be the smart alecks, sitting at the back table, watching the older generation playing Family Feud, dancing the hokeypokey, doing the conga line through the restaurant. Now it is our turn. We are “the big kids.”
I hate my sister. Every time a relative passes on, she reminds me “That’s one more step we take closer to the head of the line.” Nice, huh?
I have no idea who Harvey MacKay is. But he once said “Time is free, but it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”
Hey, Harvey, go sit with my sister.
In tough times, I always look to that world-class mope, Woody Allen, for guidance.
In “Annie Hall,” he told me: “I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.”
After a surprisingly good party with no punches thrown, it was time to go. I just had to check that wedding book one more time.
We were all still there, frozen in our youth and in our tuxedos, exactly 50 years before.
Where, in the name of God, has all the time gone?
And what if the hokeypokey really is what it’s all about?
Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at email@example.com.