100: A Life of Surprises

100: A Life of Surprises

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

A Life of Surprises

A first-rate marriage is like a first-rate hotel: expensive, but worth it.

~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook

I met my husband my first day at work. He was training to be a Branch Manager, and I was called in to substitute for Karen, who was going on maternity leave. Peter came up to our desk and asked Karen if she had any Benadryl.

“Jayne, this is Peter,” Karen introduced as she dug out the medication.

“Hi, Jayne,” Peter replied, and with a straight face added, “Karen and I do drugs together.”

I was surprised at first, but then laughed at the joke — and he’s kept me laughing ever since.

We started dating a few weeks later, and when he proposed after two years, I had no doubt I was the luckiest woman in the world.

We agreed that I would plan the wedding, and Peter said he would plan the honeymoon on the condition that it would be a complete surprise for me. I was hesitant, but I knew I couldn’t take care of everything in the six-month time frame we had, so I agreed.

The wedding was beautiful, and we were exhausted after the last dance at midnight. Peter’s brother, Jamie, our chauffeur, helped me into the back of his car as Peter got in on the other side. We were on a strict budget, so no limo for us! I didn’t mind; Jamie’s car was nice enough, and so was he. I knew we were having a send-off party the following day at his parents’ house to open wedding gifts and thank everyone, so we weren’t going far.

“Where are we driving to?” I asked sleepily.

“You’ll see,” my brand-new husband smiled, as I snuggled contentedly into him.

We drove downtown to one of the fanciest hotels in the city. As Jamie opened the door for me, I frowned at Peter and said, “We can’t afford this!”

“I have a friend in charge of housekeeping,” he winked. “We got a great rate, so don’t worry.”

We gave Jamie a goodbye hug as he announced he would pick us up at 1:00 P.M. the next day. Minutes later, Peter carried me across the threshold of a beautiful suite overlooking the harbor. There were chocolates on the pillows and a beautiful fruit basket holding a note from Peter’s friend John that read: “Enjoy your night. This is my wedding gift to both of you.”

We enjoyed the beautiful surroundings of our solitary confinement for twelve uninterrupted hours. We ordered room service for breakfast, fully intending to pay for it, as well as the room on which John had already been promised a huge discount. But when we checked out and Peter held out his credit card, the front desk clerk tore up our bill, saying, “Your money’s no good here!”

After a warm and wonderful send-off party with family and friends, we drove together out of the city. I wasn’t surprised when Peter took the airport exit. Peter loves the Caribbean and had been there a few times before. But this turned out to be a decoy. Instead of parking, Peter pulled up to the ATM. I flashed a puzzled look at him, and he said innocently: “Just need to get some extra cash. You didn’t think we were flying somewhere, did you? I remembered you telling me about staring at all those ads of the Pocono Mountain resorts in the back of the bridal magazines with your friends. How could we go anywhere else? With the money we saved from airfare, we can afford it.”

I was totally and pleasantly surprised and thrilled. It was a twenty-four-hour drive, but we both enjoy road trips and took turns driving. Peter broke up the drive halfway, having booked a cozy suite in the heart of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

We spent a week in an all-inclusive honeymoon resort situated on a beautiful lake that had all the amenities that a young energetic couple could want. We had breakfast delivered to our door every morning, then spent the day either on the driving range, roller skating, swimming, rowing, playing pool, tennis, squash… We never ran out of things to do! We ended each day around the dinner table with other happy newlyweds.

Twenty-four years later, Peter says I did a great job planning the wedding. I say my honey planned the best honeymoon a girl could ever want, and he’s been pleasantly surprising me ever since.

~Jayne Thurber-Smith

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