From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

Sage Advice from the
Stepfather of the Bride

Christy and Carl are getting married.

Christy’s my stepdaughter, a beautiful, intelligent and seemingly normal young woman who started channeling Martha Stewart about six months ago and has now color coordinated everything within six square blocks of our house, including Sam, our mauve-and-blush-colored cat.

Carl’s the lucky young man and soon-to-be former surfer.

It’ll be an “intimate affair.” In wedding terms that means taking approximately the same number of people who usually attend a professional sporting event and doubling it, the theory being that some family members, especially those still incarcerated, won’t show up.

Truthfully, though, I haven’t had to worry too much about the intricacies of “the event.” Oh, occasionally, I’m asked whether I think yellow roses create a more spiritual aura than white, but I just smile and tell Christy how beautiful she is and how beautiful the wedding will be and how even the cat has finally started coming out of the hall closet again. This usually earns me a peck on the cheek and the opportunity to slip away before the “Greatest Weddings of the Twenty-First Century” video starts up again.

My only wedding responsibilities will be to keep the DJ sober and to impart a few words of wisdom to the young couple during a tearfully tender toast.

I’ve never made a toast before. I did have to stand up once at a company Christmas party and apologize for giving Leslie, the new guy who took over the mailroom, a scented bath loofah, but other than that my public speaking career has been limited.

However, I have learned six important rules of survival that I hope will be of some help during the tricky transition part of marriage known as the post-honeymoon, or “what-the-heck-was-I-thinking,” phase.

1. Be careful choosing pet names for each other. Remember . . . some wild and crazy night at the state fair you could end up thinking, “Hey! matching tattoos would be cool!”, only to wake up the next morning with “snoogly-woogly little pookey bear” etched onto your butts.

2. You should both learn some standard marriage-saving responses as soon as possible, like: “Wow, you make dinner really fun, dear. I’ve never had meat loaf that bounces.” Or: “Thank you, honey, for sharing the excruciatingly minute details of the groin pull injury that kept you out of the all-star game. I’ll never forget it.”

3. Try to master the subtle differences in personal hygiene. Facial foundation and bath oil beads are just as important as athlete’s foot ointment and nose hair clippers, though I’m not really sure why. Also, Kleenex and toilet paper are two different products and, yes, they should match the bathroom decor, which will, unfortunately, be determined by the discriminating tastes of the people you invited to the wedding.

4. Speaking of decor . . . one partner’s couch may be another partner’s excuse to rent a Dumpster. That’s why they invented beige. Nobody likes it, but at least it’s not plaid. Wall hangings must also be a compromise. Japanese art prints aren’t really all that bad, especially if you light them with a red neon Budweiser sign.

5. Learn to share your space. Your first apartment may be rather small, in that people are always mistaking it for a phone booth. Learn to give a little. Be willing to part with at least one pair of shoes for every concert-logo T-shirt and funny-slogan hat relegated to Goodwill.

6. Finally, there will be occasional bumps on the road to marital bliss. But it’s better never to go to sleep angry with each other, especially if you have a waterbed and just received three sets of Ginzu knives at the reception. Instead, analyze both points of view, apologize, kiss and make up. After all, the only alternative is to go running home and guess what . . . your rooms have already been converted into entertainment centers.

So good luck, God bless and have a wonderful life. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the DJ’s lying under the keg again. . . .

Ernie Witham

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