On the state of the national knickers and mental health, you know better than I. What I know is how a real soap opera would try to cheer everybody up and boost ratings: It would stage a wedding.
Cue the wedding march, because a story of a wedding is what we need. And it just so happens I have one up my wedding suit sleeve.
On Saturday, Oct. 6, at 5 p.m., William Fischer and Brett Grenert of Syracuse, N.Y., exchanged vows in Sewickley Heights, Pa., on the terrace at the home of the bride’s uncle and aunt.
Let us imagine the scene: It is a perfect early fall day, the sun still hot, the sky blue despite an earlier forecast for rain, and 120 or so guests are seated in a tent erected for the purpose.
The bride — beautiful as all brides are on their wedding days, in accordance with what I believe is an actual law — is with her various attendants waiting to make her grand entrance.
The bridegroom is lurking in the house until it is time to mount the matrimonial scaffold. He is relatively calm, because he is young and the full knowledge of what he is doing has not quite dawned on him.
He is accompanied by his best man, plus a good man who is not quite best but better than the groom’s other best pals relegated to the tent.
How the best and better men were sorted out is a mystery, but possibly a beer pong tournament was used to make the choice. After all, the bride and groom met in college and some traditions never fade.
The fateful hour has arrived. The wedding party’s anxious males come out of the house and take their place in front of the guests in the tent. They are led out by a distinguished figure of a man whose bald scalp reflects the afternoon sun, making the guests glad they brought sunglasses.
This gentleman looks familiar to some in the crowd. Who is this man of the cloth?
That’s no man of the cloth. That’s a man of the newsprint. That man was me, hitherto to be known as the officiant and certainly not the Rev. Reg (although the Irreverent Reg has a nice ring to it).
With apologies to the Amalgamated Ministers, Pastors and Rabbis Union, people these days are getting married by ordinary people who haven’t traditionally officiated at weddings.
Sometimes these vow-givers are family friends (as I am), sometimes they just have accents (as I do), sometimes they have joined the Church of the Latter-day Dude (which I didn’t) and are available (which I was).
Sometimes the couple is married in a civil ceremony, which can have all the charm of a turnpike rest stop, but, with the legalities assured, they seek someone to bring some pomp and circumstance to a more fancy occasion. While pomp is not my strong point, I can manage a good circumstance, if I say so myself.
While being married by a newspaper columnist is arguably as outlandish as being married while parachuting out of a plane or scuba diving, the ceremony was traditional and dignified. Bill and Brett took the precaution of choosing their own vows. If I had done that job, I would have had them promise to love and cherish the newspaper and to obey the husband when he wanted first crack at the sports section.
Nothing like that detracted from the ceremony. Of course, I did confuse the bride and groom on one occasion, addressing Bill as Brett, a rookie mistake I regret.
Oh, and I did say: “If anybody should know any reason why this couple should not be joined together, you should now declare it, so that security can be called to take you away.” Just couldn’t help myself.
Thank you, Bill and Brett, for paying me this great honor. Yours was a wonderful wedding, and I am glad to know you are living happily ever after.
As for me, I’m thinking this could be a retirement job. Yes, weddings, funerals, roasts, retirements, bar mitzvahs — easy, cheap and without chance of knicker-knotting.
Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.