Our kids play our hearts like harps.
Honestly, I never thought there’d be so much to ponder – the comings, the goings, the tuitions, the breakups, the weddings.
We pulled out the big stash of family photos the other day, the same stash we rely on for funerals and graduations. We rake the pile of photos with our fingers. We study an aging print, smile, then flip it back into this puddle of memories.
There must be a better way to honor these old snapshots than storing them away in a giant Tupperware bin under my bed. Perhaps a scrapbook? Or frame them for the wall?
Truth is, we already do those things. These are the leftovers, the moments that didn’t quite make the cut.
I love this puddle…yeah me, the man with the razor-wire soul.
There are the snapshots from Halloween, the ones from soccer, from Indian Princesses, a father-daughter scouting cult whose name probably wouldn’t pass muster anymore. Like the Washington Redskins, it probably requires re-branding.
To have a daughter these days is to always be corrected in some significant little way. Some days, you don’t even want to open your mouth.
I once got in trouble with the little red-haired girl for standing on the sidelines – her coach, her chauffeur, her agent– and yelling, “HEY, DON’T BE A STATUE OUT THERE!!!”
Now, she is moving all right. To the altar. Or what passes for an altar in that glitzy Chicago wedding venue. It’s so close to Lake Michigan that we’ll probably smell the alewives, the kielbasa, the baked lifeguards. Yum.
All in all, a very nice spot to launch the rest of your life.
Rapunzel asked Smartacus and me for a few baby photos the other day, so we are raking this stash, looking for buried treasures that we can send along.
And thus, the poignant pre-wedding pangs begin.
This wedding prep began on the morning she was born 32 years ago. In the past weeks, it seems to have escalated, like a romantic smash-and-grab.
Smartacus has been whitening his teeth, as per the bride’s orders, and Catty Cakes is practicing being the flower girl, walking around the house tossing scrap-paper blossoms high into the air.
Here comes the bride! Watch your feet, please! Here comes the bride!
There are so many wild cards to a wedding. What will the weather be like? How’s the band? Is the Schlitz cold enough?
Will Catty Cakes show up in costume, as Ariel or Jasmine? Or the turkey she wants to be for Halloween?
When Cakes first sees the crowd — her eyes glistening, her dress just so – will she pivot on her patent-leather shoe and scamper for the exits? “I’m outta here,” she’ll think. “Hope the Cubbies are in town.”
Whatever happens, Cakes will own the moment.
As will the bride, her Aunt Rapunzel. And the groom, Uncle Truck.
You know, weddings have changed a lot. The cakes are smaller, the bands bigger, and the bride and groom usually skip that schticky, va-va-voooom thing they do with the garter belt.
But a lot of good stuff remains. The funny uncles drinking beer. The father-daughter dance. Yikes, should we have practiced?
Honestly, I’ve yet to recover from her big sister’s weddings (one during Covid, a celebratory encore later). Now along comes yet another bittersweet moment.
“One request,” I told Rapunzel over dinner the other night.
“When they do your makeup, can they leave a few freckles showing?”
“One freckle, maybe two,” I say. “That’s all I ask.”
I’m trying not to think about it all too much. Too many names to remember. Too many friends to thank. Too many sweaty summer handshakes.
Meanwhile, I got fleeced again the other night on the west side, in this trendy Venice restaurant Rapunzel really likes, the one with the dirty martinis ($15), the mushroom appetizer ($17), and the too-small moo burger ($22).
American Beauty is an excellent joint, in a creamy courtyard setting. When you win the lottery, be sure to go.
Complain? Not me. I have better things to worry about. I hear the Gulf Stream is now flowing backwards, and the Pac-12 is circling the drain.
If you saw either of those events coming, please take a bow.
And dear gawd, I hope I don’t botch the wedding toast. At this late stage of my life, I’m usually pretty OK at quippy little dinner speeches.
Yet, as every parent knows, sometimes there are no words.
Because our kids play our hearts like harps.
Coming next: The big day finally arrives.