A Poignant Pause

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.

“What Dad?”

“When they do your makeup, can they leave a few freckles showing?”

“Sure, Dad.”

“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.

9 thoughts on “A Poignant Pause

  1. I have complete confidence that words will flow from you like ice cold beer from the tap and Cakes will be a hit too. So happy for Rapunzel, Truck and you. I know Posh is proud too.

  2. What Jim Murray did for sports and Herb Caen did for San Francisco politics, social scene and night life, Chris does for everyday life! You’re the first thing I read when I start off the day and it’s rock solid!

  3. Thank you, sir. I can tell you are getting ready to be a statue at the wedding, showing no emotion whatsoever. That’s not true at all. I can tell that you are preparing to completely fall apart, and love every minute of it. Wishing you strength and joy, and the ability to enjoy every moment.

  4. I like the way you orchestrate time, a blowout yesterday become tomorrow, today. Today yeasty, lovely with emotional depth. And the montage of images is the finest to date, so rich and alive, each coming out.its frame into the moment of a thrilling day in ChiTown. Fine, Fine, Fine.

    This, for them…

    Oh My Love

    If I could tell you how I love you
    Size would have no dimension, thought
    No reason, and the atoms that swirl
    Within and about us would mingle
    With the electricity of stars
    Whose explosions of cosmic purpose
    Would be without cause or artifact
    Of effect, universally exist—
    Something that simply must be because
    It is, the tiniest particle
    Of me wracked with an eternal
    Distraction, a fervor of desire;

    And if our matter could rendezvous
    With a season it would be the heat
    Of Summer with its ephemeral
    Flame of seduction that would single
    Out memory for smoke and mirrors
    And the perpetual fragrant rose
    Of your attraction—all I lacked
    Before you came and my mind was kissed
    By some kind of anti-matter, clause
    In the vacuum of its words—article
    Of faith—that said that life would fall
    Like a streaming comet into fire
    And that we would lie, blazing away
    Consumed by wonder to the end of days—
    A thing I believed—and then, in you
    Burning like the sun in all I do…

    Some have said the unromantic life is not worth living; a little extreme, perhaps. But in times like this, it’s something to ponder.

  5. Sheesh would you give me a break here? Your remembrances bring on mine, similar to those we all who have adult children have. The tears of loss and joy those old pictures dredge up put us over the edge. Happy I won’t be there to hear your wedding toast. Don’t think my old heart could take it.
    Anyhow, of course Cakes will rule the moment. Only as it should be. Anyhow, enjoy every moment. It also will be a treasured moment a decade or two from now.

  6. This is lovely, but the one in today’s Outlook has me in tears….especially that last Posh part. So tender.

  7. Chris l feel like l was there. Thank you. Life does go on , doesn’t it? The pictures are wonderful. The three siblings..that AMAZING looking hot dog( can we get any thing remotely like that in the south land here?) ,a d the picture of Truck gazing at his wife….every woman should be looked at like that at least once in her life♥️🧡❤️.

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