Goes Too Fast, Doesn’t It?

“All the promise in the world right there in those newlywed smiles,” noted my pal Mike of my daughter’s wedding photos.

“Sweet, poignant and loads of fun…everything a wedding should be!” noted another reader, Kathryn. 

“Love the bride and the little barefoot girl,” said Elissa.


Look, I’m done bleeding out. My own little barefoot girl is gone, freckles and all – the second to go.

For a father, a kid’s wedding is a colossal storm, the end of something, the launch point to something else. Roll credits. Pray for grandchildren. Remember your meds.

Goes too fast, doesn’t it?

As I stood at my own altar 41 years ago — in a bad tux in a too-hot Florida church — could I have known all that lay before us? Maybe that’s the most-beautiful thing about a wedding.

“All the promise in the world…”

As Vonnegut said once: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”


Look, life is pretty simple, as long as you don’t self-sabotage or wallow in your rotten luck, of which there is bound to be plenty.

For the most part, you wake up early most days, grind out a career, take care of others, don’t demand too much.

That’s not Zen philosophy. That’s just how it all works. It’s how it’s always worked.

Your reward? Kids maybe. Or a circle of friends that sustain you, entertain you, show you tough love, call once in a while just because.

“To friends who are family,” goes my favorite Irish blessing. “And to family who are friends.”

There is the good fortune we are born to, and the good fortune we create on our own.

A marriage is that second thing. You take someone’s hand. You march into the future together. You create your own good fortune — through deeds, through hard work, hoping you can hold it together through the ups and down.

Your reward? More kids. More friends. A long, solid, glistening life. Well, for the most part anyway.

Sadly, we don’t dance enough. It takes a prom or a wedding. Then we let it rip.

At Rapunzel’s wedding last week, one niece did the splits. Boom! A dude split his pants. Ouch! At one point, the guests lifted the bride off the dance floor like a platter of deli food, then lifted the fullback-sized groom too, to body surf the crowd.

Look, maybe I’ve seen too many Richard Curtis movies.

But I love weddings the way Ernie Banks loved double-headers, the way snow loves Christmas Eve.

I love Vivaldi on the violin.

I love the rustle of the room when the crowd stands for the bride.

I love the way the officiant clears her throat before starting.

I love the clink of the first ice cubes in a good thick glass a half hour later.

In the reception hall, I love the way the men jerk their necks while loosening their ties – like Dangerfield – and the way the women kick off their glass slippers – like Hepburn.

Honestly, my father-of-the-bride toast sounded like a Mike Ditka halftime speech. That was on purpose. My role? To lead and inspire. To win the division. To pound the ball.

“To laughter,” I said raising my glass. “And to love.”

See? Pure Ditka.

I danced the traditional dad-daughter dance like a guy pumping water from a Wisconsin well on a torrid summer afternoon. In the videos, our arms saw up and down – too fast by half – as if dancing a polka.

Some day, when I’m awfully low
When the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight..

The bride giggled through most of it. I cried till the end.

Oh Daaaaad…

Lord, these photos. World War II didn’t generate this many photos. An Oscars red carpet doesn’t  generate so much video.

There are more shots of Uncle Eugene – a hurricane on the dance floor, a man on a mission — than of Marilyn Monroe in a beach towel.

There are more photos of the flower girl (Cakes) than of Mount Rushmore.

It’s not the photos though really. The real keepsakes are the aura …the mood…the emotional undertow of this milestone summer evening.

It’s seeing nearly everyone I care about in the world in this one enormous, candle-lit room.

It’s hearing my daughter, at the altar, pledging the rest of her life to a dude we’ve all come to love.

It’s all the promise in the world.

Excited to report we’re only a month away from the debut of “What the Bears Know,” the memoir of Mammoth Lakes “Bear Whisperer” Steve Searles. I was fortunate to be his co-author on the project.

Like seeing a rainbow or a shooting star…

“We live in reactionary times. The world’s gone mad. Bears are a cure, not one of the problems. Early man saw bears as a resource to be harvested: as dinner, or something with which to make a jacket. Today, many people see them as nuisances. The prevalence of bears isn’t something that’s gone wrong. they represent something that has gone right. With the steady drumbeat of bad news about the climate, we see this indicator species thriving. We should celebrate that. It’s like seeing a rainbow or a shooting star. People ask me all the time what they should do when they come across a bear. I say, take a breath, hug your kid, whisper in their ear: ‘Aren’t we lucky? We get to see a bear.’” 

–from Steve’s recent interview in Psychology Today:

Calendar of our book signings and appearances:

Oct. 3 Vroman’s bookstore, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 Barnes and Noble, The Grove, 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Pages, TBA

Oct. 7, Mammoth Lakes Library, 2 p.m.

To pre-order the book, please click here. Thank you.

21 thoughts on “Goes Too Fast, Doesn’t It?

  1. Ah, Steve, you captured it all.  And you didn’t even joke about the cost, knowing that the day was priceless.  Here’s to years of happiness for the bride and groom, and to all who shared the occasion!

  2. Chris, long after we’re gone, your loving family will still have these memorable words to remember the moment, and you by.. Then, a brief tear, and the appreciation of what you and posh left to the world. This is your legacy.

  3. All those things you love? The beautiful and funny ways you describe them make us love them too. Thanks for sharing from the heart your family’s joys and sorrows. This was definitely one of the most joyful experiences of all your lives together, I am sure. Love those photos too. Cakes and Rapunzel together…priceless.

  4. What a beautiful piece of writing. I’m sitting on a porch not all that far from downtown Nashville right now looking out at a lawn where, a few nights ago we didn’t see a bear, but we did see a momma deer and her three offspring. And we did whisper to each other, “aren’t we lucky?” We’re here because a dear (note felicitous pairing) young friend of Susan’s just had twins to join her rambunctious three year old, so my baby-craving wife thought it would be nice to add an extra set of hands to the first couple weeks. I’m here to drive to the store for supplies and occasionally hold a tiny human and remember doing the same with our now 31 year old. The wheel keeps turning, doesn’t it? And this lovely column fit in perfectly with the Nashville skyline this glorious morning. Thanks, as always.

    1. At a barbecue last night, one of the guests went on and on about the wonders of Nashville. And he didn’t even mention this new baby. Glad things are going well. Did the deer remind you of Wisconsin? Ping me when you get back. Best to Susan.

      1. My favorite Mike Ditka quote, stated in the days before AYSO took over our kids’ world, “If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms.” Hard to argue with the man. He is Mike Ditka, after all.

  5. Gorgeous picture of Rapunzel and her father. And Truck! Many good wishes for a long and happy life together. 💕💕💕

  6. Hats off to a truly talented individual. A lotta things wrong in the world, but you always find the bright…..keep up the great work.

  7. So beautiful! Your words made me feel like I was there in Chicago, and brought tears to my eyes. After all your family’s been through, it is wonderful to hear and see the joy you experience together. And Cakes is da bomb ❤️

  8. I think you’re right that we don’t dance enough. We lose the lift in our step, the bounce in things seeming to erode with time. As for jumping, we all know what certain of us cannot do…

    The fam went to see “42nd Street” in the vast outdoor amphitheater at The Moonlight last night, It was a terrific show—i’ve seen it before—and really is just an excuse for continuous dancing and singing in a large ensemble of exuberant celebrants. I blurred my eyes and imagined it a wedding blowout ( not really). But I get your point. “Let’s face the music, and dance!”. Upcoming, I also get that a bear rn the right circumstance can make you do that.

  9. Damn, can you wrench one more tear out of me. Your words conjure up so many memories of my own children’s past weddings. That being said, I promised to be at your Vroman’s talk tomorrow and now have to choose between that or a Sunday Labor Day dinner with family. You know the dilemma and hopefully know the choice.

  10. Forgot to mention that lead picture of you and your daughter at the stairwell. You two make a very handsome duo. And you and Suzanne fit so well and are head turning together. You are a fine looking guy who sort of looks like a writer who is chiseled enough in visage and mentality to lay out a clean magnetic line with ease. Beautiful women seem drawn to your side, but it’s obvious the magnetism is more than skin deep. The wedding pictures and accompanying text clearly show the attraction.. How swell to be demonstratively additive to beauty. Classically, Fitzgerald and Hemingway swiftly come to mind. Good company, that, when launching an attempt to set free the bears with literature.

    1. Awwww. I’m just a cookie-cutter kid from suburban Chicago, one of millions. Only way I ever turned heads was with a quip — and not that often. But at least it’s something!

  11. Oh these pictures are exquisite. Thanks for sharing…all of it. You captured it perfectly as usual. And yes, it goes too fast.

  12. Oh, Chris you really captured the beauty and hopefulness of the day. Thank you and your family for sharing so much of your lives with us all. Here’s to happiness and a lifetime of joy. And, you didn’t need to worry about flubbing any lines, I am certain the entire room was filled with emotion.

Leave a Reply