Sunday, January 3, 2016

It's Only Me- Chapter 28- The Wedding and Mexico

On June 11th, 1986, with the Donut Trial safely behind me, Sue and I went to the Courthouse in Baltimore and took out a marriage license. We had already announced our engagement and the wedding invitations were mailed out as well. We set the date for July 4th at the Lutheran Church on Briarwood Rd. Sue was a member of that church and I had agreed that any children born of our Union would be raised Christian. Pastor Turley gave us some instruction on co-parenting when it involves stepchildren. He was a pipe smoking Pastor and a big man with a gentle heart.

Becoming a parent to Keith and Shane was a bit unsettling. I had no job at this point and no clear direction that I was headed in, so I was a bit scared. Storms at sea, piece of cake- But becoming an instant father with financial responsibility was going to be a hard one to swallow.

During the months before the wedding when we were living together several episodes had occurred that left me wondering whether I was up to the task. Both issues involved Keith and the Cub Scouts.

The Cub Scouts was a good thing for the boys, teaching them some responsibility and rituals. But Keith would come home and just take his uniform off and throw it on the floor. Sue would then pick it up and fold it neatly for the next week. I maintained that this was wrong and taught Keith nothing about taking care of his own stuff, which is an integral part of scouting. Sue vehemently disagreed and told me in no uncertain terms that I was to have no role in disciplining the boys. I was unwilling to accept this and so we went to the Scout Leader and ran it by him. I was judged right and Keith began to take some responsibility for his things.

The discipline issue was decided by Pastor Turley, who was able to make Sue realize that the boys were now “our” children to raise together. He cautioned us about not letting the kids run the show and conquer and divide us. As I said, he was a very wise man.

Next came the knife. This incident was a lesson for me. Keith had gotten his Cub Scout knife along with the rest of his troop. They had been cautioned about using them as tools and not weapons. I was really happy to be part of this as I remembered fondly getting my Cub Scout knife and oiling it and sharpening it. It was a big step in my childhood.

That weekend the troop went on an outing, with knives, to some State Park. We got a call early Sunday that there had been an incident with one of the boys and a knife and so Keith would be dropped off early. I was steaming mad, as Sue had not wanted Keith to have the knife in the first place. So really, I was the one in trouble.

I fumed for hours about what I should do when Keith got home. When he did arrive he was dropped off and Brent, the Troop Leader, did not come inside to explain what had happened. So I assumed that Keith was the guilty party. Accordingly, when he arrived home I challenged him to a knife fight in the backyard. Figured I would scare him and he would never misuse his knife again.

With Sue protesting I went out in the yard with my old Navy Buck knife and Keith with his Cub Scout blade. We were circling and I’m not sure who was more worried- me or him. But just then the phone rang and Sue came back out. I took the phone and it was Brent. He wanted to let me know that it was some other kid who had abused his knife privilege and that Keith was one of the most well behaved kids on the trip. With egg on my face I apologized to Keith, who by now had formed the opinion that I was nuts! I wish I could say that this was the last time I misjudged the boys, but that wouldn’t be quite true.

July 4th came and the wedding was for 4PM at the Church with a reception to follow at the Greenspring Valley Golf and Hunt Club. We were set up in a big tent on the edge of the golf course with food catered.

My best man, Seth Herman, along with Michael Held, were both on hand at the church to handle any problems associated with Ben, who lived around the corner, should he decide to make an appearance. I think the plan was to put him in the trunk of a car until Sue and I were gone, but nothing ever did happen.

4 PM came and Sue was late and I was worried and pissed off. She arrived 10 minutes later and I took my place at the Altar as she began the march down the aisle with Keith and Shane. I was overcome with the beauty of her walking towards me to spend our lives together.

Arriving at the Altar she turned to face me and we held hands. The Pastor blessed us and did the vows. I was crying the whole time. Whether it was from release that the last 2 years were behind us or because I would never know how our courtship would’ve gone without all the problems, I can’t really say. But I was very happy when Sue said I do and the Pastor pronounced us Man and Wife.

We went to the reception and it was really very nice. The weather was just perfect- not hot and no rain. We had about 80 people in all, including my Dad and his new wife Alice. My favorite Aunt Gloria and Uncle Bobby were there also. And they had bought along Nana, my Grandmother on my Dad's side. She was very happy and smiling. It was the last time I would ever see her and I am happy to remember her like that.

Most of the reception is a blur. I remember leaving and the boys were looking a bit apprehensive, wondering if we were ever going to come back for them. They were staying with their Grandma Marlene and her husband Grant. Sue and I were going to Mexico. Our plane didn’t leave until the following morning so we stayed at the hotel by the airport.

We got in the room and Sue went to change clothes- coming out of the bathroom ready to consummate our marriage. I was busy with the envelopes we had received as presents. Sue told me to put them down, “Don’t you want to see what’s under here?” she said, referring to the sexy outfit she had on. I looked at her and said, “I know what’s under there- I want to see what’s in the envelopes!”

Fixing me with a hard look in her eyes she said, “Put the envelopes down and consummate our marriage.” I did- but then went back to the envelopes…

The next morning we flew to Cancun, Mexico. At the time Cancun was new, having just been created on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico as an economic way out of the devastation wrought by a bad hurricane a couple of years before that had virtually wasted their economy. Also the traditional tourist areas of Tijuana, Mexico City and Acapulco were plagued with crime. Cancun would be the new tourist destination. Surrounded by Inca ruins there was a lot to see and do.

Our first night was a misadventure. The hotel had us on the 7th floor with a beautiful view of the sea. But the room was sweaty- it was actually humid and there was moisture on the walls! We called the front desk and they said they would be right up. After an hour or so we called again. This time they said there was no one available to fix anything until the morning. We asked for a new room and were told there were none. We tried to stay in the room but it was really uncomfortable. Usually I would be a screaming maniac in order to get my due, but I didn’t want Sue thinking she had made a mistake in marrying me so I had to be calm.

By midnight we had finally agreed on a course of action. Taking our luggage we went down to the lobby and set up on the sofas. We even brought pillows down with us. The manager asked what we were doing. We told him we couldn’t move until the morning when our air conditioning was fixed. A room was found immediately on the 3rd floor. This was actually an improvement because we could seee the iquanas on the beach and began feeding them with the chocolate covered almonds from the snack bar in our room. At $6 a pack the iquanas were very appreciative and began hanging out beneath our windows.

The next day we began exploring, signing up for all the tours to the ruins. Sue wanted to see the Pyramids. We took a bus and headed off to see them. When we got there a little kid was selling ices and was really aggressive at it. I told him no about 10 times before he went away. Sue and I made the climb up and then back down. By this time we were sweating and thirsty. Spying the boy with the ices I went to get some. When he recognized me he said, “No ices for you Senor!” before huffily walking away. Kind of like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld!

One day we went snorkeling and after we were through were resting at the edge of the lagoon. I saw a rowboat, abandoned and drifting towards the mouth of the lagoon. Having some sense of respect for small boats I dove in and did a power crawl type stroke to overtake the boat. I flopped into it and rowed back to shore thinking I had impressed my bride with my aquatic prowess. Sue went to use the ladies room and I went to the bar for a drink. That’s when all the exertion I had put forth hit me. I never even got to order. I passed out and slid to the floor! Sue attributes this to the ices I had eaten in a small village we passed through on the way. They were really good, but in retrospect they probably contributed to this whole ordeal.

Coming to after only a few seconds I tried to get some help but no one would pay any attention to me! I started to crawl out of the shack that was a bar on the edge of the jungle trail. I didn’t get very far before I had to stop and just lay there, sweating and heaving. The Mexicans that passed me pronounced me a “Gringo addicto,” a drug addict. The Americans who passed me by took me for a drunk Mexican. But no one would help me!

Sue was with the tour bus which was about to leave. She would not go without me and so they came back to find me. I think they were afraid of getting into trouble if they lost an American. I was carried back to the bus and the driver mixed Coca Cola with salt and made me drink it. Before long I was back to myself but I think I scared the hell out of Sue! The rest of our time was spent in the markets and shops buying souvenirs and gifts for the kids.

The time passed too quickly and we were home again. But it was a beautiful trip and made me realize how empty all my previous travels had been without someone special by my side. Now we were home and it was time to find a real job.

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