Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Love Is Lovlier The Second Time Around

It started with a snide comment I made when I read that 66 year old Billy Joel was getting married for the fourth time on July 4th to his 33 year old girlfriend. "Really Billy? A woman four years older than your daughter?" It was followed-up by a half-hearted good luck wish for an old school chum who married his fourth bride (the third was only 6 years ago) two days before my birthday. I wrote that I just erased him from my short list of potential second husbands.

But the kicker was the black envelope with gold lettering that I received at Thanksgiving. It was to the fourth wedding of the man I met for the first time the same day as Wingman. Deja vous...we had been guests at his first wedding, (where he received, then re-gifted Tiffany wine glasses to us the following year at our wedding). We were at his second wedding where the bride shared the same first name as the previous Mrs. Somehow, we missed his third wedding and never learned if her name was the same. And now, finally this one which included those surprise words after my name: "AND GUEST".

2015 was a year for love. OK, probably no more than the past few years, but one where I was invited to three of my friends' children's weddings. They were lovely ceremonies and the receptions that followed were all gorgeous affairs in perfect weather (compared to Wingman and I who got married in a nor'easter). But like all young people, the brides and grooms had very little to do with anyone other that their friends. To now be invited to one where the bride and groom are my age and one where I know some of the crazy skeletons hanging in the groom's closet?  Unfathomable.

Flash back to 30+ years ago. The groom and his first wife started a photography business. To help them get established, I agreed to do some modeling shots with his sisters. Once the takes with the gowns and sportwear were finished, they approached me about doing nude photos which of course, would be "artistic". No amount of pleading could convince me to take off my clothes (a big thank you to the Sisters of Mercy for instilling the fear of God in me. Or was that my mother?) Flash forward to four years ago, at Wingman's repast (mind you, we has just left Wingman at the funeral home), he offered to move in and help me take care of my house. No Sisters of Mercy needed there. Just NO.

Three months later, Superstorm Sandy enabled me to shut my house phone down, so I didn't hear from him until Wingman's class reunion in June, when he wanted me to be his date. I stayed in my comfort zone with Wingman's BFF and his wife that night and never heard from him after that.

The bride and groom met on a dating website last April and he popped the question in August. I got a tip-off from someone who knew about the surprise proposal and I could have been there to cross off one more thing from my Bucket List, but somehow, it just didn't seem right. Just the idea of on-line dating to me is like jumping in the ocean in June...both leave me cold. So how is it that men like him are comfortable dating and then marrying again and again so quickly??? Are they incurable optimists that see every new woman as an answer to their prayers?  Are they afraid of not having someone there when they come home to a dark house? (I have a dog glad to see me every night for that).

I said yes to going to the wedding-as much out of curiosity as not wanting to spend another night throwing tennis balls down the hall to the dog as my guilty thank you for his undying love.  And even though etiquette proclaimed giving nothing more than your best wishes for a happy life together, I brought a nice bottle of champagne.

It was, by most standards a very "unique" affair. Not my circus, not my monkeys, but boy oh boy, one with plenty of their own with tigers-by-the-tails in every corner.  Guests with facial expressions more in line with a funeral rather than a wedding.  Family members who WEREN'T there because there were restraining orders against them. And some "interesting" women guests, including one who introduced herself to me as a local goddess, looking like they just left a pick-up bar in really bad Bebe dresses.

And yet, through it all, the bride, a widow, with her crinkly knowing eyes and hourglass figure, was every bit as beautiful as all of the first-time brides. The groom was just as quirky as ever, yet seemed totally content just making her happy. They may have met, fallen in love and married in just six quick months, but they appeared for all to see that night, a cohesive couple bound for a lifetime together. Or at least if not until death do them part, until they kill each other. (Her brother-in-law is a great attorney should she see the need in the future.)

Except for the dog drooling at my elbow, I spent this Valentine's Day eating dinner alone, reading the mail left unopened from the previous day. In it, was a thank you for attending their wedding and a reminder that the groom's 60th birthday was upcoming and they would be having a party that I would be invited to. Thankfully, two months later they're still together.

I followed up dinner with a St. Valentine's Day massacre film: "27 Dresses."

If you don't know it, it's about a woman who has never found true love except through experiencing it at other people's weddings. And when it got to the end when it showed all 27 bridesmaids, I pictured the nine women who were brides at one point to the 4-time grooms looking on and giving their blessings.  And behind them all, me belting out The Beatles' song "All You Need Is Love".

No, forget that. I can't carry a tune. It's me standing there thinking that there must be a guy out there that, in a non-online pitch, is looking for a woman who is not half his age, who can appreciate a sarcastic sense of humor, who doesn't mind crinkly eyes and a few bags, sags and a little cellulite, who can drink wine or whatever without falling asleep in his food or starting a fight with a total stranger, and most importantly, who will like my kids and dog. OK, he doesn't have to like the dog. He just has to tolerate throwing a tennis ball down the hall to him a couple of hundred times a day.

So Billy Joel, my school chum and Wingman's bud and their three new brides, if love is truly lovelier the second time around, then I hope it is fabulous for you on the fourth. The rest of us admire your courage to keep swinging. Mickey Mantle said that every time he got up to the plate he was trying to hit a home run.  We're just waiting for our pitch.

And for those who love baseball as much as love itself, pitchers and catchers report to spring training in nine days. Go Yanks.

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