If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that our daughter Casey got married in October, and that I got 35 blog posts out of all the planning that went into it.
Throughout that whole process, not to mention the five or so years Casey and her husband Alex were dating, my wife Barbara and I were thankfully never put in the position of having to seriously question our daughter’s choice of mates, except perhaps that one time when Alex gave us a present of…
It wasn’t one of those cheese logs you see in the Christmas catalogs. It was your basic, bark-covered hunk of wood. And it wasn’t a special occasion…this wasn’t our fifth anniversary* or anything. This was Alex just being nice. It was him telling us, in his quaint way, “Whatever you think of me, your daughter could be dating a lumberjack.”
I wasn’t home when he presented it to Barbara, who had him lean it against the back of the house. It was too bad I wasn’t there; Alex is a computer programmer, and I missed the chance to say “Beware of geeks bearing gifts.”
It so happens that this was during the summer following Superstorm Sandy, and for a two week span, we had guys behind our house cleaning up all the trees that had been left broken, bent or uprooted in the storm’s wake. While they worked, there were pieces of trees everywhere you looked, from table-sized stumps, to major branches, to twigs, to chips, to sawdust, to tiny tree molecules floating in the air.
So what was I to think, upon coming across a log leaning against our house, but that the guys had forgotten to haul it away? It didn’t even have so much as a bow on it to signify that it was anything but a random Sandy victim. Naturally, I tossed it onto a pile of other tree bits with a mighty Bunyanesque heave.
A couple of hours later, when Barbara asked me if I had seen the present Alex got us, I replied that I had not, because how could I know she was referring to a log?
After she told me about the gift, I had to wade through all the wood debris to retrieve it. I did this because we didn’t want Alex to think we didn’t appreciate his present, although–and I can say this now that they’re married–we really didn’t appreciate his present.
I know…you’re thinking there had to be more to it than a log, right? After all, what sort of person would attempt to suck up to possible future in-laws by giving them something like that?
Well, it turns out there was more to this log than a bunch of annual rings. There were gestating mushrooms!
You see, foraging for wild mushrooms is one of Alex’s hobbies, and the log was supposedly embedded with them. If we cared for our log, he told us, it would eventually yield mushrooms like the ones we totally ignore whenever we see them on our lawn.
A year later, Barbara and I inquired about the failure of fungi to emerge from our log, and Alex said something about having to put the log in our bathtub with water. Bubbles were not necessary.
Being relatively sane human beings, Barb and I had no intention of allowing our log to take a relaxing bath. To this day, over two years later, it remains leaning against the back of our house, forlorn and mushroomless.
Anyway, like I said, we’re happy that we’ve never seen the need to interfere with our daughter’s romantic involvements. I’m not sure we ever would have, except under the direst of circumstances, like, for instance, if she told us she wanted to marry Charles Manson.
In that case I think Barb and I would have put our collective feet down, unlike Melissa Burton of Illinois, whose daughter Afton is planning on marrying…
Charley is 80 years old now, and he looks significantly less hairy but no less maniacal than he did back in his heyday. His bride-to-be is 26 and kind of cute and–I’m just guessing here–a crazy person. (Doesn’t the couple look deliriously happy in the photo below?)
According to the New York Post, her mom Melissa thought her daughter’s last boyfriend was “a real troublemaker,” so you can just imagine what he was like. She has much nicer things to say about Manson, though: “I know [Manson] has made lots of bad choices,” she stated, “but I don’t think he’s dangerous.”
“Bad choices” is a bit of an understatement, wouldn’t you say? A bad choice is something I made when I ate sushi from a buffet. But nobody died from that, although I did feel a little queasy afterward.
Mom downplays the fatal result of some of Mr. Manson’s career decisions, but she is disappointed with her daughter’s impending nuptials. Here’s why: she was hoping Afton would marry someone closer to home. Really. That was her big objection. “Jeez,” I imagine her screaming alliteratively at the girl, “you couldn’t marry a mass murderering mensch from the midwest?”
Fortunately, the newlyweds will not be permitted to have conjugal visits. Between the two of them, there are probably a few genes that would be better left uninherited.
The couple will be allowed to have 10 guests at their wedding, but none of Afton’s relatives will attend, which means Charley could have invited me. If he had, I would have checked to see if they were registered for gifts (a set of cutlery, perhaps?). But if they weren’t, I know just what I would have given them.
And you can bet I would’ve put a bow on the friggin’ log.
See you soon.
P.S. Happy birthday, Alex.
*It’s the wood anniversary. Really.