Sage advice for the young fella at the altar
Tim Whyte · April 6, 1997
It seems like it wasn't all that long ago that an older columnist wrote a piece in this newspaper that led off with something like, "A young fella I know is getting married tomorrow...."
And that young fella was me.
The columnist offered a few sage words of advice, from one older married fella to a younger, about-to-be married fella. It was the Voice of Experience, offering up a tip or two on how to make this thing called marriage work. I appreciated it. The column was a nice gesture, something that ended up in our wedding book, which is now rapidly collecting dust on the top shelf of our closet, right next to my high school yearbooks and the box of spare Upper Deck baseball cards from 1990 (low, low prices, call me at the paper).
That columnist has long since departed the Sclarita Valley, leaving behind a trail of unused advice and bad debt.
And now, here I am, a scant five years later, a grizzled veteran of the matrimony wars, ready to take up my position in this grand circle of life and offer up some advice of my own. (First and foremost, courtesy of Dan Connor, four words to the guys: "It just doesn't matter.")
This is unsolicited, and I'm clearly unqualified to give it, but hey, that never stopped a columnist before.
So, Eric, here you go.
Now that you and your lovely bride, April, have exchanged your vows in the month of April (what is up with that?) you have embarked upon an exciting journey that will require you to open a joint checking account and attend numerous community functions representing the paper as Mr. and Mrs. Features Editor of The Mighty Signal.
Heh. I bet April didn't know she was signing on for that.
Eric, in case you didn't know, is something of an enigma here at the paper. He's the proprietor, perpetrator and purveyor of much of the monkey business that occurs here, yet he is somehow the Teflon Editor.
He pulls practical jokes on people, often in print. He'll nail someone in the Escape section, perhaps publishing an embarrassing photo of them. Then he smiles innocently and blames it on me or John Boston. (I still own him one, you know.)
And no one ever seems to catch on, because Eric is this all-American boy, the most sweet, honest individual you will ever meet. Eric is SOOOO honest . . . he's so honest that, way, way back when, just after he and April started dating, he wrote a blurb in our Escape section that apologized -- TO THE ENTIRE SANTA CLARITA VALLEY -- for a previous blurb in which he mistakenly referred to April as a "friend," rather than his girlfriend.
When I heard he was planning to write such an apology, I came to the immediate conclusion that, hey, I'm going to be really immature about this.
Lived up to it, too.
I believe my chant was, "Eric's got a girlfriend, Eric's got a girlfriend. . . ."
He took it red-faced, but gracefully, though I suspect that, in that instance, maybe I went too far.
Then, seemingly minutes after my own wedding, here I am raising an 18-month-old lady killer and here are Erin and I, trying to figure out what to write on the card to go with Eric and April's wedding gift.
"Don't go to bed angry. . ." we pondered.
Nah. Everyone says that.
"Hope you're happy as we are."
Heh. Sincere, but too easy for 'em to take it the wrong way.
"Buy low, sell high."
Nope. Too . . . running dog capitalist.
So we just wrote something true, something honest. And that, my friend Eric, is the secret to the whole thing. Be true. Be honest.
But you knew that. I'm preaching to the choir of truth and honesty. With the exception of that time when Eric printed my "Greek" photo in Escape while I was on vacation and, when I called, assured me that everything was going just pee-chee fine, normal as can be, these two are the picture of truth and honesty.
So for now, forget the complicated meaning-of-life questions like which way to roll the toilet paper and how to squeeze the toothpaste. Enjoy these days, this honeymoon you're taking. Soon, you will have blinked, and you'll have memories of this wonderful "vacation" that launched the trip of a lifetime. Savor this first week, away together unencumbered by families, friends, pets, bosses, rug rats or bills, for it may be the most uncomplicated, purely carefree week of your lives.
In a few short years that will seem like minutes, you'll be congratulating a younger couple on their recent engagement, and telling them that, hey, it seems like yesterday you were the newlyweds with no kids. And the circle continues.
So. Other than that, what can I tell you about the Big Message, the Profound Unsolicited Advice handed down through generations of former bachelors?
In every marriage, someone has to take charge. Make the big decisions. Be the leader, take control, steer the ship. Wear the pants in the family. And now that we've defined the wife's role. . . .
Aw heck, maybe I better shut up while I'm ahead.
Anyway. A young fella I know got married yesterday. . . .
Tim Whyte is the magaging editor of
The Signal. His commentary appears on Sundays.
© 1997, THE SIGNAL -- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED