Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Years

Posted , by RAYMOND LESSERin Categories: Ray Lesser Editorialstagged: commitment, love, marriage5 Comments
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Forty years ago this month I married my partner in life and Funny Times, Susan Wolpert. As in the biblical saga of Noah it rained for 40 days and nights in the time preceding our wedding. After briefly considering building a boat, Susan’s Mom and Dad instead had a huge tent installed in their backyard in preparation for a continuing deluge on our wedding party. But we also sought divine intervention in the form of a blessing from her Aunt Elaine, who always had the miraculous ability to bring good weather to any party that she had a personal stake in. “Don’t worry,” she assured us, “I’m having my hair done. If the sky knows what’s good for it there had better not be a drop of rain!” Sure enough, on our wedding day the rain stopped, although it was still over 90 degrees and about as humid as a schvitz.

The party was unforgettable, even after having drunk more than several glasses of champagne. Our wedding band was a soon-to-be famous Klezmer group who were friends and came in from New York because we promised to feed them and get them high. Some of the older couples were in tears listening to the Klezmer music, not having heard the like since their own weddings decades earlier. At least two couples who eventually married first met at our wedding. One lived happily ever after and the other never forgave us. For some dear older relatives it was the last time we would ever see them, for others it was the first time we met, but the start of lifelong friendships.

My blushing bride apparently had last minute doubts. In the photo of her getting ready to walk down the aisle her father looks as happy as I have ever seen him, but Susan looks like she’s about to be led into Dracula’s crypt. We both seem impossibly young and beautiful and completely unaware of what we are getting ourselves into. Since we were the first among our friends to get married, we’d hadn’t been to many other weddings in our lives. As a consequence we chose to do many of the clichés that we’d learned about weddings from Hollywood. “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Susan wore her mother’s wedding dress and remembers going over to our seamstress’s house two days before the ceremony to try it on, only to find the woman sitting on the grass in her backyard still busily making alterations by hand.

Because we met in high school we had many mutual friends. Susan had dated Ben, our best man, who I had known since we were two years old. Ben went on to be the best man for at least three other friends. Clearly we had chosen the best man ever to be best man.

I was not the kind of guy who wore suits, and I hadn’t worn one since my bar mitzvah. After sweating through the after-ceremony pictures, my father-in-law, who I believe wore a suit every day of his working life, took pity on me and told me to go upstairs and change into cooler clothes, or at least take off the jacket and undo the tie. Then I went through hours of meeting and greeting all the guests, periodically assembling a plate of food from the buffet, only to have it disappear every time I put it down, cleared away by the overzealous catering staff. I also probably lost a number of half finished drinks that way, or else spilled most of them while being hugged, kissed, and glad-handed by every one of the hundreds of wedding guests.

The bounty of gifts was astounding and kind of ridiculous. Because we lived on a farm we asked our friends to give us tools. Our friend Kim brought her gift hammer to the ceremony, handy in case Susan thought I, or anyone else in the wedding party, was getting out of line. We also received at least three blenders, a first of its kind cappuccino maker, plus lots of other useful and not-so-useful stuff. At the time we lived in a trailer in Southern Ohio. Not exactly the ideal place to store or use fondue sets and crepe pans but we were happy to try.

As it got later and the party seemed to have no foreseeable ending we decided it was time to make our getaway. We weren’t going off for a honeymoon, but just to spend the night at the motel where most of the out-of-towners were staying. As we were driving there we realized that neither of us had a chance to eat much in the many hours since the wedding, and we stopped at Denny’s, the only place open at that hour.

When we returned to the scene of the wedding the next day it was unclear whether the party was still going on, or whether a new one had started. And every day of our lives together since then has felt the same way.

Happy Anniversary to my beautiful bride and to all our friends and family who were there. We hope to see you all and continue the partying soon.

Posted , by RAYMOND LESSERin Categories: Ray Lesser Editorialstagged: commitment, love, marriage5 Comments
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5 Comments on “Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Years”

  1. This is a beautiful tribute to your marriage, your love, your work. Thank you for sharing your live with us. I truly enjoyed this piece very much.

    May many more years be shared by you both,

  2. Thank you for inviting us all to your wedding memory. I am now encouraged to write mine, which won’t be as entertaining as yours, but will refresh my memory and restore the people who live forever in my heart.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story of 40 years of married bliss. You didn’t tell me there was going to be Klezmer music! I LOVE Klezmer music! Who can stay still or unhappy when that wildly insane music electrifies the atmosphere??!! That’s the way to start a marriage!
    All best wishes to you and your bride!
    Diane from Maine
    p.s. Is it true that the first 20 are the hardest?

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