Exactly right

Wet dogs, drunk rednecks, a middle-aged woman two sizes too big for her bikini stuffing trash into an overflowing garbage can.

This was our neighborhood park on Lake Austin. This was Sunday afternoon.

We were there, three men, two women, and two kids, the men in slacks and shirts with buttons and collars, the women in pretty dresses. We looked suspiciously respectable.

In 100-degree heat, we’d arrived at the park for Drew and Teri’s wedding with me, ordained as a minister by Brother Kevin at Universal Life Church .NET, officiating. When we pulled into the crowded parking lot, I overhead a long-haired guy, who was loading something into his truck and who was also probably polluted, yelling something about getting his “fucking shit.” Getting his fucking shit. I started doubting the decision to have the ceremony at our park.

Undeterred, we wandered to the end of the park—past families picnicking in the shade, past teenagers kicking a soccer ball, past a couple of drunk gals floating on air mattresses in the water—and stood under two enormous Cypress trees, each at least 100 years old, with the lake serving as a backdrop.

Outside an occasional boat zipping by, the spot was serene. Perhaps the park would work after all.

I welcomed everyone and muttered something about us gathering to celebrate a wedding.

Then Eli, now five years old, spoke about things he loves: chocolate, soccer, Grammy, Papoo, race cars, Slade, his dogs. I asked him if he loved his cat Snurp, too. “Not really,” Eli replied.

Then I sermonized about chicken fried steak, Battlestar Galatica, slow dancing in the kitchen, and the Colonel, Teri and Drew’s cat who was old, sick, and bald when Teri rescued him. During my talk, a jet ski blasted by, shattering the serenity just as I got to the sappy part about staying together till you finally go to sleep forever.

Then Teri and Drew shared succinct, well-crafted vows they’d drafted over breakfast. They made a beautiful couple standing under the trees, Teri in her black and pink polka dotted dress, Drew smiling sincerely.

Then Teri and Drew exchanged rings as another jet ski screamed past.

And then, by the power vested in me by the state of Texas and the Universal Life Church .NET, I pronounced them married.

And that was the service: short, imperfect, beautiful, and exactly right.

On the way out of the park, Eli jumped off the boat docks into the water a few times; Clif, the photographer, stepped in dog doo; and I spotted another jumbo-sized woman in a skimpy bikini.

Then we drove up the hill to our house for barbecue, corn on the cob, beans, and potato salad on the deck. After that, we ate ice cream and popsicles.

And that—the food, the company, the sticky evening—was exactly right, too.

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7 Responses to “Exactly right”


  1. 1 Allison June 16, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I’ve been to church weddings before that didn’t sound this romantic.

    • 2 lesleyfamily June 17, 2009 at 11:28 am

      I hadn’t thought about it being romantic. But you’re right. I think it kind of was romantic. It was certainly authentic, sincere, unique, and legal.

  2. 3 Laura June 17, 2009 at 7:24 am

    I hope in your wisdom explained to the new wed couple that married life is a lot like that … especially the part about the screaming jet skis and Eli talking about chocolate.

    Pictures!

    • 4 lesleyfamily June 17, 2009 at 11:36 am

      Widom? Me? Good one. I did mumble about love and marriage for a few minutes. I doubt I made any sense.

      Ah, yes. Pictures. In the rush to get out the door, we forgot the digital camera. But when the photographer sends whatever he took, we’ll post them.

  3. 5 Teri June 19, 2009 at 9:49 am

    It was PERFECT. Craig’s comments were touching and sweet and funny and insightful. The jet skis added the right musical back drop and I never once heard anyone say “fucking shit,” although I believe it happened. Eli was ADORABLE and so cute and brave with his comments — I was very proud of him and Sally and Craig for creating such a fine young man. We forgot our digital camera, too, but I guess one can’t very well stop to take photos in the midst of one’s own wedding.

    • 6 lesleyfamily June 19, 2009 at 7:38 pm

      You might have just missed the fucking shit. We’d just gotten out of the car when I heard it, and I immediately started wondering why Sally and I had recommended the park.

      I was proud of Eli, too. I think I always am, even when he’s rotten.

  4. 7 Teri June 22, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    When we came up on the entrance to the lake, you were parking and Eli said “oh, look, Craig beat us here!” It was hilarious and Sally asked him when he started calling you Craig. I don’t think he had a good answer, but it sure was funny. If Eli wasn’t a little rotten, you couldn’t respect him. A kid has to have a rotten streak and a bit of a problem with authority or he will be too namby pamby and you don’t want the kind of kid you would have beaten up on the playground. That would be sad.


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