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The uninvited wedding guest

In this week’s newsletter, Parmalee mentioned that she loves to hear skunk stories. Now that’s a challenge I can’t pass up!

It’s a day after Valentine’s Day, thus 12 years and a day after my husband proposed to me. We were the perfect model of the modern couple: we lived together before we decided to get married, and were planning to discuss it and announce to family when appropriate. The diamond ring? Probably not. White dress in a church or temple? No way!

Croquembouche, though not our croquembouche

Croquembouche, though not our croquembouche

Then we went out for Valentine’s Day to the old Oswald Restaurant, which you may remember was in a very intimate space near the Locust Street parking garage. My hubby confessed later that he’d planned to do the standard thing and propose in the romantic restaurant, but we were literally less than a foot from our neighbors’ backs and he lost his nerve. So on the way to our car, at the entrance to the Locust Street Garage, he popped out a diamond ring.

It was as surprising as it could get for me. He’d recently visited his mom and told her about our plans, and she gave to him the ring that she’d been given by her husband, whose mother had received the ring from her husband, my husband’s grandfather. It was a diamond cut in 1925. Later my husband’s aunt told me about when she was a child in Brooklyn and her mother lost the diamond in a mud puddle! It’s a ring with a history, and I love it.

So with that part done, there was just the deed to do. We thought about just getting it over with, but my father said, “But the landscaping isn’t in yet!” It was our last El Niño year, and it rained and rained and rained. We set the wedding for June at my parents’ new farm, figuring how could a June wedding in Watsonville be rained out? It rained the day before, but our wedding day dawned sunny. The photos show an infant vineyard, now 13 years old, and intensely green hills not seen in June since then.

It was a family affair. My sister’s soon-to-be husband had recently been trained as a pastry chef. He dipped strawberries in chocolate the night before and left them in the garage to cool overnight. He made us an amazing tower of a cake, a Croquembouche. My photographer brother took photos. My younger sister spoke in the ceremony. The judge we hired tried to keep a straight face while reading the vows we’d written, and finally broke off with an aside, “I didn’t write this, you know.”

There was only one hitch: I noticed vaguely amidst my flurry that there was a “Do Not Enter” sign on the door to the garage. I may have noticed that my soon-to-be brother-in-law was dipping a new set of strawberries. It wasn’t until later that I asked why: When my father got up at the crack of dawn and went into the garage, he found an engorged skunk asleep, happily snoring away. He’d eaten all the strawberries.

A sleeping skunk, though not OUR sleeping skunk!

My father hastily locked the catdoor, locked the doors to the garage, and put up the sign. At dusk, he carefully opened the door to the outside and backed away.

For an uninvited guest, I have to say that the skunk behaved himself. Apparently the cats were wise enough to stay away, and soon after the door was opened, the skunk ambled away, probably having noticed that no new feast had been set out for him.

My personal opinion is that no good wedding is without a major hitch, something to make it a more memorable day. I consider that skunk a treasured guest of the day, one who I will never forget though he didn’t turn up in any of the pictures.

Posted in Parenting, Psychology.


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