Our wedding was on October 14, 1966. But our marriage began three weeks later. We were dressed up and on our way to the swankiest restaurant in town. We had saved all week for the big splurge.
One problem--my bride was wearing the most horrible perfume ever manufactured. Smelled like a mixture of mustard gas, black pepper, and vaporized maple syrup. I still get queasy thinking about it.
We had stopped at a railroad crossing. It was cold outside. The windows were up and the heater was on. My nose and lungs silently begged for mercy. But I didn't want to upset my bride with a comment about her perfume.
I had decided the one perfect marriage in history would be ours. No conflicts – no harsh words – no hurt feelings – no tears – nothing negative. My wife had made a similar resolution. For three weeks we had walked on egg shells, protecting each other from the slightest unpleasantness.
Dare I break the spell? Dare I be honest and open? She had soaked in that blasted stuff every day of our marriage. I knew I couldn't hold out forever. So I said in my sweetest, softest voice, "Honey, that perfume smells like bug spray."
Silence! Like the silence that must have followed President Roosevelt's announcement that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I stared straight ahead trying to concentrate on the steady metallic rhythm of the train cars rolling by.
I glanced at my bride out of the corner of my eye. Her lower lip was quivering slightly. The way it still does when she's fighting a good cry. We drove on.
After an eternity she mumbled softly, "I won't use that brand again." Any married person can finish the story. We choked down our gourmet dinner. Pouted. Went through the "It's all my fault, Honey" routine. Shed tears. And were finally reconciled, promising never to be cross with each other again. The whole episode is now part of our family lore. Our repertory of delightful "young and dumb" stories.
But I still think our marriage began with my observation about the perfume. At that point we began to grow. We discovered marriage is a union stronger than emotions. We began to drop the foolishness about unruffled bliss. We took our first steps toward learning that one all-important lesson, a lesson no one ever outgrows – love is a death/resurrection relationship.
As for the perfume – I sprayed the rest on roaches. It worked!