CHICAGO HOPE

It never occurred to me in the mid-90′s—marriage grinding to a halt—that fifteen years later I’d be uncoupled. Didn’t even cross my mind! Obese, penniless and hopeless, I was convinced that at any given moment a princess would appear and we’d fall in love like Kermit and Miss Piggy…and run across the field like in “The Muppet Movie.” Didn’t quite happen.

It’s been an odyssey: 1 1/2 decades, 2 1/2 relationships. The upshot of it all. of course, was that the thrust of time’s been spent riding solo. Singles run with singles while clearly, couples cling to couples (or the woman, whichever first occurs). Nature’s way.

Never once, though, have I lost faith in love or, (for that matter), in marriage. Ever. The past week, as much as any, underscored my thoughts:

Eight days ago they partied for Mandel’s 60th. Bruce is a core friend. Not merely a teammate on both Hollywood and the White Sox, not only the friendly enemy in many a Boobus Bowl, he has been steadfast in my life. Even in the darkest days he was one of a handful in my corner. I would not be where I am today if Bruce didn’t have my back when it was less-than-fashionable.

That having been said, I knew walking into his bash that the place would be infested by still-marrieds, semi-remnants of my distant first life. And so it was that, buffered by Howard Ross and my brother, I watched a warm parade of couples, each of whom somehow managed to stay wed through lo the decades.
(How is it, I asked myself, she and I screwed up? We were no better, worse, smarter, dumber…! C’mon, I told myself, I know the back stories!).

There’s a profound saintliness to couples that stay the course. I viewed my friends of a prior era not with envy, but with admiration. Marriage, I’ve come to accept, was one of my greatest failures.

Thirty years later, to Bruce she is still “Rita Lena.” Twenty years later Alan and Diane still work hand-in-hand. And the others: there was our dinner club…together. And the card game couples…together. Succinctly, I noted, the genre of young marrieds of my first life had done pretty well…together.

The warm/fuzzy images of the party were still fresh on Friday as I deplaned at Midway. Jason still working, Stace and I made a pit stop at Sarah and Greg’s. Like my kids, they’re no longer newlyweds, but clearly in love.

FADEOUT TO MRS. PELANDER’S CLASS, BRUSH HIGH, AUTUMN, ‘66

       “All right, class, what was the theme of your week?….Bruce?”

       “Love and marriage, Miss Pelander.”      

       “Right, Bruce. Very good.”

I love watching my kids in wedlock. The rhythm in New York differs with the personalities, but the thread is respect.

And love.

In a weekend of March madness it was clear these two were mad about each other.

Didn’t do much in Chitown, yet did it all. Baskets, dinners, playing with Adam. Sure, we dined with Jason’s dad, and yes, we brunched with Christine, but most of all, for me…it was basking in the glow of a happy child, of happy children…knowing full well they’ll succeed where I had failed.

“How’s your daughter?” asked Burnside, scooping me up outside Hopkins.
“Great!” I remarked. “They seem so happy.”
“That’s good,” (perhaps he said…I wasn’t listening). My mind was picturing a party thirty-plus years from now, maybe Stacy’s sixtieth. There was Jason at her side…and a bunch of couples I didn’t know…and, oh yeah…Sarah and Greg.

3 Responses to “CHICAGO HOPE”

  1. bob says:

    You didn’t screw up. It just wasn’t the right match in the end. In your 20′s it’s a crap shoot. Like you I believe my kids have all made the right choices but who really knows what the next 10 to 15 years will bring. Odds are against it working for everybody. Not because anybody screws up. Without getting too preachy bet there were those at the party that should have not still been together but were because they were afraid of being accussed they screwed up.

  2. alan wieder says:

    Very wise bob, beyond your young years

  3. Marc says:

    very wise Alan

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