38 years ago, I married 24 year old Carol Renee Phillips in a teeny ceremony on a sultry day in an Universalist Church in Miami Florida. The witnesses, two friends, flew in for the secretive occassion. The date, August 19th, selected because it fell between the Democratic and Republican Conventions, both in Miami that year. No, Carol nor I was a delagate, rather we both worked at CBS News.
The minister read from a prepared script that I had written -- an intricately woven combination of Navajo & Zuni marriage ceremonies -- in a fenced garden in the back of the church, under the shade of a Flamboyan tree. It was steamy hot & I was sweating in an open Ralph Lauren sport shirt, blue jacket & tan slacks while my beautiful bride was dressed head to toe in a tailored white lace Mexican wedding dress that fit every curve of her young body.
Afterward we toasted with champagne, signed some papers and went back to our apartment to change into shorts & tees to rest & prepare for the evening's party.
The deal was this: none of our guests could know it was a wedding party as we didn't want them to bring gifts, just themselves.
"Can't I tell anyone I just got married?", my soon-to-be bride had asked during the closely held planning sessions? Only if they ask "what's new or what you did today", I had replied smartly.
At the start of the evening, as guests began arriving, I stood outside directing traffic as many merry pranksters had been invited. A few who went in came back out to offer their congratulations. "What for?", I'd ask. "Didn't you have a special event earlier today?" they replied, wondering if they made some embarrassing mistake.
Sensing a rat, I walked into the party only to find my newly minted wife re-dressed in her Mexican wedding gown, waving her left hand around, talking animatedly to our guests.
How in the world could anyone have walked into that room and not have asked a question leading to the formerly unmentionable reply: "Yes, I got married today."
And so gentlemen & young marrieds I say to you 38 years later, the lesson I learned that day is that your better half is, indeed, your better half & you'd best not forget it.