THE WEDDING CRUISE
Written by Rick
The 2002 Cruise Trip brought Marla and I closer
together than I ever imagined possible. To be honest, Marla's
story about the Gypsy Prophecy left me absolutely floored. The
Gypsy had told Marla that if she took the trip she was considering, she
would meet the man she would spend the rest of her life with.
For the rest of the trip, I was riveted by that
thought. That prediction meant a lot because I assumed it referred
to me. Marla is the woman I am meant to spend my life with.
Wow. That is the way I had felt all along, but it is one
thing to sense it, it is another thing to see it predicted in a Prophecy. What
I should have done was propose to Marla on the spot, but with two
divorces in my past, I wasn't quite brave enough to go that far.
What I did instead was bring up the idea of having
Marla move in with me. Although Marla's house was far superior to
mine, my house had three major advantages. One, Marla's house was
an hour drive from the dance studio compared to my fifteen minute drive.
Two, I had added a special dance room on the side of the house that I
used for private lessons. Three, Marla's beloved dog Peanut
loved visiting my two dogs and my big yard.
Marla agreed my house was the better choice.
Only one problem. She wasn't ready. She wanted to think
about it. Anyone who thinks Marla agrees with me on everything
doesn't know Marla. She has a mind of her own and is more than
willing to speak it. So I backed off, but not for long.
Over the following month, Marla slowly warmed up
to the idea. Living together did make sense. Over the past year, our relationship had
been wonderful. Marla and my
daughter Sam got along well, a factor I found
gratifying. For that matter, our dogs got along well. Marla's Peanut joined my
two border collies Amy and Stacy to
form a happy trio. Seeing Marla thaw a bit, I asked
Marla again. She wavered, then decided to wait.
A week later I asked again. Marla said
soon, but not yet. Round and round we went. This was the
first time we had disagreed on anything, except that we didn't really
disagree. Marla was just dragging her feet.
Finally I lost my patience. We had been
talking about this for over a month and I figured that was time enough.
So at the end of September, I asked my next door neighbor Solomon to
lend me a hand. On a day when Marla was visiting her daughter
at Texas State, we drove Solomon's truck to Marla's house in
Kingwood. When Marla returned home, she gasped.
Her desk was gone. Her file cabinet was
gone. And her dog was gone. Fortunately Marla had a pretty
good idea where she could find these things. Driving faster
than necessary, Marla showed up at my house fuming.
earth gives you the right to kidnap my dog and steal my desk!!"
"Marla, you already know you're stuck with me for
the rest of your life, so what are you waiting for?"
"That was a dirty trick!"
"Yes, dear, but Peanut loves it here. Do it
On cue, Peanut came over to me and smiled.
If Marla hadn't been so mad, she might have laughed at Peanut's decision
to side with me. It was obvious Peanut did not mind being
kidnapped at all. Marla begrudgingly admitted Peanut greatly
preferred the companionship of my two dogs to being alone much of the
time, so she finally consented.
Within a month, Marla moved in
and put her house on the market. But she never completely forgave
me for accelerating her timetable.
MARLA MAKES AN
In addition to discussing the Gypsy Prophecy and the
possibility of moving in
together, there was another important development on our 2002
cruise trip. To be honest,
I had been so preoccupied with my sudden romance with Marla
on the first cruise trip in 2001, I did not pay
nearly enough attention to my guests.
Fortunately, they were too busy dancing all the time to
Somewhat irritated at myself for neglecting my duties in
2001, I vowed to do better in 2002.
before, our huge number of guests danced up a storm every
chance they got. This time Marla and I were out on the
floor with them.
One of the unique features of
our group was the ease with which couples
interacted with singles. Due to the sense of
Community that had grown over the years at SSQQ,
everyone danced with everyone regardless of marital
status. What pleased me most was seeing deep friendships develop as people got to
know each other. This was how it used to be
back in the Eighties on our ski trips, except
dancing was much more effective at forming close ties. I was gratified to see my cruise
trip experiment pay off so handsomely.
In particular, the famous 'SSQQ
Slow Dance and Romance Magic' was just as
powerful at sea as on land. On our first cruise
I noticed that love
found at sea followed our guests back to shore.
Marla and I were perfect examples.
a man named Dave came up to thank me for teaching
him how to dance.
"Rick, you are my hero. Thanks to you, I will never be
lonely again. I swear I dance so much I don't even get
a chance to sit down. A new woman grabs me
the moment a song ends. Not only that, all these
who like to watch our group dance tell
me what a great dancer I am. Just for the ego boost alone I
am grateful I took dance lessons. And my love life,
well, I better stop there, but you know what I'm talking
"You seem surprised,
Dave. Why is that?"
at the studio, I'm a nobody. There are
dozens of guys who are better dancers than me.
But here on the ship, I have an audience of
passengers who love to watch me dance with all
the pretty girls. Haven't you noticed the
people who stop to watch?"
"Actually, yes I
have. But what is your point?"
"Everything is relative. A lot of these
viewers are from places in Texas where no one
dances. They see me dance and think I am
some sort of
superstar. When the song is over they love
to compliment me and ask questions about our
dance group. I have never gotten so much
flattery in my life."
smiled. Our dance group was the talk of town.
Dave was referring to all the passengers who milled
around watching as 30 SSQQ couples danced the night
away. Since the majority of the
passengers aboard had no clue how partner dancing
worked, we had the floor to ourselves every night.
One night Marla and I were watching the action out on the
dance floor. Marla commented, "Does it ever
bother you to give all these cruise commissions away to that travel
"Yes. I have been
thinking about that on this trip. In fact, I've been meaning to ask you
You love to travel and you have a real talent for
business. Would you ever consider learning how to be a
travel agent? Wouldn't it be great to keep these
commissions in house?"
"Gee, Rick, you read my
mind. Yes, I think that's an excellent idea. I was
hoping you would ask me to marry you first, but no
matter. I will become so valuable you won't have any
No truer words were ever spoken. The first cruise trip
organized by Marla came one year later in 2003. It was
huge success. 144 guests. Not bad for a first
The Era of the SSQQ Love Boat was here.
Over the Memorial Holiday, Marla and I took a vacation to
Colorado. Marla was correct about making herself
valuable. By organizing our upcoming Jubilee trip, she
had added a huge new dimension to my dance studio. We
were quite a team.
After landing in Denver, we drove to Estes Park, gateway to
the stunning Rocky Mountain National Park. Making a stop at the spooky Stanley Hotel,
we were fascinated to learn the Stanley Hotel had served as the
inspiration for Stephen King's amazing book The Shining.
Stephen King found himself checking in at the Stanley Hotel just as the
other guests were checking out. Curious, he was told the hotel was
shutting down for the winter season. King roamed the lonely halls,
then went down to the hotel bar where he was served drinks by a
bartender named Grady. When King returned to his room, 217, his
imagination was fired up by the hotel's remote location, its grand size,
and its eerie desolation. 'What if somebody died here?'
King thought, 'This place is the perfect setting for a book.'
By chance, Marla and I visited the same bar that had given
King his inspiration. To my surprise, Johns Hopkins,
my alma mater, was on ESPN involved in a lacrosse playoff
game. Mesmerized, I asked permission Marla to watch
the entire game. To placate my impatient girlfriend, I
plied her with Bloody Marys, a house specialty. I may
have had a couple myself. To my delight, Hopkins won
Afterwards we walked around and marveled at this awesome
hotel. We were both in a super good mood. And
there it was, a wishing well. I know what I wished for
and Marla later confessed she wished for the same thing.
If I had a brain... which we all know that I don't... I
would have proposed right there. It was the perfect
moment. But I knew I was drunk and maybe I should wait
till I was sober before making such an important decision.
Fortunately, the thought was now prominent in my mind.
Two days later a quirky romance in the movie Bruce
Almighty made me realize I had put this off far too
I drove us back to our hotel, I was consumed with guilt over
Embarrassed that I had
failed to propose at the wishing well like I should have, I
accidentally began to talk out loud. Without any
warning, I suddenly blurted out, "Besides, you do want to
marry me, don't you?"
Marla was startled. "Are you asking me to marry you or
are you asking a question?"
stuttered badly. "Yeah, I think so."
Confused, Marla replied, "Well, which one is it? What
are you talking about?"
"Yes, I want you to marry me!"
"Yes, I would like
to marry you too, but this has to be the worst wedding
proposal in history. Typically, a man would say
something like, 'Marla, would you be willing to marry
me?' Not you. You are practically
ordering me to marry you. Besides, why didn't you
ask me at wishing well like you should have?"
Ouch. I clearly botched that one. Feeling
defensive, I bickered with Marla all the way back to the
hotel and all the way up to our room. Finally I came
to my senses. I sat Marla down on the couch and said,
"Marla, will you please marry me?"
Marla smiled. "Much better. Yes, I will marry
September 26, 2004
At first we wanted to have our wedding at the Stanley Hotel.
But then we changed our mind.
Since we had connected on a cruise ship, it stood to reason
we would marry on a cruise ship. Let's bring this
Gypsy Prophecy full circle. Marla got right to work. First
she booked the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody for our annual
studio cruise trip. This trip would also serve as our honeymoon.
Then she reserved the wedding chapel for a 1 pm wedding ceremony with
reception to follow. For good measure, Marla signed up 120 SSQQ
dance students to come along on the trip.
As it turned out, there was a boatload of drama surrounding
I will let you in on a
secret... Marla and I somehow managed to get married as planned.
However, to truly appreciate this story, pretend you do not know the
outcome. Put yourself in our shoes and enjoy the ride.
The ordeal began three days prior to the wedding. As
Marla and I went to pick up my tuxedo, some idiot ran a red light.
I had no choice but to smack broadside right into their car.
Fortunately my car wasn't damaged, but the unexpected delay of waiting
for the police was costly. After we got the tux, I told Marla we
needed to get the marriage license as planned.
"No. I'm upset from the
accident and we don't have enough time. How about
"We're not far from downtown, so let's
get it over with.
If we hustle, I think we can make it."
Marla frowned, but reluctantly agreed. At 4:20
pm, we walked into the marriage license office. The sign said it
closed at 4:30 and the place was deserted. In fact, the clerk was
coming to lock the door. She took one look at us, looked at her
watch, then frowned. I could tell she wanted to go home, but
tough. I was ready to argue if she crossed us. Once the
woman saw the look on my face, she glanced at the clock. “Okay,
I guess we have enough time to do this.” 10 minutes
later, the woman handed us the license. "When are you getting
married?" she asked. Sunday. "You really cut it
close. If you were getting married on Saturday, you would have
been too late." When I asked why, she reminded us the
certificate had to be obtained 72 hours in advance of the wedding.
When the woman said that, Marla nearly fainted.
Today it was
Wedding Day on the
Rhapsody. The moment we awoke, Marla said she was certain
something was going to go wrong. I reassured her there was nothing
to worry about, but now I was worried too. I have learned that
Marla's instincts are usually right.
I went to check on Aunt Lynn. The last time I
had seen her was my 2001 visit to Virginia. For the event, my
beloved Aunt Lynn had flown in from Northern Virginia the day before.
in her face gave me concern. Lynn was clearly upset.
“Rick, I am so worried! I can’t find my
passport or any of my cruise documents!
I have looked everywhere! I think I left one of my bags at home."
Uh oh. We
had just observed the third anniversary of 9-11. War was waging hot in
Iraq and homeland security was as tight as it could possibly be. The
cruise lines said in no uncertain terms you had to have your documents
or stay home. If they took a hard line, we were out of luck. Ashen
with guilt, Lynn offered to get a cab and fly back to Virginia.
Unfortunately, she had a point.
There was literally
NOTHING I could do about this problem but plead Lynn's case to the
authorities and pray. If they did not let her on the ship, what on
earth was I going to do with Aunt Lynn? I decided to take a
chance. It was parachute time - Jump
and hope the chute opens.
The only thing I
knew was that I could NOT
tell Marla. Lynn and I completely agreed on
this. Knowing Marla was a nervous wreck, this
wild gamble could put her over the edge. Marla is a worrier by
nature, but right she was out of her mind with anxiety.
Sure enough, the authorities gave
Lynn absolute hell. "No passport and no cruise
documents? Are you out of your mind, lady?" They gave
Lynn such a hard time that she began to cry. Meanwhile Marla was
having a nervous breakdown. The only thing Lynn had was her
Virginia drivers license. But that wasn't good enough. I
pointed out that the risk was not very high. One, Lynn had no
weapons. Two, I was willing to vouch for her. Three, Lynn
didn't fit the profile. Unfortunately, that logic was not good
enough. As far as they were concerned, this 70 year old
grandmother had Terrorism tattooed on her forehead.
Then something strange happened. At exactly 30 minutes after the
arguing started, the authorities told Lynn she could board. Huh?
I was shocked. They had been adamant for 30
minutes that there was NO WAY IN HELL THEY WOULD EVER BEND THE RULES,
but now by some miracle Lynn was free to board. My brow furrowed.
It was as if someone had a 30 minute stop watch. They would harass
the woman and make her miserable for 30 minutes as punishment, but when
the time was up, she was free to go.
I have no idea why they changed their mind, but now
they did the same thing to my daughter. The lady in charge of the
wedding announced my daughter Samantha would not be allowed to board the
ship. Sam was supposed to have her birth certificate with her.
Marla and I immediately pointed fingers at each other. "Rick, I
can't believe you forgot the document!" "No, I didn't, you never
told me I needed it!" "Did too!" "Did not!"
Apparently, due to 9/11 regulations, the ship was forced to do an
identity check on each of the 30 people boarding for our two-hour
wedding ceremony. After, we all know wedding ceremonies are likely
loopholes for any terrorist operative to sneak aboard, especially 13
year old girls. I knew suspicious guests such as Mike Fagan and
Tom Easley, my Best Men, would be heavily scrutinized, but it never
dawned on me Sam needed an ID too. They asked me if I had a
picture of her in my wallet. No, but I told them I could show them
a picture of us together on the Internet. This didn't work. After
all, the lady said, any picture placed on the Internet might be a
"Well, so could the picture in my wallet!" I replied. The lady
didn't like that answer.
Did Sam have a student ID? No. Did I have any proof that Sam
existed? I had several choice replies to that question, but
decided to hold my tongue. Now in tears, Sam frantically searched
her purse to prove she existed. Magically, Sam produced her SSQQ
ID card. Aha! Finally the guard had a useful document.
Did it have her picture? No. But it did have her name!
Okay, that's proof enough. Finally the guard relented. The
absurdity of the moment crossed my mind.
Marla and I were a giant bundle of nerves and we
were not alone.
Lynn and Mary,
my mother, were ready to drop from all the stress and confusion.
After dying a million deaths thanks to my wild gamble, Lynn was
exhausted. She and Mary were going to their room to take a quick
nap, then get ready.
The next mistake was
completely my fault.
There had been intense traffic as many people tried to board the
Rhapsody at the
same time and we had lost a lot of time fighting the
authorities. Marla went ahead to get her hair fixed aboard the ship
while I stayed behind to carry 8 pieces of luggage and
wedding party. Here for the wedding
Lynn, Mary plus Marla's brothers
and their wives Roz and Ellen.
The first clue that all was not right came
when I got to my room and realized my tuxedo was
missing. I nervously raced all the way back to the
terminal. Imagine the sigh of relief I experienced
when I saw my suit bag hanging there right where I had left it. However,
time was lost.
The stress of the two arguments with the authorities plus the loss of my tuxedo
had left me
completely drained. Getting married on this
ship obviously required
more stamina than I possessed. I needed a nap in the
worst way, but that was out of the question.
One look at the clock showed I would be lucky to make it to the
wedding on time.
Still wearing my jeans, I was about to put on my pants when
I noticed I did not have my black dress shoes.
Oh no, where are my shoes? Which
bag did I put my dress shoes in?? I frantically
searched every bag. No shoes. I must have
forgotten to pack my shoes! Then I remembered I did
have my shoes, but had put them in the wrong suitcase.
This whole process had been way too complicated for
me. Since were getting married at 1 pm, I was supposed
to pack twice... a special carry-on for the wedding clothes,
the suit bag for the tuxedo, and the large suitcase which
needed to be checked on arrival. Darn it, I had put my
dress shoes in the wrong suitcase. Right now my dress
shoes were down in a giant storage
area along with a thousand other suitcases.
What do I do? All I had were the basketball shoes I
I had an inspiration.
My friend Paul Foltyn was here for the wedding!!
That was the answer. They call him Tall Paul
for a reason.
At 6' 3", he was even taller than me.
However, now I made another mistake. Instead of
putting on my dress pants first, I raced upstairs in my blue
jeans. Bless his heart, Paul
was more than happy to swap shoes with me.
then I realized my mistake. If I had worn my dress
pants, I could have simply put on his and let the wedding
I was forced to go back to the cabin to put on my
dress pants. This mistake would make me twenty minutes
late. I was so anxious I was losing my mind.
Then there was another problem. Paul's shoes were too big.
This wasn't a problem for me, but it meant Paul could not
put on my basketball shoes. The poor man was forced to spend
the next two hours walking around my white socks.
And why didn't Paul walk around in his own socks? Because I had to borrow Paul's
black socks and give him my white basketball socks.
"Paul, I so much in your debt!"
"Rick, if you
asked, I would give you the shirt off my back."
the day! He was my hero!!
By the way, did I mention that later in life Paul would
become a Catholic priest? Wonderful man. I never met a finer
As it turned out, the situation afforded everyone some
much-needed comic relief. After all the tension with
the traffic and the boarding problems, everyone was pretty wound up.
While they waited for me to return from the cabin,
all the guests had a good laugh
at my mistake. The laughter grew even louder
when one of the guests said he had overheard Paul's
comment about giving me his shirt. There was a
roar of laughter when he said, "Did you know Paul
also offered Rick the shirt
off his back?"
Nor did the teasing stop there.
All day long, I heard variations on the
socks and shoes story. If you
believed everything you heard, I ended up wearing
Paul's shoes, socks, belt, shirt, coat, tie and
pants to the wedding. In fact, since I was
late, someone suggested
Marla simply marry Paul and save some time.
Very funny. Incredibly ironic as well.
After what happened next, I am fairly sure if Marla
had been given a choice that day between me and
Paul, I would still be single.
I was very
I arrived at the Wedding Area.
Looking at the clock it was 1:20 pm. I was
mortified about being late. Tom, Mike, and the
cruise ship wedding representative were waiting for
me in a special area hidden from the guests.
The representative asked me if I wanted to escort my mother
into the ceremony.
"Well, of course I would! Thank you so much
for reminding me." Since I was behind a wall,
I peeked around the corner to look at our guests.
"By the way, sir, where are you hiding her?"
The poor man had a blank expression. He wasn't
hiding my mother anywhere.
"What about Aunt Lynn? Oh my God, I don't see her either!"
This comment generated
confused look from the representative.
I asked Tom and Mike if they had seen Mary or Lynn. Their looks were equally
had not seen them all morning. When they said
that, I lost it. I had overcome every
damn obstacle life had put in my way over the past
three days. In addition, I had handled two
major crises this morning plus my lost tuxedo plus
my missing shoes. This was
too much, the final straw. The ceremony was
already twenty minutes late, so where in the
world were those two women!?!?! Fortunately I did not say out loud
what I wanted to say.
I did not know
it at the time, but
the women had overslept because
Lynn's watch was wrong.
Back when Lynn was getting grilled by
the Immigration Nazi earlier this morning, she
glanced at her watch and realized it was still set
on Eastern time. Lynn decided to change her
watch, but she was so flustered by the harassment
that she reset her watch to Mountain Time instead of
Lynn and Mary had
laid down for a much-needed nap in the
knowledge that they had a bogus extra hour to get ready.
In their mind, it was now 12:20 pm when in reality
it was 1:20 pm.
Obviously I needed
to find my aunt and mother. In my haste,
I grabbed Mike and Tom and told them to help
for the missing women. Without a word to
anyone, including the Wedding Rep, the three of us took off running.
This was a serious mistake on
my part. My talk with the Wedding representative
had taken place out of sight. Not one of our
guests seated ten feet away on the other side of the
wall realized I had been in the Wedding area.
They had no idea where
I was or what the problem was.
Now I made
another error in judgment.
I knew my mother's cabin was on the eighth floor,
but did not know the room number. What I
should have done was go directly to the Purser's
Desk to get the number. Or I should have
delegated Tom and Mike to do it for me.
Instead they just stood there as I walked up and
down the hallway calling loudly for Lynn and Mary.
the regular cruise guests had not boarded yet, the
floor was completely deserted. There I was
going cabin to cabin I
made an idiot of myself by hollering
"Mom! Lynn! Where are you?"
at the top of my voice
I can't imagine what Tom and Mike
were thinking as I bellowed my head off. Actually, I
don't want to know.
No doubt Tom and Mike were well
aware I had completely lost my presence of mind. As I passed the
neverending series of closed doors, there was no
answer. I wasted ten full minutes running the entire circuit on Deck 8 without
results. That is when Mike and Tom suggested I go to the Purser's
desk on Deck 5. Good
We raced down three floors to ask for help.
The woman at the desk patiently looked up their
names, then called their room and handed me the
phone. To my shock, Lynn answered on the first
"Aunt Lynn, are you ready? It's
time for me to get married!"
Lynn answered, "Yes, of course. The ceremony is at 1
I blinked. Huh? "Yes, Lynn, the wedding
is at 1 pm."
"Don't worry. We are almost ready! We will be there
15 minutes early."
15 minutes early? Lynn was so calm I thought I
was in the Twilight Zone. With the eerie theme
music playing in my head, I looked at the clock on
the wall. It read 1:40 pm. Was I going crazy?
"Lynn, it is almost 2 pm. I am already 40 minutes
late for my wedding!"
There was a gasp on the line. Then silence. In a
barely audible whisper, she said, "We
are almost ready, so come get us. We are in
I sent Tom and Mike ahead to explain I was on my
way, then went to Room 821 to fetch Lynn and Mary.
After escorting Lynn and Mary to the wedding area,
the ceremony had been delayed 45 minutes. As
we walked in, the looks on the faces of the wedding
guests were incredulous to say the least.
I did not know it at the time, but Marla was
absolutely devastated during my 25 minute search for
Lynn and Mary.
Rick is missing! No one had
any idea where I was. Looking at the clock,
Marla was incredulous. What could possibly
explain the groom being nearly an hour late?
After all, my cabin was 5 minutes away by elevator.
Something is very wrong. Fighting back tears,
the tension of not knowing what was going on was
I had been so frantic to discover
my mother and Aunt Lynn were missing, it never
crossed my mind that I was out of sight when I got the bad news.
After all, the guests were a mere ten feet away on
the other side of the wall. Surely they had
X-ray vision. Or ESP. Nope. Where
are the psychics when you need them? From the
viewpoint of the guests, Rick, Mike, and Tom had never shown up for the ceremony! Looking
at their watches, they were just as worried as
Marla. WHY IS THE GROOM MISSING?
Paul calmed people down. Paul told everyone
about the shoe problem and reassured everyone this
could not possibly be a case of Cold Feet. Ha
After all, the basketball shoes would have worked
fine if I was going to skip out. Still, that
did not explain the extra delay.
What on earth could have
Was this a case
of Alien Abduction?
At this point, Marty,
one of the
threw gas on the fire. Marty said
he had looked
up at the exact moment to see Rick dart down the
hall with Tom and Mike behind in
"I'm not sure what this means, but Rick looked
really upset. He was angry about something and
lost his temper. He ran off and the two
men began chasing him. You don't think they
were trying to get Rick to change his mind and come
back, do you?"
Uh oh. Everyone froze at
the implication. Was this even
possible? Everyone knew Rick loved Marla. However,
as each minute ticked off the clock without
explanation, the unthinkable became more
thinkable. People were starting to get
worried. Very worried. Where was Rick? Where were Tom and Mike? Why
explain what was going on? The whispers between the
guests reflected the growing alarm.
At Marla's request, her brother Larry
came out to ask what the delay was all about.
Someone blurted out, "Rick lost his temper and went
running away. Tom and Mike are trying to catch
Those were the
words Larry took back to Marla.
When Larry said I had run off
and the best men were missing too, Marla turned
white! Marla had started the day with a
premonition that something going to go wrong and now
her worst fear had come to pass. Totally unaware of the missing aunt and mother, Marla
was deathly afraid she was being stood up at the
altar. Her brothers Larry and Neal did
everything in their power to reassure her, but it
didn't do any good. Sick with worry, Marla's
eyes filled with tears.
guest after another came backstage to calm an
increasingly jittery Marla. "Don't worry,
Marla, there's got to be an explanation. Rick
loves you, everyone knows that. There's
nothing to worry about."
Marla wasn't so
The worst part was the
uncertainty because nothing made a bit of sense.
All this waiting caused her mind to think of every
possible explanation, but nothing clicked. The
agony was killing her.
5 minutes passed. 10. 15.
20. Marla waited 25 minutes till finally there was news.
After Tom and Mike returned to explain the problem,
someone went back to tell Marla there was a rumor I
had gone to look for my mother.
This explanation sounded preposterous. It was
expletive deleted 1:45 pm! What was the reason
for this delay? What the heck was Rick and his
mother talking about? Was Rick's mother trying to talk Rick
out of marrying Marla? Was Rick's mother
trying to talk Rick into marrying Marla?
Marla's brain raced overtime trying to process this absurd shred of information.
Tom and Mike
had broken the news at 1:45. However, I did
not reach the wedding area with Lynn and Mary until
1:50. During this gap, Marla was filled with a
strange cocktail of relief, rage, suspicion, and
Marla's brother Larry tried to cheer her up by claiming this
story was too goofy not to be true. However
Larry would later admit forbidden thoughts had crossed his mind.
Poor Marla. Between my shoe problem and my
mother/aunt problem, Marla had been standing in
place for 50 minutes holding her little bouquet of flowers.
Left completely in the dark, it had taken
every bit of will power she possessed to keep the
Cold Feet possibility from getting to her.
Marla could not take it any more.
She tried hard not to cry, but it
was too much for her. As tears rolled down her
face, her makeup was smeared. Beyond
reached for tissues to dab the tears.
the Wedding coordinator came back
and announced Rick had
magically appeared with his mother and aunt in tow.
Time for Marla to get married! Not so
fast. With tears flowing freely, Marla needed
to know the truth before proceeding. A
million thoughts raced through her mind, some pleasant, some dark.
As Marla later confided, why even bother getting
married? After all,
even if Marla did marry me, she was going to push me overboard the
moment no one was looking. Marla was only
Marla wasn't moving until she got a
Did Mike and Tom have to talk
Rick into returning against his will? Someone
whispered to Marla not to be upset with Rick; the
story was true. Rick had
spent all this time searching for his missing mother
and aunt. Finally it made sense to Marla. She
knew just how absent-minded I could be. No
doubt my aunt and mother were just as wacko as me.
Runs in the family.
So there was going to be a
wedding after all! Marla took stock.
The makeup was ruined. She was a huge jangle
of nerves and it was too late to redo
the makeup. Marla would just have to tough it
The music started, so half-crying, half-laughing
with relief, Marla began
the trip to the altar escorted by her brothers Larry
and Neil and bridesmaids Marissa and Sam.
wedding ceremony was short and sweet. I think
my smile helped cheer Marla up considerably, but our shattered
nerves still managed to show.
I was a little impatient so I said "I do"
before the minister could even get there.
Everyone had a little chuckle at that one. 'Who
cares?' I thought. The guests had been
having fun at my expense all day long.
anyone ever deserved the flack, that would be me.
Now it was Marla's turn to get flustered. Marla
was shaking so bad she had trouble putting the ring on my
finger. Seeing the look in her eye, she was
prepared to take my finger off if that was what it
was going to take. I grabbed the ring and placed it
on myself. I was in no mood for social niceties.
All I cared about was getting married to Marla!
The moment I got the ring on marked the end of the
snafus. From here on out it was pure
happiness. Well, there was one more little thing.
Marla pulled me backstage. Looking around to
no one could see us, Marla kicked me really hard in
the butt. Ouch! That hurt!!
"What was that
deserve it! You made me wait, you didn't
tell anyone what the problem was and you ruined my
makeup. Plus you scared me. Thanks
to you, our beautiful
wedding was an hour late!! You will hear
about this for the rest of your life!"
Then she paused
for a moment. "But I do love you.
THE WEDDING RECEPTION
After some much-needed champagne and
much-needed lunch, it was time for our wedding
dance. Marla and I were ready to Waltz to a pretty instrumental version of
A Time for Us
from Romeo and Juliet. Normally this is a
moment of great anxiety for most grooms. A survey
on wedding preparation reported 500 wedding couples agreed the one thing they would do
if they had to do it all over again was prepare for their wedding dance much sooner.
Not me. I had an edge. I had been preparing for
wedding dance for 30 years.
After the ordeal, things went
the middle of the song, something funny happened.
Someone whispered a little too loud, "Oh, that
move was so lovely!!"
I love flattery! Overhearing the
remark, I looked over to see who had
said it. It was Sharon Crawford, the lovely lady who
taught Waltz at my studio. Coming from Sharon,
a high compliment
indeed. Only one problem... I forgot where I
was in my pattern! I had no choice but to
stand there a moment to catch the next beat
and start over. It wasn't an obvious goof.
I was hoping it would go unnoticed, but no such
luck. Sharon Crawford let out a chuckle as she
watched from above. Don't you hate people who are
It crushes me to say this, but we
never got that wasted hour back. Use it or lose it. Well, it was
my own fault. Due to our late start,
now we were practically out of time. We had
promised lots of dancing at our reception, but we only
had enough time to play three songs for our guests
to dance to.
I very much wanted a group picture, so I organized
everyone and took them downstairs to the Centrum. Our photographer lined up everyone on the stairs and
took a wonderful group picture. That marked a
very happy end for a very happy group. After
all the worry I had put them through, they were all so
forgiving it made my heart ache. What I wouldn't give
for a redo. Oh well. The wedding officials pointed to their watches
indicate it was time for the afternoon guests to
Things were a bit awkward because half
our wedding guests were signed up for the trip while the
other half had simply driven down from Houston for the two
hour wedding event. Oddly enough, several of the day
regretted being forced to leave.
Several guests said the wedding
adventure was so beautiful and
romantic they wished from the bottom of their
hearts they could come with us on the trip that was
to follow. I thanked them for their kind words and
replied I wished they could come along too.
One couple wasn't just being
polite. Patty and Joe really meant it!
They could not stop gushing over how beautiful the ship was.
They had never been
on a cruise before and had no idea the
ship was so beautiful. Now that they had seen the
ship with their own eyes, this seemed like such a
wonderful way to spend a vacation.
Patty would later tell her close
friend Marla, "Leaving the ship
that day was the hardest thing Joe and I
ever had to do. As we drove back to Houston,
we could not
bear the thought that you were headed off to surf and
sand while we were stuck with summer heat and Houston's
got the hint. For her birthday, he surprised Patty
with a berth on our 2005 trip. One year after
we were married, Patty and Joe joined us on the next trip... and the trip after
that... and the trip after that. Joe and Patty
never missed another trip all because our Wedding
had opened their eyes.
After the group picture, our guests hugged us, shook
our hands, and said their goodbyes. As much as they
wanted to stay, it was time to go. I have to say our
guests were really nice to us. I had wasted an
hour of their time, but they turned around and said
it was the most EXCITING wedding they had
ever been to, even better than the movies. Bless their hearts. Even
if they were fibbing, they managed to assuage
my guilt feelings a little bit.
part was saying
goodbye to our daughters who were now sisters in law.
All four of us were in tears. Here in late September,
both girls had to get back to school. Sam had
Eighth Grade at Duchesne Academy and Marissa had her
Senior Year at Texas State University. After lots of sad
but happy boo-hoos, the new sisters waved goodbye
and took off for Houston.
Suddenly we alone. Mary and Lynn
had the good sense to stay out of our sight. Once
left, Marla and I looked for the nearest seats in
the Centrum and collapsed. We were exhausted. As we melted into our chairs, I reminded Marla we had a second Reception starting in just a couple
hours. There were 120 SSQQ guests on board for the entire
upcoming week. We had promised to hold a Wedding Reception for
them too. Marla shook her head. There was no
way she had any strength left for that. "But if
I can just rest for a moment, maybe I can find a
As Marla and I
sat in the Centrum, we
heard the announcement come on that the MANDATORY life vest
drill was about to begin. I looked at Marla and she
looked at me. We both groaned. Oh no, not that! We were too tired to move,
so we just
sat there waiting for some ship person to order us
out of our seats to attend the drill.
amazement, no one said a word. Maybe they saw
how tired we looked and took pity. With me in my tuxedo
and Marla in her lovely wedding gown, I guess we
were King and Queen for a day. We were shocked
that no one bothered us. I was deeply grateful for this
unexpected privilege. We both needed the rest! We looked at
each other and let out a simultaneous sigh of relief.
Just then the most beautiful song began to play.
Neither of us had ever heard it before, but we
immediately thought the same thing.
hesitation we rose and slow danced to the song. We
were so much in love. Unbeknownst to us, one
of our SSQQ friends spotted us on their way to the fire
drill and snapped a photograph.
That dance was pure magic. It was
such a powerful moment, Marla's frustration from the longest
day eased up. When we finished,
Marla took a step back and grinned.
"You know, Rick, Weddings are
to women. When we are growing up, we fantasize
about our future husband and dream of having the perfect wedding.
Thanks to you,
I had an 'Oops Wedding'! But all's well that
Rick Archer's Note:
originally wrote my Wedding story in 2004, I was in such a
good mood following our honeymoon that my
mind was not really on Fate. People don't think much about Fate when things are going well. However, when I
updated the story in 2020, I realized I had missed something. My first clue came when
I realized what an unusual story this was. One of our guests said
it best. "Your
wedding was even better than a movie!"
The story of our wedding read like a crazy
Hallmark Romance script.
People like Hallmark cable TV movies because they
always have happy endings. No matter how
the script, everyone enjoys the ride because they
know things will work out in the end. Relieved
of any real tension, it's
fun to watch the bewildered expressions on the characters'
faces as they deal with the ups and downs of a
Not so for
Marla and me. Thanks to a neverending
procession of predicaments, we experienced a level
of anxiety that went far beyond our worst
nightmare. Nor did we have any idea we would
have a Hallmark ending. Fortunately, it all
So here is a
question for the Reader. Did you catch the
potential supernatural event that I
missed back in 2004?
As I have said
previously, in order for certain Fated Events to occur,
often someone needs
to be asleep at the wheel. Regarding my
wedding, can you think of someone who was asleep at
the wheel? Actually, we all were. Marla
forgot we needed to get our marriage license 72
hours ahead of time and forgot to tell me about Sam's birth certificate.
As for me, I committed an extensive assortment of
was the real star of the Rick and Marla Comedy Hour?
Who stole the show?
Lynn was a
woman with a heart of gold, but she had her quirks.
If this story
ever makes it to the Hallmark Romance Channel, I envision actresses of advanced
years clawing for the role of Aunt Lynn. Lynn
had four children: Rick, Dale, Tammy, and Todd.
In addition, Lynn and I became so close during college she
made me feel like her fifth child. Trust me,
I would have
never made it through college without her help.
That's why I love her so much.
good she was to me, to this day I still feel guilty
about throwing Lynn to the Homeland Security wolves.
How can I forget the anxiety Lynn faced regarding her lost passport? Lynn,
bless her heart, is a rule follower. Me, hmm,
I say dumb rules are meant to be broken.
Although I am glad I persuaded Lynn to take the
gamble, I had no idea those men would be so ugly to
her. Lynn had every right to get flustered.
As a result, Lynn was not paying very good attention
when she reset her watch to Mountain Time. Or
so I thought at the time. Now I wondered if
perhaps there was a Cosmic explanation.
At the time, I was so busy coping with problems it
never occurred me that Lynn's mistakes had
the earmarks of Cosmic Blindness. She later
found her passport and cruise documents in a special
purse lying on top of her bed at home. Hmm.
switching her watch to Mountain Time instead of
Central, I can understand making a mistake one hour
forward or backward, but who accidentally makes a
two hour mistake? I knew Lynn had a
reputation for being absent-minded, so I never gave
it much thought back in 2004. But now as I look
back, I can see that both of her mistakes could just
as easily been caused by someone turning her brain
off. You know how I am about Cosmic Blindness.
How does someone overlook a bag lying on top of
their bed? Someone would have to be
blind to miss that.
Cosmic Blindness, eight years later someone turned
Marla's brain off as well. In 2012, we were
flying to Denmark. Marla and I had a system.
Marla kept both passports. She would hand me
my passport whenever necessary at the airport, then
I would hand it right back after the guard checked
it and waved me through. That is exactly what
I did in Houston... I handed my passport back to
In her haste, Marla misplaced my
passport into a side pocket of her carry-on suitcase
rather than her purse. We all make
absent-minded mistakes like that. But none of
us ever catch on that maybe the Force of Fate is
what caused us to make that mistake.
We had a
stopover at Reagan airport located in the
Washington, D.C. area. When we were about to
board the plane for the second leg to Denmark, Marla
could not find my passport. As usual, she
blamed me. I knew better, but what good did it
do to yell at her? The passport was lost and
there was nothing we could do about it. Since
Marla was responsible for 25 other guests on the
cruise trip to Russia, I more or less demanded she
get on the plane and I would fend for myself.
Marla was sick with worry. Bless her heart,
she knew how helpless I was when it came to travel.
But she understood where I was coming from... her 25
guests needed her too. One last kiss and Marla
boarded the plane for Europe.
As I sat there
feeling lost and lonely, the lady who had denied my
entrance onto the plane came over to cheer me up.
The lady said, "Don't give up, all you need to do
was get an emergency passport replacement. I
will hold your reservation for
tomorrow's flight." She wrote out a document that
would expedite things just in case I decided
to take her up on the offer, then added the address
of the building in downtown D.C.
I have to be
honest... I was terrified. Back in those days,
I did not have a cell phone. Nor had I ever
made a plane reservation in my life. Marla
took care of everything related to travel.
Helpless? Yeah, I was little better than a kid
when it came to travel and fending for myself.
Feeling overwhelmed, I figured my trip to Russia was
toast. I probably should just book a flight
back to Houston. But the lady had given me an
idea. Why not take a taxi into D.C., rent a
hotel room, get the new passport, then take a taxi
back to the airport? I frowned. Not only
did that sound expensive, it sounded complicated
too. It was easier to just go home.
I was about to
give up when a funny thought popped in out of the
blue. Hmm, doesn't Aunt Lynn live nearby?
Why didn't I think of her earlier? What a
strange coincidence to get stranded in her hometown
of all places.
Since I did not
have a phone, I found the Information Desk in the
Some nice lady located Lynn's
phone number, but was forbidden by law to give me
the address. Oh great. Compounding my
dilemma, no answer. Deciding
there was no time to waste, I hailed a taxi
and told the Nigerian driver to take me to McLean,
Virginia. Only one problem... he didn't know how to
get there. Nor did he have GPS. So I
told him to pull over at a convenience store and I
went inside to buy a map. You remember maps,
right? I did not know Lynn's address, but I
remembered she lived on Kellogg Drive.
Locating the street on the map, once we got close
enough, my memory from college kicked in and we
found Lynn's home.
I knocked. No answer.
It was 3 pm, so I figured my best bet was to wait
for her to come home. Then it crossed my mind
maybe she was on vacation in Maine with her
adult-age children. Or maybe Lynn had moved.
Just then her next door neighbor pulled up.
She was a sympathetic Asian lady who confirmed Lynn
still lived there, but she rarely saw her.
Just then, the lady remembered something... Lynn's
grandson Dale mowed her lawn. Aha! The
lady dialed the number for Dale, but his sister
April answered instead. Bless her heart, April
remembered me as her distant uncle from Texas.
We had met back on my trip to Virginia back in 2001.
April called Lynn's cell phone. It turns out
Lynn was already home. She was in the back of the
house watching Oprah and doing a jigsaw puzzle.
This explained why she never heard the door bell or her land
line when I phoned earlier.
The next thing I knew, Lynn
opened her front door with a shocked look on her
face. Surprise, surprise! A tearful
reunion complete with a big hug quickly ensued.
What a wonderful break! Fighting back
disbelief at how well this had worked out, I
suddenly had the chance to reconnect with Lynn as
well as Todd and Dale, two of my four long-lost
Todd stopped by with his lovely wife Nancy and their
precocious son Joey. Joey, 13, challenged me
to a game of chess and nearly beat me. Joey
ain't gettin' no rematch.
dropped by. After listening to my story, Dale
had an idea. Let's drive into D.C. tomorrow
and visit the emergency passport office.
Really? I had no idea where the place was, but
Dale said he would be glad to help. I couldn't
believe it. This was going to work out after
That night Lynn
and I sat up nearly till dawn talking about old
times. Of course we laughed and cried about
all the headaches on my wedding cruise and my
troubles in college. It was so wonderful
spending precious time with this gentle, caring
woman. I could see why her children and
grandchildren adored her. Lynn was a born
In the morning
Dale dropped by to take Lynn and me into the city.
It took some patience, but three hours later I had
my replacement passport. After lunch, Dale
drove me to the airport. A handshake with
Dale, a kiss goodbye from Lynn and I was off to
Denmark. What a remarkable stroke of fortune.
When I got to
Copenhagen, I took a train ride into downtown.
Then I got directions to the hotel. It wasn't
far, so I walked the rest of the way. When I
got to the hotel, the cruise group was assembled in
the dining room for breakfast. Nice timing!
Now it was Marla's turn to be shocked. Since I
did not have a cell phone, Marla had no idea what
had become of me. She rubbed her eyes just to
be sure it was really me. After tears of joy
and a huge hug, Marla invited me to join the group
Later in our
room, Marla said, "I have a confession to make.
I found your missing passport. It slipped to
the bottom of my suitcase side pocket."
"Ah, you forgot to put it in your purse. I
figured it was something like that. Don't
worry, Marla, things worked out just fine.
Actually, it worked out even better. I got to
see Aunt Lynn."
Marla had tears
in her eyes.
believe you made it all the way here without my
help! I am so proud of you!"
"Don't give me
too much credit. If it hadn't been for Lynn
and Dale, I would not be here. They really
bailed me out. Of all the places in America to
get stranded, I was in the perfect spot."
quite a coincidence, wasn't it?"
Isn't it strange that Lynn lost her passport when
she came to see me and now I lost my passport when I
came to see her."
"You're not going to start that Fate stuff, are
"How did you guess?"
RICK'S OBSERVATION LIST
Aunt Lynn loses her passport
prior to joining my Wedding Cruise. I rescue Lynn.
I lose my passport prior to my cruise trip to Russia. Lynn rescues
Gypsy Prophecy: Marla's
future is foretold by a
psychic using Tarot Cards. Then her mind was erased.
Stroke of Midnight
Synchronicity: Rick and Marla's Midnight connection at the Disco,
Ashley Rumor misunderstanding, Dark
Night of the Soul, Second night coincidence outside Rick's cabin
Marla does not know I exist
for six months despite my neverending attempts to get her attention
3 year old daughter Sam falls to the bottom of the swimming pool the moment I
turn my head
PART TWO: THE