THE ANNIVERSARY WALTZ
My 32nd wedding anniversary was no milestone.
But it was, sort of, because I got my wife, Alice, to go to synagogue — a major accomplishment. I used the come-on of a free bottle of wine.
My temple passes out Israeli wine to all the anniversary couples. For example, every married couple with an October anniversary gets a bottle of vino on the first shabbat in October. Alice and I took our places on the bima (altar), next to eight other couples, while the congregation sang and clapped along to “Simon Tov,” a song of congratulations. Thirty-two years of marriage was worth something — a bottle of wine. The “winning couple,” as the rabbi put it, was celebrating 55 years of marriage.
It was like a Reverend Moon ceremony. The congregants read aloud: “These couples have come to the synagogue to give thanks for the institution of marriage and for their mutual love and devotion.”
No preening bat mitzvah girls on the bima. No nervous bar mitzvah boys. Just married couples: old guys with gray ponytails, younger guys in bankers’ suits.
The Bible reading that week was from the Creation Story. The rabbi mentioned that ever since Adam and Eve fouled up, we are all going to die, which makes life interesting. Because if we lived forever, we wouldn’t do anything. For instance, “Why diet if you can put it off for 500 years?” the rabbi said. “Things get more interesting when there are time constraints.”
What did Adam and Eve do when they became empty-nesters? They had no peers. Who did they hang out with?
We went to the Oak Road duplex we had rented as newlyweds. The owner of the duplex wouldn’t let us in.
We went to our starter house, where our three kids were born. We got in. The bungalow looked better than when we had lived there. The kitchen had been gutted and remodeled.
We went home –- to our present house, where we bounce off the walls nightly, waiting for grandchildren to appear.
One in four divorces is by 50-and-overs. About half my friends are divorced and/or remarried. I look for reinforcements for long-term marriage wherever I can. I need an ally.
I found one. No, two: the synagogue and a bottle of wine.
This happened in 2010. Been back for more wine since.
I wrote a quasi-review (more of a rant) about Harvey Pekar’s latest — and probably last — comic book. The review is at today’s CoolCleveland.com.