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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

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Pastor Mark holds the wedding ring while I hold the wedding beauty …

As you rejoice in your tenth year of marriage, did you ever dream life with your beautiful brown-eyed bride could be so interesting? asks Screen Two.

“Really,” I respond, “Miss Laura made it lively even before I married her.”

Yes, I remember, affirms One. The first three friends to whom she introduces you almost shout in your face, “Laura’s a good person … such a good person.” They follow their tender sentiments with dire threats of, “Hurt her heart, Blackie, and I’ll hurt you.”

One of them, corrects Four, says, “I’ll shoot you.”

Screen Five downplays those reactions. At least your bride’s friends vary their aggression levels, Boss. Your friends prove only slightly kinder in throwing you under the bus.

“Wow, Black,” whistles/cheers/applauds each and every pal who meets Miss Laura, “she’s a great catch. You’re definitely getting the best part of this deal.”

The consistent backhanded compliment unnerves my bride-to-be. Within earshot, she weighs aloud whether marrying Blackie Blackwell is as wise as it first appears. My senses recoil in disbelief.

Well, chief, soothes Three, we like you. And we are here for you.

“Thanks, Three, but I doubt an intended bride will find herself comforted that ADHD-powered screens, running amok inside my head, declare me a pretty good guy.”

Wedding bandYet a winsome woman’s hesitations dissipate with the passing of weeks. A darkly shiny, almost bullet-proof ring of tungsten carbide somehow slides onto a finger that joins others in steadily reaching for a strong hand across a wedding aisle.

Those clasped hands never have let go, marvels Six.

Do you think they should have? asks Two. After all, during that romantic hotel stay, Miss Laura does accidentally slip you the little bottle of lotion instead of hair shampoo.

“You said it yourself, Two. She accidentally does that. And apologizes.”

True, but not until she hyena laughs five minutes.

“If that’s the worst you can whip up on my better half, you boys should go back to bed.”

Try this one, challenges Five. Remember the long-postponed honeymoon flight to Hawaii?

“When it rains so hard over Maui, the tiny island has its heaviest flood in 50 years and the pilot can’t land? That isn’t my wife’s fault.”

Right, Five continues, but then you decide instead to try a cruise next time. Your wife is ill the entire voyage. He pauses, rolls his eyes, adds, If this ship’s a sailing, your bride’s a-wailing.

“In sickness and in health,” I throw back at him. “And she rarely cries.”

Tattles Three, I know Miss Laura picked up the mail and, one time at least, forgot to give you the bills. You almost had to pay a late charge.

“Guys,” I laugh, “stop with the nonsense. Do you see how hard you must work to come up with absolutely nothing? You know you love her more than I do, and I love her more than I can say.”

Winning togetherThe perfect union, muses One. Perfect because you accept – embrace! – one another’s imperfections.

Four repeats a phrase uttered by one of our friends to my wife: “You, Laura Blackwell, are the tail to Blackie’s kite.”

“Those words are apt,” I say. “She is the gentle balance that keeps me aloft, never snapping a string so I dance away in the winds, but never burdening my spirit so I remain flightless and Earthbound.”

Slightly changing topic, interjects Two, remember when you proudly told Facebook about your eighth anniversary? A reader, avowedly single, mocked you, saying the celebration of such events make it sound more like a man counting years of survival rather than joy.

I frown at the unnecessary pain. “Why bring that up?”

Because throughout those first eight wonderful years, and now these 24 months later, your marriage defies that broken view. You have 10 – make that ten-der, quips Two – years with Miss Laura. It is clear you won the race to get her.

“Better yet,” I quip back, we are winning the race” – here I meld his last three words into one of great harmony – together.”

To get her. Together. Say, exclaims Three, I like it!

“Same here. And that ‘together’ is forever.”


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Postscript: When I tell a friend about my 10th anniversary with the love of my life, he kindly counsels that I have a ways to go to catch his 40 years of marriage.

“Truth is,” Don adds, “it should be more like 43 years. I put off marrying Cheryl for nearly three years because of fear. Oh, not fear of her – I knew I loved her and she’d be a great wife. But back in those days, you had to undergo blood tests before you could get married. I was scared to death of that needle!”

My turn to laugh. “Still, you’ve got four decades under the belt. You must have deemed her worthy and found the courage, somehow.”

“Yes, I did. Cheryl’s been wonderful” – he leans toward me and quietly adds – “ever since I came to.” Seeing my questioning look, he smiles in embarrassment.

“When they stuck me, I passed out cold.”

* * * * *

Sugarland agrees, “Absolutely no one who knows me better …”