The amazing thing wasn't the crying
My name is Mikel Kelly, and I'm a cry-baby.
I don't believe there are any 12-step programs or support groups for people with my problem, but I'm pretty sure there are a lot of us running around loose.
I was reminded of my affliction recently when I was attempting to perform my first wedding ceremony. You see, I was asked, by my young friends, Tegan and Justin, to officiate at their nuptials — to which I replied, "But I'm not only not ordained, I'm also not religious."
We don't care, they insisted. Then they explained how easy it is to get ordained these days, and even promised to help me with that — which they did. The result is that I now have a "certificate of ministry" on my wall from the Universal Life Church.
To make things even easier for me, Tegan wrote out a script for me to follow so I didn't have to know anything about how to conduct a wedding. I just read what she wrote for me to say, with one exception. At one of several spots in the script where Tegan had indicated, "and here you could add anything personal you want to add," I decided to at least mention my connection and affection for these two young people. And when I came to the part about how I'd known Tegan since she was "a teeny-tiny baby" (a term used often in her family due to a comment by her older brother, Adrick), I froze up.
I knew if I tried to keep talking I was going to start that "fuh-fuh-fuh-fuh" lower-lip blubbering sound that one makes when they try to talk while struggling not to cry. So I stopped talking altogether and just stared at my script. The only sound I was able to make was a little croak, much like when one is being choked to death but doesn't want to bother the people in the next room by being too noisy. Then I looked over at the bride, who had that bug-eyed look of someone driving by a really bad auto accident — and that was enough to jolt me back to reality.
"Snap out of it, man!" my brain yelled at me. "You're about to ruin these kids' special day, and THEN you will feel like the world's biggest loser!"
Back to the script. I counted to three and dove back into Tegan's perfectly crafted words. It worked, and we continued on with the vows, the rings and all the rest.
Later, though, as I was knocking down my second or third glass of wine and mingling with the friends and family who had come from all over the country to be at this event, I thought, where did I ever get the idea I could breeze through something like this WITHOUT getting all verklempfed? For crying out loud, I bawl at TV commercials, sporting events and pretty much anything where music is played.
That's when it occurred to me that it was the music at Tegan's wedding that started to destroy me. As she walked in that Saturday on the arm of her father, my extremely good friend Kevin (also a confirmed cry-baby, by the way), the PA system was belting out a modern version of the old Elvis song, "Can't Help Falling in Love." It's not only one of my lifelong favorites, it's also one of the songs Tegan and I do together in a little musical duo that we call For No Apparent Reason. There's no way that song would NOT cut me off at the knees.
Later, talking about this with the bride, we both acknowledged how many things there are that reduce us to blubbering fools: surprise reunions of soldiers and their wives, their kids, even their dog! The commercial where the son comes home from college, war, the big city (whatever) and wakes up his mom by making a pot of coffee and filling the house with the smell of love. Young people graduating, baby's first steps, a child's first bike ride, a crowd singing the national anthem — the list goes on forever.
Near the end of most sappy movies, my wife will ask me, "Are you crying?" I, of course, just say, "No, I just got a mosquito in my eye."
So, the amazing thing about my first wedding was not the fact that I got all choked up and almost ruined the whole thing. It was the fact that it never occurred to me that, of course, you're gonna lose it, Kelly; you always do — and always will.
So, sue me. Now that I'm a cranky old retired guy who only has one person to answer to, it doesn't really matter what the rest of you think — or even myself, for that matter.
Mikel Kelly is a retired newspaper writer, editor and designer who spends his spare time writing these occasional pieces, playing his guitar, going to the doctor and yelling at people to get off his lawn. He no longer officiates at weddings.
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