Bobby and Kiki in front of the shipwreck S.S. Effie, Newfoundland, c. 1977
When we were about fourteen, my friend Bob and I hatched a plan. We'd finish growing up, sow our wild oats, then settle down and marry each other. It made perfect sense. We met as toddlers, when his father hired mine to teach school. Our homes were 200 hundred miles apart, but our families became intertwined, root to leaf. We visited often, went camping together in the summers, and came to regard each other's extended families as extensions of our own. We were pre-schoolers who played Legos together, children who combed beaches together, teenagers who lay on the floor and listened to Pink Floyd records together. For a semester, we were college students together, goofing off in art history class. "Got a ziggurat?" Bob would whisper in the middle of a lecture, cracking me up. No one has ever been able to make me laugh as much. We share the same wacky sense of humor. Anyone listening to us talk, or reading the letters we faithfully sent back and forth, would probably think we were baked. But we didn't need to be to get each other's jokes. We get each other.
We reminded each other of The Plan often, especially when one of us was dating someone the other thought was All Wrong. Which was usually.
If this were the treatment for a movie script, it would be clear to reader by now that we were actually madly in love. Except that we never were. Once, when we were about sixteen and eighteen, and briefly between boyfriends and girlfriends, we kissed, just to see if we might be. We were both completely weirded out. I get weirded out just remembering it. It's like confessing that I kissed my brother. Which, of course, was exactly what it was. Bob is the older brother I always wanted. And always had.
The Plan never came together. As I was to learn the hard way, you can't base a proposition as utterly mad and impossible as marriage on rational sense, anyhow. I was married, then divorced, then married again, and had three children, while Bob had one long-term relationship after the other with women who were probably nice enough, but to me seemed All Wrong.
Until Tonya. Within 24 hours of meeting her last summer, I pulled him aside, and said, "This one." I was prepared to threaten him with a safety pin if necessary (I pierced his ear with one when we were teenagers, in an excruciating and highly unsanitary operation) But he was way ahead of me. They'll be married tomorrow.
It's so wrong that I can't be there in person, but it's just the way it is. Besides, I would probably just freak the bride out with crazy, had-to-be-there reminiscences and inside jokes that make no sense whatsoever. Better to save that sort of thing for after the wedding, when it's too late for her to back out. We have the whole rest of her life to catch up.
Welcome to the family, Tonya. I know everyone in it feels the way I do: this one. Bob, my friend, my brother, you're in my heart and soul always. Joy to you both, all the days of your lives.
I love it when a plan doesn't come together.