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Owner's Manual

I never got my owner's manual. Maybe it got lost in the mail.

There's so much I don't know that other people seem to, information that would have been very useful.

This came to mind because of a goofy dream. I dreamt my wife and I were in a meeting with a wedding planner, trying to get a handle on what we wanted to do for a reception.

Keep in mind our actual wedding reception was over 48 years ago, and the reception was in the basement of the church with just cake and coffee. Our only wedding planner was my wife and her mom. So, that ship sailed long ago.

Anyway, in the dream we were in a group meeting with three other couples, and everyone was yelling. One guy was complaining that the buns were always too big and fluffy and there was never enough meat. He was saying, “Two patties! How much will it cost to get two patties? It's just math, people.” Another guy was shrieking, “Buffet! How hard can it be to say buffet, Missy?”

Yeah, I'm not saying it makes sense. It was a dream.

But it did make me think. Many times in my life when I've had to do something based on not quite enough information, I just invented the path forward. This sometimes works, but often my path to leads into a patch of burning nettles. Other people seem to navigate life with less trauma and embarrassment. It makes me think that there are basic operating instructions I was never issued.

It's a big topic, but even if we stick to the subject of weddings, I have plenty of examples. I imagine I attended a wedding before my own, but if so, I wasn't taking notes. For instance, I had no idea you were supposed to buy your best man a gift. The only thing we did for our best man is make him drive us to Winnipeg on our wedding night in a car with a broken heater. A few years later, when I was a best man myself, we did drive through an ice storm to get to the event, but I had no idea the other groomsmen and I were supposed to take the bride out for drinks during the reception. Sorry Barb, but I was raised a Methodist – Pastor Ted did not cover any of that in confirmation.

My girlfriend didn't get an engagement ring until thirty years after the wedding. In my defense, in 1974 I couldn't have afforded a diamond. Honestly, I couldn't have purchased cubic zirconia – the ring would have had to be twisted tinfoil and it probably would have been used tinfoil at that.

Not only was I not embarrassed by that lack, I also didn't know I'd failed until our engagement announcement was in the local paper and a friend said, “Okay, let me see the big ring!” I thought, “ that a thing?”

Something my mom never forgave me for was my wedding shoes. Because we were going to spend our honeymoon backpacking through Europe, I needed comfortable shoes. It never crossed my mind, literally never crossed my mind, to buy two pairs of shoes. While the shoes were perfectly respectable from above, the wedding picture that showed us kneeling at the alter is dominated by the enormous pale yellow crepe soles on my shoes.

In my defense, no blisters through four countries.

Five hundred and ninety words and we're just covering what I don't know about weddings. The owner's manual chapters covering marriage and children would have been pretty darn useful as well.

Copyright 2023 Brent Olson

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