Well, once again just before the Fourth of July, the annual wedding season will hit like a devastating hurricane. 

During these bittersweet extravaganzas, I’m often reminded of legendary, ill-fated love stories-gone-bad.

I recall years ago during a cold snap in Georgia, bride-to-be Jennifer Wilbanks got cold feet. About to marry John Mason with 600 guests expected and 26 wedding attendants at the ready, love filled the spring air. But unbeknownst to all, storms clouds were forming and a foul wind rustling behind the scenes.

Jennifer vanished while jogging (isn’t it always while jogging?) just days before the rehearsed nuptials. Bloodhounds and hundreds of volunteers searched and John offered a $100,000 reward for his beloved’s safe return. Then early wedding morning, Jennifer called from Albuquerque saying she’d been forced at gunpoint into a van by a Hispanic male (still a trendy fall guy option), raped and held against her will. Though now free, she whimpered, “I’m scared.”

Family and friends celebrated the joyous miracle. A terrible crime had been committed, but Jen had kept her wits about her and somehow escaped. Surely someone was watching over her, they all agreed. 

But alas, under police grilling, Jen soon confessed she had gotten cold feet and needed some time alone. As the giddy family sang her praises into TV cameras, other TV cameras caught Jen sneaking off a plane with a jacket covering her head. That’s the night the lights went out in Georgia.

It will obviously be a cold day in Georgia before I ever get married, but a couple decades ago, I nervously stared directly into the eyes of that unsettling possibility. That particular, obnoxious wedding season wasn’t helping a bit, since at each wedding we attended that summer, loudmouths couldn’t resist asking, “So when are you two tying the knot?”

My pat line I thought so clever was, “We’re kinda stuck between June and a hard spot.” The fact her angry eyes rolled each time wasn’t lost on this observer, and history will show she tired of my jokes of dogged resistance to an actual date, moving on to some sap who absolutely loved weddings.

Of course I survived the formula, five-year mourning stage of pathetic groveling, sappy poems and unrealistic promises. I needed her back and suddenly weddings seemed a glorious occasion rather than a destroyer of dreams I’d viewed it as for so long. 

Only an act of God (alarm clock mishap) intervened to derail a Dustin Hoffman, “The Graduate” type intrusion into her wedding. We both dodged a bullet that day, my friends.

Soon another wedding season arrives with two great-nieces on board. In July young schoolteacher Taylor Blough hooks her wagon to the esteemed Kenton Boogert, (not a misprint), another young teacher. Then in August, Katie Brown says, “I do, I guess” to a nice Powell boy, Braden Schiller, who I met at great-niece Tessa’s graduation open house.

Hopefully they won’t be cold days and neither Taylor nor Katie decides to foolishly go jogging days before their weddings. Jogging is not only hard on the joints, but affords a person far too much time to think.

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