Monday is the 22nd wedding anniversary for me and Brenda.  That could be considered a long time and I suppose how long that is depends a lot on your perspective.  One way to look at it is that it’s 8036 days and 11,571,840 minutes and 694,310,400 seconds.  It seems like a long time when you put it that way.  On the other hand, it is less than a quarter of a century and just 0.00000000159 of a fraction of the age of the universe.  (Why, yes, I do like math. Why do you ask?)  It doesn’t seem very long at all when you look at it from that viewpoint.  I’ve got an aunt and uncle that just hit 60 years of marriage.  Even after 22 years, 60 seems like a long time.  Brenda and I got married late, so we’ll both likely be long dead before we hit 60.

Over the last few years, I’ve turned the blog post nearest to my anniversary into story time and I don’t see any need to change that.  This one should be called “How an Angry Chinese Woman Saved our Marriage Before it Ever Got Started,” but as you can tell, I came up with a shorter title.

We got married on a Monday (Memorial Day).  For a variety of reasons, mostly long forgotten, Monday was a better choice than Saturday, but the biggest reason was it allotted the most time for prepping the church before the ceremony and putting it back together again after the ceremony.  Work commenced immediately after the morning church service which, since this was a Vineyard Church (Motto: We want to give the Holy Spirit plenty of time to work.  Hours and hours of time, if necessary), it got started well into the afternoon.  For a normal worship service, the church was set up with rows of portable chairs and all the chairs were tied to each other with cable ties.  For our wedding, we wanted to move the chairs to a different configuration, so my first job of the day was cutting cable ties so the chairs could be moved.  I’d just finished up and was about to start on something else, when a friend from church came over with a rather serious look.  “The Associate Pastor is unhappy because you broke all of the cable ties and now they’ll have to be replaced,” she said.  I was a little stunned by this, as Andy was a friend of mine and this seemed like a pretty petty thing to be upset about.  I looked around, but couldn’t see him anywhere.

As it happens, he’d already left for a previous engagement.  I found out later from him that before he’d left, he’d mentioned to another church member that the after-wedding cleanup crew would need to remember to put the chairs back in place and retie them with cable ties.  That church member passed this information along to another church member, who passed it along to another church member.  By the time the information got to me (it was about fifth-hand, we think), what had started out as a simple reminder had turned into something approaching a veiled threat.

Preps for the wedding finally finished with relatively minimal heartache and loss of blood, but I couldn’t quite let go of the whole cable tie incident.  It seemed like such a silly thing to get upset about and it seemed so out of character for Andy.  I stewed about it for a while and resolved to fix the problem.  The next day on the way to church, I made a side trip to the hardware store and picked up enough cable ties to keep the church supplied for the next year or so.  On the way back to the car, I heard someone call out, “Dave?”  I turned around to see Mayenn.

Before we continue with this Shakespearean-style comedic tale, I should tell you a little about Mayenn.  Mayenn was a friend of ours.  She was a diminutive, second generation Chinese-American with a warm, caring personality and lot of excess energy.  She also was, and is, one of the bravest people I’ve known in my life.  In a just world, musicians would be writing songs about her bravery.  This is not a just world, so not nearly enough people know of her courage nor, given the nature of her activities, will they ever know of her courage.  She’s okay with that.  But, like most courageous people, she is also a little quirky.  Or eccentric.  Or bat guano crazy.  Take your pick.

She walked over to where I was standing next to my car and she slowly looked me over from head to toe.  “This is your wedding day. Why are you here?”

I thought about that and realized that seeing a man who was about to get married in a couple of hours walking out of a hardware store with a large bag of cable ties was probably not a normal occurrence.  I tried to come up with a way to make the story of the cable ties as short as possible so I could still get to church at a reasonable hour.  “Well, um…,” I stammered.

“Are you running away?”  She interrupted with a serious, almost deadly tone of voice.  I wasn’t quite sure how I’d gotten from buying cable ties at a hardware store to being on the verge of leaving Brenda at the alter, but now I had this sense that I’d better start explaining fast before things got out of hand.  Did I mention that Mayenn was quirky?

Unfortunately, I panicked and couldn’t get the story out quickly enough.  “Well, uh, no.  I…”

Mayenn sensed my panic and pounced like a leopard.  “You ARE running away!”  She interrupted again.  “Don’t you know how much Brenda loves you? You’d better stop this now or I’m getting angry.  Get in your car and get to church!”  I jumped in the car as fast the car door would allow me.  As I was starting the engine, she offered some quiet and final words of encouragement.  “If I don’t see you at the church, I will hunt you down!”

Over the years, this became something of a running joke between us, with Mayenn using just about any opportunity she could to explain to me, Brenda, or anyone else that would stop long enough to listen how she “saved” our marriage.  A few years later, we moved from California to Kansas and lost track of Mayenn, but I always suspected that if our marriage got rocky, somehow she would find out and instantly appear to become my worst nightmare.  I considered it a small incentive to work things out if life got difficult.

And about that incident in the hardware store parking lot?  She was kidding.

I think.