Today or tomorrow is the eleventh wedding anniversary of my girlfriend's stepson and his wife. I told her to send them my best wishes and remind them of this story.
Eleven years is not too shabby by today's standards, when people bolt after five months and eight months to name two examples of couples I know.
But this one had legs long before they ever got married.
Not because they share similar interests and backgrounds as excellent beach volleyball players who graduated from Santa Monica High School, the two major requirements for marriage in SoCal. There are a million sun drenched couples like these two whose relationships don't last as long as the nacho chips.
No, the strength of this marriage was built on something that happened before he ever popped the question.
I was with the two of them along with his dad and stepmom in a limosine coming back from a long night of partying. The evening was spent celebrating the Rodeo Drive gallery opening featuring his dad's latest paintings, always a celebrity filled occasion. Sure they were unusual celebrities like Willie Ninja the Vogue-meister who starred in the movie Paris Is Burning. And that funny-looking little guy who was in Bonnie and Clyde. Guitar players from heavy metal bands. Second string actresses. All a little past their expiration dates, but still celebrities.
The kids were young then, barely into their twenties. And she had had a little too much to drink. In the limo on the way back, as she began to feel the effects, he was very solicitous of her, stroking her forehead, talking to her gently, trying to keep her from getting sick by the sheer force of his will. When the inevitable occurred, he didn't push her away and let her be sick all over herself. Instead, while the rest of us made faces and got as far away as we could, he pulled her close and put her head in his lap so she could use his hands as a basin.
It was a fruitless gesture on his part, considering how sick she was and the fact that he had no where to empty his hands. But it was a gesture so indicative of how much he cared about her. We all looked at each other, mesmerized by his concern. He never once looked up or seemed to be bothered by the noxious fumes that overwhelmed the rest of us in that confined space.
I remember turning to his stepmom as she and I were practically out on the trunk of the limo trying to get away from the smell and the splash, "He really loves her, doesn't he?"
And I think after eleven years and two cute little boys, there's some proof that things are still going strong.
If the first anniversary is a paper gift, and the 25th is something silver, is eleven the barf bag?