“We just got married,” said the young couple in the supermarket checkout lane.
The newlyweds were ahead of me in Checkout Lane Six, dressed in beach attire. Their faces could have doubled as stadium lights for a Fenway Park night game.
Just married. These words set off a chain reaction of responses among those of us in line. The news immediately traveled, single file, moving from person to person like that old game telephone.
Everyone heartily congratulated them. And I do mean heartily.
“Congratulations,” said the bearded guy, holding a toddler in his arms.
“Congratulations,” said the woman who was dressed in an EMT uniform.
“Congratulations,” said five or six others.
“Mazel tov,” said the supermarket bagger—who looked maybe 95 years old.
“We’ve been dating for a year,” said the newlywed woman. “But on Wednesday we just thought, ‘You know what? Let’s do it.’ We went to the courthouse and…”
She showed the ring.
“Then we drove here to Florida this morning, spur of the moment. We don’t even know where we’re staying tonight. But we’re married.”
Her husband slipped an arm around her. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said.
The EMT lady was first to jump in the conversation: “I remember when I got married. My husband and I took a honeymoon cruise to Cozumél. Best week of my life—from what I can remember of it.”
The guy with the toddler said, “We went to San Francisco. Each morning I kept waking up and saying, ‘Holy cow, I’m married. We’re really married.’ You say that a lot in the beginning.”
Everyone agreed with his last statement. Again, heartily.
The elderly bagger chimed in. His voice had an old-world lilt to it.
“When I was growing up in New York, I met a girl when I was 12, she was 14, she lived in my neighborhood. She was the most beautiful girl I ever saw. I told her, ‘I’m gonna marry you someday.’ And eight years later I did.”
Everyone gave each other an aww-that’s-so-sweet look.
The EMT lady said, “I met my husband when I was in the military. We were nothing alike, he was sensitive, into music. And I was—well—kinda tomboyish. I knew it was meant to be when he first made me laugh.”
The man with the toddler added to the repartee once more.
“I met my wife when I worked at a skating rink. I was 19. I had a summer job, she came in with her friends one night. We didn’t skate together, but I drove her home and she refused to kiss me because she said she didn’t know where my mouth had been.”
Then someone asked the newlyweds how they met. The couple stared at each other and beamed.
“He lives next door to me,” the woman said.
Everyone laughed. Although, looking back, I don’t really know why. It wasn’t funny.
The old bagger said, “I asked my wife to marry me when she was working at a library. I walked in at lunchtime, she saw me and said, ‘What’re you doing here? I didn’t think you knew how to read.’ I was so nervous I was shaking in my shoes.
“I got down on my knee and I said, ‘You light up my life, Sandra.’ Everyone in the library saw me kneeling and they were telling her, ‘Say yes!’”
He looked into the distance for a moment and smiles at nobody in particular. “My wife was great.”
The EMT lady said, “There was no popping the question for us. Actually, I was the one who asked my husband to marry me. We were at a bar, I told him that it just made sense. Him and me.
“He laughed and said, okay, sure, let’s get hitched. Then he was like, ‘Hey, I’ll even bear your children if you want me to.’ We have two kids, I do wish he woulda been the one to go into labor. ‘Cause that part sucked.”
While these strangers were talking I became lost in thought, thinking about when I first met the feisty woman who shares my name.
I remember the blouse she wore the night I asked her to marry me. Jawbreaker red. After she said yes I had to hurry off to Wednesday night church because I was filling in for our pianist who had the flu.
During that service I messed up every hymn in the book until the minister finally whispered, “What the heck is wrong with you tonight?”
So I told him I was getting married. He turned and announced this to the congregation. They gave us a standing ovation.
That’s a night I don’t want to forget.
After the newlyweds finished checking out, someone asked if they planned on having kids. The young couple was quick to shake their heads in unison and laugh.
“Whoa, no,” they said. “No kids. Definitely not. Kids are definitely not in our life plan.”
The elderly bagger placed bags into their hands. Then the white-haired, wizened employee spoke. “There’s a Yiddish saying my wife used to always say about life. She’d say: ‘Man plans, God laughs.’”
Everyone in line heartily agreed with that one, too.