When I was a kid I dreamt about how cool it was going to be when I grew up. I could stay up as late as I wanted; get up when I wanted. I could open up my Cookie Monster cookie jar and gobble as many Oreo cookies as I wanted before dinner because I wouldn’t care if it spoiled my supper. I would wear whatever clothes I wanted and NEVER be forced to throw away a perfectly broken in pair of Adidas or Pumas just because it had front-toe ventilation.
There would be no more homework or being forced to memorize useless facts to pass a stupid test that nobody cared about anyway. I would be able to have SEX! Lots of sex anytime I wanted. In fact if I wanted to have ten Oreo cookies, ruin my dinner, stay up late having lots of sex, it would be nobody’s business but mine. I wanted to grow up.
I’m 43 now and not much has changed. I still have to go to bed at a particular time or I won’t be able to get up when I have to. I’ve got the Oreo cookies but limit my intake to three because I have to watch my weight which is in charge of watching my cholesterol. I don’t wear what I want because my wife says I’ll scare people in my blue aquarium fish boxers and oversized t-shirt (I do get to wear these at home). Homework has been replaced by work; my tennis shoes last forever (they are making them out of some new space age material where 30 minutes a day use on the treadmill isn’t enough to break them in). Back in the day, I could take a brand-new all-leather pair of tennis shoes and have them trashed (i.e. broken-in) in less than a month. And the sex? Let’s just say I have access and availability but I’m too tired from all the other grown-up stuff to think about it much.
I got what I wanted– I grew up. I was in such a rush to get here, that I didn’t spend much time looking around on the road to my imagined Nirvana. In hindsight I missed a lot, too many to go into now, but I do want to talk about one. The time after you pop the question and before you say I do. I missed “engagementville”. And I’m not alone. Every buddy of mine made the same mistakes I did. They saw those last few days of bachelorhood as the final drops of water left in a canteen during a trek across the Sahara. The invitations, the honeymoon planning, picking out china & flatware patterns: we missed all of it. With the exception of the bachelor party most men want to be involved in planning a wedding as much as they want to sign up for Chinese water torture. Men are in such a hurry to grow up that they don’t recognize the magic of a moment till after it is gone. A woman knows that a wedding is magic. That the preparation is sacred. And even up until now men just don’t get it. Men just want to rush when they should savor.
A couple of weeks ago I picked up, and could not put down, a book titled “Thirty to Wife: The Tell-All Groom’s Guide to Weddings-How to Get Hitched Without Losing Your Mind or Your Fiancé” written by Craig Michaels. I got to read about his last 30 days as a bachelor. His personal story, his anxieties, his questions, his panic attacks and his peace. I got to know about Deb. He let me in enough to show me a truly beautiful woman.
Just about one out of three men will never find the love of their life and get married. Of the two that do, one of them will screw it up and divorce. That means only one out of every three of us will find the love we have in our souls and get to share it with another. I’m a gambling man and those are lousy odds. So, if you find yourself in “engagementville” and are in a rush to get out of town, take your foot off the gas and slow it down.
Who is Craig Michaels? He is you.