We interrupt this global financial crisis for a news bulletin that is more important, at least to me: My daughter is getting married.
Longtime readers of my work — and let me just say that counseling is available — will recall me writing about Allison Henry over the years: How when she was born she opened one little eye and saw me for the first time, then closed it, thinking perhaps there had been some mistake.
How I used to go crazy at her lacrosse and field hockey games in high school, often shouting at the referees because their whistle blowing was interfering with her goal scoring, which seemed a reasonable objection at the time.
How she went away to school in Australia for six months in her sophomore year with the warning not to develop an Aussie accent in case our Sandy the Wonder Dog became further confused.
How she finally graduated from high school and went off to college amid scenes of tearful teen anguish not seen since friends said goodbye on the boat deck of the Titanic.
How she played rugby in college against a visiting team comprising such terrifying women that I thought perhaps I had dated some of their mothers.
How she graduated from college with bagpipes wailing, not to mention parents wailing.
How she got her first job as a kindergarten assistant back in the Pittsburgh area and I came to her class to read a "Curious George” book with my favorite character in all literature, The Man in the Yellow Hat.
How she went off to Vietnam for six months to teach English as a foreign language and her mother, brother and I came to visit. That was the time Vietnamese children rubbed my stomach for luck — which turned out to be needed because her brother, Jimmy, took a side trip to the island of Phuket in Thailand and the first wave of the tsunami broke over his head as he swam in a resort pool. Fortunately, he reached a place of safety and was able to continue the work of being a lifelong irritation to his sister.
How she moved to New York City and became a first-grade (and now second-grade) teacher in a boys’ private school. How she came back to Pittsburgh for a visit, after Sandy the Wonder Dog had gone to the great couch in the sky, and declared that "this family needs a dog," quickly found Sooner the Needy Dog and then just as quickly went back to New York leaving her parents to cope with the new dog’s many needs.
After all these adventures, Allison has announced her engagement to Christopher Gilpin, also a teacher, who grew up in the Boston area and has been known since childhood as Critter. Ideally, a father does not look for a prospective son-in-law named for a small furry animal but, to look on the bright side, it’s better than "Monster." For my part, I am just glad they are getting married.
Critter, whom I sometimes call Cricket by mistake, is a good guy and he did the proper thing by calling us up from New York and asking for our daughter’s hand in marriage. As she is 27 years old, this was not strictly necessary.
Unfortunately, I was mowing the lawn at the time and after Critter asked for permission to marry Allison — in truth somewhat jokingly, aware that he was giving a modern ironic nod to traditional practice — I gave them my blessing and we chatted briefly.
Why not? We are two guys and guys don’t have to string out a two-minute conversation into half an hour of ooh-ing and aah-ing in a great show of emotion and sensitivity over possible flower arrangements and bridesmaids’ dresses.
So, after the minimal manly pleasantries, I got to the point: "This is great news, Critter, but I have to go now — I have to finish mowing the grass before it gets dark." Of course, being a good guy, he understood entirely.
Allison’s mother, however, not being a guy and not being fluent in guy-speak, was not amused to hear this. "How could your future son-in-law call you up to say he and Allison were getting married and you cut him short to cut the yard?!" I fear I have not heard the last of it.
So I am thinking that at the reception we could have little lawn mowers on the tables as party favors. As Allison is not getting married until next September, we have quite a few mowings to think about it. Oh, that will be a happy day if I don’t say something more stupid.
(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com)