Rendered Fat Content


Randolph Caldecott: "And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon",
from Hey Diddle Diddle and Bye, Baby Bunting. London:
George Routledge and Sons. (1882)
"Pups, not Big Dogs."

The Muse and I were married on this day nineteen years ago. This day lives in the opposite of infamy for both us and our families. We remember it as having been a perfect celebration, one of those gatherings where everything fell perfectly into place. More important than our logistics working out, albeit with considerable improvisation, we'd designed the ceremony as an act of community, not merely a presentation. Rather than simply inflict our wedding on anybody, we invited everyone accepting our invitation to find something to contribute, some means to engage such that they might feel as though they were more a part of the business than mere witness to it. I'll never forget The Muse's aged Aunt Lillian cleaning up the ferns alongside the gazebo or the last minute run Rich and I made to a local nursery to buy some mulch, for cripes sake, to clean up the pond border. We'd invited our friend James to fly over from Seattle to chef the festivities and The Muse's sisters, each accomplished in the kitchen, pitched in, though if I remember correctly, James in his role of chef at times took that big knife he held a little too literally.

We bought whole Copper River Sockeye Salmon and flats of local strawberries and about a ton of fresh asparagus and spinach, all sourced that very morning from local growers and suppliers, the menu as representative of the season in this valley as was ever devised.
And local wine. Much wine! The Muse read her piece of the ceremony in her very best resonant lector voice and I played the song I wrote to ask for her hand in marriage. We recounted the stories of how we came to grow together. Our dear friend the right reverend we'd met in a workshop drove over from Beaverton with his partner, they both looked like bikers!, to masterfully hold the space and legally bless the union. The whole mess went off without serious glitches, only the memorable kind, even though my nephew managed at one point to fall into the pond.

Flipping back through my mental images from that day, I feel most impressed with just how innocent we all were then. I know not how that story ended, but I know the following few chapters, and the world kept turning after the ceremony. My son had painted a portrait of The Villa while secreted across the street on that very day, and presented us with the canvas, still wet, during the festivities. That painting followed us through our subsequent exile and even back to its origin, though that place it emerged from no longer exists. So very many changes since then, I can hardly even imagine most of them. It seems to me now that we were children then, not grown up and marrying, but still growing with no ultimate 'up' in mind. We were innocent, so I can't avoid thinking of this day not as just an anniversary but also as an Anvernursery. That day spawned all our following history. It was a particularly memorable day, but then we'd planned for it to be memorable. I wonder why we reserve special exclusively for such occasions and we don't tot it out every day. Perhaps we fear overwhelming our memory if we create too many moving memories.

Whether we're bound for entropy or emergence, glory or infamy, we're relative babies today, this day playing the part of our nursery. We mostly choose to be fussy if we are and might alternatively choose to be satisfied. We'll be changing either way, moving inexorably away from whatever memory survives this contact with enemy or friendly. We need more nursery rhymes, I say! We need absurd little tunes that become afternoon-long ear worms we cannot and don't really want to shake. We need more field trips to see the ducklings in the park. We need more nurses and better prams and irreverent grandmas, 'cause we're just kids today, kids in deceptively grown-up-looking bodies. We need soup and a sandwich for lunch. We desperately need a nap but usually deny ourselves this requirement. It's no wonder we tend to become fussy before suppertime. Let us all look back on this day later and recognize how immature we were then, how hopeful and how innocent. Let us not feel guilty for a second or find any need to feel all grown up again. Ever!

Those people who gathered that day will forever remain connected. A few have passed. A few divorced. All continued growing after and were themselves that day on that day only, still growing but curiously never out-growing their nursery. Forever innocent. Eternally immature. Always heading somewhere, somewhere else, but still stuck there in perpetuity. Perhaps the greatest attraction pulling The Muse and I back here to this curious Villa Vatta Schmaltz was the kind of time warp it represents. It was the scene not of a crime but of a very real and special blessing, the place where, one day now long ago, we publicly exchanged the vows we've practiced daily since, the point where this whole universe started making sense. Living here reminds us of how very much started with us sharing those declarations with our community who still sustains us. Family. More than friends. The kids we're still growing up within, without expecting to ever really achieve maturity. Kids in deceptively big bodies, never grown ups. Pups, not Big Dogs.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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