Monday, November 27, 2006


c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

The Thompson United Methodist Church recently hosted a revival from Nov. 19th – 22nd that featured Itinerate Evangelist Jeremiah Bolich.

A 1999 graduate of Olivet Nazarene University, Jeremiah teaches the Gospel with new-age intensity. His approach is named ‘Cross-Style’ in the spirit of active Christianity. He is an enthusiastic participant in MySpace, and other online sites that help communicate the message directly to young minds seeking greater knowledge of faith and living.

Jeremiah travels with his wife, Karenda, and son, C. J. while preaching the Word. Typically, this wandering for Jesus keeps them on the road fifty weeks out of the year. But the visit to Thompson just before Thanksgiving means that 2006 will increase that significant number by one.

Jeremiah brought a powerful sense of realism to those who attended the services in Thompson. His testimony was coupled with ‘Praise Worship’ that featured lively, contemporary music. This provided a meaningful compliment to the work of Pastor Harley Wheeler, who leads the flock on a local basis.

Those interested in learning more about the ‘Cross-Style’ ministry may visit www.jeremiahbolich for further information.

"Fun at the Fabulous Food Show"

c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

After our honeymoon adventure in Nevada, Liz and I noted the onset of a strange new phenomenon of personal psychology. We were unprepared for its overwhelming ability to distort our thoughts. Speaking in scientific terms, we had fallen prey to the ‘Vegas Effect.’ Our perceptions were skewed by the experience of seeing this noted desert oasis firsthand. We had been warned that our initial visit would be pleasant, but overwhelming. Now, things at home looked dramatically different. The City of Cleveland no longer seemed so invitingly metropolitan and diverse. Hopkins Airport felt cramped and undersized. Also, an uncontrollable need for excitement percolated in our veins. Favorite spots around the area were suddenly lacking in luster. Nothing about our everyday lives would ever be quite the same.
To deal with this mood of displaced reality, we decided to seek new experiences as a potent diversion. My own imagination tilted toward musical excursions. Then, Liz remembered that the ‘Fabulous Food Show’ was about to commence. Situated at the I-X Center, it boasted a complete celebration of all things edible. I could not agree quickly enough with her suggestion. My brain calculated the potential rewards of a day spent sampling foodstuffs, wine, and desserts. It was a perfect idea!
Liz and I arrived early, on Sunday. We were barely inside when the Giant Eagle corporate display appeared. It seemed to be a popular point of reference for nearly every visitor. A chef from the Legacy Village location was busy demonstrating recipes to the assembled crowd. We browsed through ‘Market District’ products while listening to his banter. Clearly stated was the company’s philosophical ‘passion for food.’
With this introductory pause accomplished, our true odyssey began. We tasted chips, salsa, popcorn, entrees, chocolate, coffee, eggnog, sunflower-seed butter, relish, pasta sauce, and restaurant goodies.
Our first class came from Cat Cora, the personable ‘Iron Chef.’ She spun a compelling tale of Southern heritage and Greek ancestry while preparing meal items. Her ease as a master of kitchen techniques was obvious. I became joyful when she mentioned the growing acceptance of pork rinds as a modern food choice! Liz oozed embarrassment when I cheered Cora’s support of the snack with a verbal outburst! Everyone displayed surprise when she passed around an open bag of the crispy treats for individual inspection. Yet the affinity for Chef Cora remained unstoppable. Her appearance was an instant hit!
Central in Cora’s lesson was the creation of a chicken breast stuffed with feta cheese. She noted how the dish reflected her personal identity. Suddenly, I felt inspiration resonating in my brain cells. "Hey, I could make something like that!"
My wife put a finger to her mouth. "Not so loud! We’re out in public, remember?"
I whispered with care. "That recipe gives me an idea. Something different to make from my Trumbull Locker chicken breasts. I could stuff them with Cheez Whiz and crushed pork cracklins. Then top the dish with homemade beer gravy…"
"Stop it!" she barked.
"It’d be mmm mmm good!!" I observed. "Hoo yeah!"
Liz shook her head. "Don’t embarrass me, Rodney!"
After Cora’s class, we moved on to the beverage area. Both of us took a deep breath while considering their slate of delectable libations. An early favorite was a chocolate-infused ice wine that playfully taunted our taste buds. As we walked the strip, I wondered out loud about their collection of Fess Parker products… "Wasn’t that the guy who played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on television?" My wife didn’t remember his entertainment career. (Later, I would discover that this noted actor was indeed responsible for the FP winery.)
Disbelief materialized when I saw that the number of beer vendors did not match our assembled group of wine exhibitors. Thirsty Dog Brewing was represented. And a regional producer of European ales from New York State. But where was Great Lakes Brewing?? Or any of the other microbreweries that were active in the area? Those in attendance were few. I felt heartsick.
NOTE TO THE FABULOUS COMMITTEE: Future shows could certainly be more representative of such things!
Our next class came from Chef Brandt Evans, patron of Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern in Twinsburg. His instructional course presented food pairings with five different varieties of wine. We were in awe as he strutted back and forth, spouting wisdom and inspiration. I had expected a stuffy rendition of classic vineyard snobbery. But this did not transpire. Instead, Chef Brandt mocked the pompous nature of ‘foodie’ experts. He encouraged participants to enjoy their consumables and drink with abandon! I took great comfort in his relaxed viewpoint.
Our favorite of the five vino samples was a hearty cabernet. Yet the corresponding victual provided even more excitement. It was a delightful snack prepared with smoked blue cheese. The flavor-imprint lasted for a long, satisfying eternity. I took a silent oath to find the heady stuff, again!
Liz and I retraced our steps as the evening approached. We were too enthralled by the gourmet atmosphere to accept missing even the most insignificant morsel of nouveau cuisine. Several booths became evident that we had missed during our first tour. We redoubled our efforts to taste fine candies and treats before leaving. Finally, it was six o’clock. The day had been spent. We were out of breath.
We paused for cell-phone exercises by the restrooms. Both of us chattered out quick descriptions of the event to family members who had called during the day. Our reserves of business savvy had been tweaked, and replenished!
Driving home to Geauga, I inexplicably craved White Castle hamburgers. Perhaps it represented a move away from culinary snobbery. Or… it could have been a simple echo of yonder days. Past habits had steered us toward such nourishment after seeing the auto exposition, or the motorcycle show. But the route we chose veered away from any convenient ‘slyder’ depot. So my odd craving went unfulfilled.
At home, we sorted through souvenirs of the adventure. They mixed easily with trinkets from the Vegas trip. Everything we had seen demonstrated authentic zeal for being alive.
"Food is life, you know?" I remarked out loud. "The show today fed our bellies. Vegas fed our hearts and minds. But every experience is fuel for well-being…one can’t really be separated from the other."
Liz nodded. "So when you make the pork rind chicken, it will boost your spirit and fill your stomach at the same time?"
"Absolutely!" I cheered. "You’ve got it!"
She shook her head. "What I’ve ‘got’ is a eccentric husband. Rockin’ Rodney, the Hillbilly Chef!"
My lips curled into a grin. "Shall I autograph a potholder for you, mam?"
"That’d be wonderful, Mr. Cyrus," she said. "Just make sure you write your name in Cheez Whiz!"
At last, the ‘Vegas Effect’ disappeared. We had emotionally returned to that most cherished of all places… HOME!

"Wedding Diary: Chapter Three"

c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

I had been to Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport many times, as a spectator. But never in pursuit of an actual flight. So the afternoon began with a promise of many new experiences. Liz and I were still giddy from our wedding in Thompson. But she fretted over my inexperience with airborne mobility. As we found our terminal, she squeezed my hand, tightly. "Here we go, honey! Are you sure everything will be alright?"
I must have reacted with an artificial tone in my voice. "It’ll be fun. At least you are familiar with the routine!"
She raised an eyebrow, seeming to detect my insincerity. "Okay… you know, this will be a short flight compared to visiting Europe. That one was really exciting, but long!"
"Someday, we’ll go together," I said.
"For our tenth anniversary!" Liz cheered. We had often discussed vacationing in Germany, and returning to places that she saw as a teenager. The Castle Neuschwanstein was a particular point of interest. Her familiarity with King Ludwig II of Bavaria was impressive. "It’ll be a fantasy come true!"
"Sounds great," I agreed. Joining the slow march of departing passengers only increased my anxiousness. A framed display of confiscated weapons provided temporary entertainment. But I wanted the initial experience to be over!
Our flight was on schedule, so the only delay in departure came from security procedures. Shoeless, and in shirtsleeves, I hobbled through a metal detector. Liz had cleared the portal without concern. Yet the gizmo started squawking as I passed through! My insides turned to Jell-O as an imposing TSA official stepped forward. "Did you forget to take a cell phone out of your pocket?"
I grinned. My hands were shaking. "Oh… yes."
She responded with a mixture of authority, and boredom. "Place it in a gray tub on the conveyor with your jacket and shoes, please!"
My face was red. "Sorry! I’ve never done this before."
Once we were on board our MD-88, it became apparent that the vehicle must have been designed by a group of mischievous dwarfs. I barely fit into my narrow seat, and overhead room was tight. Liz cuddled playfully, ignoring our shared discomfort. "Can you believe it? We’re marrrrried!" The flight attendants observed us with obvious amusement. Soon, they offered single bottles of red wine as a toast to our blessed union. We were not inconspicuous about being a newlywed couple.
When the airplane engines throttled up, my bride’s grip became more intense. "This is it, Rodney! Say goodbye to Mother Earth! We’re going to kiss the sky!"
I flashed on automotive competition, and science fiction adventures. The scream of jet turbines made me think of drag racing, on a planetary scale. "Just once, I’d like to stomp the gas pedal on something like this. What a rush that would be!"
Liz stared at me with sudden indifference. "An airplane hasn’t got a pedal!"
"That doesn’t matter," I said. "Just think of the excitement. Cranking up all that horsepower at once. United and Delta, going at it when the lights turn green! Get your wings up boys, and may the best plane win! Boinnggg! YOU ARE NOW FREE TO BURN RUBBER DOWN THE RUNWAY! Yeahhhhhhhh, baby!!"
Her response came quickly. "It’s true about men," she giggled. "You are all alike!"
We switched flights in Atlanta, finding a Boeing 757 more to our liking. The trip to Nevada was about four hours. I dozed lightly as the evening landscape passed beneath our window. And then, Las Vegas appeared from the expansive darkness! It glowed in harsh tones of white and yellow, like a giant electric maze. We circled the city dramatically, and then began to descend. My watch said it was after midnight, in Buckeye hours. But adrenaline quickened my pulse. We had frequently been told that Elvis could be found roaming the city. At last, I began to believe that he was still alive!
Liz held my arm. "It’s beautiful out here…"
We took a cab ride from McCarran International Airport to our Casino & Hotel, Palace Station. The Vegas ‘strip’ overwhelmed us with neon and super-sized architecture. Our driver provided an expert tour of local landmarks. "On your left is The Wynn, glowing of chocolate and gold. Then, The Venetian, with gondola boats in a private canal. Casino Royale with festive rooftops, The Imperial Palace, Harrah’s and the dazzling Flamingo Las Vegas, brimming with colorful birds…"
"Look at all that pink!!" my bride cheered. "Oooooh! Next time, we’ve got to stay there!"
I sighed. "Do you think they’ve got an oversized ‘gazing ball’ tucked away, somewhere? Or maybe a truck-tire garden? Even a giant set of beer-can wind chimes?"
Liz snorted with disapproval. "Hush! You’re messing up the tour!"
Our driver wore a grin above his dark suit, and tie. "On your right is New York, New York, with its charming reproduction of the ‘Big Apple’ skyline. And The Excalibur, looking like a fairy-tale castle… "
I frowned. "That settles it! We won’t find The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll here! It’ll be King Ludwig, instead!"
She didn’t appreciate my humor. "Stop being a poo!!"
Our cabbie continued with a smile. "The Luxor is a giant pyramid, with a beacon of light at its peak that can be seen from outer space. Then, the stunning Mandalay Bay…"
"The Luxor looks like a UFO temple designed to summon extraterrestrial life," I observed. "How far away is Area 51?"
Liz smacked my hand. "No more ‘Coast to Coast AM’ for you!"
When we checked in at the front desk, my watch read 1:30 AM, Cleveland time. It had been an exhausting day. Yet numbness made us immune to fatigue. After taking our luggage upstairs, we returned to the casino for refreshment. After all, this was our honeymoon!
The first day lasted twenty-two hours. We slept lightly, and went out again after sunrise. The weather provided atmospheric perfection for our visit. Every attraction seemed more fantastic than the one before. This continued around the clock. By Tuesday, we had toured fifteen casinos, and completely lost track of distance and time. Our only pauses were to enjoy a Beatles Revival show at The Aladdin, and dinner at The Sahara.
Though inexperienced at gaming, we managed to stretch a pittance of disposable cash into hours of fun and complimentary beverages. I tried to win a thirty-fifth anniversary Harley-Davidson Superglide. She gambled for possession of a convertible 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Neither of us found lasting favor with Lady Luck. But the diversion from everyday thoughts was worthwhile.
During the final evening, we rode to Fremont Street, a district that offers Las Vegas history in a modern setting. The curved, rooftop ‘Viva Vision’ video canopy was truly amazing! Then, we marveled at luminous cowpokes ‘Vegas Vic’ and ‘Vegas Vicki’ who still greet visitors from around the world. A museum called ‘Neonopolis’ continued their theme with an array of impressive, vintage signs. More casinos filled the street with lively games of chance, including The Golden Nugget, Binion’s, The Mermaids, Fitzgeralds, The Las Vegas Club, and Four Queens.
Return visits to this Nevada playground seemed inevitable for Liz and myself. The attractions were incredibly varied, and tempting. I reckoned that pages of written material would develop from this single weekend, alone!
A farewell breakfast came in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Our schedule had us departing Vegas at 6:30 AM, local time. We ate while still in an emotional fog from the succession of life-altering experiences.
"You know, Mrs. Ice," I said over a Tex-Mex omelet. "We never did find the Man from Memphis. How are we going to explain that to our friends in Geauga?"
Liz looked drowsy. "I’ve got to admit being surprised. People at home say there’s an Elvis on every corner in Vegas. It would’ve made a good photo-opportunity for your newspaper."
I thought for a minute, while sipping coffee. "Next time, I’m using a fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich for bait!"
My bride gestured with her fork. "Thank yuh! Thank yuh verry much!"

"Wedding Diary: Chapter Two"

c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Planning for a wedding can be overwhelming, and tedious. Skilled negotiation and bargaining may be required to achieve the desired results. Some turn to professional advisors to accomplish this task. Others seek guidance from family members who have already experienced the joyous journey. But for Liz and myself, a different route carried us to big-day success. We drafted a festive schedule for the event over tasty brews… at STARBUCKS in Mentor.
The coffeehouse was our sanctuary as summer blossomed. We found many excuses to visit, and enjoy fresh java varieties while making decisions. "Meet after work, for a quick snack?" Love it! "Get a late cup after running errands?" Yes! "Take a ride for coffee in Mom’s convertible?" Yes, yes, yes! "Shop for branded novelty gifts?" Okay! "Dream over kitchen accessories for our new household?" Twist my arm, sweetie!!! I’m there!
Both of us had a knack for prolific conversation. So our banter was easily heard above the persistent buzz of customer chatter. When Liz observed that we ought to have the famous Seattle beverages at our wedding reception, an employee named Aimee responded with surprise. "Hey, I would do that. I’d be glad to serve coffee to your guests! It would be fun!!"
My bride-to-be squeaked gleefully, with surprise. "REALLY??"
I was stunned. The moment made me fumble for words. "Uhh…you would be making my fiancée very, very happy!"
Liz agreed. "Oh, how awesome!! Starbucks at our wedding!!"
"You guys could make a personal blend," Aimee suggested. "A mix of your favorite varieties. It would represent the marriage for your friends and families."
I nodded. "That’s a cool idea…"
"Great - the European Roast and Sumatra together!" my bride-to-be exclaimed. "But what about the cold drinks, like Frappucino?"
"Not a problem," Aimee said. "We could do those, too."
I pulled out a business card. The conversation was making me dizzy with disbelief. "This is incredible. Here, take our number…"
Liz cooed with pleasure as we left. "Starrrrrrbucks! Honey, can you believe it?"
Through this unplanned meeting, our wedding reception took on new meaning. It seemed sure to represent an authentic celebration of our joined lives! A coffee theme developed for the event. We added decorative cups and saucers, filled with treats, to each table. Tall mugs were purchased to hold silverware. The menu brimmed with flavorful kaffeeklatsch goodies. And finally, we purchased crystal Irish-coffee cups, engraved for bride and groom.
The wedding ceremony seemed like a far away dream. We were focused on becoming life partners after a four-year courtship. Yet immediate concerns ruled the day. I fretted over writing projects, and job interviews. Liz helped tend to family needs while advancing her career. Both of us were happy to enjoy weekend adventures away from home, and responsibilities. We escaped to Southern Ohio, and New York State during these uninhibited moments. Thoughts of our marriage were more sweet than substantial, like wisps of cotton candy.
But then… tomorrow became today! In a sizzling flash of time we had arrived at the altar in Thompson. Our shepherds were Pastor Harley Wheeler and my father, Rev. R. D. Ice. The ritual began around two o’clock in the afternoon. We had chosen a favorite Bible passage to set the tone for this sacred event. With bowed heads, the congregation listened reverently to familiar words from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13:
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing…"
Liz and I breathlessly repeated our vows. Then, we joined her daughters and shared a special promise of family unification. Afterward, the older child saluted our bond by waving her flower bouquet. It was an image that transfixed the crowd. Though unable to speak because of a neurological handicap, she had found a method to convey her blessing. Tears of joy appeared in response.
Once the vows had been said, my thoughts turned to refreshment! I was ready for a steaming cup of grounds. But our duties had not yet been fulfilled. Prayers were said to conclude the spiritual bonding. A regal recessional march led us away from the altar. We paused just outside the sanctuary, to receive guests on an individual basis. Then, the photographer appeared. We still needed to pose for official portraits!
Every picture combination was exhausted. The professionalism of our friendly ‘shutterbug’ seemed undeniable. Still, I became distracted by lingering thirst. "Okay, bride and groom together! Good! Now, bride by herself… then bride and mother… then groom and mother… then bride, groom, and both sets of parents…then parents with bride in the middle…then groom with both clergymen…then bride and groom with family pets, playing croquet… then groom on a unicycle, while bride juggles roses and everyone else does a tap dance…or how about the bride and groom bungee-jumping from the church steeple?" My imagination had gone out of control.
Our post-nuptial party took place in the church gymnasium. My political bent became evident as I offered handshakes and gratitude around the room. It felt good to be among our guests. Toy bells rang constantly. Music of Dean Martin and Nat ‘King’ Cole echoed from every corner. When it came time to cut the wedding cake, Liz had insisted that we smash a first bite into her kids’ faces, rather than teasing each other. This idea made me wonder. But the trick worked better than I could have imagined. Her younger offspring took the action as a cue for battle! Everyone enjoyed the diversion. Soon, I was wearing cake and frosting all over my suit!
The party represented a warm gathering of family and friends. Beloved souls from the community blended with veterans of Fisher’s Big Wheel, Kresse’s Bi-Rite, Rini-Rego Supermarkets, and Giant Eagle. Chardon Councilperson Mary Bramstedt echoed our mood of goodwill. Chris Hrapko from St. Mary’s ‘Feed My People’ program infused the crowd with honest enthusiasm. As these visitors mingled, Liz and I circled the room, handing out red roses to all the ladies. With emotion, she recounted the story of our budding romance to each table:
"Rodney used to bring a single rose every time we would meet," she explained. "It became our tradition. A statement of simple elegance. We wanted to share that with all of you, today! So, please accept this small gift as an emblem of our love, and thanks to you. Happy Sweetest Day!" I was ecstatic to be her husband.
My nephew appeared as we finished dispensing the flowers. He wore a tie adorned with day-glo guitars. His suit jacket was an outlandish cascade of pink. Black Converse ‘All Stars’ finished the look. "What do you think of my outfit, Uncle Rod?"
I swelled with pride. "Liz wouldn’t let me wear a pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers with my wedding attire. It would’ve been perfect!"
My bride frowned. "You’re such a poo!"
I raised both eyebrows. "Still, that tie would be perfect for Las Vegas…"
Liz made a face. "In Vegas, I’ll bet no one will notice you! It’s a Christmas light show out there, every day!"
I shrugged again. We were scheduled to leave for our honeymoon on Sunday, from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. "Whatever the case, I can’t wait to find out!"


Friday, November 24, 2006


c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

When Liz and I picked a wedding date, it was merely a number on the calendar in her checkbook. No particular inclination motivated our choice. Only later would we realize that it was also ‘Sweetest Day.’ Yet this coincidence seemed to match our blissful notions about each other, and building a life together. It felt correct to begin our union at a time when the greater community was celebrating romantic affinity.
Odd vibes resounded when we applied for the marriage license, however. A friendly clerk at the county courthouse asked about our occupations. The answers were to be duly noted, according to official procedures. My bride quickly responded that she was a manager for Northeast Ohio’s most prosperous grocery chain. And I… wheezed out a hesitant excuse. "Uhh… my what??"
The word ‘unemployed’ was immediately typed into our legal record. Each letter ebbed an overabundance of incriminating, black ink. I felt completely embarrassed, confused, and unworthy. My bout of joblessness had begun unexpectedly, in June. "That’s going to be in our file??"
The clerk offered motherly reassurance. She spoke with a gentle smile of lipstick. "You’re not alone, I’m afraid. Think of all those TOPS employees…"
Liz felt no uneasiness. "Ohh, it doesn’t matter! We’re really getting marrrrrried!!" She squeezed my arm, lovingly.
Plans for the event were shaped by necessity. Our household budgets dictated minimalism. But we wanted to celebrate the day in full measure! What evolved was a small-town pageant that would convey in honest terms our love for each other. We sought attendance by family and friends with festive, homemade invitations. Our humble reception was to take place in the church gymnasium. I couldn’t avoid reflecting on a vintage tune by the group ‘ALABAMA’ that described our mood, perfectly:
"Hey baby won't you take my hand
And make me a happy man
I ain't rich but I found my fortune in you
Two jobs on the nighttime shift
I'm still left with an empty fist
But my heart is full and my love is true
We can still get married in the style of our friends and family
Gather all of them to celebrate while we slip out quietly
And have a hometown honeymoon
Wildflowers and love is in bloom
We'll have a hometown honeymoon just me and you
Hometown honeymoon
Get out of church and up to your room
We'll have a hoe-down afternoon
Dancing to the rhythm of love
We can sing and laugh out loud
Lifestyles of the poor but proud
Cuddle up on the porch and enjoy the view
We can't afford Niagara Falls
But there's a fountain by the old town hall
We'll make a wish by the light of a lover's moon
I'll get my Grandma's wedding ring and my brother's Chevrolet
We can stay at your mama's house; we don't have to go away
To have a hometown honeymoon
Wildflowers and love is in bloom
We'll have a hometown honeymoon
Dancing to the rhythm of love
Your daddy's prize possession
I'll make a good impression
I'm gonna get his blessing that's all we need
Hometown honeymoon
Wildflowers and love is in bloom
We'll have a hometown honeymoon just me and you
Hometown honeymoon
Get out of church and up to your room
We'll have a hoe-down afternoon
Dancing to the rhythm of love
Hometown honeymoon
Hometown honeymoon"
(c. 1992 Josh Leo - Jim Photoglo, Warner-Tamerlane Publishing, BMI )
Meeting on Friday for the rehearsal at Thompson United Methodist Church brought everything into focus. Pastor Harley Wheeler guided us with expert care. Suddenly, the nuptials were no longer a distant dream! We practiced diligently, knowing everything learned today was likely to vanish in the glow of tomorrow. Liz fretted over details with her mother. My prospective father-in-law offered a gift of packaged ‘foot warmers’ just in case emotions ran out of control. And then… our final walk was underway. I would not see Liz again until she joined me at the altar.
I got home about 1:30 AM. An eerie quiet had settled over the house. Even with lights burning feverishly, it seemed dark. I turned on the computer and attempted to read e-mail. But my eyes were shot. Each line of text grew more fuzzy than the one before. Davie Allan, the legendary ‘Biker’ guitarist, had written to compliment my feature about his "Home Demos" CD-R. He asked about mailing a copy to Little Steven Van Zandt. Normally, I would have reacted with blistering speed. But my hands were stiff. Oblivion was perilously near. I had begun to crash…
Dream Wizards flicked stardust into my face. A journey to the netherworlds had begun. I was spinning into wild masses of multicolored vapors! My body met the bed, still fully clothed. Reality and slumber were united. I couldn’t divide one from the other. The walls fell away suddenly. My blankets flapped into flight! Strutting horns marched across the horizon, honking with urgency like the ‘AFLAC’ bird. Gold orbs swirled overhead. Pink elves danced on the floating pillows. They chanted nonsensical rhymes that soothed my fatigue. Fragrant lavender and vanilla sweetened the air. Then, my bride reached out from the haze. She wore a sparkling gown of pure white. Her girls followed, carrying bouquets adorned with tiny soccer balls, and dazzling crystals. "Come to me, Rodney," she whispered. "Give me your heart, forever… foreverrrrr…"
Saturday morning arrived with the subtlety of a garbage truck. It brought an intense wave of last-minute responsibilities! They landed rudely, as I returned to consciousness. On the list of needs were: roses, compact discs, a boom box, a camcorder, and a blender. Our ceremonial chariot (my black F-150 pickup truck) needed to be prepped for the festive trip. Then, I had to get properly dressed to participate in this formal occasion.
Hypertension took hold as I realized that the time had been exhausted. It was possible that I might be late for my own wedding! I ironed a shirt with seconds to spare. Somehow, peaceful calm held sway, in spite of the situation. I left for our church with fifteen minutes remaining before the joining was scheduled to take place. Playing from my in-dash stereo were quirky, 60’s monster tunes by Frankie Stein and His Ghouls. Though inappropriate, they reflected the childlike sense of wonder I felt at embracing this holy custom. Our special moment was here.
Today – I was marrying my best friend!
My father, a Church of Christ clergyman, co-officiated with Pastor Harley. They were both busy with preparations when I arrived. Happily, the crowd of guests helped hide my tardy appearance. Only Liz’s younger daughter seemed aware that I had slipped into the church. She hugged me playfully after running down the hallway. "Roddy! You’re here at last!!"
Organ music sounded cheerfully, as we took our places. I waited without moving for a first glimpse of my bride. When she appeared, I was overwhelmed by the moment. Liz glowed like a royal princess. Her elegance made me gasp. In a flash of emotion, I considered our four-year courtship. Destiny was at work. Love ruled the day with irresistible power. From the complex beauty of a single rose, our togetherness blossomed for everyone to share.
Pastor Harley spoke in tones of dignity and purpose. His words were familiar, yet new: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the joining of these two souls in Holy matrimony…"
A new life was about to begin. Liz and I were taking the first step of a long journey into tomorrow!

From The Geauga County Maple Leaf Newspaper