Bright spots are rare in a year we would all rather forget, a dismal year replete with killer viruses, riots, looting, murder hornets, anti-government protests, and police brutality. (You would think it was 1969 all over again — a disastrous year for this country redeemed only by Woodstock). In this post, I will happily turn my back on all the negative crap to share our joyous event with my six loyal readers.
First, I’ll apologize for what I always apologize for this time of the year: my long spring/summer absence from The Nittany Turkey. Thank you for having enough faith in my oscillating blogging habits to stay subscribed!
But I digress…
My digressions are legendary, so before I share the happy news, I’ll point you to fellow blogger “The Lions’ Den” for some recent commentary on the current woes of Penn State season ticket holders. When he is not yelling at cranky old men in Walmart parking lots in Altoona, Todd, an ophthalmologist, is operating on cranky old men’s eyes, guys he has probably yelled at in Walmart parking lots. Anyhow, Todd is a season ticket holder who wrote a good, cranky piece called “To Be There or Not to Be There… That IS the Question” about the Penn State football situation from the perspective of a loyal subscriber. Highly recommended.
A Sweetened Turkey
For the benefit of those who happen across this blog and are not yet familiar with the characters, I am The One and Only Nittany Turkey, while my better half goes by the blog pseudonym of Artificially Sweetened, a moniker that relates to her former career as a microbial researcher at a company famous for producing those much maligned substances that sweeten our foods without adding blood glucose and avoirdupois. Her real name is Jenny, and my real name is Ben. After fourteen years of non-connubial, albeit somewhat conjugal, togetherness, we decided to make it all legal last Wednesday. The Turkey is now permanently Sweetened, and Artificially Sweetened is now Turkified.
Initial discussions called for a grand, outdoor event surrounded by friends and family with lively music interlaced with some Jewish tradition, but we ran into several roadblocks early in the process. Covid-19 had thrown a big monkey wrench into the works, which suuuucked. So, last Monday, your favorite Turkey hit Jenny up with a proposition, “How about we just go to the courthouse and get married on Wednesday?”
“Why, this is all so sudden, Rhett!” was the Sweetened response, but after the initial shock, she readily agreed. We would do the deed — just the two of us — at the Seminole County Courthouse.
This Turkey does not like to waste money. I purchased a marriage license back in June which was good for sixty days. It would have cost another ninety bucks if we had allowed it to expire! The grand plan for a December wedding would have necessitated another wallet extraction.
But seriously, it was an exciting time for both of us. We didn’t discuss cleaning ourselves up for the occasion but we both went off and did some stuff. Jenny got her hair cut (about one-quarter inch, from the looks of it), and splurged on a manicure and pedicure. This Turkey, having lost seventy pounds this year, didn’t have time to get a new suit that fit; however, digging deep into the closet I found a navy-blue blazer I had bought thirty-five years ago. After an extended period in mothballs, it now fits again. My dress shirts were too big so I masked up and went to Macy’s for a new shirt. While there, I found a tie on the sale table that would match Jenny’s bright red wedding dress. My tan loafers hailed from decades past and the tan pants came from a storage box where I had stowed sizes too small for my previously porked-up state.
I stashed the two simple gold rings in my pockets, Jenny’s on the right and mine on the left, so I wouldn’t spazz out by grabbing the wrong one at the appropriate time of the ceremony. With that, we grabbed our masks and were ready to hit the road.
At the Courthouse
We arrived at the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Florida, overlooking scenic Lake Monroe, at 1:45 PM for our 2 PM appointment. After walking around the block because officials restricted courthouse access to a single entrance, we were accosted by a clerk who took our temperatures and handed us clipboards with questionnaires about our virus exposure. (Where have the clipboards been? Huh? Huh? I’m damn glad I had a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocket).
Then it was time for the decisive moment — the body temperature check, which would determine whether we were fit for entry. Alas, our recorded temperatures were both too high to be allowed inside. Duh! We had been walking in the sun for five minutes on a 95-degree day. And the clerk had shot us with her forehead thermometer while we were still standing in the mid-afternoon Florida sun. Soon, the dawn of bureaucratic awakening broke, whereupon our screener moved us to the shade. Our officially recorded temperatures had subsided to 99.9°F, just below their threshold of 100°.
Were we qualified?
Masks, of course, were de rigueur throughout. The bride wore a gaily colored tie-died mask of cotton chiffon whilst the handsome groom was attired in basic black 2.5-micron cotton. It was slightly too small, but I want to see YOU find something big enough to cover this big turkey face!
The metal detector came next (magnetometer triggered by my hip replacement and brass blazer buttons), after which we proceeded to the appropriate window to pay. I mentioned that the marriage license costs about $90, but then I needed to pay another $30 for the executed marriage certificate and the County’s inconvenience. They won’t let you get married until you pay up. The clerk processed my credit card, then we waited in the hallway for another deputy clerk of the court to usher us outside to the sidewalk for the ceremony.
Although the courthouse has a variety of wedding chapels, due to the Covid-19 situation they were conducting weddings outside unless it rained. Jenny wanted an outdoor wedding anyway, but she hadn’t been considering the sidewalk leading up the steps to the courthouse on Hood Avenue in Sanford among candidate venues — not even in her wildest dreams! Ms. Baldwin, the deputy clerk, led us to a spot by a large oak tree. As we faced each other to exchange our vows, masks still in place, passers-by on their way to filing lawsuits were smiling at us.
We recited our vows, exchanged bands of gold, said our “I dos”, and were then permitted to drop our masks in defiance of the Seminole County Executive Order so I could kiss the bride. Being uncoordinated, this was too much simultaneous movement to process successfully. Thus, I inadvertently stepped on Jenny’s newly pedicured toes as I moved closer to kiss her. Jenny must have been as numb as I was because she said it didn’t hurt. Undaunted by my clumsiness, we happily basked in the glow of the newly established Mr. and Mrs. Nittany Turkey union. All’s well that ends well!
Ms. Baldwin went back into the courthouse to sign and seal our certificate. She gave us the option of waiting outside while she finalized it, and she said she would deliver the documents to as soon as she could. We put our masks back on while waiting.
“Why are you not wearing masks?”
We took some selfies with the masks on, but we needed to record some commemorative wedding pictures with our faces showing, so we temporarily doffed our masks to take a few more selfies. Just as we were finishing our photo session, a small, superannuated woman brusquely passed us on the sidewalk, admonishing us with the rhetorical question, “Why are you not wearing masks?!” Couldn’t this old biddie see that we had the masks in our hands? Way to spoil a wedding, Grandma!
Ahhh, but nothing could spoil the day — not even a busybody mask policewoman! We will be able to laugh about her for the rest of our days.
The Reception Followed
Ms. Baldwin returned and wished us well. We hied ourselves off to the reception: dinner for two at Hollerbach’s Willow Tree, a Bavarian beer hall on the main drag in Sanford, where we dined outdoors and were socially distanced at least nine bratwursts from the next table. We departed from our respective diets to enjoy some Würste und Wiener Schnitzel. For dessert, we shared a slice of traditional German chocolate wedding cake.
Upon learning of our joyful day, the management endowed us with a free shot of the schnapps of our choice. As Lithuanian boilo was not on the menu, we chose slivovitz.
Facebook Detectives Blew Our Cover
We decided to keep the furtive wedding secret until Saturday, when we announced the union to Jenny’s progeny. They set aside some time to gather with us via Zoom, as they all have momentous events going on in their lives. The oldest daughter, an RN who is married with two toddlers constantly toddling, is considering a move to bring her closer to our area. The middle daughter just graduated from University of South Florida last week and she is seeking to establish her career as a medical laboratory technician close to home. The youngest, the only male, has completed his high school career and is now in a period of existential musing. We were happy to share our joy with them and then send them on their merry way.
Of course, the cat was out of the bag prior to our intra-family announcement, thanks to Facebook “detectives”. Fortunately, it wasn’t Schrödinger’s cat, so we knew its exact state of being.
The Season Ahead (or some excuse for one)
Thanks for reading our story. Now, back to some blog business.
What lies ahead for the Nittany Lions and their loyal fans for the 2020 season? You all know by now that the schedule will be Big Ten only, but beyond that, will there be a tenth game? How will the Big Beave (sometimes known as Paterno Memorial Stadium) be configured? Will season ticketholders get a refund? Will Micah Parsons have a monster year?
These questions can only be addressed speculatively for now. Your guess is as good as mine. However, if you have any inside knowledge, please do share.
Meanwhile, I’ll be back to explore some of these things, offering the usual biased opinions and jaundiced take on the season. Plenty of time for that, as the first game (Northwestern) doesn’t happen until September 26.
I hope you are all coping well with our current pandemic situation. Please stay healthy and thanks for your readership!