Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Grass Cannot Be Greener On The Other Side

I can remember back when I thought people who used lawn treatment services were idiots.  I mean who would actually pay someone to fertilize their yard when it was so easy to do yourself?  Spending gobs of money just to have the best looking yard on the block? What morons!

But then those yearly trip to the hardware store became less enjoyable. This was mainly because the bags of weed-and-feed mysteriously became heavier every year.  Why they decided to start making the bags harder to lift, I’ll never know. 

So a few years ago I actually started employing a service to treat my lawn. This change meant the condition of my lawn suddenly became of supreme importance to me.  I had made an investment in my yard and I could literally watch that investment grow. 

Of course, they put that little flag in your yard after they finish.  They tell you the flag is to warn people your lawn has just been treated, but of course that is not the real reason.  In reality, the flag symbolizes your commitment to a superior lawn.  It states that your lawn is so much better than the surrounding turf, that it deserves its own flag!  As I stand in
my yard, hands on my hips, I am declaring independence for the Kingdom of Donrovia! Long live the king!  Of course as referenced previously, my neighbors are thinking, “What a moron, he’s wasting good money on his stupid lawn”.

But this year something very disturbing transpired.  I noticed in June when I looked out my bedroom window that my lawn did not look any better than the widow Cooper’s next door.  How could this be?  I’m paying hundreds of dollars to have the best lawn on the block and her lawn looks as good as mine?  I speculate that my lawn service has provided substandard treatment.  I am perplexed and upset.

A few days later while walking my dog, I solved the mystery.  At the other end of the widow Cooper’s yard was a flag.  It was a flag from another lawn service. That witch had gotten her lawn treated for the first time since I moved in.  How dare her! This was totally unacceptable. This was an outrage.

Then to make this incredibly bad situation even worse, upon further investigation I discovered something that almost made my head explode.  The widow Cooper’s yard actually looked better than mine.  This pushed me over the edge, so I called my lawn service to complain.

Me: My neighbor uses a competitor’s lawn service and her lawn looks better than mine.

Lawn Guy: How is it better?

Me: Her color is more vibrant

Lawn Guy: So are you actually saying that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?

Me: No, what are you talking about?  There is no fence, but yes, her grass is in fact greener.

Lawn Guy: Well it always will be …

Me: That’s what I’m trying to tell you.  Yes, it always is.  Monday, Tuesday, whatever.  On all days that end in “y”. Her grass is greener.  So you agree with me?

Lawn Guy: No, the grass always appears greener on the other side of the fence.

Me: Alright, I told you before, there is no *!#&ing fence! And I am shocked at your lousy attitude.  You are conceding that your competition always does a superior job! Dude, show some pride in your work.  If you’re going be like that, maybe I should use those guys next year!

Lawn Guy: No, it’s an expression.  It is an optical illusion.  Her grass only looks greener because at a distance the colors appear stronger.  I assure you the grass is the same color.  If you looked at it from her yard, your grass would appear greener.

Of course I thought his explanation was pure bull crap.  I considered sneaking through the woods across the back of the property to look across the widow Cooper’s yard into mine to see if what the lawn guy told me was true.  However, I realized I would then be standing in the yard of my neighbor “Hot Carla” with a good view of her bedroom window.  If I got caught trespassing by the police, I would have to convince them I had snuck over there to get a peek at the widow Cooper’s grass and not Hot Carla’s ass.

If it went to trial, not even Perry Mason could save me:

Prosecutor: I now present Hot Carla, and we are going to label this evidence Exhibit A ……. and uh, B.

Perry Mason: Wow! My client confesses your honor.  Tom, you are so guilty.

Me: My name is Don, not Tom!

So instead of sneaking over there, I took a photo on the property line and as you can plainly see the grass is truly greener on the left side of the stick (my neighbor’s side). The
widow Cooper has plainly kicked my grass.  Her lawn company has pumped up the nitrogen and has defeated my kingdom.

I am dejected. I know I should not be this worried about the condition of my grass and I shudder to think what may happen the next time the neighborhood kids venture on to my most cherished investment.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dancing On The Grave Of A Dead Dog

My neighbor Numbnuts had a huge, mean, dog that would attempt to kill me when I did my frequent exercise walks.  The dog is a mix-breed, a combination of Rottweiler and bear. It would growl and lunge aggressively at me. It would even attack my car when I drove by. I hated this dog and it hated me. 

I do refer to this guy as Numbnuts not because he has nerve damage in his man parts, but because he has damage in his brain parts.  He could not control this beast on its leash. The monster dog just pulled Numbnuts all over the road.  Numbnuts would yell frantically for the dog to obey with this wide-eyed, stupid look, but the dog would never obey.

This caused a big problem in that Numbnuts would often walk Cujo after dark, in the street, with no flashlight. (the allotment has no sidewalks or streetlights).  And since the dog was in effect walking Numbnuts, this created a dangerous situation.

Because Numbnuts could not control this hellhound and I feared the monster-mutt could snap its collar and proceed to maul me, I had to avoid them on my walks.  This was a major inconvenience.  Because there is only one way out of the neighborhood, sometimes I had to wait for them to clear the area or even return back to my home for safety.  So I allowed Numbnuts and Damien to rule the streets, until one fateful night.

I had just driven into the allotment one night when I had to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting the mutt.  The dog had decided to sit right in the middle of the road and there was Numbnuts, with his dumb Numbnuts expression, frantically pulling as hard as he could on the leash, but to no avail.

As I swerved, Numbnuts yelled at me to slow down.  But I was not speeding. As soon as I had straightened my car out of the turn, they appeared in my headlights and I veered to the right narrowly missing the dog. I had not even had time to accelerate.

I stopped the car, lowered the window, and yelled at him to “Get a flashlight”.  And that’s when Numbnuts fired an “F-bomb”.  Now he is an idiot, doing something idiotic, and he somehow thinks this is my fault.  Of course I am fizzed. I put the car in park, unbuckle the seat belt and reach for the door.  It is at this point I realize I will not only be confronting Numbnuts, but the demon monster dog from hell, the dog that wants to kill me. I put the car in drive and continue home.  Well played Numbnuts, well played.

But you don’t fizz me off this bad without consequences, so I decided to “take back” the streets.  I needed protection, but what type?  My machismo-oriented, NRA-type, friends suggested I conceal carry.  This however would pose a problem in the summer when walking with very little clothing would only leave me one obvious area for concealment.  I don’t want the women in the neighborhood ogling the size of my luger.  It may be fully loaded but I am not that well-cocked (we are still talking guns here).   Concealing a weapon in this manner also makes premature ejection a very painful experience.

I considered an electronic dog repellent device but at the moment of truth with demon dog a few feet away, I did not want to trust my life on a gadget that I could not see or hear.  I envisioned someone at the morgue saying, “No Jeff, we are still not able to get that device out of his hand. He was still pushing that button really, really, hard, right to the end.

I settled on a canister of dog mace.  The drawback here is if I unload a blast of mace at the dog, I could also inadvertently gas Numbnuts. ---- Okay, so there really are no problems with using the mace.

I do admit I felt some machismo walking down the street with my new weapon.  I wanted the chance to confront this enemy.  I wanted to have a Dirty Donnie moment where I stare him down and utter, “Go ahead pooch, make my day”.  I wanted to see the fear on Numbnuts face when I didn’t leave the street, when I stood my ground.

But alas, I carried the mace for months and even though I would occasionally see Numbnuts with the dog, there never was a confrontation.  Then, I stopped seeing the dog altogether.

Ding dong, the wicked dog was dead. Ordinarily I would be sad when a beloved dog died, but not in this case.  This dog hated me and wanted to kill me and now it was dead.  I wanted to literally dance in the street, but I refrained knowing my bad dancing ability would alarm the neighbors.  I felt great, I felt euphoric, I felt liberated.  Hallelujah, the streets were safe again.

But now Numbnuts has a new dog. And in a moronic case of pure numbnutsian logic, he has found a dog of the exact same mix. Cujo Jr. has arrived.  Of course I discovered this one night driving home when I turned the corner and was startled by Numbnuts standing on the road; leash in hand, no flashlight.  

The dog is a now a “puppy”, more like a mini-monster.  It has already looked at me with disdain. I am sure it is eager to grow large enough so that it can kill me.  I know it hates me and I hate it already.  My joy is gone, I am depressed …..

Numbnuts has a new dog.  Where did I put that mace?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

We Are Family – I Guess

This blog post is unique because it is the first time someone has actually requested that I blog about them.  People usually do not want me to blog about them (even if I give them a pseudonym) and my former co-worker Erin would often start out his stories with: “Now Don, this is not bloggable”.

But my cousin Susan requested that I blog about her (and our family), therefore I will grant her wish.  I’m doing this because Susan is family and family is very important to me, which is the essence of this post.

I am an only child of an only child. This means that not only don’t I have any siblings, I don’t have aunts, uncles or cousins on my father’s side of the family. My mother had three siblings and so I do have 10 first-cousins. However that side of the family was never close due to some issues.  We were never all together as a family except maybe a funeral or two.  Three of the cousins moved to California in the early 70’s which further disconnected us.

This introduction is not written to solicit any pity.  I married into one of the greatest families imaginable (they are comparable to the Walton’s) and my extended family on my father’s side includes me in some fantastic get-togethers twice a year.  No, I am explaining the situation so you might understand the significance to me of the event I am about to describe.  While you may have experienced close family interactions thousands of times in your life, I had the opportunity recently to truly experience this for the first time in over 40 years.

My cousin Diane was visiting her father in Ohio and this gave the Roush family cousins an opportunity for a mini-reunion.  Similar to a meeting of mafia clans, all four families were represented. There was Filly Diane (the horse farmer), Patty Ohio (to differentiate from cousin Patty California), The Twins (Susie and Vickie) and Donnie Akron (the city kid).  And at this meeting it is “Donnie”. 
Da family
Only certain people are permitted to call me Donnie, but this group qualifies.

My cousins communicated like they had been best friends all their lives.  It’s like they were speaking their own special language, like it was coded in their DNA. It was amazing to watch. Conversations moved rapidly from subject to subject because it only took a few words to communicate numerous thoughts and feelings.  It was like the words were in a zip file that was exchanged, downloaded and processed instantaneously.  Once I learned how to play this game, I joined in and it was a wonderful experience.

Then we sat around and exchanged old, sometimes embarrassing, stories about each other.  I felt like a politician saying: “While I do not remember the incident in question, I cannot deny that I may have engaged in this behavior.”

While reconnecting with my cousins was a great experience, I’m just not sure that I am related to these people at all.  I just don’t see much family resemblance.  For example, here are some traits that I was able to identify from this encounter.

1.   These People Are Weird

My cousins are a very strange breed.  They think weird things, they make bizarre statements.   I mean they are really out there.  I’m not talking just standard strange; I’m talking nutsy coo-coo here. And that was before the wine starting flowing. They border on insane.

Of course no one has ever accused me of being that weird, have they?  Okay, no one has accused me of being that weird today. Er …all right, I guess I may have to concede this one.

2.   These People Talk Too Much

They talk a mile a minute. Just yap, yap, yap, endlessly. You have to listen fast just to try to keep up.  Of course people never say that about me, because I’m usually dominating the conversation …  Well, it’s a good thing these people don’t write blogs or they would go on and on about the most mundane things in their lives, expecting people to actually care about their off-beat musings. I can’t even image what that would even be like.

3.   These People Don’t Care What Other People Think Of Them

This is who they are and you better get used to it.  It’s the attitude of: “You must adapt to me, because I’m sure as hell not going to adapt to you”.  While this sounds very bold, it doesn’t get you too far in the corporate world.  But I assure you that I possess none of this attitude whatsoever and that my failure to reach my career potential was caused totally by wearing the wrong style of underpants all these years.

4.   These People Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

My cousins have a warped sense of humor. It’s twisted, bent and bat shit crazy.  They are a bunch of loons.  One photo from the gathering features two of my cousins flipping the bird.  They are doing it because they are nuts.  They are not close to being bad-ass, they are in fact good-ass. (Since I am referring to my cousins it is important to point out that I am not using the term “good-ass” in a West Virginia type of way)  Now you know this doesn’t apply at all to me.  I am serious, reserved, and well-refined.

5.   These People Have A Superiority Complex

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or what you have. I’m sorry, at the end of the day you still are not a Roush.  We even have a coat of arms.  Yes go ahead and gasp, I am part of a family that possesses a coat of arms! We are Roush and unfortunately you are not.  Fortunately, I do not personally have this superiority complex, because let’s face it, I’m better than that.

All I can say is this cousin reunion was the highlight of my summer. It was an incredibly wonderful time.  My cousins are great people and I Iove them dearly, even though I am nothing like them.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Jennifer Lawrence’s Nude Photos Do Not Include Me

In response to media reports regarding the hacked and subsequently leaked nude photos and videos of Jennifer Lawrence, it is the appropriate time for me to issue an official statement.

Despite what is being reported by TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, The Weather Channel and others, I am not the person seen with Ms. Lawrence is several of the photographs. I categorically deny ever engaging in the shenanigans displayed in the pictures and especially the video.

I must point out that Ms. Lawrence has also strongly denied having similar contact with me. It is somewhat disturbing that Ms. Lawrence has not denied being with any of the younger, buffer, better haired, men in some of the photos, just me.

I admit that the guy in the leaked materials bears a striking resemblance to me; but I assure you it is a case of mistaken identity.   I also acknowledge that the person in the photos has a distinct birthmark on a personal part of his body and that TMZ is reporting that I have a similar birthmark.  But this evidence comes from an old schoolmate Ronnie Majors, who says he remembers the alleged birthmark from the showers after junior high gym class.

An acquaintance? Maybe, I guess.
I may have met Ms. Lawrence one time, I mean I do get around, but frankly I just don’t recall the encounter.  I know she has admitted meeting me, but I’m not surprised knowing the impression I tend to make on people.  I really don’t know Ms. Lawrence and that is why I am referring to her as “Ms. Lawrence” and not “Jennie-poo” like the guy in the video, who purely coincidently sounds a lot like me.  Also, nothing should be concluded from Ms. Lawrence referring to the guy as “Bloggerstud”.  I think this is a total misrepresentation of the audio. The guy may be German and she may be using a Germanic reference, like blugerstad or something like that.   

Somehow Access Hollywood got hold of my cell phone contact list.  I do admit there is a Jennifer Lawrence on that list. She happens to be my dental hygienist who just coincidentally has the same name as the famous actress.  I do realize there were a significant number of texts exchanged between me and this Ms. Gardner (who I have called “Jenny” on several occasions, but again never, ever, Jennie-poo).  The reason for all the texting is Ms. Lawrence is a true dental professional and she was just checking to make sure I was flossing and taking proper care of my teeth.  In addition, any uses of the word “oral” in these texts were in reference to oral health.  Also any references to “getting drilled” and “filling cavities” were strictly dentistry related.

You should also ignore the statements from my attorney claiming that I am owed royalties if these photos or videos are used for commercial purposes.  He is speaking in the language of “legalese” which no one really understands.  How would I expect to get any money from this when it is definitely not me in these photos?

Finally, please disregard the threats issued to me by Jennie-, I mean Ms. Lawrence’s current and former boyfriends, and she has had a bunch of them. You would think she would be a little more selective, don’t you know?  I think these guys are just trying to be macho and they see no risk in threatening an older, distinguished, gentleman like me.  Chris Martin of Coldplay has threatened to shove his guitar up my “c clef”.  I don’t know if that is possible, but I am selling my front row seats to the Coldplay concert next month.  I don’t even remember who may or may not have given me those choice tickets.   

So the one thing to remember is that once again I am totally innocent of anything anyone accuses me of, at any time.  You may now resume believing anything else you may read on the Internet.   

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reflections From A Beach I Love

(Warning: This is another rare “serious” Ake’s Pains. Normal programming will resume soon)

As soon as my feet hit the sand early Sunday morning, I immediately felt rejuvenated. The beach beckoned to me.  This is Treasure Island, Florida and it is my beach.  The sands may be whiter at Clearwater, the sunsets more awesome at Sarasota and the sunrise breathtaking at Sanibel, but I feel more at peace at Treasure Island than any other place on earth.  I literally love this beach. If this beach were a woman, I would …. okay, you get the idea.

But for a long time my affection for this place had been tainted.  Five years earlier I had returned home from a wonderful vacation at Treasure Island and the next day I was unexpectedly removed from my job of 16 years.  Except that it wasn’t unexpected.  During my last walk on this beach in 2009, my subconscious was able to explain to me in great detail why my job was in danger.  The last thought I had was: “Well that might be true, but I can’t do anything about it now, so I’m not going to worry about it.”

Thirty hours later I had much greater respect for my subconscious and for this beach where I can relax so thoroughly that my mind can reveal things previously unknown.  Unfortunately, I associated the job loss with that vacation because they both happened in the same week. 

But now I was back on that same beach, five years later, and felt that I had finally made it back, back to where I was before the personal chaos erupted.  It had taken a long time to get here, but now it felt oh so good.

My version of paradise 

Now here again at Treasure Island, it was time once again to shut the brain off. This is not an easy, nor pleasant thing for me to do. It is like powering down a large, complicated, overactive, machine for maintenance (no brag, just fact).  It doesn’t turn off easily or quietly.  My brain doesn’t like this. It reminds me that it may be needed if a problem suddenly arises that requires solving.  It also worries about how long it will take to restart when vacation ends.  My subconscious on the other hand is smoking a cigar and sipping a drink, knowing that it will be able to speak freely for a few days.

It wasn’t until the last day of vacation, and the last morning walk on the beach, that my subconscious was able to explain it all to me.   I wasn’t “back” to where I was five years ago, I was so much further ahead.  When you take a detour, you don’t end up where you started. You get to where you need to be, you just take a different road to get there.  When forced to endure, you develop survival skills and resources which remain long after the trauma has ended.

For so long I focused on what I had lost. But it’s not about what you lost; it’s ultimately about what you still have. Because what you still have is way more important than what you lost. What remains is what you have to rely on to move forward. At some point, the past has to really become the past.   And the past, in the long run, is insignificant.

So now I face a new challenge; an opportunity to accomplish something that would bring me great joy.  Five years ago I would have laughed hysterically at the notion that I would be at this point today.  And five years ago, I would not have taken this challenge on because I would have been afraid to fail.  But after you have been knocked down repeatedly, you don’t even think about getting back up, you do it instinctively.

Wasn't really impressed hearing my goal!
The last hundred yards on the beach walk this time were spent audibly (only the gulls were out this early) repeating the three-word goal that I want to accomplish. What a contrast to five years ago.

The road to success will be a tough one, but it looks strangely similar to the road I’ve just conquered. So you might say I’ve just spend the last five years preparing for this challenge.  But I notice that God has removed some of the barriers that have always tripped me up in the past.  Only one obstacle remains.  Time to turn the power back on.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Things You Should Not Do At A Wedding (The Wedding Chronicles – Part 4)

We Are Family?

In the receiving line I met some of the groom’s family who were visiting from the Ukraine.  They were all smiling and happy until I enthusiastically proclaimed to them that my wife’s family is of Russian descent. Suddenly they all quit smiling and started scowling. I don’t think they were picking up what I was putin’ down, or maybe they were.

Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?
I am certainly glad that we sat the Russians and the Ukrainians at opposite ends of the reception hall or we may have witnessed some world tensions close up.  On a totally unrelated note, the bartender told me that this was the earliest they had ever run out of Vodka! (Ba Ching, Father of the Bride, Ba Ching!).  Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?  

The Coin Toss

During rehearsal I had an idea to toss some coins in the lake as I walked my daughter across the bridge during the ceremony. This of course would be for good luck in the marriage.  The problem is this would constitute a severe breach of wedding etiquette since all attention is supposed to be totally focused on the bride during the walk.

But I found a technicality; I reasoned that since this was such a long walk (started at the side and involved 4 turns) that the bridge was in fact a “neutral zone” and tossing the coins would not be a “neutral zone violation”.  So I made a plan to do this, but kept it a secret.

Of course at the very second I decided to toss the coins high in the air over the lake, my daughter sticks her shoe heal right between the slats in the bridge. (My timing has always been impeccable) When she desperately needed my help, instead
Seconds before the coin toss!
of doing my job I am distracted by doing something goofy. For some unknown reason, she was not very pleased by this “surprise”. Perhaps I should have told her of my plan beforehand.  Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

Nothing Goofy To See Here

Near the end of the evening my family was sitting together at a table when my mother-in-law proclaimed, “Donald Ake, I am so proud of you. I thought you were going to do something goofy during the ceremony, but you didn’t!” She had obviously missed the coin toss incident.  After the laughter stopped, I had to describe the uncouth act in great detail as she stared at me in disbelief.  This was way more uncomfortable than if she had actually witnessed it.  Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

I Have A Big Butt And I Cannot Lie

During the after-dinner festivities I had a plan to very discretely slither over to deejay Colin and request the signature song of this blog “Baby Got Back”, the song that has made this blog famous worldwide.  I told my friend Freddie about my plan and he thought it was a swell idea, which should have been my first clue not to do it. Most of the time I got in trouble as a youth, Freddie was somehow involved.

So I snuck around the back of the dance floor and asked deejay Colin, “You got Baby Got Back on that thing?” He nodded. I said “I signed your check.” He said, “You got it”.  With that I quickly retreated back to the table where Freddie and I engaged in a Beavis and Butthead type laugh.

After the song ended, deejay Colin announced: “We have a request from Don Ake, father of the bride (whoops there went my anonymity, he knew my name from introducing me earlier) he wants to hear “Baby Got Back” (a little more embarrassment please). And I have one rule: if you request a song, you have to get out on the floor and dance to it.” And with that, he pushed the button. 

I have none of these moves!
Baby Got Backfire!  I looked incredulous at Freddie.  He laughed hysterically and pointed to the dance floor.  So I headed out to use my moves like Jaeger and hoped no video cameras were running.  Really, because I didn’t know what to do on the chorus so I bent over and slapped my butt cheeks. I am a big ass and I cannot lie. When I returned to the table my friends were red-faced and gasping for air.  Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

Dirty Dancing

Playing “Baby Got Back” had the surprising effect of “loosening” up the young ladies on the dance floor and the “dirty dancing” part of the evening began.  My friends (who were seated next to the dance floor) took great interest in this occurrence. Freddie exclaimed, “If we danced like that when we were in school, I would have gotten pregnant!”  One young woman in a clingy, strapless, top danced very vigorously and my friend Al kept waiting for her top to fall as one might wait for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve.  But alas, the spandex of today is much stronger than the elastic of yesteryear and the top held firm, very firm.  I just hope that no one actually ended up getting pregnant as a result of my song request. Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

(This mercifully concludes the Wedding Chronicles)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Who'll Stop The Rain? (The Wedding Chronicles - Part 3)

My daughter chose a beautiful facility to have the wedding (which of course I paid for).  The ceremony was to take place on a gazebo in the center of a man-made lake with the guests seated on shore.

Did not sing at the wedding!
Of course the risk of holding an outdoor wedding is the chance of rain and the consequences are worse than listening to Alanis Morissette wail about it.  So you check the weather beginning with the 5-day forecast.  The 5-day forecast in Northeast Ohio is akin to the horoscope, it means nothing but it gets printed, so you look.

The forecast for the wedding day:

Tuesday: Sunny and beautiful
Wednesday: Sunny and beautiful
Thursday: Slight chance of showers
Friday: Monsoons followed by typhoons followed by downpours. 

While the rainfall in June had been the second highest in recorded history, July had been slightly below normal.  It would not stay below normal for long.

The evening before at the rehearsal dinner, the facilities manager bragged that they had only had 4 rainouts in 15 years.  I wanted to tell her that if she had wanted to keep that record alive, she should have never accepted a large check with my name on it.

As predicted, I awoke Saturday to a steady rain. I checked the radar and it was an incredible green mess. 

This raised my stress level and causes me to think irrationally. The song on my internal playlist changed from Alanis to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Who’ll stop the rain? I’m the Father of the Bride so I should be able to do something, right? But how can I stop the rain? I post this on Facebook:

Of course one my Facebook friends strongly suggested that I pray.  Yes I knew this was an option, but I really didn’t want to go “Pat Robertson” on this. Robertson is a famous televangelist. In 1985 Hurricane Gloria was headed right for Robertson’s vast ministry in Virginia Beach. He claims he prayed and the hurricane spun back out to sea.  Robertson drew much ridicule over this statement, especially from people in Massachusetts where Gloria slammed ashore a short time later.

I really didn’t know what to pray to stop the rain. Excuse me God, just wondering if you could turn off your sprinkler system and maybe just kick it back tomorrow, please.  I felt really stupid, but that’s nothing unusual.

So the prayers started and the rains continued and the radar stayed green. As I travelled to the wedding location, the rains became heavier. I spent the next two hours staring at the sky and continuing to periodically utter a prayer.   It was a Cantonese (closest city to the place) water torture. It would rain hard then diminish to a light mist. Just when you thought it might stop, it would suddenly rain harder than it had before.

If the ceremony could not be held outdoors, it would be moved into the reception hall.  Yes a wedding would take place, but it was a much less desirable option. The facility manager said the night before that if it rained it was the bride’s decision where to hold the ceremony.

The guest started to arrive and huddled under canopies off the hall.  I hung out with the groomsmen and counted down the minutes to decision time. T-minus 20, T-minus 10, T-minus 5, time.  It was 4 o’clock, the music was supposed to start, and it was still raining.  I started the long walk up the hill to the bridal quarters to discuss the situation with my daughter.

I anticipated she would be very sad that the ceremony had to be moved inside.  There would be tears. I would need to hug her and give that fatherly speech: There are disappointments in life……. but you have to forget those and think about all the good things.  This had to be a command fatherly performance.  I needed to  get her focused on the moment, not the circumstances.

“We have to decide”, I said softly.

“She looked straight at me and said, “I’m getting married outside and that’s it. Everyone will just have to deal with it.”

I recognized the tone, delivery, and the seriousness of her statement, because of course she learned how to communicate from me. What that means is: This decision is final.  You can attempt to change my mind, but you will fail and you will regret that action.

I pulled back the next word I had planned to say. I nodded and said, “All right, we will make it happen” and headed back down the hill.

As the rain hit my shaved-head, I contemplated just how I was going to tell everyone the news.  This is one of those rare instances in life where you disagree with a decision yet you still support it 100%.  This has to be done either out of blind loyalty or unconditional love, in this case both applied.

I first told the groomsmen I had been waiting with and their jaws literally dropped.  I moved along the edge of the crowd signaling to the rest of the groomsmen what was happening.  Then I informed the groom, he was surprised but supportive.  Next, I informed the minister. He’s one the coolest people under pressure I know.  His jaw remained firm, but the eyebrows did instinctively raise. “Okay, we will do that”, he replied. It really helped that he is the uncle of the bride; I needed all the support I could find.  Finally, I informed the facility manager.  I could tell she totally disagreed with this decision.  But the customer is always right and it was my signature on that big check. And besides the decision was communicated is such a way that implied finality.  She could have tried to change my mind, but she would have failed and regretted that decision.

By that time the news had spread through the crowd.  I found this Facebook post from a guest (used by permission):

And then we dried the chairs, got everything else ready, and the ceremony took place, - OUTSIDE.  I didn’t even think again about the rain again until I was standing in the receiving line, not five minutes after the end of the ceremony, when it started raining again.  That’s right is STARTED RAINING AGAIN. At some point, just before the ceremony started, it had in fact stopped raining for the first time that day and it didn’t rain during ceremony except for a very brief sprinkle (so I was told).  You see, I was so focused on
Should have sang at the wedding!
making the ceremony happen despite the bad circumstances, I had failed to notice the rain had stopped.  I think that often happens in life. We keep fighting the dragons long after they have gone away.

And what did this feel like? It felt like raaaaaain – stopping - on the wedding day. It was the good advice, that I decided to take.  It’s like God showing up at the wedding, right when he needed to be there.