As I have written about earlier, Tomoko and I got engaged, following the decision by Harper’s Magazine that it was time for her to make an honest man of me. Yesterday, as it happens, was the day of the blessed event, and as is fitting, I immediately sat down to enshrine it in the annals of blogdom.
Ours was a simple affair, held at the Louis J. Lefkowitz building in lower Manhattan, home of the Marriage Bureau of the City Clerk’s Office. It is a briskly efficient (and yes, romantic) place. You come in, they check your ID, take your twenty-five smackers, and direct you into a small chapel where all knots are tied.
We arrived fairly early in the morning, Ellie, the baby, in tow (my son, JP, was in school) hoping to avoid the nuptial rush. By the time we left a longish line at the information desk snaked nearly to the door. Just as we stepped up to the info counter to present our identification Tomoko informed me that she had forgotten to bring the marriage license. I told the clerk, and he said, “Well, now, that’s a SHOW-stopper!” (Think of Senator Clay Davis, the corrupt pol on The Wire, intoning his famous catchphrase–sheeeit—and you got this guy.)
“You forgot it?” he asked. I admitted we had. “Now, they aren’t even going to give you a duplicate for that. But…” he paused, considered some important documents on his desk, pushed a few things around, and looked up. “But if you, say, LOST the license, well, then, we can take care of it.” Again back to the papers, and then up to me, with a look of pure, blissful, innocence etched onto his hard-boiled bureaucrat’s eyes. “Now did you forget it, or lose it?”
What do you think I said?
We took our number, we waited on the nice green couches, we didn’t buy flowers, we didn’t take pictures at the City Hall backdrop, I wasn’t wearing a tie, Tomoko had no flowers in her hair, the baby was already born, the shotguns were nowhere in evidence.
A camera crew from one of the local TV stations happened to be there filming and I struck up a conversation with the reporter. She said she was there working on a story on identity theft (I don’t want to say more and scoop her), but she was also Asian, with a white husband, and two kids, so of course, she was inexorably drawn to us.
Eventually our number was called and we were ushered into a waiting room just outside of the chapel, which was a small, almost entirely empty room with friendly carpeting and a fair amount of natural light. They told us to sit, so we sat, and Tomoko began breastfeeding Ellie, and wasn’t done before it was our turn to wed. We let the nice Chinese couple next to us go first, even though they looked about six years old (husband and wife combined) and they probably could have used the delay. I killed time watching another Asian bride, this one with dyed blond hair and a white dress that covered only her pelvis and which had apparently been laminated onto her body, take horrifically staged photos with a Russian cameraman. Not entirely sure if she was there with a groom. I turned away when they began doing action shots with the bouquet.
The TV reporter approached us, showed us photos of her kids–adorable–and asked if we would mind having our wedding filmed for her piece (no implication of identity theft–she just needed some images from the marriage bureau). I asked Tomoko (I’ve been married before, so I know how these things are done), she agreed, but I couldn’t help laughing.
The ceremony was quick, pleasant, Tomoko was lovely and smiling, the whole thing was caught on video, and I made the reporter pose with us in front of a glass case where they keep New York’s first marital record book on display.
I kissed the bride with great pleasure. I am a fantastically fortunate man.