Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Forty Years, Gone in a Flash

So, I am sure you have heard that the time machine DiLorean from the Back to the Future movies has arrived in our current time, which is, as far as I can tell, it’s final destination. So, if no one has a need for it today, do you think I could borrow it?
Our first stop, an autumn day in 1975. While James Carlisle is working at Congo Mercantile, we swiftly remove the time machine mechanism from the car that Michael J. Fox made famous, and install it in James’ 1971 Dodge Challenger. (You ask how we do that? Don’t bother me with details.) Okay. Now, we make our one and only change to history during this adventure. James takes a different route to pick me up for our date that night, thereby avoiding the awful crash that ended the Challenger’s useful life. (James thankfully emerged relatively unscathed, by the way.)
So, now with the correct car in the picture, our journey continues. Next stop, May 31, 1976. Faith Lutheran Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, where a wedding is taking place. Looking around, we see lots of happy folks, dressed in their Sunday best, even though it is actually Monday (Memorial Day) evening. The young ladies seem to be sporting the same hairstyle, long, straight and shiny, with the young men almost the same, except maybe just a little shorter. The bridesmaids are wearing a light blue calico print dress that will hang in the closet from this day forward. Each is also sporting a wide picture hat. The boys (sorry, men) including the groom, are wearing identical light blue polyester tuxedos with white shirts and light blue bow ties. Jenny’s dress, made from the same pattern as the bridesmaids, is a simply beautiful concoction of white satin and lace, with no train, and a simple veil, in the “end of the hippy era” peasant style.
Happy smiles are the order of the day, and history is made as both of Jenny’s grandmothers spend time in the same room while remaining civil to each other. Also, the groom is meeting the bride’s father for the very first time, and his tough State policeman demeanor does not scare her intended away.
We leave this happy group and speed quickly to another location in Little Rock, the tuxedo shop in downtown Little Rock where our 1976 group was outfitted. The year on the calendar behind the counter displays 2002. Today, James and Jenny are arranging to order a tuxedo for another groom, their oldest son Chris. They will also order the outfit of the day for Chris’ younger brother, Jon, who along with James will be one of the groomsmen. They ask for suggestions on a suit for Chris and Jon’s young nephew, Jordan, who at 2 months will be too small for the clothing they have on display. It is decided that the baby’s mother, Chris and Jon’s younger sister Carrie, who is also in the wedding party, will have to shop elsewhere for the appropriate suit and tie.
Jenny happens to mention the old pale blue masterpieces from years ago, and the clerk says. “Oh yes, we still have those in the attic.”
 A mischievous gleam enters James’ eye as he asks, “I don’t suppose you would let me borrow one of those jackets for the wedding rehearsal?” In view of the amount of the check we were writing that day, this request is quickly accommodated. Chris’ sweet bride Katherine was about to learn just what she was getting into by joining this family.
More happy smiles, one more bouquet tossed at a Little Rock church. This time, the guests blow bubbles instead of throwing rice. The bride and groom head off to their honeymoon in Las Vegas, and son Jon and daughter Carrie lament items lost when Jon’s car was burglarized on the church parking lot during the rehearsal dinner.
Back in the time machine Challenger, James and I speed past through the next 14 years, arriving at North-side Church of Christ in Benton, just in time for a Sunday afternoon 40th. Anniversary reception.
This time, friends and family gather at a party coordinated by the three kids and their spouses. Not an easy task, as they live in Arkansas, Florida and Texas. All five grand-children will be in attendance. As is usually the case, the chatter of the cousins will be dominated by plans for Granny Camp, when all of them spend time with their grandparents. Spoiler alert- this year’s event has been renamed to Grand-cation, and it promises to be a once in a lifetime trip for all involved.
After an appropriate amount of cake and punch is consumed, and happy memories are shared, we leave in the time machine Challenger again. This will be the most difficult part of the plan to pull off.  I take the wheel and drive to the nearby car lot that now sells vehicles that look much like this seventies classic. We park it among its shinier counterparts, and try to imagine the look on the salesman’s face when he discovers it. The time machine can be utilized as needed by the lucky new owners. I take James hand as we walk off into the I-30 sunset together. Because, truth be told, there is no need to change a minute of our past. And the future is bright ahead.

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