Men at weddings: Show up, shut up

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

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One recent evening as I walked through our den, an explosion coming from the TV sounded like Bill Mazeroski just hit a walk-off home run in the ninth inning to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the New York Yankees in the seventh game of the World Series. This could not be true, I knew, because all of that happened back in 1960 when I was in the seventh grade. But it sure sounded like that.

Of course, the TV screen showed nothing of the sort. All I saw on that screen was a bunch of women shrieking at a wedding dress being shown to them by a designer who had dollar signs where his eyes were supposed to be. I don’t know how anyone can get that stoked about seeing a dress they knew all along would be white and worn only once. But there are a lot of things I don’t know about weddings.

What I do know, though, is to keep my mouth shut about weddings. They mean too much to too many people for me to go popping off. I also know weddings are not for men. Yes, we show up, but we spend most of the time looking at the clock and thinking about Bill Mazeroski and the Pirates. And when some woman chirps, “Oh, look how long her train is,” all the women gaze toward the center aisle while the men look out the window toward the depot.

A couple of days ago — actually, in the middle of the night — men suddenly became more important in weddings. And I want to thank Prince William for reminding the world that men still matter.

Yes, sir, there was only one reason 2 billion people watched that royal wedding on TV: because our guy Bill is heir to the throne. Without the prince, this shindig would’ve been like every commoner’s untelevised wedding where a man’s only duty is to show up, shut up and stay sober.

I remain mystified about the magnificence of royalty, but that’s probably just because I’m a commoner. And, as with weddings, I know to keep my mouth shut about the aristocracy.

Husbands’ survival guide

Besides Prince William, another man whose knowledge about weddings warrants our respect is Wilson Rothman, who last Thursday wrote a story for TODAY.com titled “A survival guide for royal wedding widowers — Here’s what to do at 4 a.m. while your wife is glued to the TV.”

Rothman, deputy technology and science editor at msnbc.com, advised: “Make sure you set up your DVR to record this puppy! There are few acts of self-preservation as altruistic as providing up-front tech support” for a wife obsessed with the royal wedding.

Rothman also offered husbands a couple of phrases that work for weddings, both royal and regular: “Yes dear, the bride’s dress does look gorgeous,” always leaves a husband sounding erudite and attentive. His wife is allowed to say, “The bride looks gorgeous,” but the husband must focus on the dress. And when your wife notes how the bride looks, simply respond, “Not as gorgeous as you.”

Rothman warned husbands: “Getting your special someone to delete six hours of HD wedding video will take careful negotiation. … If she still won’t budge, there’s always the nuclear option: ‘Want to renew our vows?’”

As for “the dudes who are getting married this summer — or are even popping the question in and around a friggin’ ROYAL wedding — you’re so on your own. I’m sorry, no advice can help you. Except that you may want to hold off a couple of years.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal another reason Rothman qualifies as an expert on weddings. Almost six years ago, he was smart enough to marry my daughter. And now, he’s smart enough to tell every married man what a royal wedding means to every married woman: “She had her dress, she was princess for a day, and you’re (hopefully) both still happily wearing those rings. In other words, she may compare this royal wedding to her own, but she’s not taking notes for another run at the altar.”

Maybe if I listen more closely to my son-in-law, he can help me understand why a bunch of women react to being shown a wedding dress the same way I reacted to Mazeroski back in 1960. Listen up, ladies. Bill can be a prince, or Bill can be a Pirate.

John Laird is The Columbian’s editorial page editor. His column of personal opinion appears each Sunday. Reach him at john.laird@columbian.com.