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Wednesday, January 1, 2014


 newlyweds about to be

My friends Dudley and Muffet got hitched up last night. Neither one appeared to have any regrets. They spoke their vows just a few minutes before 12. Somebody turned on the big flat-screen tv. It's like New Years doesn't take unless you see it on tv. Of course, this is not what it's about. The tv is the official countdown clock that puts everybody in the country in sync with the atomic clock so everybody blows their whistles at the same time. It wouldn't do for all the parties in the Eastern time zone to go by clocks a minute or two off in either direction. Precision timing. Somebody told Dudley in jest to put on Guy Lombardo. Suddenly, the wedding party became a New Year's party with just a few minutes to go, champagne poured all around, hugging, kissing, people saying Happy New Year to each other. A good feeling atmosphere in the house. It's not in me to take an interest in weddings. I tend to see them as Divorce Part One. It's a jaundiced view. I'm well aware of it. But I still don't like weddings and only go to funerals of friends. Dudley and Muffet are my friends, so it's only right by my own standard that I go to their wedding, especially since invited. It was a small group of thirty-something. Dudley explained to me in conversation before the festivities that given the size of the house they wanted a guest-list of twenty or so, family and closest friends, but they couldn't stop at twenty. There were plenty of others they felt needed to be included. Dudley said, "This is what I love about this place. If you don't invite one of your friends to your wedding, they continue to be your friend." I thought: We'll see.

prenuptial horseplay
Muffet I have known mainly through the coffee shop in the Selma era as Dudley's woman when she arrived on the scene. Their bond was already set. I felt like she brought out the stallion in Dudley, a part of himself he'd had to shut down for several years. He and Muffet were high school boyfriend and girlfriend. After school everything changed for them. Each eventually married and went different ways. Dudley's first wife, Caroline, had a long, slow death from MS. Dudley cared for her, like nothing you've ever seen, for several years. He took such care of her it was past commendable. It was Dudley being Dudley. He feels deeply and he thinks deeply. The spontaneity of a child is present with him, ready to pop to the surface like a laugh at any time. Dudley is somebody I can talk with freely and laugh with frequently. And Dudley is, by my own personal reckoning, a true human being. He has a cultivated sense of humor. I don't mean cultivated like sophisticated, though it is that too, but with a lifetime of practice behind it. When we get together, laugh is much of what we do. We talk, though our talking amounts to commercials between rounds of laughter. In our childhoods, we were both characterized by a nerd's bewilderment over the ridiculous world around us, the nutty belief systems, the rarity of the rational, sports, like that. I was able a little bit better than Dudley at camouflaging myself a non-nerd. It never took, but I affected the show anyway, wanting to believe it worked. I didn't get picked on for being a nerd -- the point of the cammo. Then I saw Revenge Of The Nerds, and now I say: Nerd Power! I feel like Muffet's affection for Dudley has much to do with his spontaneity and humor. Dudley is not afraid to care. She knows that too.
the vow
I enjoyed Muffet from the start. That she was with Dudley opened me toward her, and I enjoyed talking with her. We have been facebook friends for some time, the occasional conversation by way of comment boxes. They went off on a couple of cross country driving adventures, following their flow, weeks and weeks away, keeping in touch by facebook along the journeys. It seemed to Dudley's friends like she was taking Dudley from them, but I could only think: Dudley knows what he's doing. Dudley isn't fickle. They were gone so much on long drives and shorter trips we seldom saw Dudley anymore. I thought of them like Jack and Jenny in the meadow together the first month, each focused so totally on the other that distractions didn't register; the best place for me, the other side of the fence. I saw by way of knowing Dudley that he and Muffet were in that focus and I thought nothing of it. They will be back. I felt like this New Years party with the wedding was an announcement to Dudley's world of neighbors and friends in this part of his life that they're back. They will hit the road again, but they haven't forgotten their friends. Muffet has extended herself generously to Dudley's friends. I don't even question Dudley's good sense marrying her. It's Dudley's life. It's his decision. With advanced gray hair he has a right to live by his own decisions. I take it from Dudley's affection for Muffet there is plenty about her that's worth having around. As I gradually become acquainted with Muffet, I'm automatically drawn to her because Dudley is. We get along very well, talk straight-forward and frankly with each other. She has extended herself to Dudley's friends as openly as though they were her own, and without being put-on and false about it. Like Dudley, Muffet is who she is and if you're looking for something different, well you can keep on looking someplace else.
todd smith and his wife jo ellen watch the vow

Dudley and I have known each other right at ten years. It was summer of 1993 I contacted him about teaching me to be a dj at the Sparta AM station WCOK for a radio show I was starting with regional music. He was new to the county from DC where his career was in radio. At the time, he was making commercials for the Sparta station and helping out the station in supportive ways. We started with his computerized sound equipment making a cd for each week's show, commercials, songs in place. He had a computerized setup that was impressive in what it could do, esp to somebody who only wants a computer for a glorified typewriter. Dudley could make an audio play of the Three Bears, speaking the role for every character and they all be different. I mentioned that one only because it was first to come to mind. I'd guess he could do Winnie The Pooh as well with different voices. All I'm getting at is Dudley has a trained and practiced vocal talent for radio talking. He taught me how to plan a show down to the seconds. I wanted to learn the rules of the studio, wanted to do the show live, spontaneously as possible, though without it being so loose it falls apart. The main thing was that Dudley put me at ease with the studio. I understood it before I started and from there on learned by doing. Dudley sings choral music with the local Camerata, likes choral music, opera, Broadway, and I like mountain music and rock. We've often laughed over how our musical tastes cancel each other. Guy Lombardo and Rage Against The Machine. In my small world of people I call my friends, Dudley matters. Now Muffet matters too.
12 o'clock: whistle and selfie time

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