Shoeless at the Altar

Aug. 19 - Arranging our wedding was a long and complicated process, so it was only natural that, when the great day finally arrived, my right foot would be a painful, swollen mass of uric acid.

If you've ever had gout, or known anyone who has, you probably know as little about it as I do: it's caused by fatty meats and liquor. No, it's caused by shellfish and citric acid. I mean it's caused by kidney disfunction. No, wait, I mean it's purely genetic.

To treat gout, you should eat 250g of cherries a day. Or abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages. Or just elevate your feet. Or take this pill, once a day, for the rest of your life. Or try soaking the afflicted area in cold water. Or hot water. Or applying a hot compress. Or eat vegetarian. Or eat vegetarians.

The point is, although medical science appears to have unanimously acknowledged that gout is caused by uric acid deposits in the joints (typically the big toe), there's wild disagreement as to what that uric acid is doing there in the first place.

Treatments vary widely, but since there's no real cure to speak of, most treatments focus on the primary symptoms: swelling and pain.

The treatment urged on me at the Frederiksberg Hospital emergency room was therefore simple: use a cane and take as many Ibuprofen tablets and painkillers as you need until it goes away, and see your own doctor if it persists.

It persisted, so the DMB set up a phone consultation with "my" doctor for me. This resulted in more painkillers.

It was useful to have all those painkillers—some kind of synthetic morphine—because at about this time (the Tuesday before the wedding) things were starting to get crazy. My family was arriving from New England. Things had to be picked up, dropped off, paid for, written down, handed off. . .

All brides and grooms should get a big bottle of painkillers about a week before their wedding.

* * *

By Friday it was clear I wouldn't be waltzing a lot at the wedding. I was still hobbling around on a cane and gobbling painkillers as if they came out of a Pez dispenser.

We'd had our wedding rings custom-made by a friend of the DMB's—a goldsmith whose store happens to be half a block away from Nikolajkirken, the former church where our wedding and reception would be held the following day. As we tried on our rings, she glanced sympathetically at my sandal-clad food and asked if I'd be able to wear shoes with my tux.

Although I'd picked up the tux that morning, this was the first time my footwear issues had presented themselves so starkly.

"I can't wear shoes," I stammered. "I mean, I could wear a shoe on my left foot and a sandal on my right, or sandals on both, or maybe a shoe on the left and just a nice black sock on the right. . ."

The goldsmith shrugged and smiled. "Who says you have to wear any shoes at all?"

"You mean go barefoot?" It was such a weird and stupid idea that I couldn't help loving it. But I wasn't so numbed by synthetic morphine that I didn't know whose decision it really was.

"Barefoot," the DMB repeated thoughtfully. She looked at me blankly for a minute, then smiled brightly. "That would be fun!" she exclaimed.

The decision was made.

And so, a day later, as our friends and families gathered around our makeshift "altar" on the cobblestoned terrace of Nikolaj Plads; as my best man took his place beside me; as Klaus Bondam, the celebrated Danish actor and city councilman performing our ceremony, glanced one last time over his papers; and as my brother-in-law asked if it was time to hit "play" on the boombox cued to "Here Comes the Bride"—there, on the very brink of our wedding ceremony, I very unceremoniously tossed my cane aside, removed my sandals and socks and tossed them behind the altar, and felt such a sense of devil-may-care liberation that I damn near roared, "Let's roll!"

My fear of trademark prosecution got the upper hand, however, so I just said, "Okay."

The CD blasted into life, the crowd hushed, and my two little nieces, crowned in floral garlands, emerged from Nikolajkirken onto the stone steps of the entrance, casting rose petals to the ground with lovely childish gracelessness.

And I wiggled my toes on the cold, hard stone of Nikolaj Plads.

[To be continued.]

Career Suicide

On this date in 1936, Federico Garcia Lorca retired from his position as Spain's most celebrated poet and playwright in order to become a gravedigger. This was a terrible career move: his Fascist supervisors were so displeased with his work that they shot him to death after he had dug only one grave.

* * *

Today used to be Independence Day in Afghanistan. I don't know who declared their independence from whom on this date, though—the Taliban from the Soviets?—so until I know better I'm going to pass on calling that an actual holiday.

Today is the birthday of Tipper Gore (1948), Bill Clinton (1946), Willie Shoemaker (1931), Gene Roddenberry (1921), Malcolm Forbes (1919), Ogden Nash (1902), and Orville Wright (1871).

© 2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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