Sunday, August 25, 2019

Chapter 9 - Asking for Her Hand



(As always if you are new to the book here are links to the earlier chapters, Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3 Chapter 4Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, and Chapter 8).

Julie awoke the next morning feeling rather chipper. Today was the day she shed the oppressive bondage of singlehood forever. She hadn’t even fully removed the covers when she heard a slight knock at the door, “Honey, you in there?”

The night before, her parents had flown in from back east, and at the airport, as her mother caught a glimpse of her, she rushed into her arms totally ignoring any whistles or yellow coats telling them to move on. The only way Julie could think to describe her mother's mood was that of sheer giddiness. She doubted if most 14 year old girls got this excited before a NYSC concert.

Even now, the gentle tapping on the bedroom door was like that of a child anxious for their parents to get up on Christmas, but cautious of upsetting them. Indeed, just like a child on Christmas morning, Julie’s Mother had found it difficult to sleep, as today was a day she had dreamed of for a long time.

It was about 6 AM, as late as the enthusiasm would allow her to wait. Again came a gentle knock. “Yes, Mom, I’m here,” Julie said as her Mother rushed in.

“You haven’t even started getting ready yet?”

“Mom it’s 6 AM, we don’t need to be there until 9:30. I have plenty of time.”

“I think we’d better get started.” In truth, Mom was glad Julie hadn’t started. The two of them standing in front of a mirror, doing make up and putting her hair in an amazing “updo” in preparation for her Father walking her little girl down the aisle was a moment Barbara had relived in her head since Julie was a little girl, and she didn’t plan to miss any of it.

“I need to shower first.”

“Good Idea. You shower, and I’ll get the makeup and hair items set up and ready to make you look amazing.”

Julie had a very nice, very long master bath. It was one of the main reasons she had bought the home. Not only did it have a bath and a shower plus a jacuzzi tub, but it also had a large sink, vanity and mirror she could sit at to do her makeup.

When she bought the home she pictured herself each morning leisurely applying her eye shadow and sitting for long jacuzzi tub soaks on the weekend. Now, six years into ownership, reality had set in. The jacuzzi tub had years ago turned into a place for her to layout outfits and store clean clothes she hadn’t gotten around to putting away. And more makeup was applied in the front seat of her car at a stop light than in front of the huge vanity, but it was going to be used properly today. Mom was sure of that. So, while Julie showered, mom arranged and chat continued.

After mostly small talk around what types of braids and twist her hair would be forced into or what tone of base she preferred, Julie decided she could ask what was really on her mind, “Mom, is Dad okay with this?”

“What do you mean? Of course, he is. He couldn’t be happier.”

“He seemed a little odd last night.”

“I wouldn’t worry about your Father. He is a bit old fashion is all.”

“I know he’s old fashion, Mr. Rogers wears more modern sweaters. But what does that have to do with my wedding? I mean I’m marrying a man, in a church, and were not even living together. What is more old-fashioned than that?”

“We are very happy about that. I think the issue is, that he would have liked to meet Byron before the morning of the wedding. But don’t worry, he will be fine.”

Julie had to admit this was a reasonable request. After all, meeting the parents was a standard right of passage in any courtship. Had this wedding been happening ten years ago, Julie's Mom would also have demanded the opportunity to meet her fiance, but with Julie well into her 30’s she was so happy to see her getting married at all, she wasn’t going to get hung up on little details like, “who he was.”

“I told dad, Byron was picking up his Dad at the airport, so he couldn’t be there last night.”

“Yes, he understood, but he thought it was odd.”

“What, that he had to pick up his Dad?”

“No, the whole situation.”

“What do you mean?”

“Julie, don’t worry about it. You want this day to be perfect. Don’t let your Father's skepticism bother you. I told him to drop it, so he will behave today.”

“Mom, what do you mean his skepticism?”

“Forget I said anything.”

“Mom, it’s my wedding day, I deserve to know what dad thinks.”

“Well…”

“Come on Mom.”

She had always been a pushover for her daughter. “I’m not sure your Father trusts Byron, or at least, he’s a little uncomfortable with him.”

“What’s he worried about? That he is secretly an axe murderer.”

“That did come up.”

“You’re kidding, right.”

“You are his little girl. Nothing will ever change that. He feels an obligation to ensure that you are safe and don’t get hurt.”

“Byron’s not going to hurt me.”

“I know, but your dad doesn’t know that. So, he feels things are a bit rushed. Last night he was rattling on and on about how when he married me, he had to ask my Father for permission before he proposed, and then he mentioned something about handbaskets and hell.”

“He wanted Byron to ask him before he proposed?”

”He just wanted to be involved with the decision to some small degree. You mean the world to him, but he’ll see that Byron is an amazing man. He simply needs time to get to know him.”

Julie was torn. On one hand, she knew her Father’s desire to protect her was based in love. But didn’t he trust her not to pick an axe murderer? After all, her Mother trusted her. But then again her Mother was so anxious for this marriage, if she had found out Byron was an axe murderer, she would likely have said, ‘Sure everyone's seems bad if you only focus on their bad qualities.’ Her Dad had a point and perhaps deserved a better situation.

“I know what to do.”

Julie had a look in her eye that her mother was all too familiar with and she didn’t like it. It reminded her when at age 8, Julie leaned over to her mother at church and asked, “How much longer?”

“Any time now”

“No, How much longer?”

“We should have finished by now. But pastor Brent will finish soon.”

“You mean, were supposed to be done?”

“Yes, so it will be anytime now.”


Julie got that look, the ‘I know what to do’ look. She scooted down the pew, just out of reach of her mother, stood up and yelled up at the good Pastor, “Your time is up! We’re supposed to go home!”

While unorthodox and embarrassing, it did work. Pastor Brent lost his place, chuckled, said, “Amen” and sat down.

The look was back.

Julie, this will work out. Don’t do anything abrupt. Just let it be. There is no reason to call off or postpone the wedding because of your Dad.”

“I have no plans on postponing my wedding. Go and tell Dad to get ready quick we are going to the church at 8:30. I have a phone call to make.”

Uneasy as she was, her Mother obeyed. After all, it was Julie’s wedding day. Once she left the room and the door was shut, Julie picked up her phone.

----------------------------------------

Saturdays had always been Byron’s only day to sleep in, and even though today was to be his wedding day, he did not plan to make an exception. Yet the sound that was pulling him into and out of his dreams was not his typical alarm, by the time his brain focused enough to realize it was an incoming call, it had already gone to voicemail.

Grateful for voicemails, he rolled back over hoping he could find his way back into his dream. While he wasn't 100% sure what the dream was, he had been flying, getting some award, or perhaps eating cheesecake, whatever it was, it was good. But just as hope of reentering into slumber was becoming a reality the phone again rang. Byron willed the eyes to focus onto the faceplate of the phone. “Julie, why would she be calling?” Instantly the thought that she was backing out flashed through his mind. Who doesn’t have cold feet on their wedding day? Even people about to marry someone they love go through it. And why do they call it cold feet? Byron would have further contemplated the correlation between our likelihood of taking action to the temperature of one's extremities but decided he better answer the phone. After all, no matter how bad the news, sending Julie to voicemail a second time wasn’t going to make it better.

He cleared his throat, trying to clear 8 hours of built up throat flem in 2 seconds. Unfortunately for every person who has attempted this, the Guinness Book of World Records is still waiting for this to be done successfully.

“Hello?”

“Did I wake you up?” Julie said with a bit of condescension. He knew a lie would be futile but contemplated it long enough for Julie to jump in. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter. I need you to be at the church by 8:30.”

“Eight-thirty? Why? It’s a little late for a run though?”

“Not for that, I want you to meet my Mom and Dad.” Byron felt the temperature of his feet dropping. “And ask my Father for my hand?” Julie added

“What?”

“I said, and ask my Father for my hand.”

“No, I heard you, but, do people… even do that anymore?”

“You do.”

“Isn’t it a little late in the game?”

“This is not a game.” Julie said, as Byron instantly regretted his choice of words.

“I didn’t mean that, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable asking your Dad, whom I’ve never met, for your hand in marriage an hour before we are supposed to be married.”

There was a moment of silence, where again Byron wished had he been a little more awake because then perhaps he would have practiced the “think first, speak second” theory he spent so much time preaching to his clients.

“Byron, you will be at the church at 8:30, and you will meet with my Father and ask for my hand.”

“What if he says, No?”

“Oh, I forgot to add, and you will do whatever you have to to get his consent.”

Byron at this point debated asking “Or else you’ll what?” But he had been awake a little longer now and thought. Worst case she backs out, or was their something worse? He decided he didn’t want to find out, and her backing out was not a good outcome either. So he simply said, “See you at 8:30.”

Byron took a deep breath and headed for the shower.

__________________________

Solomon said, “It shall be well with them that fear God.” And the wise king was not alone in touching on the subject. Indeed it seemed to be prerequisite to get your stuff published in the Old Testament that you love the word begat and that you have a good working knowledge of this God fearing thing. Byron had never felt he had a good grasp on the topic, but as he approached the towering, solid, decorative, 10 foot front doors of the St. Marks Lutheran Church, he felt his grasp of the concept improving.

Part of the confusion had come that, as a boy, he had always been taught that God was his loving Father, which, if it was true, then why fear him? But fear was exactly what he felt as the door slowly began to swing under Byron’s slow pull. It was a fear he never felt for the mild mannered man, the Father he only ever called Dad, who walked up the steps behind him. In fact, he could only think of two times he’d ever felt true intense fear of meeting someone. One was now, and the other was the first time he came up these stairs. Both times he was on his way to meet a man behind this door, and both went by Father.

He had not crossed the threshold before he heard Julie, in an angry whisper, “Byron, what are you wearing?”

The attire of his forefathers had the impact he assumed it would have.

“Julie,” he began as he finished his entrance and allowed his father to enter, “this is Stanly, My Dad. He was kind enough to bring me his tux from his wedding, for me to wear,” He said partially trying to shield her from any embarrassment, but mostly as a way to use his dear old dad as a shield from her wrath.

“Oh, so you are Julie,“ he said, then added with a resonance of sincerity, “You are beautiful! I’m so happy for you and Byron, and so glad I get to be here.”

“Thank you, I’m glad to meet you as well.” And she too was sincere. Despite his clear failure in fashion Julie could sense Byron’s Father was a good man. And nothing is more appealing than someone who loves us, and Julie could tell that despite never seeing her before Stanly loved her. She didn’t know why but his sincere happiness for them allowed her to instantly forgive his part in the appearance of the baby blue disaster that now draped over her husband to be. Byron however was not as easily forgiven. And she made that clear as she pulled him aside, and resuming her angry whisper that comes so naturally to all mothers, wives, and as Julie proved, soon to be wives, when under the roof of any sacred edifice. “What are you wearing?”

“It is, technically a tux.” Byron whispered back.

“Yes, it is, technically a tux. But the fact that you have to add the word technically in front of it should have been a clue to wear something else. What is my Father going to say when he sees you in that get up?”

Byron shrugged, partially because he could sense the question was rhetorical and partially because he had no idea.

“Well, I’m sure it won’t impress Dad. He’s waiting in Father Young's office. She pointed to a small room that sat at the back of the church, where they had originally met with Father Young. It was only now that Byron noted Father Young sitting on a pew a few rows from the back, not knowing what to do with himself since Julie had commandeered his office.

“Remember,” Julie continued, “you need to get his permission to marry me.” She forced a smile and added, “Good luck.”

Byron wanted to remind her that there was no game plan if her Father said no, but decided there was no point, took a deep breath and opened the door.

An older man sat at the desk. Byron instantly saw Julie's face in his. He was definitely her Dad. He stood as Byron entered, “Hello, you must be Byron.”

“Yes, and you must be…” Byron let this hang in the air. When he had begun this sentence, his intentions were entirely pure. However, it was about the third word in when he realized Julie always called him Dad, and Byron couldn’t recall ever learning his name. It must have been on the invitation, so he thought hard on trying to envision what it had said, but was coming up blank. Percy came to mind, or some weird P name, but should he risk guessing? The pause had been long enough that Dad jumped in.

“Pelham.”

“Oh, yeah that’s right. Sorry about that. I’m a bit nervous.”

“Don’t feel bad. It’s an odd name. Even the man I’m named after didn’t go by it. Most people called him Plum but since I never could pass for a fruit, I’ve been stuck with Pelham.”

“Well, It’s good to meet you.”

“I’m glad to finally be meeting you.” Pelham had not overemphasized the word “finally,” but did so just enough that Byron noted it.

Byron wasn’t sure how to do this. He’d never asked a man for his daughter's hand before; he felt like some small talk was in order, something to lighten the mood but nothing came to mind. Byron’s discomfort would have been obvious to the most oblivious observer, his face was flush, sweat was forming on his forehead and many more less visible places. If Pelham shared his discomfort, he didn’t show it. This was his opportunity to see what kind of man he was dealing with and he wasn’t about to let him off easy by showing any sign of discomfort himself.

“Well.. Pilgrim.”

Pelham let the mistake slide as Byron continued to stammer. “I...uh...was wondering…?”

“Yes.” Pelham said.

“I’m not really sure how to say this, but can I marry your daughter?”

“It looks to me that you are going to, so I suppose you can.”

Oh great the old may versus can. He had sworn in sixth grade he’d never fall for that one again. “What I mean is, do we...would we...may we,” Byron wanted to get the right word. “Have your blessing?”

“Byron, I have known you for a grand total of less than 5 minutes, we haven’t had a phone call, a text, a letter, or even a comment on each others facebook page. And now you are asking me if I am okay with trusting the most important thing in the world to me, the protection, happiness and welfare of my little girl to a total stranger. What would you do?”

Byron had never thought of this from the Fathers situation, what if it was his daughter getting involved in a sham wedding. The pressure was mounting and rather than take it Byron was buckling, a sick feeling in his stomach began to grow. The only answer he could come up with was, “I wouldn't give my consent, and you can’t. I understand Pilgrim, the show must not go on.” Byron was trying to build up the courage to say it. But the more he thought the more sick he got and he began to work that if he opened his mouth he might throw up.

But it was Pelham, the pillar of strength that became the first to buckle.

“But I realize, there is no point in laying all this on you at this point. There’s no turning back now, huh?”

Byron wasn’t sure he was grateful that he had been saved from answering. Despite not having to answer the difficult question, the sick feeling still lingered.

Pelham now had a calm and kindness in his voice as he asked, “What was the point of pulling me aside to ask when you knew it was too late to matter?”

Byron thought and honestly prevailed, “Because, it was what Julie wanted.”

Pelham looked at Byron and tears began to well up. “I guess sitting down with her honorary, old man and asking my consent at this point wasn’t easy, but you did it, because it’s what Julie wanted.” He chuckled a little as he spoke. “She always gets her way. Always has. I’ll guess you’ll have me to blame for that. I’ve always been a pushover for Julie. And if she wants you, and she wants my blessing, then I guess you, and I, better give it to her.”

Byron sighed. The sick feeling had not completely dissipated but he was now feeling confident he’d make it without throwing up, when Pelham continuing said, “But promise me you’ll always put her first, care for her and fight for what she needs?”

The sickness came back stronger than ever. Pelham was staring into Byron’s eyes.

“Of course.” Byron quickly got out, more out of reflex than anything else.

“Well, then I guess you are now my son, or will be soon enough.” Pelham said as he put his arm around Byron and headed for the door. “By the way son, I love the tux. I tried to wear one just like it when I got married, but I guess Barbara isn’t as open minded as Julie. My day had a real flair for fashion, especially compared to boring stuff of today. Glad you see it.

The talk had clearly calmed Pelham but inside Byron there was anything but calm.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Chapter 8- Night before the wedding


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(As always if you are new to the book here are links to the earlier chapters, Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3 Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, and Chapter 7).

"So, you are at passenger pickup?" Byron asked.

"Ready and Waiting." Came the reply.

"I'll be there in two minutes."

Byron pulled into the passenger pickup amidst the blaring whistle that was being wielded by a man in a yellow vest. This man’s sole job was to make sure no one stopped in in passenger pickup long enough to pick up a passenger. It was an epic battle and dance. Drivers anxious to avoid another loop around the maze that tried to direct vehicles there for pickup, drop-off, buses, taxis, cellphone parking, economy parking and regular parking around the airport did their best to avoid the whistle blowing, yellow jacketed man who repeated in a loud voice between whistle blows to keep moving. While the yellow jacket used the weapon of a sharp whistle and loud voice drivers employed a far more effective weapon, fanned ignorance. Step 1 was avoiding eye contact while crawling at 0.5 mph, hoping their brother, wife, niece or business partner would emerge. But with the constant whistle and yelling eye contact could only be avoided for so long and then it was time for step 2. It was the age old, “who me,” look. “You were yelling and blowing your whistle at me?” The shocked look of bewilderment and forcing the yellow jacket to give the “yes, you, get moving,” look back, will buy you an extra 30-45 seconds. At that point one is forced to move along. That is unless you are lucky enough for Yellow Jacket to turn their attention to the next car that is avoiding their eye contact. At which point, you can say, “oh, I guess you weren’t yelling at me.” And go back to step 1.

Byron noticed one particularly adept driver ahead. This driver feigned ignorance so well, one wondered if any feigning was involved. There they sat parked in passenger pickup line with no passenger in sight. The yellow jacket blew a loud whistle, then yelled, “move along,” while breathing in, a skill they must have learned as part of circular breathing training back when they were the first chair didgeridoo player, then blew an even longer, louder whistle. The parked driver, sans passenger sat acting totally oblivious. 100% successful at the eye contact avoidance. With the trusty whistle and yell routine not producing satisfaction the yellow jacket approached and knocked on the window. The driver debated feigning deafness but ultimately acknowledged the yellow jacket and the window began its descent.

“You can’t park here. You need to keep moving.”

Blank stare was the only reply.

“If your passenger is not here you need to move along.” This was followed by an arm motion meant to portray the movement the yellow jacket hoped to inspire.

Byron was wondering how much money the yellow jacket must be paid in order to show such dedication to the cause of proper traffic flow, when the driver finally responded. “Como?”

“You think, I believe, you don’t speak English?” The yellow jacket protested.

Byron never thought he’d be on the side of the yellow jacket but he thought he had a point. In the ultra PC world that he found himself Byron hated to show prejudice, even in his own mind, but the driver made pasty Byron look like a minority. Indeed, the very white man, with red hair, in the Black Mercedes Benz did not pass for your typical non-English speaking immigrant. But either he didn’t speak English or he was a very committed actor.

“Que?”

Just then, a lovely young woman, with even redder hair, ran up to the car pulled open the back door and said, “Hey, Dad.”

Embarrassment flushed over the drivers face, he stammered as she got in the car. “What’s wrong Daddy?”

The yellow jacket gave a world class condescending stair. The man chose to respond with the gas pedal, leaving the yellow jacket to turn his anger and whistle onto Byron. Luckily, weapons were useless because Byron had what he needed, a passenger. Behind the benz stood his ticket to park. He was happy to avoid feigning ignorance or lack of ability to speak English and stepped out of the car turning to his passenger, “Hey, Dad.”

Once back in the car, silence prevailed for an uncomfortable length of time. “So, was the flight good?’ Byron asked.

“Yea, as good as a six-hour flight can be.”

“So, how’s the town?”

“Not much changes there. That’s why I like it.”

Silence again settled in. Both men loved each other but neither was much for expressing it. Lately, when in each others presence they weren’t much of expressing anything. And lately, would only be an apt description if speaking in geologic times. Truthfully, they had only ever really reacted well when combined with the proper catalyst and that catalyst had always been Byron’s Mom. Somehow, she knew exactly how to keep the family properly mixed. And six years ago, when she passed away with cancer they now small, 2 person family fell apart.

Not that there was any fighting or animosity, there was just no, well anything. Without his Mother to play instigator, not got instigated. Byron’s Dad did call every year on Byron’s birthday and said, “Well, Happy Birthday Son.” At that point the call became much like this ride from the airport was turning into, awkward silence, with small burst of superficial questions to avoid complete failure to interact.

Just such a burst started when Dad asked, “So, everything ready for the big day?”

“Yea. Julie’s really done most of the planning and work.”

“Makes sense…Not that you can’t plan, but women…” He was about to say that they are better at these things, but realized saying one gender was above another was not the thing to say now a days and instead just left the thought as incomplete as their conversation.

On the birthday call this was the part when one of them would say, “Well, better get going.” But today with both sitting in the car, they knew that any going was to be done together.

It was as he grabbed the suitcase from the trunk that he remembered the one thing he needed to ask his Dad. The one thing he was solely in charge of.

“Oh Dad, did you bring the tux?”

“Sure Did. Had it cleaned just before I came. This will be the first time it has been worn since Mom and I got married.”

Byron could have gone without the last line. It wasn’t that he wasn’t sentimental, he could be. But, so far, he had done his best to separate, real life family, marriage and indeed love from the business transaction that would take place in the morning. Exactly how far he tried to separate the two came out to Julie two weeks prior.

“You got your hundred invites, correct?” Julie has asked.

“Yup.” Byron honestly responded.

“Have you sent them out? I was up the last two nights getting all mine in the mail.”

“I handed some out.”

“What do you mean, ‘you handed some out? Like you passed them out to some homeless as they walked by?”

“No. I gave a few out at work.” And this he had done. His office only contained himself and his assistant Mrs. Whitacker. So, she got one. But since he was anxious to have this connected with work, he gave out invites to anyone connected with work. Dr. Morris and Dr. Reise, whom he both consulted with and referred patients to each got one. The office manager who ran the building they leased space in. Even the guy who owned the shop two doors down that he usually got lunch from, got one, but that was it.

“What did you do with the rest?” Julie asked.

“Keepsakes?”

“Are you going to mail any?”

“Maybe,” he looked at her face, “I mean, yes.”

“What about your family?”

“We are not that close.”

“You aren’t going to invite your parents to your own wedding?”

“Well, my Mom passed away, and I didn’t want to bother my Dad.”

“Bother? I can’t believe you won’t invite your Dad. You two must really hate each other.”

“No.” Byron shot defensively. “Nothing like that. We just, aren’t…you know…close.” Byron stuttered out.

“I guess, it’s none of my business, but I think you should invite your Dad. If your only son doesn’t invite you to his wedding, you might be fairly hurt.”

Julie was spot on, as usual, and he knew it. “You are right, I’ll send him an invite.”

“You might want to lead it with a phone call, as a follow to him getting the invite in the mail.”

“Yeah, good point.”

However, two days later as he walked out of the second tux rental that had nothing for the weekend he needed it, he still hasn't gotten around to calling his Dad, when he got a text from Julie. “How’d your call go with your Dad?”

Rather than respond that it hadn’t gone at all he decided to get it over with. So, for the first time since his Mother had died, he called home.

“Hello.”

“Hi Dad. It’s Byron.”

“Hey Son, um, you okay?”

“Yeah, I am just calling to say, I’m getting married.”

“Wow…not that it’s surprising, but, wow. Great. Congratulations”

“I was calling to see if you wanted to come.”

“You bet, when is it?”

“A week from Friday.”

The pause made it clear that, that was sooner than his Dad expected and perhaps that he had previous plans. So, Byron continued, “If you can’t make it, I totally understand.”

“No, no, I’ll be there. I wouldn’t miss it.”

“Great, an invitation will be there in a few days with all the details.”

“I’ll watch for it.”

There was a pause that was very common between them and Byron was about to go to the standard, ‘I better get going.’ When Dad asked, “Do you need anything? I mean I could help pay for something. I know weddings can be expensive.”

“No Dad, that’s fine, we have it all covered.”

“Can’t I do something to help?”

“Not unless you have a tuxedo to rent. I guess we chose a popular weekend to get hitched.”

“I’ve got my tux, from my wedding.”

“Oh Dad, that’s fine, you don’t have to bring it. I’m sure I can figure something out.”

“It wouldn’t be any trouble. After all, it might as well go to use. It’s just been sitting in the closet. It should fit as…” Dad’s tried to determine how to ask this delicately, but nothing came to mind. “I mean, as long as you haven’t gained too much weight.”

“I still wear the same size I did in college.” While this was true, it was only because as a Doctor he had been in college for a long time. And while the same size did fit it took considerably more pulling and squeezing to get into than it used to.

“Great, then I’ll bring it.”

And he did. Once inside Dad placed his suitcase on the ground and pulled out a long black suit bag on top.

“Here you go Son.”

“Thanks for bringing it.”

“No problem.”

Byron quickly showed his Father to his room.

“Well, the ceremony is tomorrow at 9:30 A.M. so, we better leave around 9. I don’t want to be late for my own wedding.”

“Sounds good. Goodnight Son.”

“Goodnight Dad.”

Byron turned towards his own room.

“Oh, and Son.”

“Yes.” Byron responded as he turned back to his Dad. It took a second for his Dad to get it out but he eventually got out, “Congratulations, I’m very proud of you.”

Byron paused, He wasn’t used to his Dad showing any emotion and he could tell that last line was as hard for his Father to deliver as it was awkward for him to hear.

“Yeah… Thanks Dad. Goodnight. And let me know if you need anything.”

“Will do, goodnight.”

Byron dashed off into his room anxious to see if the tuxedo would indeed fit. He had wanted to wear his regular suite but Julie was adamant that he wear a tuxedo, and Byron had no intention of disappointing her at this point. Over the last few weeks he had become well acquainted with her and it wasn’t that he feared her, but she did have a presence that portrayed certain expectations, and wanted to see them met. Truth was, he enjoyed making her happy. And while he would never admit it to anyone, especially himself, the saddest part of marrying Julie was he knew it would bring an end to their time together.

Perhaps he would have been able to explore these feelings in more detail if other fears were not rising in his gut as the zipper descended. Fit, was his top concern, but no more. He raced through the flashcards of his memory to try to recall if he had ever seen a picture of his parents at their wedding. While the fast-paced world of fashion, particularly women fashion, changed all the time, the simple elegant tuxedo had changed very little. Or at least that is what Byron had assumed until that zipper had finished it’s decent.

He was face to face with proof that a tuxedo from the 1970’s and one today had diverged in a major way. Before him was a baby blue jacket and pants. To match a white shirt and in place of the vertical pleats so common down the face of tuxedo shirts of today was curled lace in vertical orientation with swirled baby blue threading to tie it back to the rest of the ensemble. And to ensure completeness there was the baby blue bow tie and cummerbund.

Even as brief as his Dad oft was he thought when he had offered his tuxedo he could have mentioned that no human had been seen in such a suite since John Lennon had sung with the Beatles.

Five minutes later he had verified that, while tight, it did indeed fit, but could he wear it? Julie had said she wanted a tuxedo, but while she may be upset if he showed up in a boring black suite, she might shoot him if he showed up in the baby blue beauty that he now admired in the mirror before him. If only they were getting wed at the end of a Halloween ball.

His Dad expected him to wear the tuxedo. Julie expected him to wear the tuxedo. But if you were trying to avoid your wedding looking like a joke this may be the wrong attire. He was unsure what to do, but he was sure of one thing, tomorrow was going to be very interesting.

Trump will not win in 2020

Donald Trump giving a thumbs up while walking to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in 2018.

I have decided to go ahead and make my 2020 presidential prediction. Not fully, but simply to say that Trump will lose in 2020. Many will assume this is just one more anti-trump ranting about how crazy he is, but I have been from day 1 of this president a Trump agnostic.

I have been supportive of his supreme court picks. He is not wrong about the fact that there are serious issues at the border (I don't think he always handles them the best). I think he has cut back some regulations that should be cut back. I regularly speak to my kids when they hear bad things about him at school that we support him as our president, wish him the best and regularly pray for him, just as we do and did with all our presidents.

On the other hand, his total lack of self control and morals is disturbing. But, I am not blind to the fact that many men who have held his position have not walked much of their life on the moral high ground. (Although it does surprise me to see so many who couldn't stand Bill Clinton because of his moral shortfalls and affairs, turn a total blind eye to Trump's extra circular activities.) I think his views on free trade are horrible for the economy. I think his delusion (that seems to be shared by every political party in power)  that you can cut taxes and increase spending and lead to a disaster is just that. And while every president since Bill Clinton has shared this delusion Trump has embraced it to new extremes.

But with all that, I am still a big believer that Trump has less impact on our individual lives than most give him credit for. And I am far from a cheer leader for any of the democratic candidates for the 2020 election.

So, why if I am largely a Trump agnostic, am I going ahead with my way too early prediction that he will loose? Because yesterday I think Trump did more to sink his election chances than any day before and sometimes I can't stop thinking about things until I get it out of my head and onto the page, so, that is exactly what I am doing.

Yesterday Trump tweeted: Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.

We have gotten so used to President Trump throwing out, less than thought out, ideas on twitter to the point that we are almost numb to whatever he says. I think this was a bigger mistake than Trump usually makes. Many have begun to make fun of his use of the term "hereby order." And while it is language that is often seen in executive orders, (Maybe Trump thought he could save some time for his staff, by allowing them to cut and paste from his twitter) the decision to use it on twitter was a mistake that will impact Trump.

I think even some of Trump's base may have shuddered by the use of the words, "hereby order." We as Americans are not fans of dictators, or kings and hereby ordering businesses to stop using a country that has the second largest economy in the world, and makes everything from cell phones to MAGA hats is not going to happen.

But the bigger reason I am predicting Trump will loose is he showed yesterday that he is willing to play Chicken with our economy when it comes to the trade war with China. If you think people win trade wars you have successfully avoided both history class and economics class. China is loosing more than we are, and has more to loose. That is why President Trump has made the calculus that if he puts the pressure high enough China will give in and it will lead ultimately to more open trade (at least that is my assumption.) The danger in this thought process is that China can afford to loose much much more than us. China is communist, their people are not free, also they have not had the type of prosperity that America has and are thereby more equipped to handle economic hardships than we are.

Trump's decision to raise tariffs even higher (30%) on some goods, will negatively impact our economy. Trump's path to 270 has always been narrow, possible, but narrow. His focus has been on his base, attack the media, and realize for most of America he doesn't have to be loved, just not hated as bad as one other person (something he may find harder to pull off when the other person isn't Hillary).  But nothing effects peoples votes like the economy. If we go through a recession between now and the election he will loose and the probability of that recession occurring increases everyday. We are all ready in the longest expansion in US history. Think about it, President Obama had expansion for almost his entire 8 years and Trump has continued to be part of it. But can the record hold?

Many may say, but Trump is right. China has been a terrible trade partner. They steal our secrets, create a huge trade deficit, don't reciprocate with free trade even when we give it to them. We would be better off going with someone else. To that I say, he might be right. If every company followed his royal decree to get away from China and partner more with India, Mexico and Canada, maybe even open up a MAGA hat factory in the US, we may look back ten years from now and say. It was totally worth it. We are so much better off than if we had stuck with China. I am not saying he is wrong, I am saying it will be significant pain and economic pullback in the meantime. No one can wave a magic wand and replace what the second largest economy in the world does for us. Like it or not, our lifestyle is dependent on China, and China's lifestyle is dependent on us.

Building connections, factory's, shipping routes and all the physical infrastructure, political infrastructure, and digital infrastructure to make it happen will take significant time and capital. Will a 30% tariff force this change sooner rather than later? absolutely. Yet the payout, if there is one, will not be until long after his reelection.

So, all that said I predict that we will see a recession before Nov. 2020 and as such Trump will loose reelection.