First Day Married

In my earlier post My Biggest Day PreparationsI went through the day leading up to my wedding. Today, I’ll share some memories from the rest of the day.

The ceremony went quickly. It seemed like almost no time at all passed before the minister pronounced us man and wife. Handshakes and smiles occurred in a blur of a receiving line with family, friends, and several strangers (to me) that were somehow related or connected to the bride’s side. Then pictures, pictures, and more pictures while most of the guests drove off to the reception hall.

We had a sit-down meal and fed lots of people. The two of us ate very little and circulated the hall thanking everyone for coming. Some speeches, toasts, and a hail of birdseed sent us on our way. We drove to her house to change clothes before driving off on the honeymoon.

On the drive to the first night’s hotel, we noticed a strange odor coming from the dashboard vents. It was sour, slightly pungent, and burnt. We didn’t recognize it at all. The odor intensified whenever we stopped. The noxious cloud enveloped the car in the sickening smell.

It was her mother’s car. We were borrowing the little diesel Volkswagen Rabbit for the week. The vehicle was unfamiliar to me and I had no idea what could be wrong. It was past sundown and we drove lonely rural roads with no streetlights for long stretches. We quickly discussed what to do and decided to press on to the hotel and look at the engine in the morning. Fortunately, we did not have much further to go by then.

We parked and I ran to the front desk to check in and my wife waited in the car. When I came back, my new bride had turned an awful shade of green. She looked close to vomiting. The nasty smell had almost overwhelmed her in the few short minutes I had been gone.

I quickly got her out of the car, gave her the room key and pointed her to the nearest hallway entrance. She wobbled off in the right direction and I rapidly grabbed our luggage in one huge overloaded trip. I had no plans to return to the stinking car that night.

I caught up to her at the exterior door. It was locked with a simple quarter-turn spring lock that was opened by our room key. She had not encountered a lock like it before and was forcing the key in full turns before releasing which instantly locked the door again. I stopped her, opened the door and tried to extract the key. It was severely damaged. She had turned it so far that the shaft was almost corkscrewed. Useless for our room now.

I jogged back to the front desk to exchange the key. The desk clerk looked at me in shock and surprise at the key’s condition. He’d never had a guest destroy a key so badly (or quickly). A hasty mumbled apology and I received a replacement. Another quick run back to my new bride waiting queasily in the hallway. The car fumes were still lingering with her. This was not how I planned my wedding night would turn out.


One week later we returned the car to her mother. The smell had been caused by my brothers. They had sabotaged the engine by placing a full brick of blue cheese directly on the engine block. As the engine heated up, the cheese melted and burned down the engine.

We had removed the majority of the cheese the first morning using a metal coat hanger and some engine cleaner we bought at a local supermarket. During the honeymoon week the odor diminished each day as remnants cooked off.

My mother-in-law was upset with my brothers for a long time. She eventually sold the car during a cold winter with many air fresheners.


Tell us about your first day at something — your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.

Big things come in threes

At birth, he was pink and perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes, all parts of him so tiny, so beautiful. The tears shed by my wife after her all-night labor expressed her joy in a way no words ever could. He was our first child. The first grandson on both sides of the family. The future unfolded into eternal potential as we looked at him.

Three weeks later we thought we were going to lose him. He was projectile vomiting after every feeding and losing weight fast. A note in his medical file stated “failure to thrive” and we shed different tears now. We frantically changed doctors almost as fast as we changed diapers. Each one shook their head in puzzled concern as they listened to us describe everything we did, saw, and thought.

They repeatedly asked us the same questions with no better result or diagnosis. “Does his poop stink?”
What kind of question is that? We were first time parents. What did we know? Sure, baby poop stinks. What does that tell you, doctor? What they didn’t do was provide any frame of reference. Say, compared to sauerkraut left out of the fridge overnight that has warmed in the morning sun at the breakfast table alongside leftover sardines in mustard, does his poop stink?

His pitiful crying pained us terribly through each dark night. We rocked him, held him, tried to feed him again and again. He always threw up. Nothing stayed down long. The exhaustion and worry drained our strength. We kept trying new doctors.

We finally encountered a gentle older doctor who patiently listened to us like all the others. Unlike them, he didn’t ask us to describe poop potency. He nodded at appropriate times and ordered an obscure test. “Just to rule out this one possibility.”

Two days later, we had a diagnosis, cystic fibrosis. We had never heard of it. We were completely unprepared. We needed to learn. The journey of our lives had just taken a major turn.


Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must mention a dark night, your fridge, and tears (of joy or sadness; your call).

First Birth Part 1

First Birth Part 2