How I Met Your Mother

September 18, 2014

It is one of the commonplace items of conversation whenever Anne-Louise and I meet new friends or are in one of those social events that require some explanation. How did you meet. Over the forty years of our marriage I have perfected a suite of stories that satisfy most occasions. Of course, Anne-Louise has her own, closer to the truth accounts.

Here is one of my favorites. I have told it to my children with various results, mostly pleas for mercy.

How I Met Your Mother

As some, or even many perhaps, of you know, it was more than forty years ago when a small piece of history was made. It was in the early seventies when a forward thinking scion of American-Italian New Jersey aristocracy summoned his most trusted, reliable and need I say daring, bondsmen to the sound proofed lounge of his modest palazzo in the bosky suburbs close to New York City. So close one could almost smell the halitosic breath of the toll booth attendants on the George Washington Bridge when the winter winds came off the palisades into the discreet residential enclaves to the west of Fort Lee. In the brisk directive and uncompromising terms characteristic of this economically worded man his associates were charged with the special task that would shake the world. It was a task that once completed would eliminate a serious challenge he had been facing. A family challenge.

A few months later I was sitting quietly in a pub where I was not well enough known to cause a problem; The Bottle and Glass at Binfield Heath, Berkshire, England. It was indeed a quiet night. Before me stood a pint, my second that evening, of Brakspear’s ordinary; an affordable session beer favored by young men of limited means.  An innocent and yet attractive young man quietly enjoying his respite from his hectic career as research laboratory schlepsman and apprentice layabout.

To my left and right two equally innocuous and innocent Englishmen, who I later realized, must have been bribed. Conversation had fallen to the acceptable murmur that amongst Englishmen passes for heated discussion. We were debating as usual the age old question that troubled most Englishmen of our vintage. When were we next getting our leg over, if ever? Outside the softly falling summer night caressed the trees and the rusting fenders and bodywork of the parked British made cars.

From out of this seeming gentle darkness four darkly clad and plainly foreign men; they had good teeth; burst into the public bar of the Bottle and Glass, pushed aside my two companions, rapidly gagged and bound me and laid me in the trunk of an enormous American car that hurtled off into the night. At this moment I lost consciousness.

I hope you can imagine my surprise upon waking to find myself in a modern church sitting bolt upright in the front right pew. There appeared to be a marriage in process. Judging by the colorful costumes; of the men; it was an American marriage. As I looked around at the packed pews and saw that every eye was upon me, and finding that I was wearing a rented morning suit, and that a pearl gray top hat rested in my lap, I came rapidly to the stunning conclusion that the marriage in question was my own. I saw that escape was unlikely and stiffened my lip for the worst.

An unseen hand playing upon an invisible keyboard let loose a strangely familiar refrain and a hundred and thirty heads swiveled to the rear of the church. Thinking this might be a chance to make my escape through the sacristy I carefully rose to my feet. A heavy hand from behind pressing on my shoulder prevented this move and added the gutturally whispered words, “Not yet, big boy”.

The familiar refrain continued amid gasps from the assembly. I quaked, imagining the horror that was about to reveal itself. As the notes faded into the brickwork the heavy hand now gripped my collar and hoisted me to my feet with the rasping instruction, “OK Limey, its playtime!”

I had never been so reluctant to look left, but remembering that I was in some as yet unrewarded way representing England on a foreign shore and that I had already stiffened my lip, I slowly turned to face my future. I almost fainted. With relief. For there, smiling at me with the sweetest brown eyes and a laughing mouth was a lovely vision in white. Towering over her left was the aristocrat himself. I felt his powerful gaze upon me and smiling weakly stumbled into the aisle to begin the best years of my life with an amazing woman.

And that is how I met your Mother.