Thirty years ago today, Rumpole and I married in a small chapel of a Vancouver Anglican church. He was a divorce; I was a Catholic and had a seven year old son. Renaissance Man believed he, too, was part of this ceremony, that he was also getting married. “We are getting married” he kept repeating, rather joyously, in hindsight.
That November tenth was a miserable, stormy day, a Friday. Rumpole was waiting with Renaissance Man at our house. He had brought him home from after-school care, and had him bathed and dressed in his new olive-geen thre piece suit.
When I flew in, bedraggled and wet from my teaching job in North Delta, my two men were dressed and sipping hot chocolate at the kitchen table.
“You have exactly a half-hour to get ready to go to church” reminded Rumpole. “Your Mom and Dad will be here then to drive us to the church.”
Hurry up, Mom,” said Renaissance Man. ” you need to look pretty for your wedding.”
I scrambled-around like a mad-woman, showering and washing my hair, blowing it dry and throwing on my excrement-brown cocktail dress that Mom had insisted was the appropriate wedding dress for a fallen woman such as I to wear at her wedding. Off-white was absolutey out of the question, she insisted. I barely had time to smear on some lipstick before Mom and Dad drove up. We piled into the back seat of Dad’s car and sped off in the blowing, blustery night to the Anglican Church in East Vancouver. Rumpole’s parents’ car was parked, windshield wipers madly labouring away as we arrived in the church parking lot. They had recently arrived off the ferry from Nanaimo. We dashed into the church, and without further preamble, the minister married us. As we left after the ceremony, a group of people waiting at the church entrance commented on what a nice rehearsal our wedding had been. Rumpole coreected them “that was the real thing”. And then we were off to our house to sit at table, and eat a meal of cold-cuts and other savouries. Rumpole’s father had brought champagne, my father provided a lovely Dobos Torte from Szasz’s.
My Father and Mother took RM home with them. Rumpole and I and his parents stayed at our house. The following morning, Rumpole and I drove off on our honeymoon trip to Oregon. He had in his mind a little set of cabins on the beach near Seaside for our honeymoon destination. We were excited and happy as we drove through driving rain across the US-Canadian border and south to oregon on the I5. On the way, we stopped in small towns and explored. It was evening by the time we arrived on the Northern end of the Coast road.
Daylight ends quite early in November. We drove through the dark and decided to keep going until we arrived at the Seaside. Rumpole kept his eyes peeled for the cottages, but said he didn’t recognize them in any of the establishements we had passed. ” I’m sure it’s just around the next corner” he kept reassuring me. It was getting on to nine o’clock, and he was becoming quite exasperated. I was getting a wee bit peckish, after all we hadn’t eaten since noon, in a small town somewhere in Washington State. “All right,'”he decided, “the next place we come to we will stop for the night.” I was only too eager to concur. My legs had gone to sleep, and I was getting very fed up with driving through the wet night.
“The Inn at Otter Crest” announced a brightly lit sign after our prolonged driving along a dark highway that seemed to ribbon ahead to nowhere. We were releaved, and very hungry. But where was the inn? “Parking-please park your vehicle and use the call box to call the front desk. A hotel bus will be along shortly to deliver you to the Inn Office,” a sign in the huge parking lot instructed. We did that, and waited in the rain under a shelter near a sign indicating “Inn Transport”. Soon a small bus emerged out of the drizzling gloom, loaded us up and delivered us to the office. No soon had we signed in that we were advised to get back on the bus. It would next take us to our room. The clerk warned us the dining room was due to close in an hour, so if we were to eat anything at all, we had to get to the restaurant as soon as possible. Off we went on the bus to find our room.
The Inn was huge, several levels high, several separate buildings, joined by a road that wound to each level and then to each room. The bus deposited us in front of a row of doors. Each door had a light above it. If this light was lit up, that meant that people were about to emerge from their room. It was a warning for the Inn bus driver, so he wouldn’t run over residents as they came out from within their room. He explained this to us carefully. It seemed to be knowledge that we needed to have as guests to survive the Otter Crest experience. He cautioned us repeatedly to make sure we understood the danger to our persons from buses that drove around all the time from level to level, from building to building. We escaped to our room and dropped our bag. There was no bed in the room, just a hide-away couch that opened up for sleeping. Ther was a plus, a fireplace, but only one skimpy presto log with which to build a roaring romantic fire. We looked at each other and started laughing. Weird, we decided. But we were starving and had to brave the night and find the restaurant.
As we left our room, Rumpole snatched me back from the open door. The light above the door outside, failed to come on. “New bride gets flattened by Otter Cress guest bus. Bereaved young widower throws himself from a nearby cliff. A honeymoon tragedy!” he said in his best newscaster intonation. We made our way, gigling in the dark, trying to figure out which direction to go to find the restaurant.
The restaurant was packed, much to our surprise. He asked the waiter how come there were so many guests out of season. “It’s an Oregon State Social Worker’s Conference. They’re here for the whole weekend,” the waiter told us, handing over menus. We studied the menus, then started to laugh at the same time. “Did you notice that every item on this menu has Parmesan cheese in it” Rumpole pointed out. “Look, here it says “petits peas a la Anaglaise.” I said, laughing. “this place must have discovered parmesan cheese as an “in” ingredient. And, of course, nothing says expensive and classy than a menu in French, never mind it’s in bad French.” Rumpole made me a bet, “I bet you don’t have the nerve to ask fro Parmesan Ice cream.” I told him “get your money ready, because you are about to lose this bet. Just watch my smoke!”
The restaurant had marginally better food than a Boston Pizza. But it had a good jazz band, and diners who were thoroughly sloshed and obviously having a good time. We had a great time watching people, paid the bill and strolled back to our room, ever vigilant for an Inn bus to whip around the corner of a building and wipe us out. We made it into our room, lit the presto log, and sat on the balcony under cover, listening to the surf pound an unseen shore.
This afternoon, Rumpole and I are driving to Harrison Hot Springs, for a weekend celbration of our thirtieth anniversay. Today has been sunny, the night promises to be a clear, moon-lit one, altogether very different fom the first evening of our honeymoon way back then. I plan to ask for all courses of our evening meal to have some Parmesan cheese as an ingredient, and will request Parmesan cheese ice cream for dessert. He should get a kick out of this weekend.