The always useful FOB

A noted tunemeister, Stephen Foster, did right well with his ditty, “The Merry Merry Month of May.” Many people may recall most of the words of this 1860s piece. Were Foster composing today, however, he’d have a better shot at stardom with “The MARRY MARRY Month of June.” Florists, photographers, videographers, bakers, jewelers, department stores, wedding gown/formal wear shops, musicians, printers and assorted caterers would applaud; Mothers of Brides (hereafter referred to as MOBs) would scream approvals heard across county lines. Little will be made of FOBs. In fact, their June roles are not unlike the acronym. (Aside to youngsters who may have read this far: Watch fobs were decorative “thingies” hanging from men’s pocket watch chains back in the days when time pieces were wound. These fobs made it easier for them to yank watches from their vest pockets.) * * * * * Make whatever comparisons you’d like, but fathers of the bride are a lot like the watch fobs of old. When FOBs are needed, MOBs and brides-to-be will yank their chains, usually to sign another book of checks. Most of the time, FOBs, are like watch fobs’just for decoration. They are akin to being furniture’like a third end table in a one-sofa home. During the month of June in particular, couples whose daughters are getting married usually save their marriages by a series of checks and balances. Typically, MOBs write checks, and FOBs maintain balances’often with a heap of juggling. Silence is never more critical than for the FOB. He must NEVER mention that he hears “elopements are ‘in’ this year,” or that if they waited until July, a lot of wedding stuff would be on sale. He must remain “hush hush” about the merits of home weddings, and also if a change in church membership is remotely anticipated, thoughts will be tabled until after the wedding. Churches charge more for weddings of non-members, if they allow such at all.” One FOB thought he had hit upon a cost saving tactic. He proposed mailing the wedding invitations without cost! “We’ll just mail all of them to ourselves, and we’ll write the names of the people we really want to get them in the return address portion of the envelope. Then, we’ll mail them….” His voice trailed off; this, his one and only idea, was shot down. * * * * * Neither can he mention to anyone that his prospective son-in-law’the one who steered clear of those “hard business courses” in college’hinted about trying to get a small business loan to put in a bait stand, since there were none within 50 miles. (Never mind the closest body of water was 100 miles.) Finally, FOBs, during the entire planning ordeal (that may extend over two terms’like Clinton’s and Bush’s) as well as during the ceremony and reception following’must never laugh at anything, unless MOBs laugh first. Even then, they must make sure that it is not mere nervous laughter. FOBs may or may not be allowed to laugh later at plans gone awry during video viewings. (Relax. There is usually a six-month delay in video delivery, and pity videographers who thought they knew how. For them, life is over.) * * * * * MOBs rearrange all priorities when daughters mention the time may be at hand for the rings on their fingers. They book churches, never mind the date may be two years away, and there may even be a different prospective groom by that time. They search almanacs, hoping to get a clue about the weather 700-800 days up the road. (Sometimes, the almanac gets it right.) “Hang the cost. This is my daughter, and she’s just getting married one time, so it is going to be the best,” MOBs by the millions have said. (Statistics show they’re half right, and even the half who are wrong about the one marriage thing usually will spring for another, albeit perhaps toned down.) (Note to Editors: If your community is particularly chauvinistic, run this paragraph at your own risk.) * * * * * Work sheets, time tables, showers and rehearsals’the list grows long are expanded and massaged. Who gets invited to what’ And what about bridal selections’ (Note: There is one mention of a groom’s selections in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not.”) One Texas MOB had just one daughter. So, the wedding was going to be in June, and was going to be done right. An obsession was to have the best wedding cake ever. (Usually, the cake taste is far less important than size and artistry.) In January, she marched into the finest bakery to place the order. It was decreed that a favorite scripture’First John 4:18, the one about “no fear in love”, would adorn the cake in big letters. The busy baker, a churchman himself, told her to just leave the reference; he’d fill in the words. He meant well, but got busy; he found the torn reference with the first missing. It became John 4:18. Puzzled, he followed his instructions, writing “You’ve already had five husbands, and the man you are living with now.” The error wasn’t spotted until the MOB instructed, “Remember, dear, use the sharp edge.” The server, with the speed of a Japanese chef, sliced the cake into small pieces, none topped by more than one letter of the alphabet. Later, the video seemed as if on fast forward as the scripture disassembled and the cake disappeared. There was yet time to make amends with the finale. The country club reception, decked out with flowers ordered, re-ordered and re-ordered to adorn all spots where plants weren’t already growing, was a paradise. The harpists (plural) had to push bouquets aside to set up their instruments; one harp was so tall, the FAA required a pulsating red light on the top.) All went according to script, until the new “man and wife” raced toward the limousine. At that instant, the wedding planner raised the tiny wire door of a bird cage. Two white doves were trained to fly skyward, into the sunset. Alas, one followed the script, but the other spotted a bug crawling slowly beside the bride. The bird swooped down to get it and a cat pounced on the bird; the cat and bug survived. The MOB had a smothering spell before fainting, the FOB stifled a grin and the florist–leaning against his brand new delivery truck’laughed out loud. Note to all parties planning weddings this month’or later: This, too, shall pass. * * * * * (Afterthought: Who do you figure was the first guy to ask his wife, “Why is it I like your mother-in-law so much better than I like MY mother-in-law'” Or who was the first to observe, “When we married, my wife promised to love, honor and obey. Now, I’d settle for any one of the three….”) * * * * * Dr. Don Newbury, Chancellor of Howard Payne University, was a longtime university president. He and his wife live in Burleson, Texas, where he continues a busy writing and speaking regimen. His “Idle American” column appears weekly in several dozen Texas newspapers. Information about his book, “When the Porch Light’s On,” and details of speaking arrangements is available on his website, or by e-mail: The Newburys have three daughters’all married.

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