June 23, 1968 was fantastically hot, as is usual for D.C. in the summer. I was living in an adorable rented house on Benton Street, NW, in what is called Glover Park. I got up, put on my white tie and tails, or morning coat or whatever it was, and drove over to Arlington to Fort Myer to go to the chapel. I believe my friend Joel Block drove me to the event.
I was nervous. Extremely nervous. I was 23 and I was getting married. True, I was getting married to the most beautiful girl in the world, but marriage is a big step.
It is a terrifying step. Just want to let you know.
The chapel was well air conditioned. There were a lot of flowers. My grooms were my brother-in-law, Melvin, my pals Duncan Kennedy, now a superstar law professor at Harvard Law School, Joel, Marvin Goldberg, who had been my friend since kindergarten, Calvin Kline, still a close friend, and I do not recall who else.
My wife’s bridesmaids were her sister, my sister, Mopsy Kennedy, the lovely Dale, her pals from Vassar, Linda Fairstein, now a super-famous lawyer and novelist, Lydia Domkiw, a charmer from Ukraine by way of Vassar, and I think Susan Jones, although I could be wrong. Was my sister a bridesmaid? She must have been. We get along better than any siblings I have ever known of. So, she must have been.
My parents were so incredibly young, just hard to believe. I think my mother and father were 52. Amazing.
They looked happy. Many Jewish parents object to their children marrying Gentiles, but mine loved Alex from Day One.
How can my parents be gone? How can that be?
I was chain-smoking Pall Malls, and so were all of my groomsmen except maybe for Calvin.
I looked surreptitiously down the aisle and there was Alex, so beautiful you cannot imagine. She had turned 21 the day before. Just beautiful on a scale that cannot even be conceived of, tall, slender, radiant in her Woodward & Lothrop dress that cost $95, which was a lot in 1968. Her father stood next to her in his dress whites. He was an Army Colonel, just back from Vietnam, where he had been awarded a Bronze Star to go with the Silver Star he had earned in blood in Germany.
Alex was the most beautiful bride in history. Her father was the handsomest man in history.
I don’t remember what happened next except that the rabbi — yes, a rabbi in a chapel with a cross — stood up and told us that marriages have to be about equal sharing of burdens, which meant that “the distaff side” had to share the burdens and sometimes take the lead. My mother had insisted he add that, because she thought I was so incompetent. (I was a second year at Yale Law School.) But she was crying with happiness, too, and I miss her painfully. (She was the most loyal supporter of RN there has ever been and cried the most of anyone at his resignation. She wrote me a letter every single day I was at Columbia.)
Well, I crushed the glass, as expected, and we were married.
We have the reception at the Naval Officers Club in Bethesda at the Naval Hospital. (My father was still in the Naval Reserve and I think that’s why he was able to rent it.) My wife wore a floral dress, and then Alex and I drove away in my white Chevy sedan without air conditioning to our honeymoon at the Henlopen in Rehobeth (Rehohoth) Beach. Alex was tipsy. We stopped at a McDonald’s on the way. And I had a cheeseburger. (How I love McDonald’s!) The Henlopen had a super great breakfast buffet with chipped beef.
I would never have guessed we would still be together 47 years later (with time out for bad behavior). This woman is sent from heaven. She is beyond perfect. She is an eternal star.
Now our cars have air conditioning and we live like Maharajahs, which is about to stop.
But the most beautiful woman on the planet was my wife that day — and she is even more beautiful now — and the handsomest man in history was her father, a war god and a god of peace and love and forgiveness. He and his wife are buried at Arlington in honored glory. My parents are interred nearby in Falls Church, also in honored glory.
My sister and her husband — they have been married now for about 51 years — will soon come to visit us in Sandpoint.
I am often down and sad about being old. But I have Alex, and my memories of marrying the world’s most beautiful woman, that keeps me going.
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