Holy Matrimony by
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Prompted By Honeymoon

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Just a quick story about my honeymoon with my first wife.  We flew to Hawaii the day after our wedding.  As we were married near my wife’s family home on Long Island and had an early flight out, we had a very romantic (not) wedding night at the uber-fashionable JFK Hilton. Indeed, the most memorable part of that stay was what didn’t happen there — which is that we didn’t order a ton of fancy food and drink from room service.  Nonetheless, when I got the Hilton bill when we returned, this was all included on it, and I spent my first few weeks as a lawyer not only dealing with my firm’s legal matters — and learning which partners to work for and which to avoid — but straightening out this screw-up with some of the lesser lights in Hilton’s legal department.

Thus was I presented with the first moral struggle of my marriage, not yet 24 hours into it.  I knew I had a hole in one of my socks. 

In any event, before I knew I had to deal with this Hilton mess, we flew out, as mentioned, to Hawaii.  Not surprisingly, most everyone else on the flight was also going on vacation, not business, so things were fairly festive on-board.  Near the end of the flight, one of the flight attendants cheerily announced that there were some extra bottles of Champagne and that she would be giving them out to passengers in a little contest.  (Imagine that happening now.)   I can’t remember what the others questions were, but at some point she announced that the first passenger who could show her that he/she was wearing a sock with a hole in it would win a bottle.

Thus was I presented with the first moral struggle of my marriage, not yet 24 hours into it.  I knew I had a hole in one of my socks.  I also knew that it drove my wife nuts that, as fastidious as I generally am, I never threw out my socks with holes in them. And I also knew that I couldn’t ponder this dilemma too long or some other slob would win the Champagne.

So, having quickly weighed the pros and cons — and there were both — I rang my call button, walked up to the flight attendant with my shoes off, showed her my sock and claimed my prize. Walking back to my seat with the Champagne, I got exactly the look from my wife that I expected: it said “Well, I’m really glad you got us the bottle of Champagne, and you were right to claim the prize even knowing how I would feel about your damn sock. But don’t view this one serendipitous victory as a basis for not throwing out your ratty old socks in the future.  You are on notice.”

I am skeptical about the adage that people keep falling in love — and sometimes marry — the same person over and over again.  I certainly think that my former and current wives are very different.  That said, as I considered this story, I realized that my current wife, at least in this situation, would have had the exact same reaction and given me the exact same look. I am still on notice.

Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin


Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Suzy says:

    John, I love this story! Some time you’ll have to tell us about how the fight with the Hilton went – let’s figure out a good prompt for that. And what a great moral struggle – divulge the hole in your socks to your new bride, or lose out on the free bottle of champagne! You definitely made the right choice. Wonderful last paragraph about your current and former wives – knowing both of them, I agree that they are very different, and yet I’m not surprised to hear that they would both have the same reaction to the holey sock.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks, Suzy. Not too much more to the Hilton story, other than to spoil it by saying it was my first legal victory.
      And, actually, the thing that sometimes surprises me is that, as noted, I tend to be pretty fastidious myself, and yet I seem to have this one blind spot with regard to holes in socks. Dare I call it my Achilles heel?

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    As a woman long married to a man who never throws out any item of clothing until I point out the hole or extreme wear, I do empathize with both of your wives. But it’s a great story. My son-in-law recently tore a hole in his sock to win a prize for my grandson during one of those scavenger hunts at a party. No need because every sock already has a hole. Nevertheless, I was impressed by his devotion. And I get why winning that champagne trumped a bit of outrage over your sock.

  3. Risa Nye says:

    Really enjoyed this story! Luckily, that hole in one allowed you to win the prize, if not the approval of your bride. Cheers!

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Good victories all around, John. Isn’t is amazing how lax some hotel chains are, thinking people won’t look at the bill and they’ll get away with something? We still find things like that on our bills (now that I think of it, usually at a Hilton), but we fight it right away and always get the charges removed.

    As to the “holey” sock dilemma, let’s just say that I’ve taken to sewing up the holes in Dan’s socks. It might help if he’d cut his toe nails, but he keeps his socks a long time anyway.

    • John Shutkin says:

      I may not be perfect on checking hotel bills but, since we checked in late that night and checked out early without getting breakfast, it was pretty obvious. Plus it was several hundred dollars — and those were 1974 dollars — for all sorts of liquor and food platters.

      As to the socks, I am quite good about cutting my toe nails; it’s usually the soles that give way. But still….

  5. John, I love the humble authenticity of the following quote — nobody coulda said it better — “Well, I’m really glad you got us the bottle of Champagne, and you were right to claim the prize even knowing how I would feel about your damn sock. But don’t view this one serendipitous victory as a basis for not throwing out your ratty old socks in the future. You are on notice.”

    I still think the champagne was worth it, and thanks for continuing to ah… ‘denude’ the delusions of ah… ‘wedlock.’

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks, Charles. I do humble well. That said, my former wife also had a great quotation about the whole concept of humble-bragging (even before the term was coined): “Stop sounding so humble. You’re not that great.”

  6. Your former wife sounds like a most articulate person. Your recent quote from her could easily form the backbone for a Retro piece on honesty. There’s much to be said about false humility, especially from indefatigably grandiose personalities such as ours!
    [Exit with ”Aw, shucks… ” Looks down, kicks the dust with the toe of his alligator-skin Tony Lama boot.]

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