As anyone who's attended a wedding recently may have noticed, many time-honored wedding conventions are rapidly falling out of favor. Modern brides, for example, often forgo the traditional bouquet toss, preferring to keep the flowers as a memento of their special day. Elaborate, tiered cakes are also less common these days. And many of today's time-pressed young marrieds no longer wait until the reception is over to begin returning gifts.
With wedding customs in such a state of flux, it's no surprise that forward-thinking couples are increasingly choosing to rewrite the traditional wedding vows, a process that typically involves significant pre-matrimonial negotiation.
Bride-to-be: "I'll say I'm going to 'honor' you, but 'obey'? As if. How about, 'Honor and agree to entertain his frequently idiotic suggestions?"
Groom-to-be: "OK, but what about this 'forsaking all others' part is that firm, or is there some wiggle room for threesomes?"
Modern couples, it seems, understand that putting extra time and effort into crafting deeply personal vows today will make it all the more special on the day they break them.
I certainly remember the way my wife and I carefully worded our own vows, emphasizing concepts like trust, honesty and openness. Which is why I feel so awful today when, despite my solemn promises, I regularly go behind my wife's back and almost daily break my expressed promise to her by continuing to drink. To drink soda, that is.
My wife is adamantly opposed to soda, a stance that dates back, coincidentally enough, to when she quit her Diet Dr. Pepper habit cold turkey. Since we've become parents, however, she's grown more insistent that I also set a good example for the children.
"Wait, I thought that was your job," is not an acceptable defense, it turns out.
Unlike other junk food items, soda is virtually indefensible on nutritional grounds. Even a Snickers bar has nuts, which provide some level of protein, not to mention all that bone-strengthening calcium contained in the milk chocolate. But when my wife catches me sneaking a Coke, it's difficult to argue that I'm merely trying to meet my recommended daily allowance of, say, caramel color.
My love affair with soda originated in childhood when, much as my wife tries to do today, my mother banned soda from our house. Instead, Mom purchased the ostensibly more healthy and definitely less expensive Carnation brand powdered milk. Imagine my delight when a friend would come over and Mom, after offering the unsuspecting child a drink, instead of walking over to the refrigerator, would pull from the pantry a large box containing what appeared to be dishwashing detergent, stir two spoonfuls into a glass of water and, grinning, hand the light bluish, powdery concoction over to the child.
Needless to say, "Let's get together after school at my house" was a refrain I frequently heard from grade school chums.
And so began my lifetime of illicit soda consumption. Of course, marketing also played a key role. Specifically here I'm thinking of a contest from my youth in which consumers were instructed to collect caps from 16-ounce bottles of Pepsi. On the underside of each cap was printed a single letter, and anyone who could spell out the phrase "Pepsi Spirit," was guaranteed a fabulous cash prize.
With each successive bottle of Pepsi I could taste that money, even through all the sodium benzoate. After about a week, however, during which time I consumed approximately 4,000 bottles of Pepsi, it became clear that while all the other letters were easily obtained, I was about as likely to find a pint-sized Amelia Earhart as the letter "R" under a Pepsi bottle cap.
This conclusion was borne out by my friends, who were similarly disappointed in their pursuit of the elusive "R." In search of Pepsi Spirit, all we got was a handful of "Pepsi Spiit." Still, the experience carried with it an important lesson: specifically, that companies with highly visible truck fleets should probably not enrage caffeine-and-sugar-addled pre-adolescent boys, particularly if said boys are in possession of hundreds of empty glass bottles.
Much as I felt burned by the Pepsi Corporation, the damage was done, and I was hooked. As a result, today I'm forced to sneak sodas behind my wife's back like a 13-year-old boy with an illicit Playboy.
Wife: (knocking on bathroom door)"Hey, what's going on in there? Do I hear effervescence?
Me: No, honey, just taking my medicine! (as prescribed by my personal physician, Dr. Pepper)
But as they say, the first step to overcoming addiction is admitting that you have a problem. Clearly, the best course of action is for my wife and me to sit down and have a frank and open discussion about our feelings on the matter. And then revise our vows.