“Remember, son, the pleats go up. Catch the crumbs; that’s how I remember it.”
“Thanks, dad. These outfits aren’t very comfortable are they?”
“Nope. But you look great – very handsome. Where is Tony? And the rest of the groomsmen?”
“Mom took them. She said they needed their help moving some tables in the reception hall.” Justin dropped a cufflink in another failed attempt to get it through his cuff.
“Here, let me help you with that. I think that’s the hardest part of the outfit.”
“The buttons weren’t exactly easy to figure out either. Why couldn’t they just put normal buttons on it?”
“You’re getting married, son. Nothing is normal from this point forward.”
“It’s hard to believe you are already at this point.” Dad stabbed the cufflink through the opening as Justin held the cuff firmly. “You’ve grown up so fast. There are so many things I’ve been wanting to tell you.”
Justin looked at his dad’s face for any sign of tears but didn’t interrupt. His dad was looking down at the floor.
“You and I have never really even talked about, you know, women.”
Oh no. We’re not going to have this conversation now, are we? Justin thought. I’m twenty! He looked at the door hoping his friends would return quickly.
“That’s ok, Dad. I’m lucky to have found Amber. We’re happy together.”
“Yeah, but in a few hours you will be married and on your own. I want to give you at least one tip.”
“A tip?” Justin was staring at his dad, who had still managed to avoid any eye contact.
“Yeah, tonight your world changes, Justin. I feel like I should pass along some advice. You know, what has worked for me.”
The mention of ‘tonight’ caused Justin to think for a moment about the honeymoon plans. He made a mental note to check his luggage again and make sure the plane tickets were packed.
“Justin, is something wrong?” Dad finally made eye contact.
“No. I was just thinking about the trip and wondering if I had packed everything.” He glanced at the door wishing again for the guys to be back.
“I’m sure you’ve got everything taken care of.” Dad had finished Justin’s second cuff and was now holding out his own cuff for Justin to help him. “And if I only have time to give you one piece of advice…”
“Whoa! Look at the matching penguins!”
Justin was so relieved to see Tony enter the room. He couldn’t imagine what ‘tip’ his dad was planning to share, but he was more than happy to put this conversation on hold.
“You should probably get started with your outfit too.” Dad pointed at the row of tuxedos hanging on the wall. “These things aren’t so easy.”
“Yeah, I remember trying to figure out the one I wore to the prom.” Tony started looking through the suits to find his.
“So where are Chris and Bryan?”
“Ha ha! They got stuck moving some flowers around. Who’s the lady bossing everybody around?”
“She’s the director. It’s a friend of Amber’s mom.”
“Director? I think you mean dictator. She was barking out orders to anyone who would listen. It’s a good thing I don’t listen. I figure I’m better off in here with you two.”
I agree, Justin thought.
“That reminds me. I was just about to give Justin some advice. You can listen too. It won’t be too much longer until you’ll be tying the knot yourself.”
“Tony? Married?” Justin laughed as he put his arm around Tony’s shoulders. “He doesn’t even date the same girl for more than three weeks.” Justin was hoping to derail the conversation again.
“What can I say? I like a little variety. But one day I’ll settle down. So whatcha you got to tell him, Mr. Thomas? I’ll take some notes.”
Just what I need, thought Justin. Now Tony can share this moment with everyone.
“Well, Justin, your mother and I… we…well, sometimes….how do I put this?”
Justin cringed at the expectation of what his dad was struggling to say.
“I’ll just sum it up in one word.”
Justin looked at Tony’s face and back at his dad. I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.
Potato chips? Justin was almost afraid to ask for an explanation. Tony wasn’t.
“What do you mean, Mr. Thomas? What do you do with the potato chips?”
“I eat them. Kettle cooked are the best. They crunch louder.”
“I’m not understanding you at all, dad.”
“I’m just saying that potato chips can save your marriage. When you eat them, especially the kettle cooked kind, they crunch really loudly in your head. It drowns out everything around you. Just nod your head while you chew them and things will work out ok. It’s also hard to say something stupid when your mouth is full of chips.”
“That makes sense.” Tony stated as he started putting his cummerbund on upside down.
Justin smiled. “Yeah, I guess it does. Other way, Tony, with the waist belt thing. Catch the crumbs.”