Paul Prather

Paul Prather: So much has changed since my last honeymoon

Paul Prather
Paul Prather

I realized this honeymoon was going to be a little different before we'd even left town.

After our wedding June 11, Liz and I, still dressed in our matrimonial finery, stopped by our house to change clothes before setting out toward Maine, our destination.

As we neared our front porch, Liz said, "Aren't you going to carry me across the threshold?"

"Well, uh, OK," I said. "Sure."

I'd forgotten the groom was supposed to carry the bride across the threshold. I forget a lot of things these days.

I also have an impingement in my left shoulder from an old football injury that makes it painful for me to carry a 12-pack of Diet Rite across the doorstep, much less a human being. Plus my back isn't what it used to be, for that matter.

I unlocked the door and pushed it open.

I swiveled this way and that, trying to decide how to position my bride so the lesser amount of her weight would be on my left arm.

"Here we go," I said, crouching. "Jump!"

But by that point she'd lost confidence in my threshold- carrying prowess, and she only half-hopped upward. Consequently, I couldn't get my good arm under her legs to lift her, and we kind of reeled and bobbed and staggered through the doorway as if we were in a three-legged race at a company picnic.

Honeymoons include a lot of such humiliations and complications when you're my age.

During our first day on the road, I ordered my first-ever seniors-discount meal, at an IHOP in, I think, Pennsylvania. (I forget exactly.)

It took us two very long days of driving to reach Maine, largely because I no longer can pass any public restroom without having to stop.

I did learn an interesting bit of trivia. The farther you get into New England, the more often you encounter gas stations that have only a single unisex bathroom, with a single toilet. That means the lines are much, much longer there than they are in Kentucky.

"We're never going to get there," Liz said. "Ever."

But we did, eventually.

The weather was perfect: 70 degrees and sunny.

We spent a few days in Freeport, which since I last visited it has been transformed from a quaint 19th-century village into the outlet-store mecca of the Western world.

I discovered something new about my bride: Turns out, underneath it all, she's as much of a shopaholic as most every other woman I know.

We've been together for years, but I'd never seen that side of her.

She'd always passed herself off as a bohemian English-teacher type who thought Gap and Banana Republic were way beneath her literary sensibilities.

Then we found ourselves staying about a block from every imaginable chain store, each of which offered 60 percent discounts.

That quick, she transmogrified into a bourgeois capitalist.

"What have I married?" I cried.

I'd occasionally text her: "Are you still in town?"

We almost had to rent a U-Haul van to get all her shopping bags home.

I called Kentucky regularly to check on the grandkids, something that I'd wager the majority of honeymooning husbands don't do.

After Freeport, we moved on to a resort in picturesque Bar Harbor.

I'd made it my goal to eat a lobster every day we were in Maine. I gave it a valiant effort. But after about the fifth one, I couldn't look at another red claw.

When we returned, I regaled our friends with stories of how beautiful the weather was and of the 3-pound crustacean I consumed one afternoon at a roadside restaurant.

A buddy — who's even older than I am and just got engaged — looked at me wistfully.

"When you were in your twenties, did you come back from your honeymoon bragging about the weather and the food?" he said.

I thought for a minute.

"As best I can recall, I didn't notice they had weather," I admitted. "I don't think we ever left the room."

"That's my point," he said, shaking his head. "My point exactly."

Later, Liz and I went to my son and daughter-in-law's house.

I placed my eyeglasses and the huge wad of keys I usually carry in my pants pocket on their mantel so I could wallow on the floor with the granddaughters.

After we'd finished wrestling and I'd struggled back to my feet, Liz said, "Don't forget your glasses."

I doddered over to the mantel.

"Hey, whose keys are these?" I said.

"Paul, they're your keys," Liz said.

"No, I don't think so."

Liz turned to my son. "John," she said, "this is my future."

John grinned and said, "Good luck."

Yep, at my age, this honeymoon business is a whole different experience.