Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

I don't sound like Elvis, but for you, honey, I tried

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The other day, my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, and I celebrated the fact we've been married for 30 years.

This was unusual in the sense we normally don't do anything out of the ordinary to mark our anniversary.

It's not that we don't like being married; it's just that we have the unique ability to completely forget our wedding day because it comes hard on the heels of Christmas, which we celebrate with a vengeance.

Typically, on our anniversary, we will be sitting quietly in our living room, reading the newspaper or just staring at the ceiling through bloodshot eyes, when one of us will glance at the other and grunt: "Happy anniversary, dear."

In response, the other person will scrunch their face and, with mild surprise, mutter: "Happy anniversary to you, too, dear."

And that pretty much sums it up, except for this year. This year, our routine went out the window, thanks to my buddy Bob. What happened was Bob and I were sitting in the wine bar at Mona Lisa Ristorante not long ago when, suddenly and without warning, he gave me a look of grave concern and asked what we were planning for our 30th anniversary.

I looked at Bob with a sort of stunned expression and said (I will quote myself directly here): "Um..."

After rolling his eyes to indicate the concept I was not much of a role model for young husbands, Bob declared: "I think we should have a party right here!"

And that, no thanks to me, is exactly what happened. Bob invited everyone and organized everything, and all we had to do was show up. OK, that's not entirely true. All I had to do was show up and then sing a romantic song to my wife.

When my buddy Bob told my buddy Dan what the plan was, Dan decided it would be horribly wrong if I missed the opportunity to sing, in public, a classic song to declare how I felt about my wife after three decades together.

Dan recommended an Elvis song and suggested I should sing it while dressed as The King. So on the day of the party, I scoured the city to find a few appropriate things to wear, including (1) an Elvis wig; (2) a pair of gold Elvis sunglasses; (3) an Elvis-style gold chain, from which dangled a small guitar; and (4) an official Elvis red silk scarf.

And so, about an hour into the party, surrounded by our friends from the last 30 years, my buddy Bob grabbed me by the red-silk scarf and physically dragged me out to stand beside my buddy Dan, who had gone so far as to rent a guitar that he felt would be perfect for the song, which happened to be a mercifully shortened version of Elvis's I Can't Help Falling in Love With You.

What you need to know here is that I do NOT have what you'd call a pleasing singing voice. As a child of about nine or 10, I was unceremoniously ousted from the church choir because the choirmasters felt my time would be better spent learning a non-singing hobby like landscape gardening.

Regardless, in full Elvis regalia, accompanied by my pal Dan on guitar, with my wife perched on a chair wearing a princess tiara with the number 30 emblazoned in fake jewels, and Bob and the rest of our friends crooning along in support, I croaked out the following legendary lyrics:

"Take my hand, take my whole life too/For I can't help falling in love with youuuuuuuuu!"

If I do say so myself, it sounded terrible. And, according to my wife, I stared longingly at Dan instead of her while I was singing. But that's not the point. The point is it was a magical moment and it would never have happened if it weren't for some amazing big-hearted friends, to whom, I would just like to say in my best Elvis voice:

"Thank you! Thank you very much!"


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2012 A2

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