The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Spouse recalls an encounter with a retirement ‘Bridezilla’

| August 4, 2016 | 0 Comments


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer
My husband, Francis, is truly extraordinary, and no one knows it better than he does.

Some men humbly avoid excess attention and accolades of praise, but not Francis. He prefers the limelight and finds no shame in celebrating himself.

So, several months ago, when he announced that he would transition out of the military after 28 years of service, he knew he wanted to plan a spectacular retirement event that would match his exceptional personality.

While I expected Francis to dictate the details of the program for the retirement ceremony, I thought that he would naturally want to leave much of the minutia of the after-party – food, drink, decorations, music, etc. – to me, as his more domestic partner.

But early on, when I suggested a modest guest list and affordable catering at our house, Francis scoffed. I soon realized that, although he would stand before the throngs of well-wishers at the retirement ceremony and tell them “we are a team,” he had no intention of leaving any of the planning to me.

I would have been perfectly happy setting up borrowed folding tables in our backyard, but before I knew it, Francis had signed a contract with a professional company for a 60-foot rental tent that included lights, a dance floor and tables. He met with musicians, security personnel, caterers, photographers, bartenders for hire and the members of a steel drum band. He stayed up late, night after night, picking the format for the program, selecting photographs for a slideshow, writing his speech and going over the 10-page guest list spreadsheet.

As if a one-day retirement event wasn’t enough, Francis also rented three tailgating spaces and two shade tents at the local polo grounds, and he invited our guests to continue the celebration at the polo match the next day.

Consider this
While worrying that Francis was draining our kids’ college accounts to pay for everything, I began to realize that planning his military retirement event was very similar to planning a wedding. I warned our youngest daughter, Lilly, who was turning 16 a few days before the ceremony, that she might get overlooked.

“Go watch the movie ‘Sixteen Candles,’” I told her. “You’re Molly Ringwald and your dad is the bride.”

And just like a bride to be, Francis soon became frazzled with all the details. A cousin said she’d cancel unless Francis could find a suitable kennel for her dog, friends announced they were bringing uninvited guests, no one ordered bowls for the bisque, the tent company needed more electrical outlets, the caterers asked that we provide a floral arrangement for the dessert table, and the weather report called for thunderstorms.

The most popular last-minute questions that came in from guests were “What the hell is ‘business casual’ anyway?” and, even though detailed maps went out with the invitations, “Can you give me directions to the event?”

“I have got to get my hair cut!” Francis barked yesterday morning, while I tried to keep up with him on a power-walk around the base. “And please do not let me forget to ask the caterers if they are supplying the cutlery. I still need to wrap the highball glasses I bought for Father Joe and borrow two more chest coolers for the polo match. Do you think I should play the slideshow before or after my speech? ”

When I asked him what I could do to help, he gave me the following list: “One, charge the camcorder, and two, pick out your outfit.”
Fortunately, I really don’t mind that Francis is planning the entire event without me. In fact, as long as we don’t go broke, I’m pleased as punch about it.

Besides, unlike some weddings, a military retirement ceremony only happens once in a lifetime, and after 28 years of dedication, sacrifice and service to our country, Francis deserves to have the celebration he has always dreamed about.

And I’ll be the first one to kiss the bride.
(Visit Molinari at www.themeatand

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