THE STRANGEST WEDDING
While reading the morning paper today a smile turned up the corners of my mouth as I read that yesterday was Nudists Day. It reminded me of a chapter I wrote for the book, From Thunder to Breakfast. Hube Yates was the storyteller. The setting was Cave Creek, Arizona. The time: 1977. After Hube retired from the Phoenix Fire Department, he started a riding stable in Cave Creek, and he’d always been a part-time preacher.
* * * * *
Hube was just hanging around the house when the phone rang. Someone wanted him to officiate at a wedding. He licked his thumb and shuffled the pages of his appointment book. He could fit it into his schedule, but there was one cause for concern: “I don’t have to travel too far, do I?” He had broken some ribs on a trail-ride and it hurt to turn the steering wheel on the pickup truck.
When the day of the wedding arrived, his caring wife, Patsy, said she’d go with him in order to save the wear and tear on his sore ribs. He said, “I wish you would.”
It was chilly when they drove up to a place that looked like a ranch with two or three houses, but this one also had an office. Patsy parked while Hube went inside. He found a fellow there wearing old Levis and a shirt. “I thought he was
dressed kind of casually for a weddin’, but we were early and maybe he hadn’t had time to get dressed yet.
“Patsy and I drove around for about twenty-five minutes until it was time for the ceremony. People had begin to gather, but they were dressed kind of haphazard. The man from the office came around to Patsy’s side of the truck to invite her into the house. The truck was kind of high and Patsy could see from the chest up that this guy didn’t have a shirt on. She thought that was kind of strange. He was the one who was goin’ to give the bride away.
“Patsy got out and walked right into him. She caught her breath. He was stark naked. There was no use to turn around and duck and go back. Oh, dear John, it’s hard to say just what her reaction was. Later she told him she thought, ‘Oh, my soul, we’re into this thing and the only thing to do is do the best you can.’”
Hube summed up his thoughts: “It’s hard to describe just exactly what goes through your mind when you discover you’re in a nudist colony. It’s like, ‘I don’t want to be here, but I’m here. Somebody’s got to marry these people.’”
The bride and groom wanted to be married out in the open. “What I should have done was carry the ceremony on and froze them to pieces, but I didn’t. They began to shiver a little bit so we went in the house.
When they got inside Hube noticed that Patsy looked at the ceiling and the fireplace. She found everything in there to look at but these people.
“They were not good-lookin’. The groom was all hollow-chested, and he was sick. The bride was a poor, thin, skinny little woman. I’ll tell you one thing, there was never a person who ever lived that looked half as good to me stark naked
as they do with clothes on.
“I’ve been a fireman for so long, and I’ve had to pick up hurt people and people committin’ suicide, and injured people in every kind of way. I’m not the kind who gets excited about everything. I have quieted down quite a bit over the years.
I pretended that the bridal party was fully dressed.
“The ceremony wasn’t any different from any other. It’s a man and a woman who are going to live together, and I think that any promise that they make to each other before their friends and loved ones is important.
“Before we left, the bride took her garter off and threw it. It landed at my feet and I reached down and picked it up.I handed it back to her, but she said to keep it. I stuck it in my pocket, and I still have the silly thing.
“I don’t know where he got it, but the best man handed me an envelope with money in it. He sure didn’t have any pockets.”
Hube was anxious to get Patsy out of there because he knew how embarrassed she was. He said that she shook her head all the way home.”
Several months later while he was loading groceries into his pickup outside the supermarket a couple walked up to him and Patsy and said, “Why, hello there.”
Of course Hube spoke to them. “So many people have ridden with me that I have to be around them a little bit before I remember their names. I was very cordial, but after they left, Patsy said, ‘You don’t remember them, do you?’”
Hube admitted, “No, I sure don’t.”
She reminded him. “That’s the couple you married at the nudist colony.”
Realization suddenly changed his expression to one of surprise. “Holy smoke! I didn’t recognize them with their clothes on.”