One of the daughters is stretched out on our sofa, in that way children never outgrow — like an oil splotch, like a pile of T-shirts warm from the dryer. She has one fancy pedicured foot here, another fancy pedicured foot over there, her body pancaked in that safest tiny corner of the entire universe: her parents' couch.
"When can I get married?" she bubbles.
Please keep in mind that she's been asking this since she was 2 ... might've been the first words out of her little Cinderella mouth. So, as with most of the things our four children say, I don't pay that much attention, thinking it's some kind of undiagnosed genetic affliction, blurting out anything that comes into her pretty head.
"Hey, Dad, when can I get married?" my 24-year-old asks again.
Seriously, I have told my daughters that they do not need my approval to get married. They are of age and have always made sensible decisions when it comes to the three things that can really derail a young woman's life: men, money and men.
Yep, they can get married any time they desire, as long as they are OK with the concept of a double wedding: separate ceremonies followed by one magnificent reception.
I'd rather drill holes in my spleen than put on a tux. For their weddings, of course, I am willing to put on a rental tux. But just that once ... for two ceremonies on one perfect summer afternoon.
As a husband, I'm batting about .162 lately (including two bloop singles and a gapper for a deuce).
So what do I have to lose? I'll swing for the fences with this double-wedding idea. It may finally turn my season — and my arranged marriage — completely around.
My daughters can flip a coin to see who goes to the altar first. One ceremony, followed immediately by the other. When the first finishes, my buddy (Pastor Chuck) will gesture to the front pew: "OK, next victim!"
It's really pretty practical, this double wedding. We'll save on invitations, the polka band, the caterer, the flowers. For cash-starved middle-class families like us, it may be the best idea since Sizzler. And instead of baseball cards, maybe I'll be able to leave my kids a few bucks when my wife eventually kills me.
"How about a double wedding?" I tell the couch potato. "You and your big sister at once."
My daughter laughs like I'm kidding.
"I'm texting her," she says.
"Of course you are," I mutter.
Hey, kid, I wasn't exactly taking a vote. I'm simply offering a substantial five-figure sum for this double wedding, which I'm now marketing as a "Super Wedding."
Here's the ironic plot twist to my daughters' weddings: Their marriages will probably cost me mine.
Each week, my wife, Posh, overspends on lamb chops and organic carrots, so there's no telling the damage she could do with limos, gowns, centerpieces, string quartets, photographers, open bars, peacocks, unicorns, a trillion tulips at the peak of ripeness.
For the reception, she'd probably rent the Grand Canyon and invite Gustavo Dudamel to conduct. Thomas Keller would cater.
In financial self-defense, I'm offering the sensible solution: Two weddings, on one day. The announcement would read something like this:
We are thrilled to announce the upcoming marriages of our daughters in a Super Wedding: two consecutive ceremonies under a single steeple, June 26, 2016, followed by a Grand Canyon reception. If you've never been to a Super Wedding, think of it as twice the fun of a normal wedding for half the trouble. You don't have to give up two days of golf, just one. You can shop for gifts at their double registry. You can get twice as catty about how dry the hors d'oeuvres are. Please RSVP —once, not twice — by February 1.
Look, I fear my daughters' wedding planning more than earthquakes and Reese Witherspoon movies. I fear the long arguments over bridesmaid shoes or four-month debates over what the vegetarian alternative should be.
"How about tequila?" I'd suggest. "That's veggie."
And they would all look at me as if I'm not taking the whole thing seriously.
This Super Wedding is in no way pending. First, both daughters have to find a man like their father to marry — not an easy task.
Where do you find a man who spits out the oysters and chews the shells? A man who goes to ballgames just to listen to the organ music?
Where do you find a man who doesn't believe in a heaven or a hell but in an eternal Halloween party where they never run out of punch and candy corn?
The answer: Everywhere.
Always be prepared.