Reading The New York Times on Sundays is one of the best parts of the day that my family calls Sacred Sunday. We try not to work or socialize on Sacred Sunday and devote our time to each other when we can. But lately, reading The Times has made me feel wholly inadequate, especially the wedding announcements in the Styles section. There’s not a chance in hell that I would ever measure up to brides of today.
The brides I read about are so accomplished at such young ages that it puts me to shame. I often wonder how my announcement would read. Would it contain all the jobs I tried to do? Would I have to announce my time as a nursing student, chambermaid, cabbage-picker, hair-shampooer, lobster-picker, wannabe veterinarian’s assistant? I don’t think so.
But I will tell you, my dear readers, because if nothing else it makes for a good laugh. I imagine my announcement would read like this: The bride and groom met in Montauk, where she visited for a summer and fell in love with the Montauk native and never left.
Before moving to the hamlet full time, the bride studied to be a veterinarian’s assistant, a job she found too stressful. During her internship, the animal doctors frowned upon her teary antics when dog owners were told their dog was very sick and had to be put down. At one point, the future bride had to run from the examination room and the good doctor told her he thought she might be a bit too emotional to handle the position. She agreed.
In Montauk, her first job was cleaning up after strangers in local motels, a job, she said, she found disgusting and quit. After several weeks of unemployment, during which she spent most of her time lazing on the beach, the bride found work picking lobster meat from the crustacean’s claws and knuckles. It was a job she enjoyed but, alas, she ate too much of the product and was soon terminated. It turned out the boss didn’t appreciate the jar of cocktail sauce and tiny fork sticking out from her sweatshirt pocket.
In autumn of her first year in the hamlet, she picked cabbages from a field in Bridgehampton. Each day the future bride and her friends were given hatchets to slice the cabbage heads from their bases. One day on a leisurely car ride to work the bride learned that the male workers were getting paid twice as much as the women, so she had no choice but to take a stand for women’s liberation and quit.
The bride attended Wilfred Beauty Academy in Riverhead and completed her thousand hours to be certified as a cosmetologist (hairstylist). She knew the job wasn’t for her when several customers returned to the salon and asked for a do-over.
The bride and groom were married on Oct. 27, 1973, and will celebrate 39 years of wedded bliss this year, with their three children. When she turned 40, the bride began taking writing courses at local colleges, and received a job offer from The East Hampton Star. She has never lost her taste for lobster, but no longer eats cabbage.
Janis Hewitt is a senior writer at The Star.