With everything that’s happening in the world, my thoughts are trivial. Still, life goes on—and we even had a reason to celebrate

I HAVEN’T WRITTEN SINCE my father’s death. Actually, I haven’t published—my draft queue for this blog is full of half-finished posts. Some of them are stillborn for a good reason: They weren’t working out, or I didn’t like the tone. And others are just superseded by events. The proverbial gorilla in the room is, of course, Putin’s unconscionable invasion of Ukraine.

I’m not going to write anything about that. It’s what the big news outlets and military experts on Twitter are for. But life goes on here, even as I’m tempting to reach for happy pills after having read the news and sat here in my little office, paralyzed and nervous about what the mad Russian is thinking.

Our big news involves Daughter No. 1, Martina Maria Scozzare Paonita. After joining up with a guy named Daniel Cohen and living together for a couple of years on a tree-lined street in Bay Ridge, the two made it legal, declaring their union before about 100 people in a funky former rope factory in Paterson, New Jersey. Since this is MY blog and is about ME, ME, ME (never mind them…), I can tell you that I was thrilled. I had the feeling that Martina wanted to make their relationship a more formal thing. Still, as a family we’ve avoided big formal parties and I couldn’t help but be a little apprehensive if they chose to do that. The Spartan Woman and I had a kind of hippie wedding way too many years ago that involved a city hall ceremony and a raucous house party at TSW’s parents’ house.

FaceTime session: “We’re engaged!”

I needn’t have worried.

Sure, we were all dressed up, suited, gowned, ties, white shirt for me (the first collared shirt I’d worn in …. a year? Two years?) Okay, there were photographers buzzing around. Dan gave Martina an engagement ring (back in the old days, TSW pointedly told me not to get her a blood diamond, or anything. We wear simple gold wedding bands). There was some serious and delicious catering and great booze.

But #CohPao, as they called themselves, did a fine job of designing a big, loud, fun party that was free of the scripted nonsense that afflicts a lot of wedding celebrations ’round these parts. I think Martina learned her lesson from the former Time-Warner Cable’s public access TV show Joey G, which displayed the kitschiest Staten Island Italo-American weddings, complete with a zillion bridesmaids and grooms, limos, hectoring to get on the dance floor by bandleaders or DJs, and more Brooklyn accents in one hour than you’ve heard in your entire life. Think of those as Jersey Shore Goes to the Altar.

#CohPao deviated from that script from the get-go. They were legally married before a Universal Life minister, who led the ceremony. It was a nonreligious and funny exchange of vows, though Dan did break a glass at the end to seal the deal. (His glass was a light bulb—no one wants to chance not being able to break a thick tumbler.) No one aside from right after the cocktail hour did anyone tell the crowd what to do. There was no pasta—Martina’s enough of an Italian food snob to know that pasta for 100 does not turn out well. And they didn’t do a “bride cuts the cake” thing, with the attendant risk that an inebriated spouse may smash said cake on the other new spouse’s face.

There was, of course, another shadow lurking over the evening—Covid-19 and the possibility of throwing a superspreader event. The pair minimized that possibility as much as they could by specifying a PCR test a couple of days before and their wedding website had a place to upload the results. Everyone had to be fully vaccinated and boosted to attend. And just because, tables were widely spaced.

Alright, enough of that. We had fun. A lot of fun. Great music, great booze, and really good food. Friends, siblings, and cousins we haven’t seen in person in two years. And most importantly, a couple of people who adore one another and invited a bunch of happy, joyous and just plain nice friends to help them celebrate.

Dan came to see us in Italy and built us this beautiful fire pit.

So welcome, Dan, to the tribe. He’s been around a few years (at first, a private M kept his name secret, so we referred to him as “Seamus”). He’s a good guy who—we love this—knows how to do things.

I was thinking way back when, in the pre-Martina days, we took a long time to decide to raise a family. TSW and I had grad school to finish and careers to launch. But after a few years, curiosity about how a kid of ours would look and act got the better of us. We’re unabashedly proud of the result. You did good, kid, and I hope you don’t mind if I kvell a little.

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