Read this post from yesterday first to get the big picture.
Schnebley Hill Road
If my honesty is going to be questioned, my ethics suspected, my credentials challenged, I really would like it to be by someone I don’t like. And preferably by someone who’s wrong, too.
When it’s a family member, and more than one, it hurts. I’ve got feelings like anybody else.
This happens from time to time. People have accused me of all sorts of things after I’ve written columns, and, as Dorothy said about elements of Oz, some of them aren’t very nice.
But I wrote a column two weeks ago about a chance encounter with Chevy Chase and a missed meeting with Imogene Coca, and both my mother and my brother had a question, which essentially was, “Did you make that up?”
My own mother.
I can see where there’s room for doubt. Two famous people show up in a little dinner theater in Flagstaff, Arizona in the early 1980s on the same night? What are the odds?
Of course, if one (no one in particular, now) were to simply go to the Internet Movie Database and enter “Chevy Chase,” then pair him with Imogene Coca, the answer would pop up immediately.
“National Lampoon’s Vacation,” released in 1983. Click on “filming locations” and you find three sites in Northern Arizona, one of them the Grand Canyon and another Flagstaff.
But these are only statistics. There’s got to be a little trust, people.
Like anyone who’s reached my stage of life and finds that the names of his kids sometimes go missing and his keys are always somewhere else, my memory can be faulty. And from time to time I exaggerate a situation for a joke, or compress events to save room, but I do not make stuff up. OK, mom?
I actually went to IMDB to check this little experiment out, and I realized that the third filming location in Arizona for that movie was a story, too, and that my chasing Chevy episode had a little coda.
Schnebley Hill Road runs east-west, from downtown Sedona, Arizona to I-17. It has great vistas of red rock formations, but it’s unpaved and bumpy and has little car traffic. I’d guess it’d be ideal for filming, capturing a little Southwest color without a crowd.
In the Schnebley scene, the Clark Griswald family is traveling west toward Walley World when they discover that Grandma (Coca) in the backseat has ceased to exist, so to speak. Kicked the bucket. Shuffled off this mortal coil.
Brakes are slammed and the four viable Griswalds exit in a timely fashion. Push “pause” now. This is the exact spot, an insignificant mark in the middle of nowhere, on Schnebley Hill Road, where 20 years ago today I got married.
Honestly. I have pictures and everything.
By “today” I mean Wednesday, the day this paper is published. You may be reading this after the fact. You could still send a card or something. No problem.
We didn’t realize our wedding spot would be a part of cinematic history. We just thought it was pretty, and we had to get married somewhere.
We didn’t HAVE to get married. You know what I mean.
It was small, some friends and family. My father-in-law hung wind chimes on a tree branch and the breeze provided our music. It was a short wedding, perhaps because that part of the country is famous for midday summer storms and the clouds looked threatening; maybe the minister rushed it a little.
My brother and his family, driving up from Phoenix, actually missed the vows, so maybe this is why he questioned my Chevy story, I don’t know. Maybe he has doubts about whether I’m actually married.
I know a 25th anniversary is “silver,” and that a 50th is “gold.” I was told what the 20th is but I forgot. It would be nice if it was “cash” but that’s probably not the case.
I have no explanations for how we made it 20 years, other than by turning calendar pages and hanging on for dear life. Our road has occasionally been unpaved and bumpy, too, but there have also been some spectacular vistas. Births. Friends. Challenges. Laughter and music.
So we can sigh a little today, take a deep breath, and look at where we’ve been, and whom.
I have no insight into the future, but I remember the past all right. If 20 years have dimmed some details, I still know the important things. It was a Saturday, July 30, 1983. It was a day that started off sunny and then gradually grayed. It was a working day, with a show to do that night. It was a day we shared with my grandmother, marking her birthday.
It was the day we got married on the side of Schnebley Hill Road, simply and quietly, late in the morning, surrounded by people who loved us, exchanging inexpensive rings and serious words, finishing just minutes before it began to rain.