Even though the years he spent playing wisecracking Detective Lennie Briscoe will loom large in the obituaries and television tributes this week, I first got to know Jerry's talents from a recording of The Fantasticks I received as a birthday present when I was in high school. As El Gallo, or the narrator of that long-running off-Broadway classic, he was the first person to bring life to the show's signature song, "Try to Remember."
Orbach was never a huge star in the way we think of celebrities today, but instead was one of those rare actors who did so many things across film, television and theater that it was hard to imagine someone like him ever dying.
I always got the impression that no matter what part he played - a theatrical director in "42nd Street," a mobster named Jack Rosenthal in "Crimes and Misdemeanors," or a talking candlelabra in "Beauty and the Beast" - the real Jerry Orbach was never too far below the surface. I'm sure others feel the same way. How else can you explain the affection pouring out of all corners of the Internet today for a 69-year-old actor?
Goodbye, Jerry. You are already missed.
The story of the injured Marine has a happy ending:
A Los Angeles jewelry store donated a ring to Lance Corporal David Battle, who used it to propose to his wife for the second time.
December 17th has come and gone and the good news is that I still have my wedding ring. As you might remember, L and I had a bet about whether or not I'd lose it by then. Looks like she'll be treating me to dinner.
If I ever need any inspiration for holding on to my ring - as if my love for L and the memory of our wedding day weren't reasons enough - I can always look to the brave men of our military for inspiration.
It's an incredible tale of love and devotion, but unfortunately one with a less-than-happy ending: the Marine, after having his finger cut off to save his wedding ring, lost the ring in the "chaos that followed."
I've been looking for follow-up stories to see if the Marine, Lance Corporal David Battle, has returned to Iraq or if he's home recovering with his wife, but have been unable to find any. I'd love to know if they replaced the ring. If they haven't, perhaps PlanetGordon.com readers could chip in to buy him a new one.
I'll look around and see what I can find, but if you know anything about him please leave the info in the comments below or write me via electronic mail using the link on the side of the site.
I knew there was at least one more advantage to marriage that I had not yet realized.
A recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that married couples are healthier than single people.
Given how heavily the social divisions between married and single people figure into Sex and the City storylines or the plots of so-called "Chick-Lit" books, I'm sure that right now much of the blogosphere is echoing with familiar rants about "smug marrieds" and their claims to better health over "singletons."
But the fact that married people are generally healthier than their single counterparts should be obvious to any person who has ever turned to a friend and asked, "Does my breath stink?" Having someone around all the time can oftentimes prevent health problems from setting in. (When L's osteoporosis is staved off by a few years, I'm hoping she'll thank me for nagging her to take her calcium chews.)
The study did not talk about it, but I'm sure single people are, unfortunately, disproportionately represented in the ranks of the uninsured, another factor that might contribute to the disparity. If I were to lose my health insurance, I could always sign up for my wife's plan. Only in states with very loosely defined domestic partnership laws would a single person be able to do that.
There's a social advantage as well. If I got sick, having someone to look after me and take care of life's little stresses - running errands, paying bills - would certainly speed my convalescence. It's not that single people wouldn't have friends to help them in such a situation, but the kind of responsibility L and I have to each other is different that of two college buddies.
The NCHS noted that married people were less likely to drink and smoke than single people, to which I say, "Thank you, Dr. Obvious!" While L and I might enjoy a glass of wine at home or out at dinner, knocking back cocktails at a singles bar is no longer part of our weekly routine.
Even so, no one should put too much stock in the study. For example, the study noted that divorced or separated adults had high rates of poor health (16.6 percent). But are they unhealthy because they got divorced or did poor health - brought on by drug or alcohol abuse or some other problem - lead them to divorce?
And, alas, even walking down the aisle has its disadvantages. Married men, according to the study of more than 125,000 people, tend to pack on few more pounds than their single counterparts.
Being and Enlightened Husband is not always as easy as being an Enlightened Groom. Where once I could pick up concrete jobs like mailing invitations or writing thank-you notes, my post-wedding responsibilities are a little less defined. Instead of remembering to do things, I now have to remember to remember things.
One way that you can tell I've settled into marriage is that I've already forgotten to remember at least one important event, Hannukah. That's right. I forgot about a holiday that lasts for more than a week.
I knew it was coming; L and I had discussed what we wanted for Hannukah a few weeks ago, but had come to the agreement that we wouldn't buy presents for each other this year. Instead, we decided to put a little money towards the big vacation we're planning to take sometime after the new year. But I should have known better.
I should have know that a pact to not buy each other anything really means that I should have taken more time to surprise L with something. L did her part, buying us tickets to a Broadway show, and surprising me on the first night of Hannukah with the news. Me? I foolishly took our pact at face value and transferred a few bucks into a joint account L and I had set up shortly after we got engaged (more on combining finances later).
So, here we are, on Hannukah's last night and I still haven't made it up to L. She's not upset at all - that's not her style - but I still feel guilty. What's an Enlightened Husband to do?
Creationists, who are often grouped together with the "family values" crowd, might want to reconcile their views on our simian cousins with the fact that gibbons are apparently quite faithful.
Francis points me to an article about a "gibbon-style wedding" between two conservationists in Thailand, who exchanged "happy monkey calls" instead of vows. The marriage is destined for success as the groom told a reporter, "Once the gibbon has chosen a mate it will not philander."
The bride and groom later sued the caterer after 200 guests slipped on banana peels during the cocktail hour.
My friend R, in the midst of wedding planning, sent me this link to the most recent bit of drama on TheKnot.com.
Read the exchange and learn the moral of the story. Never, NEVER, inadvertently insult someone else's venue choice.
The Washington Post on the real kind of wedding bans needed in this country. (Free registration required.)
A sample of some of the things that should be outlawed:
Wedding photographers who disdain candid moments of human beings behaving normally, and only take snapshots of people who agree to stop what they are doing and stare directly at the camera. The result? A wedding album with all the spontaneity of a real estate closing.
In my post-Thanksgiving, carb induced haze, I've hardly had a chance to rant about this weekend's wedding announcements in the times. I'll leave the nitpicking to my counterpart at Veiled Conceit, although I'm surprised he didn't pick up this complaint to run with it earlier in the week.
We all know that there's a reason most high school reunions happen on the Saturday after Thanksgiving; most people go home for the holiday. So why, then, would one choose to have a wedding on Thanksgiving weekend?
Unless one is having a small family gathering - with the same group of people that would otherwise be seated around a dining room table - how inconsiderate do you have to be to hold your wedding on a secular holiday weekend celebrated by just about every red-blooded American?
Let's take my imaginary friend Josephus. Josephus, or Joe as I call him when we have imaginary conversations, was born and raised in New York City. His parents still live on the Upper West Side. His holiday travel involves a weekly unlimited MetroCard, the previous week's New Yorker and the cool, hard plastic of a subway seat. Major trackwork not withstanding, his trip home for the holiday takes all of twenty minutes.
Ah, but not this year! Eight weeks ago he got an invitation to a wedding in Tucson scheduled for Saturday, November 27th. He has some choices to make. He can travel Wednesday and find himself subject to the same delays and overcrowding as the millions of other Americans who travel the day before Thanksgiving. He can avoid the crowds by flying Thursday morning, but lord knows JetBlue's chicken sandwich is nowhere near as good as Mom's stuffing and cranberry sauce. Or he can wait until Friday, sacrificing a precious vacation day. And, oh yeah, even though he'll travel across the country, he still has to be back at his desk first thing Monday morning.
Josephus loves his friends and would feel bad to miss their wedding. But everyone knows that going to a wedding is a heck of a lot easier when all you have to miss is a night out with your friends back home and not a holiday weekend your family - and millions of other families - treasure each year.
To top it off, instead of dropping $2.00 on subway fare, Josephus is out the $400 it will take to get to Arizona during the busiest travel weekend of the year.
I'm sure lots of couples have those one or two people they don't want to invite but have to for political reasons - not me and L, of course, since we love everyone - but perhaps last weekend's newlyweds wanted small weddings without having to cross anyone off their invite lists. Solution? Have your wedding on Thanksgiving weekend and watch the reply cards come back with lots of regrets.
Thanksgiving wedding weekends. Pure evil or pure genius? Josephus and I will discuss.