The Power of the ‘Pretty Good’ Guys

Jack in the Box

Wedded Blitz! Beware the Ides of March

Is your love based on a lie? Fear not! As the ‘New York Times’ "Vows" section tell us, sometimes that works out.

Some people send themselves flowers, others compose cryptic Instagram posts or engineer meet-ups though conspiring friends. There are many tried-and-true ways to use lies and subterfuge to get the attention of someone you have a crush on, but few require the cojones shown by one Cornell junior seven years back.

Samantha Spindel, who played flute in the school’s marching band, fancied trumpet player Justin Musaffi. So she emailed him on April Fool’s Day to say she’d received the letter he’d sent her asking her out, and her answer was yes.

He emailed back: “What letter? I didn’t write you a letter.” Still, he took the opportunity to say that he was interested in meeting her anyway.

“We met for coffee, and we were just sitting there trying to figure out which one of our mutual friends wrote that letter,” Dr. Musaffi recalled. “She told me she thought it might be one of her friends, but we just didn’t know.”

Well, one of them didn’t know. It wasn’t until more than a year later, after they’d graduated from Cornell a couple, that she finally confessed to her white lie: She’d made the whole thing up. (Far from being freaked out, he was flattered.) It’s a cute story, but in the wrong hands it could go disastrously wrong. Love forgives many things. Such as, to give another example, this guy.

It’s definitely every father-in-law’s dream to read the sentence “Their first date, at a fast-food restaurant in South Bend … didn’t end very well: He had forgotten his wallet” in his daughter’s wedding announcement. And the lack of chivalry didn’t end there: When the couple went on a second date, he forgot his wallet again! Before the bride could start suspecting this was all an elaborate act — the male version of leaving your earrings on the nightstand, or something — he finally got the check, and the girl.

Other things may seem slightly more inexcusable, but who are we to judge? This featured “Vows” announcement sure was a doozy, beginning with a former medical assistant/investment banker/filmmaker who volunteered with the Red Cross after 9/11 and became swept up in the fulfillment of aiding others. What seems like it’s going to be a story about two like-minded individuals meeting while helping with Haitian hurricane relief takes an unexpected turn when the groom stops seeming quite so generous of spirit:

Their synergy made Ms. Thompson eager to show Mr. Gomez a gesture of love. So, on the last page of her book, “The Third Wave,” she asked him to marry her.

He did not respond. “I wanted to be the one to open the door, yet I wasn’t ready,” Mr. Gomez recalled, but there was more, which she was unaware of, behind the silence.

“I had lost my way years back,” he said. “I defaulted to carnal from spiritual, choosing variety over value. Every day with Alison helped me find balance, but I had not discussed my past with her.”

She let his proposal snub go, continued their life together and hoped he would someday surprise her with a proposal.

But actions speak louder than words, I suppose, and after Ms. Thompson “sliced open her leg on the sharp edge of a step as the couple boarded a boat to socialize with some of Mr. Gomez’s friends” and needed stitches, he took care of her: “At home in the bathroom, he would place me on a chair and shower and dry me like a baby,” she said. “In these moments, I knew this is a man who would run into the fire with me. I wrote his name on my soul.”

That wasn’t the only passage from the announcement that made the bride, with her long white-blonde hair, seem like Daenerys among the Dothraki. There was also this:

After working in third-world countries for so many years, she had trouble enjoying the luxuries of life, like running water from taps, bubble baths and restaurant dinners. “I will occasionally eat with my hands like I did for years in Sri Lanka, which has created tension between us,” Ms. Thompson said. “But we don’t sweat the small stuff for long.”

Nor should you!

That last paragraph stood out in perfect contrast to one that appeared more recently in the Times, in a piece that wasn’t a wedding announcement per se but might as well have been. I’m talking about the masterpiece that was this article on socialites Matthew Mellon and Nicole Hanley Mellon, which included this gem:

“I’ve never been to Africa, but I feel like I have this deep affinity for it,” Ms. Hanley Mellon said. “I’ve read every Hemingway, we collect Peter Beard, I’ve watched ‘Out of Africa.’ It touches your soul to visit and smell the smells, and you can’t recreate the experience without immersing yourself.”

They’ll be eating with their fingers in no time. By the way, if this article were being scored in NUPTIALS fashion it would earn points for, among other things: Palm Beach; Greenwich; Maine; the names “Force Hanley Mellon” and “Olympia Drexel Mellon;” the Winklevoss twins name drop; and the venue: Diane von Furstenberg’s house on Harbour Island in the Bahamas.

According to one article I read, they gave guests 48 hours’ notice to book flights and make it to the wedding, and her parents were “devastated” to miss it. The inverse of that kind of stunt, though, might be holding your wedding at a venue “to which guests were encouraged to hike.”

Normally, I would call that all fine and good, a fitting tribute to a vibrant couple who clearly love the outdoors almost as much as they love letting everyone know about it. “This is so them!” I can imagine guests saying too brightly, through labored breaths, while navigating dirt switchbacks up the side of a mountain. But then you read this …

But Ms. Baltay and Mr. Sundstrom preferred a more challenging style of skiing than most of their friends.

“I’d go off to the black diamonds with him, and we’d leave our friends on the bunny slopes,” said Ms. Baltay, who had worked as a ski instructor in Vail, Colo., before starting graduate school. “I liked to ski fast and hard. Eric liked to keep up with me. We both grew up skiing with our families.”

… and suddenly that happy mountain ramble feels more like a time trial, like when your friends convince you to join them on their annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k (“It’ll be great! It’s really relaxed. It’s just a social event and we’re always hungover!”) and then casually leave you in the dust. Somewhere in the distance, Sage Mehta nods approvingly, and cries out, “Buck up!”

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The annual human mass-preening warm-weather ritual known among modern anthropologists as “wedding season” may technically still be right around the corner, but that doesn’t mean there was no early activity in the month of March. Here is this month’s Society Scorecard, compiled using our proprietary NUPTIALS algorithm for determining wedding worthiness and presented with big thanks, as always, to Friend of Grantland Alex Morrison.

Look, it may not be specifically codified in the bylaws of Wedded Blitz, but there’s an unwritten rule around these parts: If you’re the grandson of A. Alfred Taubman, “the shopping mall developer who was chairman of Sotheby’s from 1983 to 2000” (and who, the announcement does not go on to say, was then implicated in a price-fixing scandal with Christies!), and you’re getting married, then I’m, shall we say, SOLD. And that’s before even factoring in the whole met-at-Brown and twin PhD’s thing. Congratulations, you two!

In close second place were the senior editor at Harper’s and the pediatrician son of “Dr. Harriet E. McGurk and the artist Frank Stella of New York.” (Whenever you get a “the ____” before your name, you know you’ve made it in a really badass way. No one ever says, “Oh, here, let me introduce you to my friend the consultant Bill Walsh.”) The bride’s mother, by the way, clearly has life down to an artful science: She is “a theater arts professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who is doing research in Malaysia, and is the editor of the Asian Theatre Journal published by the University of Hawaii Press.” And what is it that you do?

Coming in third: You know it’s a good one when the Rhode Island Supreme Court justice who’s officiating your ceremony at the Yale Club has a III in his name, especially when “The bride is a descendant of Jeremy Clarke, a colonial president of Rhode Island, and of John Wanton, a colonial governor.” And speaking of names, the businesses owned by the folks in the fourth-place marriage this month sure do like to bear them:

“Mrs. Pisa, 42, owns an interior design firm bearing her name in New York and Palm Beach.”

“The bride’s father owns a commercial real estate development firm [in Palm Beach] that bears his name.”

“The groom’s father retired as the owner of a construction company in Woodland Park that bore his name.”

If only the deadbeat “a partner in the New York law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy” groom could have instead owned, like, a lumberyard bearing his name, this family would basically have an entire vertical supply chain covered. Just some free empire-building advice.

Some other wedding odds and ends from the month of March …

• From 2009 to 2013, the bride’s father was the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe in Casteau, Belgium. Her mother is the author of “Naval Spouse’s Guide.” Did Wes Anderson already make this film, or is he too busy filing restraining orders against these people?

• Do me a favor and scroll through some of these Onion wedding announcements for a while and then click on this one and read the first caption and tell me if there’s any difference.

• As per usual, the New York Times online “Vows” video department absolutely nails it with the little film that accompanies this announcement. It’s probably because I grew up in New Jersey, but everything about the video is perfect, from the opening shot to the accents to the “Do you ever hang out in Hoboken? Well, maybe my son can show you around” to the quick cuts between characters. I’m genuinely heartbroken I couldn’t have attended this wedding, and I hope to see these folks around for the reopening of beloved New Jersey institution Action Park.

• Here’s hoping the fine folks at Joffrey Ballet School have a talented SEO team.

• “Urologist.” “No, YOU’REologist!” — to be repeated nightly at the dinner table until this couple’s children file for emancipation.

If you don’t have enough bleak reality in your life, might I introduce you to the Times’ newish “Unhitched” column about people getting divorced? The headline is “A Love Not Strong Enough to Climb Barriers,” and now I need to go have a drink.

• If you went to Elizabeth Murray and Webster Marquez’s wedding and you still haven’t gotten them a gift, you’re in luck, because getting “I was sure he was gay,” she said. “It was my experience that the one single guy at the party ends up being my new gay bestie.” calligraphied and framed is one thing that hasn’t already been purchased off the registry.

• Bill Gates apparently has “a research and policy center that focuses on his personal interests and private business.” I’m stealing that from now on when referring to the fact that I work from home.

• Similarly, “We were never throwing Barbra Streisand albums at each other” is my new favorite euphemism for going through an “amicable” split.

Blythe Lawton Winchester and Jordan William Winters Brock seem like truly lovely people, but there’s sort of a latent Lifetime Original Movie vibe going on in this announcement, no? I mean, the headline is “A Captive Audience,” for crying out loud, and it features a rosy-cheeked Goldman Sachs investment banker and a date to the Met and a ski accident and the last two sentences are “She was confined to her apartment. She couldn’t get away from me even if she wanted to.” Ah, young love.

• “When Ms. Rosenbaum first visited Mr. Klassen’s Sonoma County home she was flabbergasted: She had been in love before, but had never dated someone with more whisks than she had.” I have nothing to add to this.

And finally, we obviously can’t let the season of Passover go by without kvelling over this month’s Chosen Couple. I initially thought that this pair, with their dual rabbi officiants and the bride’s pending master’s degree in medieval Jewish history at Yeshiva University, would take top honors.

But I was too charmed/mystified by the daughter of a former preschool teacher at Temple Emanuel and the son of a Hackensack surgeon. The pair met when the groom, “then an orientation leader at N.Y.U. for the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life,” oversaw a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge with a group that included his future wife.

For Dr. Berman’s part, whenever the thought of asking her out crossed his mind, he quickly dismissed the notion. “I was a chicken because I didn’t think that this nice, smart, pretty Jewish girl would be interested in this awkward doofus doctor,” he said.

Wait, what?! That only runs counter to everything I’ve ever known to be true. Why is this wife different from all other wives? Some Bronfman Center representative he is.

Anyway, the two danced around dating for quite some time, much to the chagrin of their wannabe-yenta friends, until finally performing an economic risk/return analysis on the situation and deciding to become a couple. (“They made the announcement to their friends at the synagogue the next day and had their first official date one week later.”)

And now, forevermore, she will live the great shame of being married to a doctor. Can’t win ’em all. 

Filed Under: Weddings, Wedded Blitz

Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes