John Winters column: My 'Princess Bride'By JOHN A. WINTERS
Our clan thoroughly enjoys “The Princess Bride,” so much so even the SONs of Thunder can recite every line - even down to the “Hello, my name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
And they will even put up with the whole “true love” and kissing nonsense themes that play a secondary role behind fighting the giants, climbing the Cliffs of Insanity, escaping the Fire Swamp with Rodents of Unusual Size and helping Montoya avenge his father by killing the six-fingered man.
Nineteen years ago this past week, the Little Black Dress wore pink and said “I do.”
She moved up with me to Washington, D.C., and for our first Thanksgiving and Christmas, she agreed with me to celebrate the holidays alone. She had always been with her family. A year later, I asked her how she felt about moving to Alaska after I was offered a promotion. She said “yes.”
Her friends thought she was crazy. Some suggested we “commute.” Some of her friends meant well, but they don’t know that when The Dress says “I do,” she means it.
A couple of years later we were just driving around and decided to check out a high-end stereo store. The guy only sold top-end stuff and his biggest customers were the mostly foreign crews from cruise ships who would come into Juneau and clear him out on the best stereo equipment because it wasn’t available in their countries. Pre Internet, mind you.
So the owner is showing off his latest speakers. Very nice, about 3 feet tall, and black. So you know The Dress is happy. And then she goes, “Do you have any bigger ones?”
And the owner and I both kind of drop our jaws. So he shows her the “bigger ones,” about four-and-a-half feet tall. These she likes. And so we bought the speakers, using money we set aside for new baby stuff (yes, she was quite pregnant) and bought the speakers. We did wonder how our families would react when they saw new speakers and no crib.
I should say something about those speakers, which we still have. Every now and then I’ll walk into some big stereo store and they immediately know I’m an electronic guinea pig and are hitting me up on the latest, greatest speakers.
And I go, “well, I’ve got these old Definitive Technology speakers, you know the bipolar version with built in subwoofers.” And they just look at me and say something like “dude” and give up trying to sell me speakers. These babies push out sound from both ends, weigh about 60 pounds each, and you have to plug them into a wall socket to power the subwoofer. I can blow your roof off at half volume.
If you are into cars, think classic Mustang. Some things never go out of style.
So fast forward a decade or so and it’s Christmas. The LBD’s mom died a few months before. The Dress is putting up her extra special ornaments on one of her special Christmas trees, which sits atop one of the speakers. Ornaments from her childhood, her parents’ ornaments, the SONs’ favorite ornaments, and John’s Red Ornament.
And as her habit, she turns on some music and walks away. Unfortunately, however, one of the SONs had played with the master switch, which not only controls the volume, but the subwoofers as well. And within a few seconds, the tree was jump@Body Copy:ing up and down and a second or two after that, literally flew up like a helicopter and then crashed down onto the floor. And with it, shattered glass everywhere.
Including some of her parents’ ornaments, including John’s Red Ornament.
Said ornament was made by yours truly, or rather decorated shall we say. On one side is glued on glitter saying “John.” On the other side with the same glitter was “1965.” And it was red. Thus the name, John’s Red Ornament. Don’t ever say I can’t be descriptive when needed.
Had that ornament since kindergarten. It was the first thing we unpacked every year because my parents knew I’d be crazy with worry wondering if something had happened to it during the off season. I always hung it dead center. And we brought it from Oklahoma to Georgia to Alaska to Nebraska and back to Georgia. And now it was in more pieces than I could count.
And The Dress cried. And I was a little upset when I got home and she showed me.
But it was glass, and stuff, even if we’ve had it forever, it is still stuff. And sometimes stuff breaks.
And so, we moved on from that. And we also moved on as in from Oklahoma back to Georgia. Christmas came and the SONs destroyed painstakingly wrapped presents with complete glee and managed to not kill each other with whatever the latest mechanism of death that Santa, for some bizarre reason, had given them.
But for the first time in more than four decades, there was no John’s Red Ornament.
Four days later, The Dress threw a birthday party for me. Friends gave me cookbooks and Moleskins and I was very happy. And then the Dress gave me her gift. It was in a small, square white box. Inside, was John’s Red Ornament.
Intact. She had brought the pieces from Oklahoma and took a year to figure out how to fix it.
The reason all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again is simply because they did not have The Dress.
And so, John’s Red Ornament hangs again. And only because of true love.