Sunday, October 07, 2007

Forming the perfect solution

As my wife’s cousin Shawn and his new wife Funda emerged from the church last weekend to bubbles, bell ringing and cheering, they graciously obliged the crowd by posing next to the church sign for a few pictures. After several clicks and beeps, they realized that people were laughing at a joke that they didn’t understand. Slowly, Shawn and Funda looked over their shoulders to see these words written on the board behind them: “Will I still be happy tomorrow with the decisions I’ve made today?”

Given their remarkable ability to put a wedding together in two months without a single charge of aggravated assault, I think they’re certainly off to a good start. In case you’ve never seen one, a wedding that’s planned in two months looks nearly identical to a wedding that’s planned over the course of a year, except everyone involved has this sly look like they just pulled an all-nighter and aced the test.

The wedding was held in the town of North East, Pennsylvania, which is, of course, in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania, just outside of Erie and beside Lake Misleadingly Named, which, as the locals will tell you, is a mountain. Northwest PA is much further away than northeast PA. Until you have to drive lengthwise across Pennsylvania, you’d be forgiven for thinking of it as a fairly small state, like Delaware’s big brother. Six hours in, though, Pennsylvania feels a lot more like Nebraska’s obese cousin. I think Pennsylvania stole half of Ohio when nobody was looking.

I did my best to become Shawn’s obese cousin-in-law at the reception, as I parked myself beside the dessert table and wolfed down handfuls of peanut butter cookies with Hershey’s Kisses plunked on top.

“Dude, these cookies are money,” I said to a passing cousin.

“You mean the Mongolian hats?” he said.

I’d never heard them called that before. Those cookies really do look like little Mongolian hats. At least as far as I know. If I’m being completely honest, my knowledge of far-Eastern haberdashery probably isn’t what it should be.

The maid of honor kicked off the toast-giving. “The man is the head of the household,” she said, confirming my long-held belief that she has never been to my house. Then she continued, “But the woman is the neck. And she turns the head whichever way she wants.”

Shawn then did something completely crazy: he got up to give a toast himself. He didn’t realize that a groom’s only job at the wedding is to provide a body to hold the tux up.

“In the song Hearts and Bones, which we quoted on the invitation to this wedding, Paul Simon sang, ‘You take two bodies and you twirl them into one. Their hearts and their bones. And they won't come undone,’” Shawn said. “But Paul Simon isn’t a polymer scientist. In order for two materials to remain bonded permanently in a homogeneous solution, they must be perfectly miscible.”

Shawn and Funda are both doctoral polymer scientists, which means that only they truly know whether their bonds of marriage are ionic or covalent. Either way, Shawn is most definitely the first person I’ve ever seen describe the union with his spouse via the Gibbs free energy equation. He deserves special credit for tying the temperature variable in the equation to his wife’s hotness. Shortly after that, he started ruminating on enthalpy and Delta H, which as far as I know is an ointment for a very personal condition.

“Is there going to be a test?” someone called out. Shawn’s new wife grabbed the microphone, telling a quick story of her own and ending the toast-giving portion of the proceedings.

Kara doesn’t like it when I ruminate in public, either. “Will you please go to the bathroom if you’re going to ruminate like that?” she tells me.

You can email Mike Todd in sickness and in health at


  1. If you ever catch me ruminating I'll eat my hat!!! Provided it's a little Mongolian one, that is.

  2. JL -- Good to see you, man! I think you're my oldest surviving blogroll link. That makes us BFF (Blog frien -- never mind).

  3. OK - just to clarify to all of Mike's readers, I'm not actually 97 years old, I've just been on his blogroll the longest ;-)

  4. Funda? no way... Mike is that a REAL name?

    I'm making it my honorary middle name...

    Hi, my name is melodyann FUNDA something-or-other....

    jl, don't lie, man, if you're 97, own up to it... it's the RIGHT THING to do...

    I should know... besides FUNDA, my middle name is "I am now doing the RIGHT THING..."

  5. JL -- I found some Metamucil on my blog after you left that comment.

    melodyann -- Hell yeah it's real. The only name I've changed to protect someone's identity is Kara's. Her real name is Mulva. Or is it Delores?

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  7. Funny. I especially liked the Maid of Honor's toast. Ha.

    Shawn's was a bit too metaphysical for me but nice. At first glance, I thought he was referencing the song Rag and Bone by The White Stripes. That could have been interesting.

    By the way, Northwestern, in Evanston, is located in the N.E. corner of Illinois on the edge of Lake Michigan. You can't get any farther east unless the school was on a pier extending into the lake. And I live about an hour N.W. of it, making Northwestern to me Southeastern.

    (I corrected a typing mistake)