Bystanders help save a marriage

'It's a bird,' my husband said of the object in the sky. 'it's a plastic bag,' I said. 'No, wait! It's a bridal veil!'

Spring was indeed springing as Concord, N.H., enjoyed a refreshingly sunny and warm afternoon. My husband, Barry, and I were driving south on North Main St. when Barry suddenly looked to the sky and said, "It's a bird. It's a plane ..."

I looked up and said, "It's a white trash bag."

"Hm," he said. "You may be right."

"Honey, watch out!" I yelled. "There's a guy in the street!"

But this guy wasn't your average wayward pedestrian. He was an overachiever wearing a black tuxedo who, it seemed, was preparing to dent our hood with a touch of class. He was balancing a videocamera on his shoulder as he filmed the white object we had just seen hovering in the sky.

Barry gripped the steering wheel and slammed on the brakes. By the time our car had come to a complete stop, the classy man had already drifted out of our path. I watched as he took the camera from his shoulder and walked toward First Congregational Church.

When he reached the church, he took his place beside a beautiful woman in a wedding dress. She was obviously a distraught bride. Her hand rested on top of her head - where her veil should have been. She appeared to be holding back tears.

"Ah-ha!" I cried. "That's not a trash bag - it's her veil! I'll bet the wind ripped it off her head."

"Let's follow it," Barry said

"Follow it?"

"We can rescue it."

"Rescue it? Barry, it's really up there ... at least 100 feet."

"Come on," he said. "It'll be fun."

And so the chase began.

"I can't drive and watch the veil at the same time," Barry said. "Watch it for me. Tell me where to turn."

I stuck my head out the window, did a backbend, and arched my neck awkwardly. I watched the veil twist and turn, dancing in the wind's shifting currents.

As instructed, I told Barry where to go. "Take a left," I said, then. "Where are you going? Oops! Did I say 'left'? Go right."

We had followed the veil for four or five blocks when, without warning, the wind stopped dead. The veil took a nosedive and crash-landed smack in the middle of a major intersection.

"Of all places!" Barry said, and groaned.

"Well, that was fun," I said. "Let's go and get a pizza."

"No," he said. "We're not giving up now."

On two wheels (OK, it felt like two wheels), he took a sharp right and then a sharp left into a parking lot. He pulled up close to a bank building that blocked our view of the intersection.

"I'll be right back!" he announced. His door flew open, and before I could say "Be careful!" he had disappeared around the corner of the bank.

I waited in the car. I couldn't bear to watch. As I listened to our idling engine, I began thinking about Barry - how he was risking his life for a veil, and what a sweet gesture that was. But he was also acting as crazy as the camera-carrying tuxedo man, and I decided that I'd rather be married to a nonheroic man than to a veil-saving one with tire tracks on his back.

Then Barry reappeared - carrying the veil!

He wore a satisfied grin as he hopped into the driver's seat and placed the veil on my lap. I cradled it as though it might snap. I'd never held a veil before. (Barry and I had eloped; we'd worn blue jeans.)

Barry noticed my discomfort. "Honey, breathe," he said. "It won't bite."

"Are you sure?"

He zoomed out of the parking lot. We quickly retraced the four blocks to the church and pulled into a narrow driveway. We didn't see anyone who looked wedding-partyish.

Once again, Barry said, "I'll be right back!"

Clutching the veil, he ran down the sidewalk. He climbed the church's granite steps and, as he reached the top landing, threw his arms over his head. He began jumping up and down. He was imitating either a Toyota commercial or the title character from "Rocky." I wasn't sure. But it was clearly some sort of victory dance, and I was impressed. I signaled back with hand-clapping motions.

After waving to me and mouthing "thank you," Barry yanked open the tall wooden doors. He stepped inside the church and disappeared as the doors closed behind him. I waited and waited. And waited a while longer.

In my boredom, I imagined what might be the cause for his delay. I pictured Barry kneeling in prayer. I imagined him lighting candles. I considered the possibility that he'd been invited to preach a sermon.

Finally, the doors opened. Barry emerged, surrounded by members of the wedding party. They were all smiling and shaking hands. The bride, now wearing her veil, beamed with relief as a photographer snapped pictures of her and the groom ... and Barry.

My hero. Well, actually, he was the bride's hero that day.

Barry waved good-bye to his new friends and turned around. He hopped down the steps and once again ran along the sidewalk. When he reached our car, he opened the door, and - breathing heavily from his exertions - said, "Pretty [huff] cool [puff], huh?"

"Yes. Nice job, Rocky."

"Thank you very much," he said with a deep voice. (Elvis, perhaps?)

"You're welcome."

He asked, "Where are we going now?"

"To get a pizza," I said.

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