The Saturday of our niece’s wedding, Jane and I were in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. It was lunchtime, and we had no specific plans.
Somewhere between J. Gumbo’s and The Italian Kitchen, we passed the old spaghetti factory. I guess whoever put their sign up didn’t think about using capital letters. I wanted to go in, but Jane said they were closed. It didn’t look closed to me, but she pulled me along rather quickly.
She said, “You want to ask them how old their spaghetti is, don’t you?”
I said, “No. I wanted to thank them for their honesty. There aren’t many restaurants that would admit to serving old spaghetti, much less advertise it. I’ll just send them a note when we get home.”
The Hermitage Hotel attracted my attention. I asked the desk clerk what time the hermits usually came out. He feigned a confused look. I figured that was a tactic to protect the hermits’ privacy. I asked if Herman and The Hermits had ever stayed there. He said I might want to ask someone in security, then he picked up the phone. Jane thought we should leave. I don’t know as I will ever get my questions answered.
We returned to our hotel room about five o’clock. Wilke Rodriguez was very glad to see us. We got ready for the seven o’clock ceremony, and walked the short distance to the wedding venue at the Country Music Hall of Fame. I was hoping to take a picture of a wax figure of Little Jimmy Dickens, but I guess that part of the Hall was closed. That would have been something worth putting in a frame.
I had sent my wife’s brother, Rick, the father of the bride, my column on shopping for a bargain tuxedo. It told how we found Wilke Rodriguez, how we became friends for only $149.95. Rick had passed that column along to some other folks. They were delighted to meet Wilke. I had several requests for pictures. “Do you want both of us or just Wilke?” I asked. They all said both, so I was tickled about that.
One fellow had ordered a specially tailored tuxedo from China. I asked Wilke if he had ever been to China. He said that he hadn’t, and it was way down low on his list. First, he wanted to go to the Georgia Agrirama in Tifton to watch them grind cane juice and turn it into syrup. He said he was aggravated with China about the prolific spread of Chinaberry Trees. I told him I wasn’t sure they were entirely to blame, but sometimes he has selective hearing.
Wilke Rodriguez almost got us both in trouble at the reception. Jane was two tables over, visiting with some of the bride’s family. I was standing by my chair, stretching my legs, giving Wilke a good view of the room. We were about 20 feet from the dance floor.
A lady who was too young for me, but too old for Wilke, walked up. She said, “Mister, you look sort of lonesome standing here by yourself. Would you like to dance?”
I was thinking we shouldn’t, but Wilke was urging me on. The band was playing a real slow song, the kind where you would hold your partner close. I decided it was best that I make the call on this one.
“Young lady,” I said, “I’m flattered that you invited me to dance, but I’m not sure that Mrs. Rodriguez would be happy with that.”
“No problem,” she said with a laugh. “Is it okay if I take your picture? Then I would love to meet Mrs. Rodriguez!”
That’s when Wilke spoke up. “Maybe we ought to dance first,” he said. His smile conveyed a definite sense of mischief as he motioned towards the dance floor.
Wilke understood that he had overstepped his boundaries. He knew that we would be discussing this later. But with a cunningly slow walk, he stalled long enough for the band to switch to a fast song. I realized with a certainty that Wilke Rodriguez at $149.95 really was a bargain. You can’t put a price on a friendship that also includes that kind of wisdom. I think that even Mrs. Rodriguez will agree with that.