Of all the fearsome creatures to inhabit the planet – and I am including such things as lions, tigers and IRS agents – none is more frightful to the average male than his wedding.     
I have crossed the equator of matrimony exactly once, so you pollywogs sit back and listen as an old shellback spins his yarn of woe.    
It all began like so many of these things do. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. They start dating and before you know it, the topic of marriage is popping up.     
But as I recall, matrimony was discussed in purely academic terms. We would say things like, “Marriage is the cornerstone of our society,” or “I understand that married people can receive certain tax benefits.”     
The Thanksgiving after the spring I met my wife, I heard the words that would change my life. We were at a family gathering when I overheard my then-girlfriend say to my sister, “We’ve been talking about marriage a lot lately. I’m going to kill him if I don’t get a ring for Christmas.”      
So, I shortly found myself at a jewelry store (under the threat of death, mind you), trying to make sense of what I was seeing in the glass cases. I called the proprietor over.
“Hey, pal,” I said. “Someone’s made a mistake on these prices. All of the decimal points are in the wrong places.”
I was assured that there were no errors.     
“You’ve got to be kidding. That much for a tiny chip of crystalized carbon attached to a weenie loop of gold? The last time I wrote a check that big, I drove home in a used pickup.”     
My then-girlfriend shot me a withering glare, a tactic that’s still devastatingly effective after all these years. And so, under extreme duress, I was induced to sign up for an arrangement called low monthly installments, something that would remain a fact of life for the rest of my life.      
From that point on, I lost any semblance of control over the situation. My sisters, my fiancée’s girlfriends and innumerable other females became involved. Our wedding swiftly gained momentum and soon achieved critical mass. It became an entity unto itself, a force of nature that was beyond any mortal man’s comprehension. And, I was hopelessly trapped in its dizzying vortex.      
Flower arrangements were selected, formal wear was chosen, a cake the size of a Buick was commissioned. I felt much like a condemned prisoner as I watched helplessly from the sidelines while plans for the demise of my bachelorhood were laid out in excruciating detail.     
I couldn’t shake a vague feeling of impending doom. Some type of disaster was lurking out there, but I couldn’t determine what it might be. I tried to forestall this possible future calamity by suggesting we elope.     
“Think of how romantic it would be,” I pleaded to my fiancée. “It would be like the days of yore. I could ride up on my white stallion and spirit you off to my castle where the bishop awaits to marry us.”     
“Yeah, right,” she replied. “Except that your white stallion is a beat-up old Chevy pickup, and your castle is a rundown farmhouse. Besides, your Uncle Sid hasn’t drawn a sober breath in over 20 years. Are you even sure that he’s a justice of the peace like he claims he is?”     
She had me there. Well, I gave it a shot.     
Despite my sense of foreboding, our wedding went pretty much as planned. There were no earthquakes or tornados or floods. Nor did I faint of embarrassment during the ceremony.     
I somehow managed to remain conscious as I stood in front of that packed church in that rented monkey suit and pledged my troth. Heck, I didn’t even know that I had troth.
“Honey, have you seen my troth lately?” 
“Nope. Did you try looking in the junk drawer?”     
After the reception and the dance, we drove out to our humble little dairy farm to change clothes and grab our honeymoon luggage. As we turned onto the driveway, the headlight beams of the car swept the farmstead. Dozens of blue-green reflectors bobbed around out in the darkness.     
The reflectors were the eyes of cows. My cows on the wrong side of the fence.    
I knew what this meant. It meant I was about to ask my bride of six hours to chase Holsteins in the dark while wearing her wedding dress, and I was about to fix the fence in a rented tux.     
And for some reason, that feeling of impending doom suddenly evaporated.
Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.