February 29th—denoting a leap year—comes around every four years. I grew up with this “holiday” marked by my mother’s birthday. As kids, we loved knowing Mom only got a “real” birthday every four years and soon, by that count, she was soon younger than all her children.
Somewhere in folklore, leap year was made into a tradition whereby it is allowable for women to propose marriage to men. Over the centuries, different countries adopted various versions of the tradition and even some penalties if the marriage proposal was refused.
To soften the blow to the pursuing female, a man denying her offer may have to give her a kiss, money or even a “silk gown.” In Denmark, refusal must be compensated by a dozen pairs of gloves.
In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky and 20 percent of the engaged couples will intentionally avoid getting married in a leap year.
A victim of the Sadie Hawkins girl-catches-guy wedding plan, Sam decided to make it a party. When a wedding happens in ranch country, it’s a big deal. Not everybody wants to go to town to get “hitched.”
Sam selected one of his favorite spots on the ranch and his buddy Dave volunteered to slow roast a hog. The preacher was lined up and a keg of beer ordered. Yep, that should do it, Sam thought.
Mary Margaret had a few ideas of her own about how she thought the wedding should go. She bought the big white dress and lined up her bridesmaids to be dressed in pastels.
There was a slight hitch as one of the bridesmaids ordered her dress in a size smaller than actually required thinking her new diet would work. Plan B was to line up a cousin who was the right size.
In the meantime, Dave butchered a hog, cut it up, seasoned and wrapped it. He dug the fire pit, lined the bottom with wood and went on to his other appointed wedding duties. He’d also been appointed shotgun bearer to follow the bride down the aisle and that required the ol’ double-barrel to be shined up.
Sam, indulging his bride in her desires, agreed to provide the music. The boom box was tested and required only an occasional slap on the side to keep it playing. Waylon and Willie would do fine.
Helpful neighbors had been designated to usher the guests away from the keg to the seating area and to keep the dogs quiet during the ceremony.
Sam was not as totally committed to this project as the bride would have liked, and in an effort to get him involved, she decided they should each write their own vows.
Her vows were very lovely prose, mentioning hearts, flowers, lifelong commitment, a steady partner and love eternal. When his were finally, reluctantly, presented for inspection, she was somewhat taken aback.
The only thing he had planned on saying was “I do. Let’s party.”
Vows said and sighs emitted, the wedding crowd moved down the hill to the patio to celebrate. The pig was unearthed only to discover the fire hadn’t been lit under it. However, this brought only some good-natured funnin’ at Dave, who apparently had lost his train of thought the night before while polishing the shotgun and sampling the keg.
The boom box quit working, and no amount of coaxing could revive it. As it turned out, the music wasn’t any more necessary to a good party than was the shotgun or the roast pig. The properly sampled beer fulfilled Dave’s wedding vow of “let’s party.”
You can’t say that cowboys don’t do things with style and grace. It just depends on your definition of both.
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.