Indeed, only God knows.
Normally, I wouldn't cut and paste an entire wedding column here, but I am hungover and procrastinating on work, a state which I find myself in every Sunday. Maybe one shouldn't return to the apartment of a bunch of New Zealanders met earlier in a bar and play Cranium and Pictionary - drunk, of course - until 4 in the morning because one couldn't figure out how to politely extricate oneself from said situation. And there was that whole bit about the guy playfully - but continually, sort of like a 12-year-old - hitting you with fake Incredible Hulk hands. And now one owes her wingwoman another dozen drinks. I'm just saying.
Anyway, this has to be the BEST Vows column I have ever read in my many years of reading the Sunday NYTimes wedding section. I tried to cut and paste only the choice tidbits, because this is rather lengthy, but the entire thing is a choice tidbit in and of itself. And I have taken the liberty of italicizing the parts I thought were particularly awesome.
SHE gets me,” David Mandel said of his bride, Dr. Rebecca Whitney. And Mr. Mandel, an executive producer of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO, is not an easy man to get.I don't even know where to begin.
“I don’t like human beings,” he said, only half in jest. “I’m bothered by real and perceived slights, and I hold grudges for billions of years.”
He lives in a dark Los Angeles apartment with blackout shades covering all of the windows to protect his collection of comic books, toy robots and “Star Wars” stormtrooper helmets.
He and Dr. Whitney, an athletic pediatrician who grew up on a farm in western Maine, met in 1988 on the first day of their freshman year at Harvard. She immediately fell in love — with Mr. Mandel’s roommate.
It was a short-lived romance, but long enough for her to develop an appreciation of Mr. Mandel’s late-night video marathons and other quirks.
“It’s like you’re a kid, and you’re playing with someone who has tons of toys, who’s going to keep you up past your bedtime,” Dr. Whitney, 36, said of times past and present.
Toys and games Mr. Mandel excelled at, but women were another story.
“I was sad and shy and not exactly sure what one is supposed to do,” Mr. Mandel, also 36, said. Over their first summer break he sent her newsletters and mix tapes. But she didn’t get the message.
During winter break in their sophomore year he invited her to a New Year’s Eve party at his parents’ apartment in New York, which he gave solely to see her. As she left the party, he handed her a puzzling gift. “It was the screenplay of ‘The War of the Roses,’ inscribed ‘To my own Barbara Rose, who can hit me without hurting me and hurt me without hitting me,’ ” she recalled. (The inscription was borrowed from something Gilda Radner once said about John Belushi.)
He invited her to a spring formal in their sophomore year, but the date ended without so much as a kiss. Then the last night before spring vacation they took a long walk in the rain, and, Mr. Mandel said, “all these intense emotions came pouring out, and declarations of love.”
As Dr. Whitney remembered it, “Dave said we either had to marry each other or never speak again.” She panicked, telling him she preferred to take things slow and stay friends.
He was adamantly opposed. “What’s the point of having all these feelings and backing away?” he asked.
He gave her the silent treatment, for the next four years. “By the time I knew they were an item, they were over,” said Dustin Chao, another onetime roommate of Mr. Mandel’s.
After they graduated in 1992 she left for Greece to teach English, and he went to New York, where within a year he was writing for “Saturday Night Live.” “My friends would record the shows and send them to me,” Dr. Whitney said, acknowledging she had been keeping tabs on him.
Two years later, they ran into each other at a Gray’s Papaya stand on the Upper West Side of Manhattan after she moved to New York to pursue a career in publishing. They warily resumed contact.
Then in spring 1995, Mr. Mandel was hired as a writer for “Seinfeld.” The week he was to move to Los Angeles, where the show was produced, they had a quarrel that ended on a street corner.
“We started off arguing about what happened in college,” he said. But as it went on, he realized that for seven years he had been comparing every other woman he dated with her.
So he did what he had wanted to do from Day 1. He grabbed her, and, he fondly recalled, “We had a very cinematic kiss.”
It was their first kiss, and, Dr. Whitney said, “it meant everything.” The next day he left for California. They began a long-distance relationship, but soon he was working around the clock. Within a year they had broken it off.
Mr. Mandel’s response was to write “a ‘Seinfeld’ episode about her,” he said. “It’s the modern equivalent of a Shakespeare sonnet.”
He explained that in the episode, called “Bizarro Jerry,” Jerry Seinfeld dates a woman with “man hands.” Dr. Whitney, who winces when he mentions it, chimed in, “I would like to clarify that my hands are farm hands and not man hands.”
While he was broadcasting what he calls “one of her wonderful neuroses” on national television, Dr. Whitney, who comes from a family of physicians, was attending Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans.
“Part of my own personality quirk is fighting the inevitable by trying everything else along the way,” she said, speaking about her career choice but hinting at more.
Although she had started dating at Tulane, when he invited her to the Emmy Awards in 1997, she accepted. She, too, found that all her other dates suffered by comparison.
“If I could have found any way to live happily without him, I would have done it,” she said.
So they renewed their relationship, and after she graduated, she went to Los Angeles for her residency. They were finally living in the same city and dating. But now he wanted to take things slow, leading to what he called “great and glorious crazy fights.”
Dr. Whitney was less rapturous about them. “I come from a family of pacifists,” she said. “No one ever yells. We raise animals.”
Yet they made slow progress toward marriage.
“What makes a great story, a great movie, is multiple acts,” Mr. Mandel commented about their 18-year courtship. “Great victories are only achieved over great obstacles.”
And, in Mr. Chao’s view, Dr. Whitney overcame a particularly difficult obstacle: “Becky convinced David that life can be good with a little less ‘Star Wars’ and a little more exercise.”
On New Year’s Eve this year, 250 guests gathered in the Art Deco grandeur of Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. The bride walked down the aisle as a brass quintet played “God Only Knows,” the Beach Boys song.
The couple had prepared personalized vows, which Rabbi James Kaufman spoke. “You are the only one I know who will never bore me,” he recited, as he stood with them beneath a white canopy surrounded by soaring marble columns.
Just before midnight, waiters passed out black leis, silver noisemakers and colored hats. Then, as 2007 began, gold and silver balloons dropped from the ceiling. Holding each other close, as if to make up for years of separation, Dr. Whitney and Mr. Mandel beamed while the Beach Boys sang:
God only knows what I’d be without you.