By Bob

Since the last time I wrote, things have been pretty smooth. I've picked my groomsmen (see the last post) and even bought them gifts. Jane and I settled into a routine: Saturday mornings we visit caterers, check out wedding cakes, and add stuff to our registry. Saturday afternoon we go hiking or something to burn off the stress of it all. Sundays she talks to her bridesmaids for a few hours.

Then I made the huge, catastrophic mistake of showing her a Chinese astrology book at the neighborhood Barnes & Noble. Until we checked our chinese horoscope, that is. Now, before I go any further, please realize I'm not a real superstitious person. I don't throw salt over my shoulder, I don't think it's bad luck to see my fiancee in her wedding dress before our wedding, and I don't think stepping on sidewalk cracks will injure my mother. But I find the Chinese zodiac totally addictive. It's bizarrely accurate at times, and great fun to read. Where else can you tell someone they're a Yellow Pig and not get smacked?

Anyway, I showed her the book. I'm a Monkey: Born in July 1968. I fit the definition pretty well too: Glib, kind of cynical, you know. I thought Jane was a Dragon a perfect match for me. We'd just been getting snippy with each other about our choice of wedding invitations, so I figured I could show her that our marriage is fate and win some points.

So I crack this book, and Jane's looking, with her hand resting on my shoulder a sure sign of a thaw in relations and we start reading.

She was born February 1, 1964. I turn to that page in the book. She's not a Dragon, she's a rabbit. Heh, I say, what do you know, you're a rabbit, not a Dragon.

Do Rabbits and Monkeys get along? she asks, brow wrinkling. My palms start to sweat.

Uh, sure, I say, Let's go look at computer books. But it's a halfhearted attempt. I've taken us down the path and there's no way out.

Jane starts reading. Rabbits and Monkeys are not a good match, according to the book. A Rabbit is better off marrying a Goat or a Pig. Jane's frown deepens. My mind starts racing how do I get out of this one?

It's just a horoscope, dear, don't sweat it, I say, trying to take the skeptical route. I know that, she says, but it's still depressing.

We leave the bookstore, and for the rest of the day a heavy silence lies between us. The Chinese have cursed us. Our romance has no hope. We'll probably end up one of those bitter old couples that eats dinner in a restaurant in complete silence except when one of us comments the other isn't getting enough fiber or something.

That night, we went out for you guessed it Chinese food. We would've changed our plans at that point, to avoid some kind of bolt from above, but we were meeting friends.

We're sitting there in uncomfortable silence. I pick at my fried noodles, not really enthusiastic while my friends crack up about some joke. How can they laugh at a time like this? When the whole universe is against you, it's hard to be cheerful.

I stare down at my plate, and then realize that my placemat has, of course, a Chinese zodiac on it. I look, figuring I can confirm the disaster and then choke on an eggroll or something. But as I read I start to grin. I poke Jane and she reads it, too. Then we're both giggling like schoolkids. Our friends look at us like we're nuts, but we don't bother to explain.

This particular copy of the zodiac says that Jane is a Dragon. Apparently there are different versions of the zodiac, and they vary by as much as a week. We decided, then and there, that this was our reference.

Saved, by a cheesy paper placemat. Who would've thought?

Until next time,
—Groom Bob

A note from Groomstand: Who is Groom Bob? We received this note from 'Bob' last week. Hopefully the lessons he learns about groomsmen gifts, ettiquette and yes, the Chinese zodiac, can help you out, too. Stay tuned.