Her pop debut was a bit controversial. Katy Perry is the one who sang, “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” She has another song where she deplores her highly metro boyfriend because he’s “so gay” and “don’t even like boys.” While her lyrics are at times uncouth, if not clever, and her celebrity persona is interesting, to say the least, and her costumes provocative (a cupcake bra?), one thing is undeniable: she’s got some chops. That’s music-speak for pipes, which is something-speak for she sings good.

I don’t know how much she contributes to the composing of her songs; it’s said she at least co-writes all of them. But then, Avril Lavigne claimed as much too (ask The Matrix writing team or Chantal Kreviazuk). Whether Perry writes her songs or not, a couple of my favorites are the catchy “Hot N Cold,” which my girls and I awkwardly (me, not them) danced to at a father-daughter dance a year ago, and “Waking Up in Vegas.”

Musically, “Vegas” is everything I could ask for in a pop/rock song: it’s got a great hook, awesome guitars, background vocal chicks, a little tambourine in the chorus to add that extra oomph, and a fantastic tag that for me fades out too quickly—keep it going, I say. Lyrically, there’s a depth she and whoever wrote it with her may not have realized or intended—a biblical mandate, actually. It’s a song about how she elopes to Las Vegas and wakes the next morning wondering what in the world she just did, usually a question young marrieds ask further into their honeymoon, a sort of delayed buyer’s remorse.

san_diego_caCindy and I just made it a dozen. Twelve years ago today we awoke in a hotel room in San Diego, our honeymoon destination. The day before and the months preceding were a whirlwind, but there we were, husband and wife. Too late to change our minds. Too late to “cash out,” as Perry suggests.

Though it was the hardest thing, probably the best Cindy and I did for our family was to move away from home. Getting away from the influence of in-laws was necessary for our marriage to excel the way it has. I’m not suggesting that mine or Cindy’s parents are any more intrusive than any other’s, and at times parental counsel to grown children is welcomed. I also don’t mean young couples have to move away from home, though perhaps a little farther than Ray Barone did. (We’d love to move to San Diego, a short and long 2 ½ hours from Yuma, but I’d need a paycheck three times larger.) I’m long from being a father-in-law myself, so I’m probably overstepping my bounds, though that wouldn’t be a first. But I imagine it’s difficult to balance offering advice and not interfering.

vegas_lyrics copySeveral years ago I cut the apron strings, long after I needed to. We were back home around Christmastime, which is always stressful, especially because we seldom see family and they all expect our presence at each of their gatherings. Without offering details, I finally realized that Cindy needed me to not “call my mother,” to not “be a baby.” We were in this together. Cindy was who she was, I was who I was, and our parents and brothers and sisters couldn’t change that. She and I have grown to appreciate each other’s strengths and can see how we make up for the other’s weaknesses. We have incorporated some of our families’ traditions but have created more than we inherited. In short, we have leaved and cleaved.

Back to the song: I love the chorus of “Vegas,” because I think it’s what all wives in one or way another have sung to their husbands:

Shut up and put your money where your mouth is—Guys, we can have all the right romantic lines and make terrific promises, but what our ladies are looking for is follow-through, something I struggle with myself. I want to be a man of my word, but laziness and inconsideration get the best of me at times.

That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas—Hey, you made the choice back on your wedding day. No one held a gun to your head, unless you’re from West Virginia and yours was of that variety. I love waking up every morning to find Cindy hasn’t left me yet. I’m such a sound sleeper; she could pack everything, including the sheets, and I wouldn’t stir.

Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now—Young grooms have all kinds of delusions about what a wife is: someone who will always agree with us, who’ll cook gourmet meals every night—leftovers are never in our fantasies. They’ll bear us children that resemble us and lose the baby weight quickly thereafter. They’ll never nag us about the trash or light bulbs or our tech gadget addictions—I’m making generalizations, of course, nothing personal—and despite exhaustion from chasing after said kids all day will engage in passionate sex every night, or maybe every other night during a dry spell.

The glitter of romance is delightful, but at times the glitter fades and we’re left with the kind of love the Bible talks about, that love where we’re committed to one another and will serve one another even if we don’t feel like it. Romance comes and goes, but real love is constant.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. —Ephesians 5:25 ESV

Vegas copyIn another dozen years, Cindy and I may be giving our daughters away. I want their husbands to be passionate about loving our daughters the way Jesus loved the Church, and hopefully they will have seen this exemplified in the way I love their mother. Jesus talked about love a lot, but more than anything he put his money where his mouth was. In the same way, I anteed in on a hot August afternoon back in 1998. And now, as they say, I’m all in.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. —1 John 4:9-10 NLT

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