After opening several crisp creamy envelopes, nested together in the manner of matryoshka dolls, it appeared that Marsha and I were invited to attend the wedding of a young friend. We will call him Alan.

A stone mansion on the sea near Newport, Rhode Island, had been commandeered for the occasion, and we were excited and flattered at the thought of two sit-down dinners and a whirlwind of festivities over the course of two days.

Bride and groom were each pushing 40, and two sets of parents, who had probably given up hope of ever seeing a grandchild, were sparing no expense to manifest their relief and gratitude.

We replied to the invitation with thanks but opted for only the second day, as it would have otherwise entailed the expense of an overnight motel. According to plan, we ate and ran as soon as our fingers cleared the finger bowls, and were home safely and in bed shortly after midnight.

Can you attend a wedding without dredging up nostalgic memories of similar joyous occasions?

If you were here at the St. George farm for our wedding 25 or so blissful years ago, you will recall that we got married on Gramp Wiley’s old doorstep, which I refurbished for the occasion and set up in our backyard.

The widder, Marsha VanZandbergen, insisted that we recycle her minister friend, Phil Rider, who married her the first time. No invitations were sent, but an announcement was sent to all the newspapers, inviting people to show up at the humble farm at a certain hour and to bring plenty of food.

Our wedding day was warm and sunny. I think it was in June. Jackson Gillman and Gary Crocker provided live entertainment, and there was an auction after the ceremony where we sold enough household items to pay for the invitations we’d posted in all the newspapers.

Sam Pennington thought the event warranted a two-page spread in his Antique Digest, probably because we sold a blue pot-chair that could have been used by Benedict Arnold.

Although only about 300 people showed up, it was probably because the wedding was publicized as being alcohol-free. Our neighbor, Jan Korpinen, filmed the entire show, for which we have been eternally grateful.

Our wedding cost us nothing and garnered a lot of good will. And although we have nothing but thanks and appreciation for the Rhode Island event, their tab probably ran to several hundred dollars. Will you tell me how some people do it?

Have you noticed that the ways of our world have changed? Before my mother was 40, I was in the Coast Guard and my little sister was a freshman at the Eastman School of Music.

All four parents at the Rhode Island wedding had probably watched their offspring accumulate college degrees, patiently at first but certainly with a bit of anxiety when it appeared to be a habit.

How we came to know these friendly folks I can’t remember, but every summer they rent an oceanside cottage here in town (built with B&M Bean money) and invite us down for fish chowder.

For over 20 years, I have kept Alan’s summer sailboat under cover. For the first 10 or so years, the boat lived in the hayloft of my house next door.

But when we sold that house and moved the boat here and discovered that we had less and less income with which to buy food and heating oil, I hinted that it would be nice if he could slip us a small yearly storage fee – a hint that he might be able to consider seriously now that there are two breadwinners in his family.

But I suppose you don’t get to be chief financial officer of a Boston corporation by indiscriminately throwing cash about.

Several years ago, Alan inspired me to write the following:

If your father were prime minister of England or if your mother earned a Nobel or Pulitzer Prize, you must live a hard life. Are you crushed by unnecessary social pressures? Do folks expect you to measure up?

My father came to this country to break big pieces of rock into smaller paving blocks. He pounded granite in a quarry all day just like Rambo, so even when I joined the ranks of the lowest-paid teachers in the country, my neighbors might have chosen to believe that I did better than my father.

But even though my friend Alan is the chief financial officer in a corporation, his father has a Ph.D. from Harvard and writes books. Alan’s mother is a lawyer. So unless Alan absconds with hundreds of millions of dollars and lives the rest of his luxurious days surrounded by dancing girls in Aruba, it is going to be hard to come up to the expectations of his parents.

His world is far removed from mine, so I asked Alan exactly what a chief financial officer does.

He said, “If anyone in the company messes up, we’re the ones who go to jail.”

In a similar vein, if a newspaper columnist falls short of his mark, it is the editor’s fault.

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:

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