Tag Archives: Weddings

Aloha Maui – Aloha Durham

Homeward Bound

The Duchess and I, our honeymoon almost complete, are packing for the flight home later today1 but took time before departure to memorialize this one last look at the beach with a photo taken from our room.

  1. Although flying lots-o-hours through time zones means we arrive home tomorrow []

Thank You Leonard Cohen and Duchess Of Durham For The Wedding Gifts

The Leonard Cohen Wedding Theme

I guess they won’t exchange the gifts
That you were meant to keep.
– From A Thousand Kisses Deep by Leonard Cohen

It’s an amazing thing – the Duchess of Durham not only persists in her profession that she will marry me tomorrow but has also arranged for me to receive a couple of especially endearing and impressive gifts in celebration of the impending nuptials. Atop this post is a photo that may well be recognized by Heck Of A Guy readers, friends, family, casual acquaintances, Leonard Cohen fans, that Indiana State Police officer who stopped me to chat about my predilection for traveling at a velocity considerably in excess of the posted speed limit, …

Now, the photo of Leonard Cohen and me isn’t new. It was taken backstage by Lorca Cohen before  the October 29, 2009 Leonard Cohen Chicago Rosemont Theatre concert.1 What is new, however, is that inscription on the photo (dated August 27, 2011, when our wedding is scheduled).

Similarly, I already owned the record sleeve of Do I Have To Dance All Night, a 1976 Leonard Cohen song never released on an album but published as a 45 rpm record for sale in central Europe, the propagation of which throughout the cosmos has become my primary moral imperative.2 It’s the note from Leonard that has been added.

Bonus: Book Of Mercy By Leonard Cohen

The word on Boogie Street is that Leonard Cohen is a gracious fellow.

He has, in fact, previously written a brief note to me, employing the title page of his Book Of Longing as stationery.3

Consequently, one supposes it should be no surprise that, in addition to autographing the photo and record sleeve  as requested by the Duchess, this blog’s favorite and featured Canadian singer-songwriter-poet-novelist-icon also included in the return mailing a copy of his Book Of Mercy with another note and autograph.

Nonetheless, the Duchess informs me that she is a tad overwhelmed by this wondrous lagniappe from the man whose music and poetry played no minor role in the courtship that led to tomorrow’s wedding.

I Tried To Leave You – For A Bit

What with the wedding, a quickie honeymoon, the bureaucratic obstacle course (changing insurance beneficiaries, adding names to leases and contracts, etc.), and all, Heck Of A Guy will be on hiatus for the next 5-7 days, after which new posts will again begin appearing here, still working for your smile.

Credit Due Department: Special thanks and gratitude are owed and hereby proffered to Kezban Washington, Leonard Cohen’s Assistant, who went far beyond her job description in colluding with the Duchess to assure that these autographs were executed, prepared, packaged, and shipped in timely fashion, extending in the process courtesy and warmth.

  1. See How To Win Friends And Impress Strangers With A Little Help From Lorca & Leonard Cohen []
  2. See The Best Leonard Cohen Song You’ve Never Heard (Probably) []
  3. I continue to receive email asking about the story behind the inscription from Leonard Cohen to me on the title page of Book Of Longing shown in the video. As a result, I am including that anecdote here although I have listed it previously in the “comments” section:

    It’s just another re-enactment of the age-old story:

    Boy (that would be me) finds girl (Anjani) while writing a review of girl’s new album (Blue Alert). Boy, on reading comparison of girl to Holly Cole and Tanita Tikaram, makes the obvious move, using the first part of the review to suggest a four-way consisting of him and the three female singers. Girl leaves comment, thanking boy for positive review. Boy publishes post interpreting girl’s comment as indication girl is torn between running to him and staying with her boyfriend, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lenny Kravitz, Leonard Nimoy, … Lennie somebody. Negotiations ensue re four-way Vs three-way and personnel composition of each but eventually girl sends a ”Dear DrHGuy” letter and it’s splitsville. Boy gets autographed poetry volume from boyfriend/poet as consolation prize.

    It’s the kind of thing that happens every day.

    The full story can be found at Anjani-DrHGuy FAQ []

DrHGuy’s Online Wooing Of The Duchess

Words Of Love

Words of love, so soft and tender,
Won’t win a girl’s heart anymore.
If you love her,then you must send her
Somewhere where she’s never been before.
Worn out phrases and longing gazes
Won’t get you where you want to go. (No!)
Words of love, soft and tender,
Won’t win her…

From Words Of Love by Mamas & Papas

I’ve received a number of emails asking how my fiancee, Duchess of Durham, and I met.1 Far too many of these messages, by the way, include a subtext of incredulity, one correspondent going so far as to ask if the Duchess had been by chance in danger of being deported unless she earned her green card by marrying a putative citizen.

As it turns out, we met the old-fashioned, romantic way – on an online dating site.

The following is the dating profile I composed that, notwithstanding the premise set forth by the Mamas & Papas in the verse atop this post, enticed the demure Duchess into an email correspondence spiced with selected lines from Leonard Cohen songs, some Neruda and AE Housman poems, a few links to pertinent Heck Of A Guy entries, and a salacious suggestion or two that itself led to dates, the occasional indulgence in iniquity, and, finally, our impending nuptials.2 Yep, those research and writing skills I picked up as an English major 40 years ago are already starting to pay off.

I may have been going about this dating business wrong.

Despite near-perfect execution of my strategy, i.e., sustaining vigilant readiness in anticipation of the spontaneous appearance on my doorstep of a smart, good-looking, quite possibly naked woman with an encyclopedic knowledge of the erotic arts and an irrepressible desire to inflict them on me, my recent efforts to find a companion have been unrequited.

I know – I can’t believe it either.

Nonetheless, I must conclude these tactics are, in some subtle, imperceptible way, tragically flawed and a more proactive approach indicated, something along the lines, say, of signing up with an online dating site not unlike this one. So, …

I’m a doctor, widowed ten years ago after an outrageously happy marriage. More about that in a moment.

I’m a quick-witted, funny (in a sardonic, parenthetical-comment sort of way) overachiever, heavy duty reader, sporadic scribbler, & perpetual cynic. I began college as a Bible major (not “theology major,” mind you – I majored in “Bible”), earned a undergrad degree in English at a commuter college, got into a medical school desperate to recruit a token non-science jock, and moved to Chicago for a three  year residency that turned into 35 years there practicing medicine, raising two kids, striving to earn a dollar or two more than we spent, and generally taking care of business.

Now, I’ve arrived – on my own for the first time since medical school – in Durham, NC.

Cue the theme song, and you’ve got yourself a pretty darn adorable TV sitcom.

Along the way, I’ve had two remarkable experiences:

First, my then wife-to-be and I met in college, fell madly, irredeemably, unflinchingly in love, and – 9 years, 3 spouses, and 2 careers later (think “When Harry Met Sally” meets “Waiting For Godot”) – got together for that afore-mentioned outrageously happy 20 years together before her death.

Then, six years ago, I won the lottery a second time, finding myself in an implausibly wonderful relationship, albeit one very different from my marriage, with a woman very different from my wife.

In fact, the only shared features were that both liaisons were marvelous, both love affairs were tragically ended by death, and both women were too good for the likes of me, a blatantly self-evident fact of which they were blissfully oblivious.

From these experiences evolved a simple but powerful two-step methodology that allowed me to hold up my side of those relationships and which should stand me in good stead if I have the good fortune to again cross paths with the right woman at the right time.

  1. Find a woman who meets my primary criterion (also the single trait shared by the two women I’ve adored): she could do a lot better than me, but she doesn’t know it.
  2. Distract her with fancy footwork, song, dance, snappy chatter, snippets of poems, champagne, ribald limericks, gifts, and other expressions of enthusiastic attentiveness so she doesn’t come to realize she could, indeed, do better.

Because the draconian word count restriction placed on profiles precludes the kind of knock-your-socks-off big finish you (and you know who you are) deserve, I’m going to have to ask you to imagine the deleted section I originally composed after studying a few profiles of other men on this site promoting themselves as attractive date & mate material. Close your eyes (well, read the rest of this essay first; then, close your eyes) and envision a message epic in scope, a work with both tragic and comic elements that embeds, within an elegant exposition of paradigm-shifting insights into the human condition, the appropriate code words to suggest, in a humorous, self-effacing, non-legally binding manner, that I am one athletic, rich, generous, &, of course, handsome son of a gun who is not only spiritual as all get out but also “embraces life” and “knows how to treat a lady,” which I now understand has nothing to do with prescribing antibiotics.

Then, imagine a second paragraph that similarly describes my  reckless yet chivalrously  respectful romantic quest for a soulmate in dating site lingo that implicitly signals my preference for a bright, gorgeous, sexually adventuresome woman possessed of a great figure and low standards in men.

Picture this cast in clever, ironic phrases replete with subtle but unmistakably provocative sexual connotations and just a dollop of nonaggressive, outrageously manic humor. Consider the pervasive romantic subtext only modestly and begrudgingly attenuated by a mature recognition of reality, Finally, it would be nice but probably not essential if you could visualize a closing that offers a polished fragment of universal wisdom proffered without a trace of pomposity and motivated solely by a compassion for humanity itself.

OK, what kind of woman am I actually looking for? I’m looking for a woman who – heck, the two women I’ve loved most didn’t fit any of my preconceived notions of whom I wanted then, so why pretend I know any more about women now?  Let’s go with this – if you’re old enough to know the score, young enough to go into extra innings, and you’re still reading, you probably qualify.

  1. See DrHGuy & Duchess Of Durham To Wed []
  2. Ongoing blog readers, certain Exs, women  who peruse online personal ads, and email buddies may recognize portions of this composition. What can I say – I recycle. []

A Thank-You Note To Readers And Leonard Cohen From Duchess Of Durham

Dear Heck Of A Guy Readers,

When Allan, soon after I met him, wooed me with carefully selected passages from  Chelsea Hotel #2 – a song I’d never heard before – I thought there might be something special going on.

When I found myself playing Diva #2 in his movie about how how to make a concoction called Chocolodka by combining cheap vodka and British candy bars in a dishwasher, I became convinced I had become involved in – well, let’s call it a unique relationship.

And when Allan convinced me that making the world aware of  Do I Have To Dance All Night, a song never released on an album and one that Leonard Cohen, a singer-songwriter unknown to me before Allan and I met, last sang 30 years ago, was indeed a moral imperative, well, I knew I had been irreversibly assimilated into a strange and fantastic new world.

None of that, however,  prepared me for awakening a couple of days ago to find news of our wedding posted on Heck Of A Guy. 1

Even more impressive were all those wonderful comments that followed the DrHGuy & Duchess Of Durham To Wed post.

I want to thank each of you for those comments. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of well wishes and love from people that I am just meeting for the first time at Heck of a Guy.  I have read them all more than once and they never fail to make me smile and even more feel cared for.  I am looking forward to being at least a small part of each of your lives, as I help with the blog.  Our time together thus far has been an enlightening and joyful adventure that I expect to continue for many years to come.  I am delighted that we can share some of that with each of you.  Again, a very sincere thank you for all of you that have touched my heart with your comments.

And, of course, I want to thank Leonard Cohen, whose songs and poems were a special – and effective – part of our courtship and have become such an important part of the life we share.


aka Duchess of Durham

PS Regardless of what Allan says, we did not pick our wedding date because “it falls between gigs for Leonard Cohen and his band,” thus making them available to play at our festivities.

PPS On the other hand, if Leonard is willing to give us a rate and to bunk in the spare room to save a few bucks, …

Credit Due Department: Images by Penny Noell Photography

  1. Ah, my wedding announcement sandwiched between New Video Of Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel #1 and The 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Probability Meter on a Cohencentric web site that also features walker-based gymnastics, my own interview with the owner-chef of Dame’s Chicken & Waffles, and the suspiciously titled Protection From My [my fiance’s] Marriage For A Small Feeit’s every little girl’s dream come true. []

DrHGuy & Duchess Of Durham To Wed

I Know – I Can’t Believe It Either

I am, nonetheless, betrothed. The bride, Penny Paplanus, who is known on this site as Duchess Of Durham, is a delightful woman who meets my primary criterion – she’s too good for the likes of me but hasn’t figured out she could do much better.

My desperate hope is to keep her distracted with song, dance, snappy chatter, gifts, and such so she remains happy with me.

Duchess Of Durham wins role as Diva #2 in DrHGuy's epic, "How To Make Chocolodka"

In keeping with Authors’ Axiom #1, which holds that the purpose of life is to provide material for writers, there will be future posts about Penny, the courtship, the wedding preparations, the honeymoon plans, … .

At present, however, I am a tad overwhelmed at finding myself in love again. So, for today, I will limit my offerings to sharing my bride’s favorite song, which I had the privilege of introducing to her.

Leonard Cohen – Dance Me To The End Of Love

Credit Due Department: The photo of  DrHGuy and Duchess Of Durham in full smooch mode was taken by DrHGuy’s son, Prodigal (aka Samuel Showalter).

Prodigal In Spotlight Dance At Wedding Of Very Very Good Girl & SportsBizPro

Dancing With The Star

We just received photos from last year’s Very Very Good Girl – SportsBizPro nuptials.1 From these pictures, it’s clear that Prodigal tripping the light fantastic was an exclusive feature of the post-wedding festivities.

As I responded earlier this morning to Prodigal’s query, “What’s the narrative tale of the blog today,” (yes, he routinely talks like that) the photos are self-explanatory.

Click on photos for best viewing.






  1. The delay in receiving the photos is due to (1) What the parents of the bride (AKA Duke of Derm and Princess of Peds) euphemistically term – when in public – “problems with the wedding photograpy” and (2) Very Very Good Girl’s self-confessed habitual tardiness (see, for example, Thank You Card Crisis Averted At Last Moment – Republic Saved). She was never at risk of being mistaken for the Runaway Bride. Had she fled the marital vows, her decampment would no doubt have been delayed until the ceremony was complete, which would seem to negate the underlying principle. And, when she did take flight, it would have been as the Amble-away Bride, the Saunter-away Bride, or even the Hesitantly Perambulate-away Bride. []