On this day 30 years ago, Thomas Andrew Miller and Kaliope Skevofylax Zembillas were wedded at Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Merriville, Ind. Accounts of the traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony — one that involves the bride and bridegroom to make three processions around the marriage altar, all the while wearing golden crowns much like this (read more about the wedding ceremony) — and the reception that followed say that it was a night for the ages, perhaps even more storied than the big, fat, Greek wedding depicted in a movie whose title escapes me.
This date is significant for many reason: it serves as a reminder of the strength and integrity of true love — or, as the Greeks say, agape — and also because they’re my parents, whom I love very dearly.
In honor of this huge milestone, I would like to delve into the past and present an unintentional anniversary gift I made around this time two years ago. It was for an online theater class I took in the fall semester of my senior year 2.0. The assignment was to write a stage play for the event that eventually resulted in my existence: my parents’ first meeting. Leading up to this project, however, it looked as though I would drop the class, as I was absentminded — for which I blame senioritis — and fell several assignments behind. But by good graces of a patient instructor, I was able to catch up in time to complete the script before deadline.
What I actually know about my parents’ first meeting is that it was facilitated by my dad’s sister, Patti, who was classmates and friends with my mother while they attended Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. My dad was attending Notre Dame at the time, and, as legend has it, both he and my mom made a good impression on each other, and the rest is history. I took some liberties in describing this historical event, such as the Miltonic speech (I was studying Paradise Lost) the symphony playing the “TOM” theme, the Shakespearian asides, the Lindsey Buckingham look-alike, etc., but I tried to stay true to the essence of this glorious day.
I completed this assignment on what happened to be on the same weekend as my parents’ wedding anniversary, so as a broke college student, this seemed like an appropriate present. I sent it to my folks without thinking much of it.
But they loved it.
And now, I would like to share the gift with you, too. I present “How My Parents Met,” a stage play in one act. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. I am beyond blessed to have you in my life.
How My Parents Met
SCENE ONE (The introductions)
PATTI and KALLY sit down with their lunches at the small, circular table in St. Mary’s cafeteria.
KALLY (taking a bite of provolone cheese)
When did you say your brother was going to meet us here?
PATTI (looking up from her battered copy of The Symposium)
Around 12:26 ish, if I recall correctly. Knowing him, he’ll probably five minutes early. He is a Miller, after all.
KALLY (finishing her cheese slice and moving on to her cup of coffee)
I’m not sure I know what you mean…
PATTI (underlining a passage with a quill pen, looks up)
Oh, you will by 2012.
PATTI then winks at the audience and waits for uproarious laughter.
A door slams offstage and the orchestra begins “The TOM Theme.”
PATTI (completely putting down the fallacious Plato dialogue, pointing stage left)
LO!! Mine own brother doth enters!!
TOM, wearing his Notre Dame letterman’s jacket, heroically scans the cavernous cafeteria and walks toward them.
TOM (jovially, like a king at a great feast)
Dearest sister Patricia. How art thou on this finest eve of the Vernal Equinox?
My soul is still enraptured with the fine ambrosial nectar I partaketh at the
hearty gathering of Woodsy’s not but the day before the last.
TOM pulls up a chair across the table from KALLY.
TOM (to KALLY)
And who might you be, fairest lady?
Tom, my Irish twin, behold my most revered friend, Kaliope Zembillas.
KALLY (reaching out her hand across the table)
It’s a pleasure to me you; your sister’s told me many a story of your upbringing.
Tell me, Tom, where did you learn how to speak so…so…Miltonian?
An image of the great John Milton flashes briefly on the projector.
TOM (aside to the audience)
I shall respond to her in a logical order—first, by returning the greeting, then by addressing her
inquiry. (to KALLY) The pleasure, dear lady, is entirely mine. My speech betrays me, for I,
like my sister, was raised in the region of Billings, Montana, which is many a nights’ travel
from the Kingdom of South Bend, Indiana. My verbiage, if you call my speech such a thing,
is because I’m a business student at Notre Dame, which also explains why I’m wearing this jacket.
Tom then takes a wrinkled brown paper sack from out of his coat pocket and pours its contents — a ham sandwich and a Billy Beer — and turns to KALLY.
But enough about myself. Kaliope…
Please, call me “KALLY.”
Yes, of course. Tell me about yourself, for I so desire to learn more.
KALLY (now onto her second cup of coffee)
Well, I’m a sophomore studying sociology at St. Mary’s. I was born and raised in Gary, just down the road.
Cue the symphony to play the song “Gary, Indiana” from the musical The Music Man.
Gary? Really? That’s quite fascinating. Now, tell me about your name. What ethnicity is a name like
KALLY (eating a pepperchini-filled salad)
Oh, I get that quite a bit. Both of my parents are Greek and I grew up in a very, very traditional Greek family, like the kind that will be depicted in 2002’s rom-com “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” In fact, our own wedding will be much like the one in that yet-to-be made movie, except ours will be livelier: October 10, 1982 is the date, I do believe.
TOM (checking his Blackberry iCling)
Hmmm…yes, what you say appears most accurate—the movie, our wedding date, everything.
I even see the e-mail from our second born, Steven Miller, with his screenplay he wrote for class attached to the message. It looks as though we’ll receive it on our 28th wedding anniversary. What great timing for the assignment!!!
KALLY (now eating her Kashi multi-grain bar, the kind only she enjoys)
From off stage, Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” plays.
Oh my! All this metaphysical conversing made me forget about the Paul Simon concert I’m supposed to attend in 1987. But all times are now—past, present, future, and ultrafutura. I must leave hither.
KALLY begins to walk toward the music before TOM stands up.
Soft! In order to commence this multi-dimensional journey, we must have our first date, lest none of what you said should take place. What do you say about getting some dinner at Chu-Bo’s the night following two days from here?
Do you mean Friday?
Let’s. In the meantime, ponder the future and appreciate the present.
Most fantastic, I’ll pick you up in my ’86 Chevy Nova when the moon finishes it western descent.
8:30 sounds good.
KALLY and TOM exit separate sides of the stage, leaving only Patti. All the lights dim except for a single halogen bulb brought out by a stagehand who bears a remarkable resemblance Lindsey Buckingham,lead guitarist and vocalist for Fleetwood Mac.
PATTI (to the audience)
It appears as though I’m the architect for many a future event involving my kin and my friend. Time will be the governess who tells if all included today in fact does transpire, but given that I am here, in this script, on this stage, telling you of this, indeed, it all has come to pass. I must go now, for my class begins in 10 minutes and it is all the way across campus.
The Lindsey Buckingham look-alike turns off the light, and Patti exits the stage via the orchestra pit.
END OF SCENE