Let me tell you about the social event of the football season, the marriage of Bob and Kim Gagliano, live, on the radio, an event that can be summed up with the following sentences:
“Are they ready yet?”
“No! Throw on another Van Halen record!”
Now. There are many ways in which a man and woman can be joined in holy matrimony. Most of them do not involve headphones. Nor do most include a disc jockey who says, “We’ll be back with the wedding, right after this. . . . “
But there, Monday night, in the studios of WLLZ-FM (98.7), stood Bob Gagliano, the Lions’ starting quarterback, and Kim Neumann, his fiancee and swimsuit model, before the judge, the witness, the best man — and the engineer. My eyes got all misty.
But let’s back up. As some of you know, I do a Sunday night talk show, with Mike Stone, on WLLZ. And a few weeks ago Gagliano was our guest. At the end of the interview, during which he was candid, pleasant and surprisingly lucid for a man who gets clobbered every Sunday, Bob asked whether he could say hi to his fiancee, Kim. The rest of the conversation went pretty much like this:
ME: When’s the wedding?
BOB: We . . . don’t know.
ME: Where’s the wedding?
BOB: We . . . don’t know that, either.
ME (joking): Well, shoot, Bob, why don’t you just get married right here? Heh, heh.
Next thing I knew, the flowers were ordered. Would groom be in one piece? Which was fine by me. My biggest concern was that the wedding was the night after the Bears game. Given the Lions’ pass protection, I wasn’t sure whether Gagliano could stand up by then.
But not only was he standing, he looked, as Billy Crystal would say, absolutely mahvelous when he walked into the studios. He wore a black tuxedo. Kim was resplendent in a white gown. Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive until 10 minutes to 7. The wedding was scheduled for 7.
“Quick, throw on another Aerosmith record!”
I should mention that the couple had wanted a small affair, just a handful of friends and a judge. They got that. And three TV stations, five photographers, reporters, disc jockeys and limo drivers. There was also enough electrical cord to wrap up Trump Tower. And me. My job was to play “Here Comes The Bride.” Don’t ask.
Here were the most frequently heard questions at Bob and Kim’s wedding:
1. “Where’s the men’s room?”
2. “Testing . . . one . . . two . . . three. . . . “
3. “Where’s Eric Hipple?”
Bob had chosen Hipple, his backup quarterback, to be his best man. What a nice gesture. Unfortunately, Eric forgot the directions. 7:05 . . . 7:10 . .
. 7:15. . . .
“Quick, throw on another Stones record!”
Did I mention the judge? Very nice guy. And our studio? Wow! Normally it looks like a place where Keith Richards might wake up. But on Monday, there were flowers and a lovely white carpet running down the hallway, which is good, because I spilled my coffee on the regular rug that morning.
And here came Hipple.
“Sorry, man,” he said, “we got caught in traffic.”
“Who has the rings?”
“The rings? . . . “
“Throw on another Beatles record!” In lieu of Mendelssohn, Elvis will do What thoughts, you may ask, run though a man’s mind as he is about to get married? Funny. That’s just what the disc jockey asked.
“Bob, what thoughts run through your mind as you’re about to get married?”
“Well, I. . . . “
Poor Gagliano. I think, if it were up to him, he’d have been married in his living room, then turned on “Monday Night Football.” But Kim liked the radio idea; “It’s fun,” she said. And marriage is all about compromise, right?
By the way, as piano player, I asked Bob and Kim for their favorite song. They chose a ballad by Loggins & Messina, a lovely song, a wonderful song. Unfortunately, I had never heard of it.
“Well, what songs do you know?” Bob said.
“I know ‘Love Me Tender’ by Elvis,” I said.
And that’s what I played.
And here came the bride.
“We are gathered here today . . . ” began the judge, as the engineer crouched behind his knees, checking the levels, “to join in holy matrimony. .
. . “
And so it went. They looked great. They sounded great. I think. Mostly, what I remember is the sounds of the cameras:
“Do you, Bob (whirrrrrr) take this woman (click, click, click) to be your lawfully (squeak) wedded (hissss) wife? . . . “
The “I do’s” came out clearly.
Ta-da! They kissed, we clapped, and the guy in the booth reached for another Dire Straits record.
And there you have it. The first, and perhaps only, starting-quarterback, middle-of-the-season, rock-n-roll radio marriage. Of course, Gagliano may be replaced by Rodney Peete this weekend against Pittsburgh, making him, I think, the first player to gain a wife and lose a job in the same week.
But why worry? It’s the beginning of a wonderful new life for Bob and Kim. Unfortunately, things remain the same for the Lions. As the cars left for the reception, a photographer walked up with a pad and pencil. “That best man, the blond one?” he said.
“Yeah?” I said.
“What’s his name?”