Yes, it’s true, my friends: yesterday, at no less significant a venue than Proprietary House in Perth Amboy on no less significant a date than June 2, the Honorable Maria Del Valle-Koch officiated at an exchange of vows in a brief civil ceremony where Bulldog and the lovely & ever-gracious Nicole became husband and wife.
Kurt Epps ( who portrays Royal Governor William Franklin in an annual re-enactment held at Proprietary House) and his lovely wife Donna were our witnesses and were joined by Nicole’s father, Dwight Batson, and her mother, the equally lovely and ever-gracious Sheila Batson. The beautiful photos come to us courtesy of Michael Iurilli, who kindly offered to be the shutterbug for this occasion.
Afterward, our little group repaired to The Barge to celebrate with victuals and drink. In September, we’ll tie the religious knot in Nicole’s church in Middletown.
The lovely & ever-gracious Nicole is dressed in red – a seemingly shocking sartorial choice for those who don’t know that, during the American Revolution, many brides wore blood-red dresses to express their solidarity with the cause of our independence from tyranny. Even on the day of her wedding, Nicole brazenly reminds us of the brazen women who also participated in the war for our liberty more than two centuries ago. How could I not be totally in love with this incredible woman?
Posterity will record that the Tea Party movement – coupled with the advent of the Internet and the rise of social media such as Facebook and Twitter – did more to bring average Americans of the conservative persuasion together than anything else in this nation’s history. People who were otherwise oblivious to each other’s existence suddenly found themselves shoulder to shoulder in a common cause that resonated from the depths of their hearts and souls. And in the course of those countless protests and rallies, culminating with the September 12, 2009 Great March on Washington, hundreds of thousands of new acquaintances, friendships – and even romances – blossomed.
It was at a Tax Day Tea Party rally in Trenton, NJ on April 15, 2009 that your humble scrivener first encountered the lovely & ever-gracious Nicole. I was drawn to the banner that she and her sister Lee Ann were holding and had to get a picture for Manly’s Republic, the website I ran at the time. She loved the costume I was wearing (my replica Continental Army officer uniform was still on order) and we chatted briefly. She snapped a couple of pictures and e-mailed them to me afterward. Here is the very first picture of us together:
We met again on June 2 at what we now call the Lonegan Loser Party, the night Steve Lonegan lost the GOP primary to Chris Christie – who went on to become Gov. Zeppelin. I was there in my full Continental Army uniform and so it wasn’t all that difficult for her to spot me and strike up a conversation. At first I didn’t recognize her, but when she mentioned the Trenton rally it all came back. We chatted throughout the course of the evening and the longer we talked, the more we realized how much we shared in common (like me, she enjoys long walks over hot coals, eating barbecued squirrel and mugging homeless liberals – I keed, I keed).
I can’t quite describe it, but something happened that night: one of the many cosmic tumblers that comprise the mystery of life somehow clicked and fell into place. On that night I knew I met someone very special. As it turned out…I was right.
We saw more of each other afterward: she became the unofficial photographer and “Girl Friday” of Manly’s Republic, faithfully at my side at Tea Party rallies and other events – including the Perth Amboy Tea Party organized by the late Richard Piatkowski and held at the historic Market Square in that very historic town on September 5.
As Tea Party rallies go, it wasn’t a particularly large one – but it was attended by enthusiastic patriots and even featured a brilliant speech by Royal Governor William Franklin, portrayed by Kurt Epps. I was scheduled to give the last speech on what turned out to be a very warm September afternoon. By then, I was drenched in sweat (you’d be amazed at how stifling a Continental Army uniform can be in the late summer. It has been said that wool “breathes” – a totally bullcrap pronouncement I am convinced was made by the same marketing gurus who declared that RMS Titanic was unsinkable.)
As the sun began its descent in the western sky, those patriots who remained were visibly weary and I figured I’d be lucky if two them were still there when my time came to speak. I had to do something to get their attention and hold it – and that was when I spotted the life-size replica of the Liberty Bell and ascended the platform on which it was mounted. When my turn came, I withdrew my sabre and used it to hit the bell. It got their attention.
In spite of video evidence here and here, I cannot remember what I said that day, but I was told it was magical and Piatkowski himself was so deeply moved by my words that he insisted Nicole and I join him for supper at The Barge afterward. By then, the temperature dropped somewhat and a gentle breeze wafted in from the Raritan Bay. Eight of us gathered for supper at the restaurant’s outdoor cafe, where Kurt Epps at the electric keyboard supplied the musical entertainment.
The food was every bit as delicious as the conversation and at some point after dessert, Nicole and I walked hand in hand on the wharf and stopped to kiss on a balmy, breezy, evening that felt like it would last forever, another of those cosmic tumblers clicked and we realized we had fallen in love.
For that reason, we decided to tie the knot at Proprietary House on June 2. And now you know the story of Bulldog & Nicole – and why Perth Amboy will stay in our hearts forever.
The rest of the tale has yet to unfold and as it does, it will become a private and delightful history – the pages of which I will peruse over and over again as I grow old with the lovely & ever-gracious Nicole: my best friend and now my beloved wife.
I dedicate this to you, my love: