Showing Our Metal

Today’s not-so-random Rochat thought: I think bronze medalists may have the best of all possible worlds.

Yes, I know we’re nowhere near an Olympics. Stay with me, OK?

Consider. You’re recognized as one of the best in the world. You get your place on the stage. You’re less likely to worry about having just missed the top spot, like a silver medalist might, nor does your life get turned completely upside down the way a gold medalist’s does. (You also don’t get the same endorsement deals, but we’ll go there another day.) It’s accomplishment mixed with celebrity mixed with a certain amount of anonymity.

No, it’s not a bad deal at all.

And this year, maybe it’s just a little appropriate.

On Tuesday, Heather and I celebrate 19 years of marriage. The People With Names For Everything like to call this the bronze anniversary, which amuses me a bit. I mean, these are the same people who decreed that 10-year anniversaries are tin and that 17-year anniversaries get celebrated with furniture, which makes me wonder if the PWNFE needed their basements cleaned out and saw an opportunity.

But even for this crew, bronze is a curious choice.

Is this the anniversary to bask on a Florida beach and turn inviting shades of brown? (Or in my case, not-so-inviting shades of brilliant scarlet.)

Is this the time to join the late, great, Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze, on some hair-raising pulp adventure?

Is it an occasion to join an Ancient Greek re-creationist unit and load ourselves down with well-burnished swords, spears and breastplates?

OK, I know, the boring and mundane answer is that it’s an excuse to contribute to the American economy by purchasing a category of gift with a high material density that will live in the basement or garage forever … except when it mysteriously emerges at night to bruise a careless toe. I get it. (And the accompanying Band-Aids.)

But in all serious – maybe the PWNFE got it right this time.

Maybe, for a long-lived marriage, bronze is exactly the right choice.

I’m going to precede this by warning that I Am Not A Metallurgist, nor do I play one on TV. But I’m just enough of an amateur historian to know that bronze gets kind of an unfair rap when it’s compared to the iron weapons and armor that replaced it.

There’s a myth that iron replaced bronze because it was a clearly superior metal. Not really. While iron has its uses (especially in later eras that would make true steel), ancient bronze was a strong, useful material.

What it wasn’t was a highly available material. The alloy required materials that could be difficult or expensive to get, particularly tin, while iron was widely available. So iron was often cheaper, and soon was ubiquitous.

So. You have something surprisingly strong and beautiful, with a mix of components that aren’t easy to acquire – something that everyone wanted, but that was hard to possess.

If that’s not the definition of a good marriage, than what is?

After 19 years, I think we’ve had one of the great ones. Granted, we haven’t had tried wallpapering a room together yet (the ultimate test) but surviving chronic illness, newspaper schedules, and eight-hour drives with an anxious dog may be a decent substitute. Through it all, we still make a heck of a loving team, one that’s grown even stronger and more exciting since we started taking care of Missy six years ago.

So bring it on. The Games are underway and we’re ready to take the field again.

It’s time to go for the bronze.