The heat and humidity of the summer of 1965 were oppressive in the rolling hills of southwestern Pennsylvania. Butch, my closest friend since high school, was getting married, and he'd asked me to be his best man.

Sweltering in a small, un-air-conditioned country church, I glanced at my friend and saw that he was pale and glassy-eyed. Then, just as he was putting the ring on his beloved's finger, he fainted and crumpled to the floor.

We in the wedding party leaned over him, unsure what to do. Then Butch's mother, a woman of action, ran up the aisle carrying a collection plate. An old-fashioned plate, it was round, hand-carved and made of heavy polished hardwood. I'd say it weighed about five pounds empty.

Kneeling over her stricken son, she started to fan him with the plate. At that same time, Butch regained consciousness and probably realized that horizontal is not the proper position for the groom at his wedding ceremony. He sat up quickly, putting his head directly in the path of the fanning collection plate. Whap! Back to the floor he went, unconscious again.

When he came around the second time, we got him outside for some fresh air.

"Does this happen very often?" Butch asked the minister as he came to, clearly hoping to hear that the spectacle he'd just starred in wasn't as strange as it seemed.

"Uh, not really," the minister said, but the ceremony went smoothly after that.

Jim Slaugh, Bealeton, Va.

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