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To Gandalf, My Would-Be Bridesman

Dear Gandalf,

I’d graduated college before I knew you existed. With little money to spare the weeks before I moved to South Korea, a friend recommend my small book budget go to The Lord of the Rings.

It seemed like good bang for my buck and, beside, I had a crush on its recommender. So I went for it.

I loved you pretty much instantly. I’ve always found wisdom attractive, more so even than humor (also appealing) and ripped abs (which aren’t especially important to me, actually, no matter what check-out line magazines suggest).

I mourned your encounter with the balrog. I told one of my roommates the same, prompting him to laugh before spoiling the whole thing for me. It was a feat not to throw him over our seventh-floor balcony then, but I figured doing so wouldn’t be very Gandalf-like. Also, I wasn’t keen on the thought of spending time in South Korean prisons.

Mostly it was the former that stayed my hand. Really!

I moved back home before long, excited but a little nervous by the prospect of soon watching you come to life on the screen. I wasn’t sure any actor could do you justice, but, man, wouldn’t it be rad if Ian McKellen could? I was willing to give him a shot.

He was perfect.

I mean, I guess some could argue “perfect” is subjective, but really. He conveyed you exactly as I’d imagined you, and it was magic.

(Oh, yeah, I did.)

My fondness for you grew with each film. I came to love Samwise greatly, too, all the more after mutual love led to a still-treasured friendship, but you continued to hold the fondest place in my heart.

Perusing forums online one dark and stormy evening my last year of law school, I found someone else who had a Gandalf icon.

“OMG, you love Gandalf?!?!?!?!?!” I said, maybe not in those exact words.

“OMG, you love Gandalf?!?!?!?!?!” its poster said, maybe not in those exact words.

Do I ever!

Do I ever!

That poster, Maggie, lived in Los Angeles. I lived in Los Angeles. So we met up. Of course we did.

We had drinks at Canters and, you know, I loved you all the more. Wise, dauntless, compassionate, and also bringing good people together–what could you not do?

Before I moved to Japan, Maggie and I agreed we should meet for one more round of drinks at Canters. She asked if she could bring a friend.

That friend was ridiculous. Just ridiculous. I couldn’t stop laughing at his shenanigans.

I insta-crushed on him. But I was moving to Japan, so we traded email addresses and left it at that.

We exchanged emails while I was in Japan. When he was feeling gloomy one day, I did a goofy rain-dance for him on my town’s webcam.

I returned to Oregon before too long, assuming I’d be there for the long haul.

But the weather.



I admire you, Gandalf, but I don’t have your fortitude. I couldn’t handle it. I moved back down to Los Angeles.

Four years after my final pre-Japan Canters trip, I met up with Maggie and my old insta-crush, Anthony.

A few days back in L.A.

A few days back in L.A.

Four months later, Anthony surprised me with a kiss when I left his birthday party.

We were dating (and breaking up, and making up) before we knew it.

Before long, we had a beautiful child together.

My beautiful family


He met my mom a few months before she died and, wouldn’t you know it, she loved him.

Hello, farewell

Hello, farewell

Our every single conversation in the four months between their meeting and her death involved some variation of the words, “When are you going to marry that sweet man of yours?”

“Never, if you keep asking!” I’d say crossly. What I really meant was, “Never, ever, because marriage scares the bejeebus out of me after the countless terrifying marriages, yours included, that I witnessed in childhood,” but I had to use whatever leverage I could to get her to stop asking the question.

Futile, I know. But I kept trying.

Wouldn’t you know, she’s getting her way in the end. A few more years with “that sweet man” persuaded me that not all marriage need be scary or hurtful. In fact, the more I looked at marriage, the more I saw most are a tolerable, almost endearing blend of dysfunction and joy. Not so bad, really. Certainly not as bad as the prospect of a life without that love!

Now, with just a few days left before I say “I do,” my mind keeps coming back to you.

How wild is it that you, dear Gandalf, paved the way for my meeting my very-soon-to-be husband? Granted, a million circumstances had to converge for us to not only meet but fall for each other, but you were the precondition.

Your tiny image on my screen when I was supposed to be studying law. You, leading me to a lifelong friend.

Who led me to my lifelong love.

He-llllllo, future husband!

He-llllllo, future husband!

I wish you could be at our wedding in person, but I know that’s a tall order, what with you being a fictional character and all.

Since you can’t be there in person, what I really want to say here is: You the man, Gandalf. I knew I loved you the moment I met you, but, whoa. I had no idea how much more I’d come to love you over the course of the next decade.

I’m glad all factors converged to lead me to where I’m at now. I’m glad you were a part of that.

Thanks for that, dude. (Is it OK to call you dude?) A decade later, the spell you cast on my heart is holding strong, and from what I can see, it’s just gonna keep getting stronger.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, you rock.

And thank you. Most of all, that.

Thank you.


  1. September 29, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Goofy? You call this goofy? It was wonderful and heart warming and I loved reading it. I love you, Deb! I’m so happy for you guys! How amazing is life and the randomness that brings us all together? I am so blessed to know you and to be a part of this magical day with you (even if I will just be thinking about you from afar!) Any word on streaming the wedding? I’ll understand if it doesn’t happen for whatever reason. Just know how much I’d love to see it, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
    Love and light to you and your boys! xoxoxo

  2. September 29, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I think Gandalf is wise and worldly enough to tolerate being called “dude”. In limited quantities, of course. 😉
    And meeting over a common love of Gandalf isn’t so weird. After I met Tamy in Dallas, we had a regular weekly phone conversation, long-distance from Chicago to Dallas, while we both watched “Beauty and the Beast” (Ron Perlman/Linda Hamilton). Besides, your way was a HECK of a lot cheaper. To this day, I am convinced that two stories of the Ameritech headquarters building in downtown Chicago were paid for by my long-distance bill! 😀

  3. September 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I love you.

    I love that you love Gandalf. I read the Hobbit and then the entire cycle the first time when I was 11 years old. I made a tent under my covers to read it. My beloved father bought the books for me. Strider was my favorite, because he was a hero who I thought would rescue me. What did I know, I was eleven. I didn’t learn to love Gandalf until the second time I read the cycle when I was 16. I am 56 now, I have read the cycle with my sons, aloud the first time and then again when we read it together each in our own rooms but still together so we could talk about it, I have always been grateful they never needed Strider to rescue them.

    I wish for you that Gandalf stands at your wedding, even if it is in spriit. I will be there in spirit to whisper you down the aisle if your knees get weak, to remind you even the terrible moment when it looked like the Balrog won, that no great and horrible things in the dark only win if we allow them purchase on our nightmares.

    I love you.

  4. September 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    This was so wonderful. I love when mutual liking of a book or character brings people together in real life. Lord of the Rings seems to do that more than any other book. Congratulations!

  5. September 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Gandolf would definitely approve.

  6. September 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I wish he could be there too because he would be most pleased.

  7. September 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Filled with all kinds of warm, lovey feelings. ❤ 🙂

  8. September 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I love the connection, and you never know–Gandolf may make his presence known on you special day–that would be magical!

  9. September 30, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    LOVE your and Anthony’s story… perfectly magical! And marriage IS a blend of dysfunction and joy ;-). Wishing you a beautiful wedding day…

  10. October 1, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I am wiping tears from the corner of my eyes right now. You got me when you described marriage as a “tolerable, almost endearing blend of dysfunction and joy.””

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful, touching story, and wishing you all the very best, happiness, health, humor, serendipity (you really set off my warm fuzziness, apparently), and anything else you could want/need.

    Oh man, I’m all gushy over here…

  11. October 1, 2013 at 11:49 am


  12. October 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    i am reading the hobbit right now!I dont know how I missed reading it when i was growing up and I can see why u would love gandalf. With him by your side nothing can go wrong, really! not even in a marriage 🙂 wish u the best

  13. October 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Have a wonderful, fabulous day, Deb. You deserve every happiness!

  14. December 13, 2015 at 5:33 am

    “Gandalf, you the man.” Of course!

  15. January 23, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Great post! Gandalf is great and Ian McKellen did do a great job (though I was less than happy with the second 2 movies because of the huge changes from the story line.) OK, I’ll admit I read the Hobbit at 10 and TLotR for the first time at 13 and read it 3 times a year from then until I turned 30, so maybe my view is tainted 😉

  1. October 9, 2013 at 9:15 pm
  2. March 23, 2014 at 4:27 am
  3. December 5, 2014 at 10:20 am
  4. June 17, 2015 at 9:46 pm
  5. August 18, 2015 at 2:45 am
  6. April 24, 2016 at 4:21 pm

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