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Ten years ago when Myra McConkey first laid eyes upon Michael McConkey, he was standing in a spraybooth – “One of those old, old ones,” she says. A crossdraft?
“Yea, a crossdraft!” – covered in paint, hair matted to his head.
A matchmaking friend had lured Myra to the
body shop where Michael worked as a painter, hoping to get Michael
to go out for a few drinks with them. When asked if he wanted
to tag along, Michael responded, "Yea, just let me finish
this first." (Michael’s famous last words, according to Myra!)
Hours later, Myra was still standing in the
spraybooth, waiting for Michael to finish. How does Michael explain
this lack of first-date romance? "I had some painting to
get done," he declares, adding – in his defense – that he
did take her out to eat after the paint job was dry.
Considering that a spraybooth was the site
of their first date, it’s not all that surprising that the McConkeys
got married in a spraybooth as well. "A brand new downdraft
booth," says Myra, pointing out that it was much nicer than
the booth in which they spent their first date.
The McConkeys off-beat, May 25, 1996, nuptials
took place at Dr. GoodBody’s in LaPorte, Texas, where Michael
now works. The ceremony was performed by a reverend who recently
had his car repaired at the shop – "Michael said to me, ‘I’ve
got this minister,’ 1" Myra recalls, "and I thought,
‘Oh God …’ " – the cake was baked by a former customer,
and the flowers adorning the booth were done by a painter’s wife.
"It was a different thing to do,"
says Myra about the wedding’s location, "but we’re different
people. It’s par for Mike and me."
The wedding’s whereabouts, believe it or not,
weren’t Mike’s idea. He and Myra were sitting on her sister’s
bedroom floor trying to pick a wedding date, when they began discussing
where to have the wedding. Mike suggested an outside wedding,
maybe a garden-type ceremony. Myra, however, was thinking more
of an inside wedding. "So I said, ‘How about having it in
the body shop?’ " Myra recalls. "Mike looked at me like
I was insane, and he said ‘Are you
"I thought it was a neat idea,"
says Mike. "I’ve seen some wild weddings, people getting
married on roller coasters and stuff, so I thought, ‘Why not a
Other people didn’t handle the decision to
wed in a downdraft quite as calmly. Take Myra’s mom for example.
She – like most mothers – had pictured something
a bit more traditional for her bride-to-be
daughter. "My mom was utterly shocked," Myra recalls.
"Mom said, ‘You’re what? Why?
"But after I explained that money was
tight and that I didn’t want the hassle and headache of all the
planning, she agreed completely."
Reactions, the couple say, ran the gamut.
Some people thought it was a cool idea; some people thought it
was a crazy one. Others simply didn’t believe it. When Mike and
Myra went to Dr. GoodBody owners, Richard and Rhonda Norris, to
ask permission to get married in their booth, the Norrises didn’t
take the request seriously – they thought it was a joke. Once
convinced, though, they gave the idea their blessing.
"It’ll make a great story to tell the
grandkids," says Mike, adding that after a little more than
a year of marriage, he and Myra are working on expanding their
family. "We’re trying to have a baby. My sister just had
a baby at home and said it wasn’t that bad, so I suggested giving
birth in the booth – but Myra didn’t go for that!"
"Yea, he suggested it," Myra confirms,
"but I’m not that crazy!"
As wacky a thought as it is, Mike isn’t the
only one pondering a booth baby.
"Not too long ago," Myra says, "Rhonda
Norris asked me, ‘Are we going to have a baby anytime soon? Do
I need to get the booth disinfected?’ "
Writer Georgina Kajganic is editor of BodyShop