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A frank explanation

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  January 31, 2007 02:57 PM

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Leslie Epstein, the father of Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, says he was only joking in an e-mail in which he said his son’s hush-hush wedding to Marie Whitney earlier this month took place at a Coney Island hot dog stand. The wedding stands. The franks? That was meant, he said, to be funny.

Leslie Epstein, who heads the creative writing department at Boston University, was apologetic, saying that he is a practical joker and comes from a family of the same.

‘‘[I’m] following the lead of my father and uncle -- some day I’ll give you a list of their gags,’’ he said in an e-mail today. ‘‘There was once a mean grocer in their neighborhood as kids and they got a friend to dress up in a Western Union uniform and brought him news that he had won the Irish Sweepstakes. The guy ran into the street and gave away the whole store.’’

Leslie Epstein said he was sworn to secrecy on the actual site of the wedding. Last night, he’d accepted congratulations from a Globe reporter and written: ‘‘We’re very happy for them, of course, but we can’t say much more other than Marie has some strong childhood memories of Coney Island and that’s why we all went down to watch the orthodox rabbi who married them at Nathan’s Famous. It’s amazing the grip that nostalgia has on people.

‘‘I hope there’s much happiness for them and for all Sox fans, including yourself, this season.’’

The tone of sincerity masked the gag.

‘‘You are right, of course,’’ he wrote today, ‘‘that people do get married in blimps and racing cars and -- well, you name it.

‘‘But the idea of Theo at Nathan’s? (That’s his middle name, of course.)

‘‘Neither Theo or Marie has ever been to Coney Island as far as I know, or has ever tasted a Nathan’s Famous (though I have -- perfectly delicious), and Rabbi Schnitzlebaum slept undisturbed all day long. In short, not a word of it was meant to be taken seriously.’’

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