Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wedding Soup

Last week, my blogger friend from the “Gret Stet of Looseeana,” Mrs. Bachelor Girl put up a post about her calamitous wedding and the set of circumstances that almost short circuited the whole thing.  She came through it OK, thanks to the mad coping skillz and quick thinking of her wedding planner and bridal party, but it got me thinking back to my own wedding.  It wasn’t the near-disaster that hers was, but we did have a major CF the next day.  And like hers, it still worked out.

Let me say from the outset, my marriage was pretty much of a disaster.  I knew I should have bailed before it even started but I figured I was already in too deep so I might as well give it a go.  Also, by this point in my life, I was sure I was going to die single and alone, and was determined to prevent that.

That said; my wedding day was one of the best days of my life.  Even though it didn’t work out later, on that day I was filled with happiness and optimism.  I had my family and friends come from all over the country for the occasion and we had a party that was just perfect.  It was like one of our old Barn Parties, except everyone got dressed up and no one had to do any preparation, maintenance or cleaning up.  I picked all the music and I didn’t even have to play it.

I told our DJ, “This will be the easiest wedding you’ll ever do.  Here’s a tape for cocktail hour.  Play this until we do the toasts.  Then once we serve dinner, play this dinner hour tape.”  That was more than 2 hours right there on a couple of tapes that I’d already recorded and mixed on my home mixing board, fancy DJ segues and all.  I gave him a list of songs I wanted played and if he didn’t have them, I brought him my copies of the CDs.

I also told him a couple more things…

*  There will be no Chicken Dance or Hokey Pokey.  I am against any dance that comes with instructions.  I will, however, allow the Electric Slide.  (Remember, this was 1993.)

*  There will be blues.  There will be Stevie Ray, Albert Collins, Lonnie Mack and the Uppity Blues Women.  There will be George Thorogood and AC/DC.  There will be Cars, Stones, Satellites, B-52s and The Boss.  We are going to Par-tay. 

*  Take all direction from me.  Do NOT, under any circumstances, listen to anyone under the age of 18.

Like I said, my guests were coming from everywhere.  My dad’s family drove up from Pittsburgh.  They had all met Future Ex a couple times, I believe.  My buddies drove in from Toledo.  None of them had met her before. 
My buddies and I immediately after the service.  We didn’t have a chance to do our customary pre-wedding shot so we had to adapt.

Everyone that drove got two major bonuses.  One was that the second week of October features upstate New York’s finest fall foliage.  The trees were in full, dazzling color.  I’ll get to the second bonus later.

Mom and Dad came in from Green Bay WI and Mom’s family came from various other places.  Uncle Joe and Aunt Linda came in from San Jose.  Aunt Joann and Uncle Gordon came from Southern Illinois.  Some of Mom’s family flew from Pittsburgh because the drive would have been too hard.  Her Uncle Ants and Aunt Stella, who were her father’s remaining siblings, were included. 

A number of them had met Future Ex once before and it didn’t go very well.  In my Belle of the Firehouse post (about her getting stuck upside-down behind the dryer), my mom and I mentioned this in “Comments.”

We were vacationing in Carmel CA, (Me, Future Ex, Mom and Dad) when I asked her to marry me.  That weekend, we all went up to San Jose to celebrate Uncle Joe and Aunt Linda’s 30th Anniversary.  A lot of Mom’s relatives came out for that, including Uncle Ants and Aunt Stella and her kids.

Last year, I wrote a post in which I talked about the influence my Grandpa, “The Storyteller” had on me.  He could just captivate a room with his wild stories.  He was the guy I always wanted to be.  But as I’d come to learn, his brother Antony (Ants, for short) had the same gift.
This is Uncle Ants with Aunt Linda and Uncle Joe.  He loved that we played “Just a Gigolo” at the reception and wanted to know who that new guy was that sang it.  Dad later hooked him up with the David Lee Roth version that we’d used.

So after the sun went down, people began to gather on the deck and Uncle Ants began telling stories.  As usual, he was killing.  Most of us knew a lot of the stories and threw out requests to tell our favorites.  I wanted Future Ex to hear this shit.

Unfortunately, she was not a good drinker and was completely blasted on wine.  After a few minutes of listening, she decided she wanted to tell stories too, except she could barely stand up, let alone form a coherent sentence.  I tried to keep her quiet as long as I could.  I told her that it was not her place to be piping up and interrupting The Elders.  I said there’s a time to talk and a time to listen, and this was a time to listen

My advice didn't take, though.  Eventually I had to have Dad take us back to the hotel so she wouldn’t ruin the rest of the night with her drunken babbling.  She passed out in the car and I had to carry/drag her back to our room, undress her and put her to bed. 

It was not an auspicious beginning for family relations.

OK, back to the wedding at hand.  The party killed and we had a total blast.  You know you’ve thrown a good wedding when, at the end of the night, you look over by the kitchen doors and see all the servers dancing like crazy.  We danced and jammed to great music all night long.
This is my favorite picture from the entire night… everyone jamming to "Bad to the Bone."  And no, that’s not the bride on my left, that’s my sister-in-law.

The wives of my buddies Rik and John got slammed on White Russians, which Rik’s wife kept referring to as “French Germans.”  As in, “Gimme anoder one’a dose French-Jherman thingsh…”

When the night finally broke up, we all retired to our hotel rooms, which we booked at the same place we held the reception, so no one had to drive.  Future Ex and I got up there around midnight, played around in the giant tub for a while, but really, we were seriously slammed.  We were not capable of anything more complicated than passing out, which we did around 3:00 AM.  We had to get up at like, 5:30 to catch the first plane out of Albany, to San Francisco.  We figured we’d sleep on the plane.

When we got the wake up call, Future Ex was over on the couch, naked and shivering.  She’d gotten up to pee and got lost on the way back to bed.

Dad met us in the lobby at 6:00 to take us to the airport and gave us with a small box, which he said for us not to open until we got on the plane.  He got us to the airport in plenty of time.  In fact, it looked perfect.  There were no lines at any of the ticket counters.  We were going to go through there like shit through a goose! 

But no.  Apparently there was a problem; no one was going anywhere.  There was some kind of emergency that was keeping all planes grounded.  It turned out that a giant construction crane toppled over across two runways… the only two runways they had.  (At the time, Albany had a very small airport… they put the “Po” in Podunk.)  So there was nothing coming in and nothing going out.

We didn’t know what to do besides stay put and listen to the announcements, all of which went something like this:  “We don’t have any new information, but we’ll have something for you in a half hour.”  A half hour would go by and they’d make the same announcement.  It was like a cross between the movies “The Terminal” and “Groundhog Day.”

Meanwhile, my family began dragging in bit-by-bit, going “What the hell are YOU still doing here?”  We’d fill them in on the CF that was going on and pull up some more chairs.  I think Uncle Joe was amazed that his Gold-Frankincense and Myrrh-Mega-Platinum-Super-Amazing status on United Airlines couldn’t do anything about our situation.  Knowing Uncle Joe, he was probably trying to get them to commandeer a helicopter.

Before long, we were having a de-facto family reunion right there in the airport.  Around 10 we figured we might as well have breakfast, so the whole clan descended on the diner there.  That’s when I realized; this might not be such a bad thing after all.  Uncle Ants was there and it didn’t take much to get him going telling stories again. 

This time, Future Ex was able to keep her yap shut and just listen.  (It was probably the fatigue.)  I was finally able to have her hear the stories she missed the first time.

It wasn’t until around noon that I finally decided to punt on going anywhere that day.  Future Ex could barely function and I was definitely whipped.  Even if they started moving planes right then, we’d have still missed our connecting flights, so I decided to get in line at the counter and arrange to make the trip the next day.  The line was only about 10 yards long.  How long could that possibly take?

Answer: An hour and a fucking half.  There was one dude up there that must have monopolized their time for 45 goddamned minutes by himself.  It was all I could do not to come up behind him and beat him with my suitcase.  (The rest of us in line discussed it.)  But eventually we booked out trip and Dad took us to a very nice hotel nearby.  Future Ex and I then engaged in a long, luxurious and sensuous napping session.  We were out cold until at least 6:00.  We can leave what happened when we woke up, to your fevered imaginations.

Meanwhile, I learned later that they cleared the runways by cutting the crane up into pieces around 2:00 and the planes started moving again shortly after.  Mom’s family was able to get going to their various destinations.  I think Uncle Joe had the Skycaps take he and Aunt Linda through the airport and onto the plane by rickshaw.

Remember that bonus I mentioned for those that drove to Albany?  Dad’s family was back in Pittsburgh and my buddies were in Toledo before the rest even got off the ground.  I heard that Rik and John’s wives spent the trip passed out in the back seat, their asses having been conquered by the French-Germans.

Meanwhile, when I opened the little box that Dad gave us, I found 5 crisp C-notes folded into a monogrammed money clip.  This came in most useful to pay for our unexpected hotel bill and a very nice dinner.  The next day, we took the airport shuttle back to the airport and winged our way to spend our honeymoon in Carmel (the coolest little town anywhere in the world) and downtown San Francisco.

I shot that picture from Chinatown, looking down the hill to our hotel on the left (we had a room with a balcony on the top floor) and the Trans America Building, aka The Pyramid.  And it turned out to be the perfect metaphor to my married life: it was all downhill from there.

As I’ve often said, “I was married once, but I’m much better now.”

15 comments:

  1. 'Got to let your true love grow/It's all you got that's gooder than gold.' SCRATCH and SNIFF, SRV
    So after the scratching and sniffing, the magic ended. But the wedding memories are still 'gooder than gold'.
    Uncle Ants loved that party. And the oldies you found and Dad taped for him,including an old timer, Al Cayola, a biggie once in Pgh. He loved also holding forth at the airport with new ears in the audience.
    Your wooded backyard looked like a golden cathedral that afternoon. Perfect Autumn setting. Surprised that the Ex wasn't cavorting and careening around naked in the leaves.
    But if she had, you wouldn't have gotten married and lived happily ever after.

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  2. When we got the wake up call, Future Ex was over on the couch, naked and shivering. She’d gotten up to pee and got lost on the way back to bed.

    Love that image.

    As a kid, I swear weddings (like yours) used to be the most exciting things ever. It seems like we stayed out all night and that everyone was drunk and that the music was great. In my adult life, though, the bars have been cash and the guests have all left before 10 p.m. Just another reason not to get married, I guess.

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  3. I meant to mention that Uncle, as well as your Dad, loved to play to a new audience.

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  4. Mundane,
    You just been going to the wrong weddings. The weddings for my family and friends are almost always always raucous occasions.

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  5. Loved the wedding story - I am always suspicious of folks who claim thiers went off perfectly. Great that you can still count this as one of the great days. Sounds like an absolute blast! Especially the impromputu breakfast.

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  6. You know, DG,
    That breakfast may have been the high point, in retrospect. Uncle Ants didn't last more than a couple more years. Listening to him kill with his stories in that airport diner just seemed right.

    I think that's been a hallmark of my family... taking a problematic situation and turning it into a bonding session...

    Tragedy is nothing but an opportunity to tell a good story later...

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  7. Dude, nice hat!

    Also, sounds like an awesome wedding. Glad you have that awesome memory to hang on to. Ours was also a huge blow out party with a live band and open bar. People stayed way after Mark and I left and the venue had to kick them out apparently. Awesome!

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  8. For many years, Rod and I were "Professional Wedding Guests" when our friends' kids were getting married. Once I get over my blue funk, I will tell the "Uncle Eddie" story. It is every bride's worst nightmare!

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  9. At least you went out in a blaze of glory. You are clearly too good for her if she can't even listen to your histories.

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  10. Jessica,
    That was my special Wedding Hat that I always wear when I’m in a wedding. We bald guys do love our hats.

    Yeah, we stayed as long as they let us. We were dancing and carrying on right to the bitter end. And there was no way I was leaving the best party of my life until I had to.

    Judie,
    I’ll be looking forward to that one, for sure. Feel better soon, K?

    Cassie,
    Well, I wouldn’t say she “wouldn’t listen” to our stories… she was just blind drunk and not really capable of making any kind of decision.

    Although I was too good for her… it’s kind of you to recognize that.

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  11. What a fantastic story! (And thanks for the link!) And I agree with DG - I no longer trust people who say that their wedding days were perfect, smooth and stress-free in every single way.

    And your Wedding Hat is just about the most dapper chapeau this Cajun queen has ever seen.

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  12. Mrs Bachelor Girl,
    I love that hat. I just wish I had more occasions to which I could wear it. It’s far too dapper for work.

    Thanks for providing the “jumping off point”, and congrats again on getting through your own wedding without going all Bridezilla on their asses.

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  13. So the marriage didn't fare so well; at least you were able to enjoy a helluva party.

    My wedding went off with just a couple hitches, including my laryngitis. When you literally can't say your wedding vows, perhaps you should take it as a sign...

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  14. Love how your memories of your wedding day is mostly about the music played at the reception. Looking back, you should have just put on a concert. Actually, it sounds like it was a great time. Most bad wedding stories end up with relatives fighting, falling into a fountain, and getting arrested. Too bad you had to invite the Future Ex to the proceedings.

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  15. Sherry,
    Yeah, being struck dumb at the alter counts as a Sign from Above. They should have had a translator for you up there or something… like Garret Morris on SNL’s News for the Hard of Hearing segment.

    Bagger,
    I do remember a lot more about it, but it’s just not that interesting. And who wants to read about a bunch of stuff I saw at a wedding from 17 years ago? (OMG, it’s been that long?) I was trying to stick to the part about the CF the day after; I had to get into some of the other stuff in order to have it make proper sense.

    I considered using more stuff from the wedding… after all I still have my notes! Yes, on the plane ride out to California, I got out my notebook and began writing down everything I remembered from the ceremony and reception. I read them over before writing, but decided against using any of it… I mean, they were cool memories for ME, but I didn’t see them adding much to the post, besides length.

    I suppose that if Future Ex was writing about it, she’d talk about the place settings and flowers and all that other stuff that she cared about. The music was my responsibility so that’s what I talk about. Plus, it freakin’ rocked! I’m so over all the traditional wedding songs that you hear at every wedding across time and space. I wanted to play songs that had meaning to me and my family and friends.

    I mean, can’t we all do better than “Old Time Rock n Roll” and “Celebration?”

    Because I went non-traditional, my 80-year old Great Uncle found out that someone besides Louis Prima did “Just a Gigolo,” and loved it.

    I do allow for the possibility, though, that it might not be the greatest omen to play The Blues at one’s own wedding. But it was still a hell of a good time.

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