Chad & Mary (Part 1)

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It was the summer of 2009, and one of my best friends from high school was getting married back on the east coast where we all grew up. Not only was I invited to the wedding, but I was also invited to be a groomsman, which equated to my first real level of responsibility at a wedding. Being a groomsman isn’t easy. First of all, there is the additional cost of having to rent a matching tuxedo to the tune of around $175, plus the damage waiver which we will get into later. Also, you need to be present at the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, and then you get paired up to walk down the aisle with a bridesmaid you may or may not know. All of these factors change the dynamic of the wedding immensely. However, I was looking forward to it because it gave me and Tasha an opportunity to get out of Los Angeles for a week, and for us to have a mini vacation which we both desperately needed. We had been going through some tough times, but the wedding was acting as a break from the norm, and gave me the opportunity to introduce her to all my friends and family. No pressure, right?

Speaking of Tasha and I, by this point, we had dated for two years, lived together, broken up, lived separately, then lived together again in a small studio apartment in Los Feliz where we reconciled our differences and became a couple again…kind of. Yeah, our relationship was a little white trash if you put a magnifying glass over it, but then again she is from Virginia and I am from New Jersey. Seems kind of normal to me when you factor those two details into it.

We flew into Philadelphia on the 13th of August 2009. There was a lot to do in the week ahead considering she had never met my Mom or most of my friends, the Phillies who were were just coming off their World Series win in 2008 were in first place and had a three game home stand against the Diamondbacks, and my friend Parr had a shore house in Wildwood N.J. where we spent a couple days relaxing before the wedding. Not to mention the fact that the Eagles were in the middle of preseason games so we had plenty of things to occupy our time BEFORE the wedding. However, this is a wedding blog, and because a lot of funny and interesting stuff happened during this whole trip the truth is, Chad & Mary’s wedding could be a whole blog in itself.

At this point, I’ll have to forgo telling the story of how I got pulled over on the Atlantic City Expressway after we just finished smoking pot in the rental car, and how the NJ state trooper (who are known for being extremely rigid) let me off with a warning, despite the fact that I had a California driver’s license, and was driving 80 miles an hour in a 60 mile per hour zone. I’ll have to skip the part in Wildwood where me, Tasha, Parr and Parr’s dad won the trivia challenge at Owen’s Pub even though they originally didn’t want to let Tasha and I in at first because we didn’t have a local I.D. From either NJ, PA, DE, or NY. (what?!) And unfortunately, I’ll have to only quickly mention the time we spent at Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks 8-1 and where we tailgated in the parking lot and I worried that they would run out of the free giveaways that night. So, of course as I entered the gate, the woman handing out the “Brad Lidge” bobblehead told me with a straight face I was too old to get one. Turns out that was a joke played on me by my friends Parr and Steve, which for a moment, I fell for. So let’s fast forward a few days later to Thursday August 20th, 2009. The night of the rehearsal dinner.

One of the greatest things about this trip with Tasha was that she immediately was loved and accepted by all my friends and family back home. That’s a really big asset when you’re dating someone, especially someone who you’re traveling with to other parts of the country. A few months after we started dating back in 2007, Tasha and I took a road trip to Seattle to attend the Bumpershoot music festival for her birthday. We spent 16 hours in the car each way, and we only got into a fight one time. Pretty good odds if you ask me, so I was not worried in any way, shape, or form that there would be any issues with this trip.

The rehearsal dinner was in Haddonfield, but Chad and Mary were getting married at St. Peter and Paul’s Basilica, right over the bridge in Philadelphia. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the same place where Rocky and Adrian got married in Rocky II. Pretty amazing place to have a traditional Irish-Catholic wedding if you ask me. We got to the church, and met up with the other groomsman, one of which happened to be another close friend of mine from high school, Ronen who I hadn’t seen in almost 9 years. Ronen was there with his wife Starr and as it turns out, much like Mary and Chad, (although much more obvious) they were expecting their first child in a few months. I introduced Tasha to both of them, and then Ronen introduced me to his wife. His pregnant wife. Keep in mind I had NEVER met this woman before, but for some reason when Ronen said to me “this is my wife Starr, and she is having my baby,” I decided it would be a novel idea to greet her by shaking her hand, and then placing my OTHER hand on her stomach directly on her baby bump where Ronen’s unborn son was currently incubating. To this day, I have no idea why the fuck I did that. Perhaps it was due to the fact that Parr and I had taken a few bong hits prior to the trip over to Philly for the rehearsal. I mean, really….what the hell was I thinking? When is that action ever an appropriate response to just meeting one of your friend’s pregnant wives?

Tasha rolled her eyes and Parr started cracking up laughing at my rookie mistake, so afterwards sheepishly I went over to Ronen and apologized for my inappropriate behavior. Luckily, he was totally fine with it, and in fact the ONLY reason I think that happened was for me to be able to write about it six years later to make me, and all of you laugh out loud at my unseemingly ill-timed choice of salutation. However, it wouldn’t be the last time that night that I did something inappropriate to someone I did not know…but that comes later in the story.

Tasha and Parr’s girlfriend Melissa…(who later turned out to be a crazy bitch) took a seat in the pew with the rest of the guests who were technically not in the wedding party. The rest of us groomsmen were all paired up with bridesmaids and by some stroke of bad luck, I was paired up with a woman named Melissa, not “crazy bitch” Melissa, but ANOTHER Melissa that just happened to be the wife of a guy named Dan Levy who I wasn’t really good friends with back in the day. Alright, who am I kidding, I didn’t like him. I used to call him “Skeevy Levy” because it rhymed and I thought it was funny. I don’t think he liked me either, so OF COURSE in some sick and twisted conspiracy as life would have it, I was paired up to walk arm in arm down the aisle with HIS wife during the ceremony. I hadn’t spoken to him in years.  During the practice run, I must have accidentally made eye contact with him for a micro second, and immediately I could feel his disapproving, menacing glare, pierce me in the sides and the back of my head, all the way down the aisle to the alter. Jesus Christ, someone save me.

I thought about asking Parr if I could trade partners with him just to avoid any future death stares from Levy, but that would just fuck everything up as to who stood where and what not. As I would eventually find out, in the wedding party, the order in which you stand behind the Groom/Bride denotes who is the closest friend to said Groom/Bride. For example, most wedding processions start with the least important friend first, building in to the most important friend from the outside. So it goes something like…groomsman & bridesmaid 1, then groomsman and bridesmaid 2, then 3, then 4, and sometimes 5 and 6 or 7, (depending on how big the wedding party is) Then I think it goes the Best Man and Maid of Honor who are undoubtedly the closest friends to the Bride and Groom, being that they are next to last in the procession, and their title denotes a level of capitalization that is missing from “groomsman” or “bridesmaid.” The Groom is next to proceed down the aisle, and then finally, here comes the Bride. (pun intended) Somewhere in there is the Father of the Bride and the Mother of the Bride, I just don’t know where because I’ve never been either of those yet. Maybe I’ll turn into the Father of the Bride one day, but what I definitely know is that I will NEVER be the Mother of the Bride. That’s for sure.

After all of the explanation, and the direction, and the standing, and the kneeling, and the sitting, and the clapping and the walking outing, we get to my favorite part of the evening, and what everyone was looking forward to, the rehearsal dinner. I was really excited for this because I had never been to one before, but I had heard all of these cool, crazy stories that my older friends had told me about where family members get drunk and give toasts that are totally inappropriate, or that one guest who had too much wine and decided to make a pass at the bride the night before the wedding. I admit it, I kind of love drama, as long as I’m not a part of it. I love being an onlooker of drama. It makes for great conversation, but ultimately, I like the idea that it’s this exclusive dinner party with some of your closest friends and relatives that you get to attend for sharing a camaraderie and being there for them through the good and the bad for over twenty years.

This wedding was really special to me because Chad was the first one of my best friends to get married. There was me and Parr, P-Nut, Chad and Gary. You know that scene in Goodfellas where the camera shows Henry’s view as he goes through the list of people he hung out with the most? That’s us. I’ve known those guys since high school, and I can say that regardless of what happens, I’ll always know them for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So, we all headed back over the bridge to take part in the celebration dinner of my Irish friend Mary, and my French, British, Scottish, German, Irish and Swiss friend Chad, at “Tre Famiglia” an Italian restaurant in Haddonfield New Jersey. We’re all sitting at nice tables with bottles of wine and bread and we all have a choice of different Italian dishes we can order. Everyone is smiling and talking and drinking and eating, when all of sudden, someone realizes that the whole dinner party has just run out of wine. What a horrific thing to have happen at a rehearsal dinner, right? I mean thank GOD Chad’s dad went out to the liquor store and got another ten bottles of red and white wine because clearly, with these alcoholics, two bottles per table was ultimately not enough.Chad and Mary opted to serve the beer and wine the night BEFORE the wedding. Smart choice, because tomorrow, shit’s gonna get real and you need the “hard A” for that.

With two new bottles of wine on the table, the only thing missing was a wine opener. We all looked around the restaurant but couldn’t find anyone to help us. Luckily, I spotted a bus boy talking to this other table nearby, and he was within my reach so I figured I’d just reach out and tap him on the shoulder to get his attention and ask for a wine opener. Here’s where things got a little weird….

I turned to my right to put my hand on his shoulder which I thought for some reason was on the same level as MY shoulder, as if we were both sitting down. Unfortunately, when I went to tap him on the shoulder, due to the fact that he was standing and I was sitting, I inadvertently ended up tapping him on his butt. This poor kid who couldn’t have been more than fifteen or sixteen years old was probably shocked and shaken up by the incident, but to his credit, he played it off pretty cool.

“Oh, sorry dude.” I said after I grabbed his ass. “Would you happen to have a wine opener we could use?”

“Uhhh, yeah I’ll go find one.” He said, as he scurried off back to the kitchen and was never seen or heard from again.

“Did you just grab that kid’s ass?” Parr asked me.

Ok, technically yeah I did, but it was a total accident. Regardless, Parr announced to everyone within earshot what just occurred, and the whole table (and some other guests whom he called over to tell the story to) started laughing and making fun of me. We were cracking up so hard at what had just happened, and as it turned out, there was no need for me to grab that kid’s butt at all because there was already a wine opener on the table in the basket that contained the wine. Just none of us looked there.

Tasha then decided to bring up the fact that this was the second time in two hours I had put my hands on someone in an inappropriate manner in the same day. My track record on making people feel uncomfortable was steadily rising, so I decided this would be a good time to head outside for some fresh air. Sure enough, there outside waiting for me like in a episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 was the husband of the woman Melissa who I was paired up to walk down the aisle with, my not good friend from high school, Dan “Skeevy” Levy.

He wasn’t really skeevy at all back then, it’s just that the word skeevy rhymes with Levy so it flows off the tongue really well. This wasn’t the first time we put two words together to poke fun at someone either. We used to have rhyming nicknames for all of our moms such as “Janet the planet”, “Fajita Anita”, “Messy Bessie,” and sometimes they didn’t even have to rhyme to be funny, as we just used alliteration to make a joke such as” Lazy Linda” and “Hefty Helena.”

Regardless, Skeevy Levy came up to me and started the passive aggressive small talk. I didn’t know what to say to him and I don’t really remember what he said to me, but I’m sure it went something like “just be careful with my pregnant wife.” As if to suggest he was seriously afraid that I would somehow injure her by walking her down the aisle arm in arm. (Also, Jesus Christ, why is EVERYONE’s wife pregnant at the same time?) I guess he was just being protective of her, which I could totally understand, so I went on to mention that I had been with Tasha for two years, and I didn’t really think he had any reason to feel threatened by me. That changed his tune a bit.

I guess he always saw me as a wildcard, or someone who wasn’t very stable, and to some extent he may have been right about me back then. He went on to mention what he had been up to the last few years and how he’s really looking forward to tomorrow, and I couldn’t agree with him more. I looked inside the restaurant and saw Tasha looking back out at me. She gave me the “Do you want me to come out there and take care of him” look, to which I just smiled and turned back around to Dan and shook his hand. Tomorrow was the big day, and if the night before the wedding was any clue as to how the actual wedding would turn out, I think we were in for a hilariously funny and inappropriately fueled ride.

Chad & Mary Part 2: Wednesday April 29th

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rehearsaldinnercollage2.1

Top middle: Me, Tasha, “crazy bitch” Melissa, & Parr

Middle left: Mary & Chad

Bottom left: Me & Tasha right after I pinched the bus boy’s ass

Bottom middle: Ronen & Chad

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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