Joe & Nicola (Part 2)

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I woke up at 4am on the pull out couch in the motel, freezing and feeling like I slept with a rod up my back the whole night. It was still dark, and I was very uncomfortable, so I jumped in the bed which was slightly more comfortable, but filled with Tasha.

“Get out.” She said.

“I can’t sleep on that stupid couch. Move over.” I said.

Eventually, I dozed off and next thing I knew I woke up and it was 7am, I felt a little more rested, so I got dressed and headed to the Wawa for some coffee. The weather outside was ominous. It was overcast, wet, and I knew that Nicola’s biggest fear was going to come to true. She was going to have to have an indoor wedding. On the positive side, people say it’s lucky for it to rain on your wedding day. I mean, even Alanis Morrisette wrote a song called “Ironic” which states this idea, but there is a part of me that feels like even though it might be “good luck” for it to rain the day you get married, it’s certainly not what anybody hopes for. Regardless, I feel like at this point no amount of rain is going to stop this wedding from being the best day for Parr and Nicola.

To say Tasha and I were hungover would be an understatement. My body had somehow recovered from the pain I was in at the beginning of the trip, but now I was dealing with a whole new demon. I felt sick. Not like a fever, cold, or sneezing sick, like I was just faded and not feeling like I wanted to drink any amount of alcohol at all. It was then that Parr texted me and asked if we wanted to come over the house for breakfast and bloody marys.

“I can’t drink any alcohol now.” Tasha said to me.

“Me neither.” I replied.

Then about 8 seconds went by where we both looked at each other with the notion that we kind of needed to support our friend on the morning of his wedding.

“Let’s just go and have one drink.” I said.

“Ok, I’ll get dressed.” Tasha replied.

We came by Parr’s parents house and met up with him, Shaun, and Ron who were staying there, and Steve who showed up a few minutes after us for breakfast. Mr. & Mrs. Parr have been like parents to me. I’ve stayed at that house many times over the past few years, and I’ve drank with his family even more so. I love them. They are great people and sometimes I wish I was still living in NJ for that reason among others. It just feels like home. We all ate a little bit, thanked Mrs. Parr for making us food and then with the slightest amount of coaxing, we decided the next thing we should do is definitely to go across the street to the now defunct Woody’s Bar and have a few drinks with the Groom.

Here’s the funny thing about alcohol. You may feel like crap for a little bit the morning when you’re hung over, and you may think you want to take it easy and just drink some water and eat some food, but what your body really needs to recover…. is more alcohol. I am so glad I took a zantac to protect my stomach against the wrath of a tomato juice and vodka breakfast because by the time I ordered my third bloody mary, I felt great. We were laughing and having a good time and somehow we started talking about Parr’s groomsmen, the location of all of us at the alter, and the TV show Gilligan’s Island. This is where it just got silly.

At the end of the theme song, to Gilligan’s Island they introduce all the characters in the show. I’m sure you remember the tune…

”With Gilligan…..The Skipper too……The Millionaire, and his wife. The moooovie star….the Professor and Mary Anne! Here on Gilligan’s Isle!”

However, the FIRST season of Gilligan’s Island didn’t mention the Professor OR Mary Anne.  After “The movie star” it just goes “…and the rest!” It’s as if the Professor and Mary Anne are just so insignificant to the show that no one needs to know their names in the opening titles. We tried so hard to fit all of Parr’s groomsmen into the Gilligan’s Island theme song that morning, but it never worked out. We could only say three or four names before adding ”…and the rest” at the end. I know it’s stupid and silly and you probably aren’t laughing if you don’t get the joke…. but I guess you just had to be there and  had three or four bloody marys to appreciate the last paragraph that I wrote.

When we stepped outside of the bar that morning, it was pouring rain. Like a torrential downpour. There was no way to avoid an indoor wedding at this point. Mr. Parr gave me and Tasha some tips on how to get to Cape May using back roads and shortcuts so we thanked him, said goodbye to the boys for now, and went back to the Lollipop to pack up our shit and head to Congress Hall. We left the motel around 1:30pm so we could arrive in Cape May at the Hotel before 3pm to check in and get ready. I had our bags and my tux all packed up in the car, and I followed Mr. Parr’s directions all the way to Cape May. There was just one slight problem.

The backroads of North Wildwood were easy to maneuver through, however once we got into  Wildwood Crest, the roads were suddenly blockaded by a large amount of rainwater that had pooled up in the intersection like a small pond. There was nowhere to go other than right through it, but the issue I was having was being able to drive though it in my medium sized rental car without stalling out, and without another car driving though in the opposite direction and splashing water up on the hood of the car at the same time. We had made it though a few small sized puddles, but there was this big one coming up ahead, and sure enough in the other lane was an SUV who was going 30 mph and didn’t give a shit.

I did the only thing I could do in this situation that I hoped would work….I gunned it straight into the water hazard and kept my foot on the gas the whole time. The car started to sputter, the SUV splashed all over us just like I thought it would, and my fear of us being stranded in the middle of the road in a three foot deep hole of water was almost realized, but luckily it never quite manifested. Somehow, and by some miracle, we made it to the other side of the intersection with nothing but dry asphalt ahead.

A little further down the road we had to cross this rickety old toll bridge and give the guy 35 cents to get to the other side. It wasn’t raining anymore, but the clouds in the sky definitely weren’t looking like they were going to break free and let the sun in anytime soon, and when we arrived at Congress Hall ten minutes later, it was official….the wedding was taking place indoors. I could tell by the look on Nicola’s face that she was disappointed, but at the same time, years from now when we’re all grown up, no one is going to remember that it should have taken place outside. Instead they’ll remember how gorgeous she looked in her gown walking down the aisle, how much fun we all had at the reception, and how her and Parr and her son Giann became a family.

Oh wait, did I not mention that Nicola has a son from a previous relationship yet? Well, she does, and he’s a pretty awesome dude. That day Parr was not only becoming a husband for the first time, he was becoming a step-father too. I’ve known this kid, meaning Parr since he was a teenager, and a part of me never thought he would get married, let alone get married to a woman who had a son. I know all too well that level of responsibility and what it takes from someone to commit themselves to a family situation and I know first hand from my own childhood that sometimes it isn’t easy and unfortunately I also know what it’s like when a father figure comes into your life, and doesn’t want to stick around for the long haul. Yet, as we get older and mature, our wants and our needs change and sometimes we grow up to be better people and better parents than the ones that came before us because we learn what we want, from finding out what we don’t want.

Unlike my step father, Parr wants that level of responsibility and I know he can handle it because he’s one of my best friends and I know he’ll be good at it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like dudes sit around drinking beers telling each other how much they love their girlfriends and how they can’t wait to marry them. That just doesn’t happen in my world. But I could see first hand that day how much he loved Nicola and Giann just from the smile on his face when he saw them walking down the aisle. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

Before the ceremony, all the groomsman got dressed and gathered in Parr’s room to have a few drinks together and put the finishing touches on our tuxedos. I guess there is something that runs in Parr’s family that prohibits him and his brother Shaun from understanding how to put cuff links and tie tacks on, because at every wedding I’ve been to with either of them, someone else has to help them dress. So, Adam took care of the Groom, and I took care of the Best Man, and I gotta say I think we did a damn good job in the process.

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After we were all dressed and looking spiffy, the groomsman and bridesmaids filtered into the hallway one by one to make our procession into room filled with guests where we would proceed to take six steps, turn right, take six or seven more steps and then part ways at the alter in the correct order we were supposed to be in. Parr and Nicola followed, and then Giann, the ring bearer strutted his way down the aisle in his pint sized tuxedo and sneakers. It says I’m taking this seriously, but I’m a kid and I wear sneakers so I’m not taking it THAT seriously.

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The ceremony was from 4:30-5pm, but I think we got through it in about 22 minutes thanks to Nicola wanting to have a brief wedding, and Chad being able to speak quickly and efficiently, and everyone being aware of where they were supposed to be, and who they were supposed to be with. He said “I do,” she said “I do,” and everyone applauded and snapped photos as Parr, Nicola and Giann were officially a family. I mean, just look how jazzed Parr is in this picture. He’s even giving a fist pump.

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The guests made their way into the Boiler Room for cocktail hour which was technically a bar downstairs and not a real boiler room like you would automatically think. The wedding party stayed upstairs to take pictures and get drinks from the bar because now that the wedding was over, the REAL party was about to begin. Before all the food and the dancing and the selfie taking was to happen, we needed to snap a few real photos for posterity and I think we nailed it.

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We mingled downstairs for awhile with all of the guests and gorged ourselves on a plethora of appetizers which included all the classic Italian specialties like garlic bread, a pasta bar, and deli meats and cheeses. It was obvious from the lack of potatoes and cabbage that no Irish person had any say in the spread of food that afternoon. I stayed close to the “Marlton” corner of the room where everyone who I’ve ever known from high school who came to the wedding was hanging out together and catching up with each other until it was time for the guests to take their seats upstairs and for the wedding party to be announced leading all the way up to the Bride and Groom. One by one each groomsman made our way into the dining hall onto the dance floor with a bridesmaid in one arm, and a cocktail in the other. I don’t think Parr would have wanted it any other way. At this point in the night, I had the bridesmaid on my arm, I didn’t feel sick, I had no qualms about drinking more alcohol, and just like those stupid Bud Light commercials, I was up for whatever happens next, or so I thought.

We all found our tables which were aptly named for different cities along the Jersey shore. There was L.B.I., Ocean City, Wildwood….and the rest. Then there was the Seaside Heights table where I sat with Tasha, Chad & Mary, Gary & Desiree, P-Nut & Efia, Jenna & Tim, and Woofy. Now, I hadn’t seen Woofy for like 15 years. In fact, no one had seen him in that amount of time. Pretty much after he graduated college in Rhode Island he got a job and met a woman in Massachusetts and married her and spent the last two decades or so in obscurity. He also dated Jenna at one time who was sitting right next to him at the table who he hadn’t spoken to in forever, and Jenna had also dated Chad for many years going back to the mid 1990s. I guess it was not a coincidence that they all ended up at the Seaside Heights table which ironically was the exact name of the beach city where 5 seasons of the reality show “Jersey Shore” took place. I still don’t know if it was a joke by the Bride and Groom or if that’s just the table where Woofy ended up but either way, I found it very amusing.

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The dinner service was underway and Shaun was on the mic saying some kind words to his brother and his new sister-in-law. I had a few things I wanted to say too, and I even wrote them down on a piece of paper and brought it with me that night, but I never got a chance to go up there. I figure whatever I wanted to say then that I didn’t get a chance to say, I have said so far in this blog, but I had a another moment planned that I got a chance to execute and Jenna caught on video.

Goodfellas is our favorite movie. Hands down it is the one film Parr, Shaun, and Gary and I have probably watched 1000 times and have quoted it over and over again to each other. There’s a scene in the movie where Henry and Karen get married and all their friends and family walk up to them, and hand them a wedding gift which in this scene turns out to be multiple envelopes filled with cash. During the film there is a jump cut of all these envelopes filled with Benjamins being handed over to them, and there is one huge, fat, thick envelope the size of a brick that one of the guests places in Henry’s hand. I wanted to re-create that scene for Parr at his wedding, but Tasha and I are hardly rich enough to put THAT many hundred dollar bills in an envelope. However, we COULD afford to take a hundred ONE dollar bills, stuff them into an envelope and walk up to Parr and Nicola and tell them “Here’s a little something to help you get started,” Just like Pauly does in the movie. You can watch that video here.

After most of the eating was done, the deejay started up the night of music and rug cutting with the first dance starring the new couple Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Carr, and son. I snapped this pic with my shitty camera phone, and even though it’s not very crisp or clear I think it says all there needs to say about these three.

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The next two hours were pretty epic. Parr and Nicola had the most amount of guests dancing together at one time at any wedding I had been to. I mean it was like god damn American Bandstand that night. Old people dancing, young people dancing, people who didn’t even know how to dance were dancing. At one point I even slid across the floor on my knees during a Michael Jackson song and looking back now I could have seriously injured myself, but I didn’t care. I danced with Maggie, I danced with Tasha, I danced with Mary, Parr, Shaun and Gary. People were raising the roof, picking up change, and I think at one point Chad started to do the running man. I was having such a good time, when I turned around and there was the bridesmaid I had been paired up with looking at me like she had an agenda.

Wanna get a drink?” She asked.

Now, when you’re a little bit drunk and a pretty blonde girl at a wedding who you just happened to be paired up asks you to get a drink, there is only one response that you should ever give, and this is what I said to her…

“Absolutely I do.”

“Let’s do a shot” She said.

“Ok. Can we get two kamikazes?” I asked the bartender.

Now I know what you’re thinking…. Who the hell orders kamakazes anymore right? Well, I’m not a big shot guy unless of course it’s tequila or sometimes whiskey, and I had been drinking vodka all night so I thought I should stay on the same train.

“Can’t give out shots tonight.” He replied.

What the fuck was that about? No shots? I thought this was a Irish-Italian wedding?

“Let’s go to the other bar,” She said.

So we made our way to the other bar across the dance floor, took two shots and I threw the bartender a few dollars for hooking us up. Next thing I know I’m outside with the bridesmaid having a cigarette and talking. I told her I was from California, and she started telling me about how she’s been dating this guy who she met at work and how he wants to marry her and she thinks it’s a good idea because she has a son at home, but she also doesn’t even like the guy who she is currently dating. She also mentions that she just had surgery and is currently on some sort of medication. Now, I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure drinking alcohol and taking pain meds is NOT a good combination. Don’t they have warning labels for stuff like that?

She went on to say her boyfriend is a pit boss at a casino in Atlantic City, where she deals blackjack and that he offered her a new job at a casino in Delaware and he wants her to move down there with him and get married. So, me being an idiot and painfully honest like I am, told her that if she really isn’t into him, then she probably shouldn’t accept the job, and furthermore she probably shouldn’t be dating him if she doesn’t even like him. Look, I’m always going to tell people the truth of what I think, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Otherwise what kind of a person would I be?

“He didn’t come with you to the wedding?” I asked

“No, he’s here.” She replied.

Wait, at THIS wedding?” I asked.

“Yeah.” She said.

Great. All I need now is some big fat six foot nine pissed off burly pit boss from the Taj Mahal beating the shit out of me at my best friend’s wedding for talking to his girlfriend who doesn’t really like him, and probably sees me as the catalyst to the eventual fight they will get into later on that evening.

“Let’s go back inside.” I say.

“I’m not finished my cigarette.” She says.

“Well I am, so I’ll see you later.”

I was right to get out of there. This girl may have been cute and sweet, but she was bad news. There is NOTHING about what she just told me that appealed to me in any way shape or form. I made my way back into the dance hall and spent the rest of the time dancing around with Parr and Mary and Tasha and Maggie and Chad and everybody else who didn’t come to the wedding with pit boss boyfriends that they don’t like.

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Everyone was having a really good time but before we knew it, it was late, the deejay was spinning his last song, and the wedding of Joe and Nicola was coming to an end. We all stood around after the music had stopped, I grabbed my coat and stole the picture frame from our table that said Seaside Heights on it and was almost ready to call it a night when I see Chad who runs into the wedding hall and tells us how he had been downstairs the last half hour in the Boiler Room which was now rocking and rolling with a live band and room full of people.

Here comes the afterparty…..

First thing I did was grab the key to the room from Tasha and I went upstairs to change, wash my face, spray myself with more cologne, and then I headed back downstairs to the Boiler Room. I could hear the music from the stairwell, and right around the time that I walked into the bar, I see Nicola with a concerned look on her face. I grabbed Parr and asked him what was going on, but I think I already knew.

“The bridesmaid’s boyfriend is here. He got into it with her and I guess he’s pissed.” Parr said.

“At me?” I asked.

I didn’t even need to hear the answer to that question. This is so not what I wanted to have happen at their wedding, but what was I going to do? Hide in my hotel room the rest of the night?

“Fuck that, he’s an idiot and he’s not going to do anything with all of us here. Don’t even worry about it.” Parr said.

And I didn’t worry about it one bit. I just got myself a beer, and went out to the dance floor and we all kept the party going to the cool sounds of 70s and 80s music from a live band who were really good and really tight. A few songs later I saw the bridesmaid enter the bar. She looked a little sad and I kind of felt bad for her. No one wants to be depressed  at a wedding so I bought her a drink and brought her onto the dance floor into the crowd of my friends.

“I broke up with him.” She said.

“For real?” I asked.

“Yep.” She said with a smile.

What did that mean? Did she really break up with him? Did I cause this to happen? Was it something I said outside? Was this some sort of play to make him jealous and more pissed off? I mean, I would have said the same thing to anyone who told me they were in a relationship with someone they didn’t like. I don’t even know this guy but now, I kind of felt bad for HIM, wherever he was.

“He’s right there.” She said.

Then I look up, and there he is leaning on the stairwell watching this all happen, but specifically shooting hate rays with his eyes directly at me and the bridesmaid. He was barely 5 foot 5, slightly overweight, and he had this really gross stringy black hair and the creepiest look on his face. If there was anyone at that wedding that fit the profile of someone who would have stayed at the Lollipop motel that night, it would have been him. Instantaneously, I stopped feeling bad for him. This chick was WAAAY out of his league, and to be honest this whole scenario was way out of my comfort zone.

I’ll be right back.” I said.

And with statement, that I made my way to the far back end of the bar where Steve, Adam and Maggie were hanging out, under the air conditioner and far away from the drama on the dance floor. I took a seat next to Maggie at the bar and started talking to them about what just happened. The last hour was just an absolutely insane experience. I mean, who breaks up with their boyfriend at a wedding in Jersey because some groomsman you were paired up with who’s name you probably don’t even remember said that you shouldn’t be in relationship if you didn’t really like the guy? Has NO ONE else ever said that to her? Can I get her to do anything else tonight by just telling her what I think? Like maybe she should quit her job and move to California to be with me, but before she does, I want her to rob a bank and murder all my enemies along the way, and just so you know, that’s a few more people now than it was last year. I know she didn’t do it for me, but man…. it’s just so fucking crazy.

I went on for a little bit joking around and recapping the highlights of the night with the boys, and then Adam decided it would be a good idea to leave me and Maggie alone and head to another part of the bar. Damn, we were getting match-maked on both ends. I talked with her for awhile and we had couple drinks and we took a handful of selfies, a few of which Chad photobombed and yeah, we made out a little bit. I mean come on, it was bound to happen. She was wearing this cute little superman tank top that night and my ex girlfriend and her best guy friend were pushing us together through no fault of our own since the night before.

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She looked good that night and I told her that. I think we had always liked each other but the timing was never right, and to be honest this was the only opportunity we would have. It was almost 2am, and the bartender did last call, so we ordered two more beers, paid the tab, and then Maggie and I started to walk back to her room upstairs, when out of nowhere, the bridesmaid and her friend cuts us off.

“Ready to go upstairs?” The bridesmaid asked.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I mean first of all, this girl had some balls inviting me to go upstairs to her room with her and her friend after what had happened that night, and especially right in front of Maggie. This kind of stuff never happens to me. I looked at the bridesmaid, then looked at Maggie, then turned back to the bridesmaid, and I said with a smile.

“I don’t think so.”

Maggie and I walked past the girls, went up the stairs and into the hotel lobby and up a few more stairs until we found a place to sit down and finish the last beer of the night.  The truth is, we couldn’t go anywhere because I was staying in a room with Tasha, and she was staying in a room with Adam. What were we going to do? Knock on the door of one of the rooms and ask our friends to hang out in the hall for twenty minutes so we could bang each other? That just wouldn’t be right, so we did the only thing we could do for the next forty-five minutes we made out on a white couch on the third floor of the hotel in front of the elevator while we took little breaks to talk and drink our beers.

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That’s where it all went down. Compared to the last wedding I went to where both Tasha and I hooked up with someone else, this seemed to happen a little more naturally, with a little more help from everyone, and of course without me vomiting in my suit.  Eventually, I said goodnight to Maggie and we both went our separate ways into our separate hotel rooms and eventually, fell asleep.

I really had a blast at Parr and Nicola’s wedding, and I got to be honest, it was hard to fit all of what happened into a two part story. I wish there was more to tell, but these are the highlights as I remembered them.  I’ve never been more happy for Parr then on this day.  I was proud of him.  He now has a beautiful Italian wife, and an incredible son to call his own, and I know he’ll be the best husband and Dad he could ever be.  I guess Parr’s all growns up now.

The next morning, it was bright and sunny, which meant of course the ONLY day it rained that weekend was the day Parr and Nicola got married, but maybe that’s good luck. Tasha and I had a plane to catch back to L.A., so we packed up our bags, said our goodbyes and headed back to Philly to drop off the rental car and catch our flight by 4pm.

“That was a great time.”  Tasha said.

“It was.”  I replied.  “Hey, thanks for being a good friend.”

“And not a blocker of cock?”  She asked.

“Yeah, that too.” I said.

As the airplane started to taxi down the runway, I put on a movie and my headphones and thought about the last few days.  I wish we could have stayed longer, and I wish that every wedding had an afterparty, but most importantly, I wish that everyone had a such good friends like the ones I have.  They look out for me like family.

Epilogue:

I guess this is the part of the story where I think back to how it all happened 8 years ago when I met this girl at a wedding and her and I would go on to date for two years, love each other, break up with each other multiple times, share two cats, a rabbit, and three apartments together all while somehow becoming best friends and business partners who created a TV show pilot and attended 7 weddings together over the past 8 years. It may sometimes have been stressful, but I don’t regret anything that has happened since I met her. I might have done things a little differently early on in our relationship, but ultimately we weren’t meant to be together in that way. We both know that now.

Something happened to me while I writing this blog. Over the past twelve weeks I have spent at least three or four days working on every entry, reminiscing about the good times I’ve had at my friends weddings and what it was like to see them all grow up and witness their love first hand and literally be a part of it for one day. It’s been a great feeling because every wedding I’ve attended and have written about has brought me closer to the realization that I never thought I would say in writing let alone out loud, but here it goes.

I’m going to get married someday. I’m going to meet someone that I can love and share my life with, regardless of how much work it might be, regardless of what I thought in the past. Love has always eluded me, or love has disappeared or it doesn’t reciprocate, or it changes form, or sometimes, I just fuck it up because I’m scared. But I’m not scared anymore. I know that there’s someone out there who is the perfect match for me, and I’ll meet her one day, but to be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if I’ve already met her.

In the year since the last wedding we attended, Tasha and I have remained good friends, but we don’t live together anymore. We’re still working on selling the show and we have a pretty big meeting coming up next week with a pretty big manager who has the power to take our show to the next level. I mean like network next level, not some crappy start up cable bullshit like before. It’s our third meeting with him since October of last year, so maybe this is it.

In the meantime, I wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time over the last few weeks to read this blog. With the exception of the proverbial lawsuit that never happened, people have told me they really enjoyed it, and I wanted to extend my regards to everyone who has commented, texted, shared, or retweeted it. I truly appreciate it, and a special thanks to all my friends who let me use their first and sometimes last names in the process.

In the very first entry of this blog, I wrote:

“as I’ve gotten older I keep getting these save the date cards in the mail and I keep watching my best friends get married and I keep attending these weddings with the same woman that I haven’t dated since 2009.”

So, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that there is one more save the date, one more best friend, and one more wedding we have left to attend……

Gary Des

(to be continued…)

See you in a month.

Next Wedding:  Late July 2015

Follow on Twitter @CMarc333

Jason & Efia (Part 1)

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It’s the 18th of October, 2012. Tasha and I are sitting in our rental car, pulled over to the side of the road just across the border between Georgia and Florida. It’s about 8pm, the sun set a few hours ago, but there were these bright flashing red and blue lights in my rear view mirror that I couldn’t ignore anymore. Why? Because they were beaming from a police cruiser who had just stopped me for speeding less than twenty miles away from our planned arrival at the Hilton Garden Inn in Tallahassee Florida to celebrate the wedding of our friends Jason and Efia.

“Here you go.” The man said as he hands me the ticket.

“Thanks officer.” I say regrettably.

I wonder why I said that.  Why would I thank the officer for just putting me $225 into debt, which ironically was almost the exact amount I saved on our plane tickets by having us fly into Atlanta instead of Tallahassee? Some times you make decisions in life with the idea of saving money, and sometimes it backfires while you’re driving down a single lane highway in the backwoods of the south, trying to make up for lost time by going slightly above the speed limit. This is how the wedding weekend started off for us, but that would be just one of a few minor hiccups along the way. It could only get better form here, right?

I’ve known Jason since I was a sophomore in high school, but neither me nor any of our friends actually call him Jason. His nickname since his freshman year at Cherokee High School has been “P-Nut.” He got this nickname from that one time when he shaved his head and someone remarked at how closely he resembled the shape of an actual peanut. The name stuck, and to his credit he really embraced it. He even went so far as to wear a necklace with a gold nameplate charm attached that had “P (diamond) Nut” on it back in the 90s when Z-Cavaricci was cool, and sweater vests over turtlenecks were all the rage. I can’t blame him for that. In fact, I was kind of jealous because if I could have had a nickname stick that was cool and didn’t offend me, I would have done it too. But let’s be honest, who wants to spend $120 to get a gold charm with the moniker “Chris Da’ Lips” on it? Certainly not me.

People were pretty hard on P-Nut back in the day, myself included. I mean, we all used to bust on each other, but I met the kid in Concert Choir so I couldn’t bust on him for that. It’s just that teenage dudes break each other’s balls a lot. It’s a rite of passage to be made fun of by your best friends at your most awkward and graceless phase of adolescence. Nowadays, if you were to post some of the stuff we used to say about each other on the internet, it would be considered “cyber bullying.” I swear, America is turning into a country full of overly sensitive, self-righteous idiots and pussies, but that’s just my opinion.

Out of all of us, P-Nut took it on the chin more than anyone else. However, regardless of how many tasteless jokes I made at his expense, P-Nut grew up to be one of the most loyal and selfless friends I have. When Chad and I got locked out of our car (for a second time) in the parking lot of the EDC festival in San Bernadino, P-Nut was the guy that drove all the way from Los Angeles at 3 in the morning to pick us up and bring us back home.  A year later, when my ex girlfriend dumped me in a public restaurant right before Thanksgiving and I was balling my eyes out, it was P-Nut who gave me a hug and told me everything was going to be ok. He’s always been there for me when I needed him, and regardless of all the shit I put him through, I’m the lucky one because he remains as one of my best friends ever. With the exception of killing someone, I would do anything for him. In fact, I might kill someone if I knew I would get away with it, but I don’t think P-Nut has enemies like that. I’m grateful for having someone like him in my life now, and even though this trip started out with a five hour drive through the backwoods of the south and a speeding ticket, I was really happy to be able to be a groomsman at his wedding and be part of what I hoped would be the most happy day of his life. At around 9:15 pm EST, Tasha and I pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, got our room and went to bed.

The next morning, everyone started to arrive for the wedding. The rehearsal dinner was later that night, but today all the groomsmen still had to pick up our tuxedos, go to the wedding rehearsal and make sure that everything went smoothly. All of P-Nut’s best friends were there. Rounding out the groomsmen were me, Parr, Gary and Chad who was not only in the wedding party, but also the wedding aficionado, or minister of ceremonies. I’m not sure what the official title is, but I thought it was pretty cool that Chad, one of Nut’s best friends was marrying P-Nut and Efia. There was Shaun, who is Parr’s younger brother and who also lived out in L.A. with me and Nut, and then there was V.J. who was a good friend of P-Nut’s for years who I think lived across the street from him since middle school. Then there was Swift who I didn’t know at all, but he seemed liked a pretty good guy and clearly he was winning the coolest name of the year award. I would imagine in that same competition you would find Swift at the top, and probably reality show sex tape entrepreneur Kim Kardashian and her once talented sell out rapper husband Kanye West’s stupid baby’s name North West in dead last.

Yep, all of P-Nut’s best friends were there to partake in this wonderful day….except for one. Normally, I would just out this person at this point but instead, I’m going to give him a fake name. Why? Well, recently I was subject to a lot of negative criticism for using someone’s first and last name in a past blog post who apparently didn’t like the fact that I wrote about them. That person also sent me a private e-mail where they proceeded to insult me and my blog by calling it a “half-wit-garage-band-wanna-be-Hunter S. Thompsonesque-revisionist-self-exploratory fable about love, liberty and whatever else ‘I thought I was doing’” (I don’t know about “liberty” being a theme in this blog, but I really do like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

This person also pompously stated that they were “kinda famous” and accused me of defamation of character while informing me that they would be taking legal action against me if I didn’t immediately take down the post. In my defense, and according to the opinions of a few of my good friends who read that post and enjoyed it, I didn’t do anything wrong which is exactly why I chose not to take it down. It’s not a crime to say you didn’t like someone back in high school, is it? I didn’t think so. It’s not defamation of character to recall how you used to have a silly nickname for someone, right? Obviously, the real crime here was this person’s inability to recognize a quintessential example of what we call satire. When writing a fictional short story based on actual events, a writer may some times have to exaggerate the circumstances to make it interesting, relative, or funny. So, with all due respect to the person who e-mailed me, GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF.

Anyway, getting back to P-Nut’s groomsmen, and to avoid any threat of being sued in light of the events that took place recently, the fake name I will use for the best friend who was M.I.A. from P-nut’s wedding will be “Boner.” I looked around for Boner, but I didn’t see him anywhere. P-Nut went on to tell me that Boner had some things he had to do and that he just wasn’t able to make it. Ok, I guess I could understand that. I mean, we all get older and get busy with our lives and certain commitments can’t be ignored and sometimes, we have to compromise. It’s just that I always thought that we would be able to make time for our best friends when they get married, especially when you are given three to four months advance notice. It was weird because me, P-Nut, Chad, Gary, and Boner were pretty inseparable for many years, especially early on when no one else had a license except for P-Nut who used to drive us to shows and to the diner, and NEVER asked for gas money, but  I’m positive Boner probably had a huge project he was working on that weekend, and I’m sure he regrettably told P-Nut he wasn’t able to make it because of those reasons, whatever they may have been…… But come to think of it, Boner wasn’t really known for telling the truth a lot back in the day. Oh well, his loss. I just hope out that of respect for his friend, he at least sent P-Nut and Efia a wedding gift.

After all the groomsmen arrived and were accounted for, the girls went to the liquor store to stock up on the booze, while the guys went to Jos. A. Bank to pick up our tuxedos. There we were all trying on our outfits in the dressing room together. (Well, not “together” more like all together in separate dressing rooms )  Mine fit pretty well. The pants were a little baggy, but apparently the M.C. Hammer drop crotch style was one P-Nut was going for. Plus, in retrospect I was a little fat at this wedding so I appreciated the extra room. Parr’s fit good, Chad’s was alright, but that’s where all the satisfaction with the tuxedos ended. Swift didn’t have pants with his tux, V.J.’s vest wasn’t even big enough to button across his chest, Gary was missing a key element and Shaun’s tuxedo was missing in action. We had all been fitted months ago and paid for the rentals at the same time, so I don’t understand how on earth a big company like Jos. A Bank could fuck this up so bad. Should have gone to Men’s Warehouse.

Needless to say, P-Nut started stressing out and needed a drink to calm him down. Only thing is, P-Nut doesn’t drink alcohol, so after some of us got our tuxedos and some of us didn’t, we all headed to a bar around the corner to have some beers, some apps, and calm our friend down as we tried to ease his pain through what we hoped would be a successful alcoholic contact high. The look on P-Nut’s face made me think otherwise. I get it, he wanted everything to go smoothly and who doesn’t want that on their wedding day? I could only hope that the rehearsal and dinner would be stress and drama free for all of us, but more importantly, for P-Nut’s sake.

We got back to the hotel and chilled by the pool for a bit while we told our sorted story about the amazingly horrendous customer service and incomplete tuxedos to our ladies. There was Chad and Mary, Parr and Nicola, Gary and Desiree and me and Tasha. Our friend Dave was there too, but unfortunately his wife Gwen couldn’t make it. It was at this point that the ladies pulled out the following: an enormous gallon jug of Stoli vodka, a bottle of whipped cream flavored vodka, a liter of Jack Daniels, a case of beer, and various mixers including tonic, diet coke and red bull that they picked up from the store while we were out getting our tuxes.

“Who the hell is gonna drink all of that?” I asked.

“We are!” Mary said with a huge smile on her face.

It appeared the girls had started pre gaming quite early that afternoon, but little did they know that we would be still be drinking late into the night after the rehearsal dinner until one of us couldn’t drink anymore.

We all piled into our cars to made our way over to the Golden Eagle Country Club in Tallahassee for the rehearsal. I got to say, out of all the weddings I have been to, P-Nut and Efia win the award for the most beautiful, gorgeous, and therefore “best” location ever. I will probably put up a separate post when this blog is completed with the top ten categories and the winners of each, but man, when you have a large open grassy field that is adorned by swooping trees and decorated with a make-shift alter and carefully placed white chairs and rose petals in sunny Florida, with perfect weather next to a flowing stream as you say “I do” to the love of your life, how can anyone compete with that?

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We spent the next hour at this stunning location, with P-Nut and Efia’s friends and family, and our semi-buzzed lady dates, all while being carefully directed and scrutinized by the woman of the hour, the wedding planner. Planning a wedding is something no one really wants to do. It’s a huge task to make sure everything goes right, the location is perfectly set-up, and nothing is left to chance so that is why you hire someone to take care of all that. I’ll say this about the wedding planner… she may have been strict, but overall she did a really great job with everything especially because part of her job that evening was to show the bridesmaids and the groomsmen where to walk, where to stand, and of course, when to shut up. It may or may not be true that at some point during the rehearsal one or two of us groomsmen were not really paying attention and perhaps got yelled at for sneaking in a beer, not listening when we were supposed to, and just basically being a royal pain in her ass. However, after forty five minutes of rehearsal, and after one uncomfortable moment when I might have snickered to myself while one of my friends was getting scolded at by the wedding planner, we were released into the wild to convene at a place called Food Glorious Food for dinner. You can check out part of the special menu below.

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We couldn’t be seated until the Groom arrived, but Nut was nowhere to be found for awhile. Then he finally showed up with the dreadful news that he had locked the keys in Efia’s mom’s car and had to wait for AAA to arrive to either jimmy open the door, or open it using a spare key.  I don’t pretend to know what method they use, but when a frantic Nut arrived at the restaurant, we finally, we got our table, and we did what most people do immediately when they sit down to a rehearsal dinner, we put our drink orders in.  Then we waited, and waited, and waited some more for the drinks to arrive. The waitress did come back ten minutes later to take our food order, but she didn’t have any beers, cocktails or wine in her hands.  I mean, rule number one at rehearsal dinners is simple: don’t deprive the alcoholics of alcohol.

Eventually, drinks arrived and we made the smart decision to order another round  as soon as they did and BEFORE the food came out.  In true form, the food was glorious, the drinks were flowing, and after we were all done with dinner, I decided to stir up some shit.

One of the jokes my friends and I constantly make to each other is to poke fun at the heritage we were born into. For example, Parr and Shaun are Irish, and me and Dave are Italian. So I am naturally subject to many friendly insults that may include the names, “dego” “wop” “guinea” or the classic term “Pasta eating, sweaty olive oil loving hairy greaseball Italian.” I take it with a grain of salt because I love my friends, and I know it comes from a place of respect and no one’s feelings really get hurt. That night however, Parr and Shaun were beating up on me and Dave pretty bad, so I pulled in some reinforcements.

There were a few little ones running around the restaurant that night. They were sons of P-Nut’s sister Tina, and Efia’s sister Heidi. I had known Tina since high school because we were in the same homeroom since freshman year, and her son Ryan and Heidi’s son Barron were coming over to me and Dave and asking questions and talking and just acting like inquisitive little kids. Then, Dave and I had an idea of how to get back at Parr and Shaun for ragging on my Italian background. Here’s what I said to them.

I’ll pay you a dollar, to go over to those two guys over there, pretend to pose for a picture and when I say so, start saying “dirty mick” over and over again. Can you do that for me?”

“Give me the dollar!” Barron said.

And with that, I shelled out two bucks and sat back to watch this onslaught of insults unfold. They took my offering, went over to where Parr and Shaun were sitting, pretended to pose for a picture and then proceeded to insult my Irish friends over and over again. You can see the video here.

Just a little harmless fun between friends right? I mean, I hope neither one of the kids grow up to be prejudice against Irish people, but if they do, now we all know the catalyst that started it all. After dinner, the parents went back to the hotel to relax, and the kids (meaning us) headed to a bar in town where our friend Lisa from NJ just happened to be working. I thought it was kind of ironic that out of all the cities in America for P-Nut to have his wedding, it just happened to be the same city in which Me, Parr, Gary and Shaun knew one of the bartenders from way back in the day. The name of the bar eludes me right now, but it was near the FSU campus so the place was packed with college kids dancing and binge drinking with those red solo cups in their hands. We all did a shot to celebrate our friends marriage, and we then spent the next hour or so drinking and talking and taking pictures, and just having an all around good time.

Not since Chad’s wedding had all of my best friends and I been together. I was happy to be there with everyone and I was even impressed that P-Nut made his way out to the bar even though he didn’t drink alcohol considering tomorrow was his big day. I thought about how the trip started out with me and Tasha being pulled over and getting a speeding ticket. None of that seemed to matter at all. I don’t even think I told anyone about that until right now. You know, I’ve realized that as I’ve gotten older I’ve looked forward to moments like these with my friends. We had been there for each other for half our lives, and there wasn’t a memory from high school or the years after that didn’t include one or all of the people in this room.

I had sat with Gary in Olga’s diner for years drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes while playing gin rummy. I used to cut school with Parr and go to Denny’s for breakfast then drive to New York just for the hell of it. We all used to congregate in Dave’s basement on summer nights playing NHL ‘94 on his Super Nintendo, or you could find us hanging at Chad’s house till 3 in the morning eating Doritos and drinking all of his soda and Snapple. I used to buy Shaun and his friends alcohol when they were underage, and P-Nut and I drove down to Disney World four days after I came back from my senior trip to Disney World just because we could. I don’t have one memory of my high school days without these guys, and even if I could remember one, I probably didn’t have as good a time as if I was with them. I am proud to know them and I am glad to know they all have found a lady to compliment them.

Chad and Mary are a perfect couple and had married two years back at an epic celebration. Gary and Desiree are a perfect match for each other and I would think eventually will get married soon, and P-Nut had found a perfectly sweet and beautiful girl in Efia and he did the right thing by asking her to marry him. Parr had finally found the perfect Italian woman to compliment his Irish personality, but at the moment none of us knew where Nicola was. And then there was me an Tasha, the perfect anomaly of the group.

Speaking of whom, a few minutes later I saw my ex-girlfriend/multiple wedding date and partner in crime come up to me with a concerned look on her face.

“What’s wrong? Where’s Nicola?” I asked her.

“I’ve been in the bathroom with her and Destiny.” Tasha stated.

You mean Desiree?” I said.

Right, Desiree. Anyway, Destiny and I think Nicola might have had a little too much to drink.” She said.

“How so?” I asked.

“She looked a little sick, so we took her to the bathroom and then she proceeded to tell us how much she loved Parr and how she was going to have his babies one day.” Tasha said.

“That was sweet.” I replied.

Yeah, but then she puked in the trash can” Tasha said.

I don’t think we were going to make last call. It was time to leave the bar, go back to the hotel, and get some sleep.

Part 2: June 3rd, 2015

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

CJ & Shauna

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2012 was a weird year. For the most part, things were getting financially tight for me and Tasha, the world was supposed to end sometime in December thanks to Nostradamus and the end of the Mayan calendar, and Tasha and I had TWO weddings to attend this year within two months of each other. The first was another quickie California wedding for my friend and former boss, CJ and his fiancee Shauna. The second was for one of my best friend’s from high school, P-Nut and his long time girlfriend Efia,  however THAT wedding was going to be taking place in Florida and two months later so I will get to that one next week.

I met CJ a long time ago when I was working at the Grill on Hollywood. He was the manager of a place called Koji’s which was next to the Grill where we all used to drink after work, and not really pay for our drinks. After a year or so, I noticed CJ stopped coming in to the Grill so I just assumed he didn’t work there anymore. Two years later, I had quit the Grill and I started bartending at the Wiltern Theater on Wilshire and Western. When I got there, there was an “interim” manager, meaning they hadn’t hired anyone permanent to run the bar yet. Then low and behold, one day during my second shift while I was stocking the ice at one of the bars, I turn around to greet the “new” bar manager and as some strange stroke of ironic luck would have it, I see CJ staring back at me.

Christopher John and I worked at the Wiltern for about two years. He was the manager and I was his bartender/assistant manager/right hand man/party boy. CJ and I ran the bar, and got away with a lot of shit. To protect my privacy and CJ’s, I won’t go into details about some of the crazy nights we used to have, but let’s just say when you’re coming home at 5am on a Wednesday night after working since 5pm, you start to realize that this lifestyle can’t go on forever. In November of 2008, CJ was relieved of his duties at the Wiltern, and about three months later, I was taken off the schedule as well. Guilt by association.

Regardless, that was four years ago, and CJ and I had both cleaned up our act, moved to different parts of southern California, but had also remained friends. He was working in finance, living in Orange County with his beautiful fiancee and her son, (that’s right) and I was still living in Hollywood, sometimes working commercials and hanging out with my best friend/ girl I broke up with almost three years ago. Nobody else from the Wiltern days was invited to CJ’s wedding that afternoon in August, so I felt kind of honored that I made the cut. Then, when Tasha and I pulled into the venue in Orange County where the wedding and reception were being held, something dawned on me. We didn’t know one fucking person at this wedding OTHER than the Bride, the Groom. We had been invited to the engagement party a few months earlier and met some people but I didn’t really remember anyone’s name, or what they do, or what their relation was to the Bride and Groom.

“We’re gonna go in there, get a good seat, have some drinks and dinner, maybe some cake, and then split ok?” I said to Tasha

“Yeah sure. I hope they have good food. I’m starving.” She said.

“Me too” I replied.

All we wanted that afternoon was to see two people who really loved each other get married from a good perspective without the sun blazing in our eyes, have a few drinks, some food, maybe dance a little bit, and then drive home because that’s what you do at a quickie California wedding. Not to mention the part that we didn’t know anyone, plus neither of us were really in the mood to drink a lot thanks to the two and a half hour drive down on a Saturday afternoon in major traffic on the I-5 where we must have passed six or seven cops who had recently pulled over some sketchy characters. I wanted to pay my respects to my friend, but Tasha and I were pretty broke at this point, and we couldn’t really afford to get them a great wedding gift, or pay for a hotel if we happen to get a little too drunk that night. What a difference a year makes.

The ceremony took place outside at a Country Club adjacent to a golf course in Orange County, so occasionally we would spot people driving past the ceremony in golf carts. Seemed kind of weird and intrusive to me, but what do I know? I guess CJ and Shauna didn’t mind, or maybe they really enjoyed golf and wanted to incorporate the sport into their wedding. There were about 150 guests there, and Tasha and I took a seat at the end of the aisle next to one of the three foot glass cylinder vases filled with water and submerged flowers. I got to say, I was pretty impressed with whomever came up with that design, and to compliment that, scattered up and down the aisle were white and yellow rose petals. I gotta give CJ and Shauna an A for visual stimulation. No other wedding to this point had such a simple, and clean floral design. It was enough to make me take some pictures of it.

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We chose the groom’s side, since we were more familiar with the Groom than with the Bride. I never really understood the whole picking sides thing at weddings. I mean, you’re there to celebrate the union of two people, so why do we have to pick sides like we’re in some gang war?  It never made sense to me, and I feel like this aspect of weddings should totally just be abolished. Anyway, The ceremony started as CJ and his groomsman walked out to the song “The Imperial March” from Star Wars. You, that music they play whenever Darth Vader enters the frame? Ominous indeed, but still kind of comical. Good to know CJ had a sense of humor about all of this. Then Shauna came out arm in arm with her Dad, perfectly tanned and smiling ear to ear as her eyes met her soon to be husband. Then, Shauna’s little boy came up and joined them at the makeshift alter as they all took part in a very odd tradition that I have never seen at a wedding before.

They each grabbed a handful of sand from a dish, and simultaneously poured it into a vase signifying the union of these three souls together as a family. I remember turning to Tasha and giving her a strange look, but I mean who am I to question what acts of love and partnership they choose to do on their wedding day? It’s THEIR day and even though I had never even heard of such a random act as pouring fistfuls of sand into a bowl together as a family, maybe this was their way of being able to include Shauna’s son into the ceremony. This was the beginning of a new life for Shauna and CJ, but it was also the beginning of a new life for all three of them. I guess the phrase “Like the sands of the hour glass, so are the day of our lives” really comes into play here.

The minister then started reciting the vows for the Bride and Groom.

Chris, do you take this woman to have and to hold, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health….”

Hold the phone a minute, I thought to myself. Who the fuck is “Chris?” And then it dawned on me.  Even though I’ve always know him as “CJ” from when he lived in L.A., all of his friends and family in Orange County call him Chris, which technically is his given name.  Personally, I can totally relate to that because before I moved to Seattle in 2000, I was also known to all my friends and family as “Chris.” When I got a job at an Olive Garden in Lynnwood, there was already another server named Chris who worked there, so the manager asked me if I preferred to be called Christian to differentiate between the two of us. I kind of liked it.  It kind of gave me a new identity, even though technically it was my full first name. In the past, I always associated being called Christian with doing something bad, because when I was younger, it usually was screamed at me in a state of anger and frustration by my Mom when she caught me doing something I shouldn’t have been doing. In fact, she would yell “Christian Marc” at me which was my first and middle name and also exactly what I changed my legal name to back in 2002 when I finally got sick and tired of my having a horrendously misspelled and mispronounced last name follow me around since I was six years old when I knowingly signed up to have my step-father adopt me and took his last name so we could all be a family. The Komuves family. I mean, what the fuck kind of last name is “Komuves” anyway?

So when “Christian” was born in Lynnwood Washington in July of 2000, I just rolled with it and now everyone I know who I’ve met the past 15 years knows me as Christian. Of course, when I go back home to NJ for vacations, weddings, or most recently when I had a court date, (and no I will not elaborate on that) all my friends still call me Chris. But that’s fine. It’s not like I don’t answer to it and besides, that’s how they remember me. What am I going to do, force someone to call me Christian who has only known me by Chris for the past 24 years? Gotta pick your battles in life, and that’s just one that isn’t worth it.

Meanwhile, CJ and Shauna had said their lovely vows to each other and were announced as husband and wife. Every one in the wedding party processed down the aisle and into the back where I assume they all were forced to go to take a multitude of pictures, while the rest of us guests were ushered to the other side of the reception hall for cocktail hour. I chose to “take it easy” that night and just drink wine. I wasn’t really feeling the traditional dirty Ketel martini, so I got Tasha and I two glasses of chardonnay and we sat by ourselves at a table and looked around at all the people we didn’t know and in an observatory way, pretty much just started talking about them.

There were these two guys who seemed out of place at the wedding. (or right at home depending on how you look at it.) It was weird because they were dressed EXACTLY alike, as if they coordinated together before they came. Their outfits consisted of tucked in pastel colored button down shirts, white pants with black belts and flip-flops. Fucking flip-flops?!?!

Can I just go off on flip-flops for a second? Why do men INSIST on “dumbing down” their outfits by wearing a horrid, pathetic excuse for shoes? First of all, it’s not safe to have absolutely no cover over your feet at a wedding just in case someone drops a glass, or a beer bottle breaks near you. Second of all, it doesn’t make sense to pair a $60 Calvin Klein shirt and a $85 pair of Tommy Bahama pants with a $5 pair of flip flops. Third and most importantly, NO ONE WANTS TO SEE YOUR UGLY FUCKING FEET!!!!

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I hate feet, but I tolerate them. Women wearing stylish sandals to a wedding is one thing. Dudes wearing cheap Old Navy flip-flops with their unkempt toenails and gross feet sticking out is enough to make me vomit. It totally takes me out of the moment of life, and BY THE WAY, wearing a $3000 watch like this dude did in that picture DOES NOT make up for the fact that you put absolutely no thought into your shoes! Oh, but you think they’re comfortable? Ha! Tell me how comfortable it is in ten years when you’re at your podiatrist wondering why your feet hurt and he tells you that you have to get an operation because you’ve basically been walking around barefoot with no arch support for half your life. Look dudes ages 25-45 who should know better…the only place you should wear flip-flops is at the beach, or at a pool, and guess what? We’re not at either one of those venues right now. Put on some god damn shoes.

I was able to ignore the Jimmy Buffet twins for a few minutes and mentioned to Tasha that I was really really hungry and we should focus on the important part of cocktail hour, the food. Speaking of which, where was the food? Twice I think I saw a server or two walk by with some mini crab cakes and chicken satay sticks, but there wasn’t an area where food was openly laid out for guest consumption. I was starving, and Tasha was starving and this second glass of wine was hitting our empty stomachs pretty hard and I just kept wondering, with all these guests and golf carts riding around in the background, where’s all the fucking food? Pretty soon, it was time for the announcement of the new Bride and Groom. We found our place card, and went inside, stomachs empty to cheer and greet the new couple.

And now, Mr. & Mrs. Christopher XXXXXXXXX!” The Emcee cheered into the microphone

As CJ and Shauna made their way onto the dance floor, everyone was clapping and hooting and hollering. The announcement of the wedding party and the Bride and the Groom reminds me of a pep rally from high school. You know, when you’re all assembled in the gymnasium and it’s homecoming week and the football team is announced and all the cheerleaders are like “BE-AGGRESSIVE! BE-E-AGGRESSIVE!” It’s kind of fun, and cool, but what I was really looking forward to was the part of the night where we could order our meal and eat. Did I mention I was starving?

Our menus were in front of us and we had three choices. Chicken, Fish, or the “Surf & Turf” Oooh, that last one sounded awesome so of course both Tasha and I opted for the latter with a salad. As I reached for one of the 6 rolls on the table of 8 guests, I noticed the other couples looking at us a little strangely.

“You guys aren’t from around here, huh?” The one dude said with a smile.

Not from around here? I mean, technically he is right considering we were from about forty-five minutes north of “here,” but it’s not like we’re in the Old West in the late 1800’s dressed in a life preserver like Marty McFly in Back to the Future, while everyone else is dressed like they just stepped out of a Clint Eastwood film. However, Tasha and I have a natural way of standing out in a crowd so I could understand the reasoning behind what he meant.

“We’re from Hollywood.” Tasha said.

“I knew it!” You guys look like you should be on TV. Or brother and sister. Hahahaha” He laughed

Great, the brother and sister comment. Is that supposed to funny, or is that supposed to be a lame attempt at an incest joke? It’s kind of weird to hear that joke when you’re sitting next to someone who really does really kind of look similar to you, but then you remember that you’ve had sex with them so the whole idea of the sibling angle kind of creeps you out.

“Not related but we’ve been on TV for a minute.” I said.

“Yup.” The gentleman exclaimed. “How do you know Chris?”

Who’s Chris? (Oh right, CJ) Here’s where I had to edit part of my back story with CJ because I didn’t want to come out and say oh I know Chris from his party days in L.A. cause I knew there would be more questions as this guy and his wife seemed to be infatuated with drilling me and Tasha all night. Not in a bad way, but in that way where you feel like these people will talk to you all night, and then recall to their friends later about that time they went to a friend’s wedding and sat at a table with these two Hollywood types that they could have sworn were related somehow. He was a nice guy, but the food couldn’t have come at a better time. The server put my plate down in front of me, and my eyes widened as I looked down at what I thought was going to be a plate with an enormous amount of surf and some well endowed turf on it. Then, reality set in.

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Look, I’m not trying to be a dick because I know that food and drink costs a lot of money at weddings, but let’s be honest…. that is NOT a lot of food at all. There’s three thinly sliced shrimp, two “knuckles” of steak, and some asparagus stalks held together by a circle of cucumber. The flowers were a nice touch, but news flash: I can’t eat flowers. I smiled at Tasha as her plate was delivered and with my teeth clenched I leaned over to her and asked

“Is this it?”

I think so.” She replied.

So with that, we dug into our “California sized” meal and I finished the whole plate in under five minutes. It was really good…for an appetizer.

“Can I order another one of these?” I asked the server.

“Sorry, we only have enough food for as many guests as there are.” she replied.

I was kind of half kidding, but that didn’t stop our new friend across the table from offering up his plate to me. I smiled, and then declined. Yes, I was still hungry, but I have a policy of not eating food from someone else’s plate unless I have known them for a long time or if it’s football Sunday at the bar and I claim the “community side” rule which is when one of my friends orders a sandwich or breakfast burrito and I believe it necessary to steal a handful of tater tots or french fries.

As the light from outside started to dim, and the cake came out, I watched my friend Chris…I mean “CJ” get his face stuffed with a handful of icing, while standing there with his new wife and son. It made me really glad to see him so elated on his special day, because I remember all the years when we worked together that I could tell he wasn’t very happy. I had to reflect on the moment for a minute because when I knew CJ, he was single, and living the party boy life in Hollywood, and even though he acted like everything was cool, I could tell back then that perhaps I was seeing him at the loneliest point.  He hated his job, and he had a few girlfriends here and there, but none of them were anything of a high quality woman that ever swept him off his feet.

It wasn’t until he left the Wiltern, moved back down to Orange County, got his shit together, and somehow was lucky enough to meet Shauna at a boutique store while he was shopping for a present for his mom’s birthday that it all clicked for him. Sometimes that’s how it happens. I remember seeing him a few months after he told me he was getting engaged and how he was really positive about these changes he had made in the past few years, and how stress-free his life had become and I found it really interesting that his hair grew back after he had lost most of it while working up in L.A. Stress is a really strange and odd animal that can alter and overtake parts of our body without us even knowing it. It made me happy to see him happy. When it comes to friendships, isn’t happiness all we really want for each other?

As Tasha and I sat in my car in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr. off the 5 freeway eating a burger and french fries, we talked about the wedding and how for the first time, we were the odd couple. I remarked at how gorgeous the ceremony was, even if I didn’t understand certain parts of it. Then Tasha got really quiet and I could sense something was wrong. The two of us had been working together on a new web series the last few months, with our end goal to eventually make it into a Television show, and things were starting to make sense, and we both believed that this idea was going to be our ticket out of stress and poverty, and into the world of legitimate career success and financial freedom, but we weren’t really close to that just yet.

“I’m not going to be able to make my rent payment next month.” She said to me with despair.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I can’t afford my apartment, my bills are piling up, and I can’t write anything new because I’m stressed about money.” She stated.

I may not have said it before to her, but I knew all too well exactly what she was going through.

Yeah, me neither.” I said as I took a sip from my diet coke and then squirted some more ketchup on my fries.

“What are we going to do?” She asked.

And that’s when it hit me. There was only one thing we could do to combat this current state of affairs and it involved putting an end to our financial woes by cutting the knot on the noose that is closest to our necks. The only thing that made sense that would at least absolve us both from having to worry about money for a short time was if we pooled our resources, left our pride and privacy behind, and Tasha moved her  queen sized bed and all of her belongings into my one bedroom apartment so the two of us could split all the bills and at least give ourselves a fighting chance to breathe for a while while we try to figure out what happens next. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but it was the only option that made sense.

“So, when do you want to move in?” I asked her.

Next Wedding May 27th, 2015

Follow on Twitter @CMarc333

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

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Rob & Allison

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It was July 23rd 2011, almost two years after Tasha and I would attend another wedding and things were definitely different this time. For starters, we had broken up for good at the end of 2009, and I had moved from my no parking, postage stamp size of a studio apartment in Los Feliz,  to what was a much bigger one bedroom “mansion” in my mind, with two parking spots, a pool, and a closet that takes up one entire wall of the bedroom. Tasha had moved into her own apartment not that far from mine around the corner, across the freeway off of Gordon street & Sunset Blvd. We lived about five blocks from each other, so even though we weren’t a couple and weren’t living together anymore, we were still friends who saw each other on a regular basis and apparently, always went to weddings together.

Look, she’s a great date to these events because she’s cool, she drinks, she dances, and she doesn’t make too much of a fool of herself because that role is usually reserved for me. However, because this was another “work based” wedding and I didn’t want to make an ass of myself in front of anymore people, I was definitely on my best behavior. There was to be no excess alcohol consumption, no pot smoking, no sweaty dancing, and to my knowledge, there were no prescription drugs being consumed that day. Personally, I don’t get the whole prescription drug things anyway, and the LAST place I was going to indulge in any sort of illicit activity was a wedding where many of the guests were people who had the power to hire me in the entertainment industry. Let me explain…..

At this point in my life, I hadn’t had to work a “regular” job for the last two years. I had a few national commercials running that were keeping me in good spirits, and my bank account well above the danger zone. (Thank you Miller Lite) It’s amazing how in the commercial world, you can work one or two days, and somehow make enough money to live off of for the next six or seven months. However, it’s not like everyone at this wedding was doing as well as me. The fact is, most of them were doing A LOT better.

I met Rob and Allison through Tasha, who met them through the cut throat and competitive world of commercial background acting. For those of you who don’t know what “CBA” is, just watch any television commercial and instead of looking at the people in focus, pay attention to the people OUT of focus who you don’t really pay attention to in the first place. Those are commercial background actors, and there are a select handful of people out here that make a very good living off of it. I’m not one of them anymore, but for a short time between the years of 2010 and 2012, I did have some moderate success being booked for work on a few dozen commercial background jobs, which can be extremely lucrative depending on the amount of days you work, the amount of spots that are being filmed, and of course, the amount of hours that you spend on set where you are pretty much not really “working” at all. Sometimes, if you were like me, extremely lucky and in the right place at the right time, you may be able to parlay that $342 background day player rate you get for walking back and forth on the streets of DTLA for three hours (and spending the other 5 hours reading, sitting or grazing from the craft service table) into an on camera principle role, otherwise known as an “OCP,” otherwise known as an upgrade, or in layman’s terms, the people in commercials who say things, are in focus, and make a lot more money.

The qualifications for this job are pretty simple. You need to be in the union, somewhat good looking or “charactery”, always on time, dependable, and of course a HUGE kisser of people’s asses who book the talent for the commercial. It’s all about who you know, who they know, but most importantly, who knows you. I’m not going to go into too much more detail about the backstory, but let’s just say that during Rob and Allison’s wedding, I literally looked around and thought to myself….If I needed to cast a scene at a wedding for an insurance company commercial that took place at a southern California ranch, outside in the middle of July and the specifications for talent were good looking 25-45 year old caucasian and ethnically ambiguous males and females, I would have cast everyone on the guest list at Rob and Allison’s wedding.

This was a quickie wedding for me and Tasha, meaning that we got dressed, drove to the wedding, attended the beautiful ceremony and reception, had a few drinks, some food, danced for an hour or so, and then drove home later that night. There was no staying over in a hotel, no pre-gaming the night before, and no drama ensued that fueled me to write a blog entry about something that “may or may not” have happened which “may or may not” have caused some people who attended the wedding a little discomfort when reading about it six years later (and threatening to sue me over it.) Rob and Ally’s wedding was all business, beautiful people, and love. One might even say that it was the perfect “California wedding.”

What’s a California wedding you ask? Well for one thing, they are always held outside because the weather here is gorgeous. The guests are usually in the entertainment industry, or work relatively close to the industry and there are some light “healthy” appetizers served with some local wine and beer before the dinner. Speaking of the dinner, when it comes to that point in the night you either have a “buffet style” spread with a few choice meats and vegetables and salads, or you get a menu with your choice of multiple proteins, soup and salad, then finally a light yogurt or fruit based dessert. There are not a lot of potatoes or cheese related items and one more thing…. ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING BREAD!!! None.  Why would you want carbohydrates at your California wedding? Carbs are NOT cool out here. Personally, I disagree because I LOVE carbohydrates, so when and if I get married, you better believe there will be bowls of Goldfish crackers all over the venue, and different types of garlic, focaccia, and pumpernickel bread with multiple french rolls on the tables next to a plate full of salted pads of real butter. I’m from the East coast so I’m going to get my guests fat, and give them something to soak up the alcohol.

Regardless, Rob and Allison had the perfect wedding. Weather? Perfect. Wine? Perfect. Ratio of attractive men to attractive women? Perfect. Even the sunset which I KNOW they couldn’t have planned out, was fucking perfect. They were even fortunate enough to have won a wedding package by Choura Events that year, a very highly regarded event planning company in SoCal so you know, everything turned out perfect.

Even though the traffic in L.A. sucks on a Saturday (and every day before and after Saturday) Tasha and I arrived somewhat on time and said hello to some of the guests we knew, before quickly grabbing two seats in a row with the least amount of sun blazing in our faces. It was really hot that afternoon, and for some reason, Tasha and I both chose to leave our sunglasses in the car which was about 200 yards away from where the wedding was happening. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go back and grab them before the wedding started, so while we sat in the gorgeously decorated backyard park at the at the Grapevine Arbor in San Gabriel, and watched two of our friends who were definitely meant to be together forever exchange their vows and enter into holy matrimony, we had to simultaneously shield our faces with from the UV rays of the sun using our wedding programs. Luckily, by the time the newly betrothed couple said “I do” the sun had moved behind the largest tree and the stone wall which secluded the wedding guests, and shielded us from any more exposure to excessive and unnecessary vitamin D.

After we watched two of the most good looking people I’ve ever met get married, I headed straight to the bar for two glasses of wine for me and Tasha. It was then that someone snapped the legendary picture above of the two of us, where Tasha looks beautiful in her yellow spring dress, and I look dapper in my blue button down, black vest, and the tie that I got earlier that morning at the Ross around the corner from my apartment which coincidentally matched Tasha’s outfit. It’s not the first time she showed up at my house wearing similar colors as I was wearing, and it wasn’t like we coordinated our outfits the night before. But I guess when you know someone long enough you start to have similar thoughts, likes, and matching choices of wardrobe. It wouldn’t be the last time that this happened either. In fact, it happened just last week.

I was so glad that I got my wine first because after about three minutes of sampling some appetizers, I saw that the line to the bar, (yes, just one bar) was about 45 people long. Then I noticed something completely out of place at this wedding. On the table of apps next to all the healthy choices was a salami and cheese plate, and a basket overflowing with an assortment of crackers and breads. Holy shit, this is what I had been waiting for.

Christian! Don’t fill up on cheese and bread.” Tasha said to me.

I guess to some extent, she was right. I didn’t want to gorge myself on delectable, silky smooth cheeses and crispy stoned wheat crackers when there was a buffet lurking in the distance. I could see them setting it up, but I was unaware of what exactly was going to be on the menu. In fact, no one knew. This was one the first weddings I went to where I didn’t have first hand knowledge ahead of time of what I was going to be eating for dinner, and believe it or not, I was ok with that. Seeing as how everything else at Rob and Ally’s wedding was planned out and perfect, I appreciated this one subtle element of surprise. It was also a surprise that I was slowly and carefully sipping my chardonnay during cocktail hour. This was a new concept to me, that concept being to have the ability to pace myself and not totally over do it with the ingestion of free alcoholic spirits and appetizers. Also, I never really liked drinking white wine until this wedding. There was something crisp and refreshing about drinking an ice cold glass of fermented white grape juice in the middle of the San Gabriel Valley on a very beautiful and warm day in July. Currently it is gloomy and cold in Los Angeles as I write this, but I get the feeling that I would still somehow benefit from a cold glass of wine right now. I’ll be right back….

Before cocktail hour ended and we were seated at our respective tables, I snapped a few pictures with the lovely ladies and gentleman I was conversing with. Looking back at these pictures, I could tell it was a little warm that afternoon because in some of them it is clear to me, and no surprise to my readers that I was sweating a little bit. The chard was helping to cool me off, but alas, nothing was going to help me look good while I was wearing that terrible mop-top style of hair I had chosen during that time in my life. Sometimes, I look back at old pictures and I wonder to myself, “What the hell was I thinking?” I mean, I love the outfit I chose, the tie, the vest, and the shirt, but what was going on with my hair? Sadly, as you will find out in a future post it wouldn’t be the last time I wore bangs and had a horrible hairdo at a wedding.

Next up on Rob and Ally’s wedding docket was the grabbing of the place card and then proceeding to said table with your date. I haven’t touched on this part of any wedding before, so let me just chime in here for a minute. I know the soon to be Bride and Groom decide who sits where and who sits with who at dinner, however I recently found out through my friends Parr and Nicola who just got married last year, about the horror stories of having to spend hours upon hours trying to place the right people at the right table together.

For instance, you don’t want to sit “Billy” at the same table as “Danny” if Billy used to date Danny’s wife before Danny and his wife got married. You also don’t want to seat “Sharon” next to “Michelle” if Michelle and Sharon used to be friends but because of some ridiculous disagreement back in 2007 they hate each other now and haven’t talked in 8 years. You can’t have all the cool people at one table, and all the degenerates at another, and you definitely cannot put a bunch of known religious God loving Republicans at a table full of atheists and Obama supporters. It just doesn’t work. My heart goes out to the people who are getting married this year who have to deal with this dilemma.

However, nothing like that happened at Rob and Ally’s wedding, or at least not at our table. I went to grab the place card, but it was more like I couldn’t find the place card at first, until Tasha found it, and then we all stood around with our other friends comparing and discussing which table we were at and who we were sitting with, until it was realized that no one we were conversing with at cocktail hour was sitting at our table at all. I guess we were going to have to make new friends.

We were all seated at our corresponding tables waiting to be called to enter the buffet line while the weather was still perfect, the wine was still flowing, and I had been able to dry out a bit from my unlikely bout with excessive perspiration. Tasha and I were at table 16 with our friend Tara and her husband, and a few other people Tasha knew but I didn’t. Kav, our friend from cocktail hour and from working commercials was at table 17, and Amy and Melanie and most other people we knew were seated at other tables in the dining area, in what was an obvious attempt to spread out all the cool people to make sure there were enough to go around.

Ha! I must be at the cool table because I got Chee and David and Fiona sitting with me. Who you got?” Kav said to me from about four feet away.

“I don’t know everyone at my table, but you’re not here so obviously I”M at the cool table.” I said with a smirk.

After a little friendly bickering and arguing, we got in line to get our dinner. This was very reminiscent of when we are all working a commercial and we stand in line in front of the food truck to be fed breakfast at the beginning of the day, and then lunch after six hours of work. Sometimes the job goes long enough to require a “third meal” but they don’t have time to stop to eat and/or the catering trucks are already gone by that point. Here in lies the glory of what we in the commercial acting world call “the meal penalty.” That’s when you get paid “x amount” of dollars the first half hour, which then doubles the next half hour, and stays at that double rate for every thirty minutes until the production breaks for a second lunch, OR you get wrapped from the job. I won’t say how much it is, because you will probably shit yourself with envy, but let’s just say after an hour and a half of meal penalties, you and your loved one could probably go out to dinner at a 3 star restaurant and enjoy two glasses of ”not the house” wine, an appetizer, two mid priced entrees, and split one dessert and still have money left over for a 20% tip.

Yep, sometimes, it’s good to be a member of a union….unless of course you expect that union to actually help you to find work, go after your unpaid residuals, or be able to fight for anything worthy like having both SAG and AFTRA jobs you work count towards your health care qualification and pension fund. However, they’re really good at paying us for not being able to eat.

We entered the buffet tent, and I got to be honest, I found it pretty difficult to actually see what I was spooning onto my plate, but by the time I got into the light and back to my table and ate, I was pretty satisfied. I remember some choice meats, asparagus, rice and couscous, and an assortment of steamed vegetables. I don’t remember any pasta, but I don’t think as an Italian from the east coast I would have indulged in a pasta dish at a wedding taking place on the west coast. Tasha and I talked a little with our table and with other friends who came over to our table, which apparently made our table the “cool table.” If people come to YOUR table at a wedding, then chances are you must be pretty cool.

After dinner, the music came on and I watched Rob and Ally share their first dance together as Bride and Groom. Even though I didn’t know them as well as some people at the wedding, I was smiling and I was happy for them as I was finally able to see for the first time that day how much these two people really loved and cared about each other. To be honest, I probably would have been able to see the love in their eyes during the ceremony if MY eyes weren’t being blasted by an overzealous amount of sunshine earlier in the day. Regardless, Tasha and I enjoyed a short amount of dancing and picture taking with fake glasses, and moustaches, before we partook in the well wishing of the new couple with a champagne toast followed by the eating of cupcakes. Cupcakes are the new thing at weddings, and what a wonderfully smart idea that is. There is nothing like giving your guests the choice to be able to stuff three or more different flavors of baked goodness into your mouth while washing it down with a crisp glass of bubbly.

Rob and Ally took the mic on the dance floor and it was then that I knew it was time for the traditional throwing of the garter and bouquet, which was my cue to get as far away from the dance floor as possible. I made my way back to the photo booth, behind all the action of the wedding with a few other people who had the same idea, and who ended up bumming cigarettes off me the rest of the night. I wasn’t dating Tasha anymore and I don’t think either one of us needed the added stress of yet another wedding tradition being forced upon us that night, especially since everyone at this wedding probably thought that we were still an item. So we passed on the future marriage premonition, and headed back to the dessert table to eat about three more cupcakes each. What? They were really good cupcakes.

As the sun started to set on Rob and Ally’s big day, Tasha and I wished the new couple well, said goodbye to our friends and walked to parking lot to go home. We took off the targa top from her Honda Del Sol, and drove back to Hollywood with the warm summer wind blowing in our hair. The wedding was perfect. It was a gorgeous night full of beautiful people and delicious food and drink, and we had the foresight to behave ourselves just enough so that we could avoid any drama and controversy and were able to get home from San Gabriel without getting a DUI.

As we headed back home I found myself talking with Tasha about the state of affairs in our lives. We talked about how pretty Ally looked in her dress and how things were going well for all of us. We talked about how we may not have had someone special in our lives like Ally had Rob, and Rob had Ally, but at least we had each other. We had enough work coming in and enough money in the bank, and we were looking forward to our week long road trip to Vegas, Utah, and Arizona coming up in the next few weeks.

Honestly, we couldn’t really complain. But as the roller coaster ride of life in Los Angeles would have it, things wouldn’t be on the up and up for very long. Things were about to go back to a time and place that we never thought we would have to re-visit. Things were about to get too close for comfort. Truth is, things were about to get weird.

Next Wedding May 20th, 2015

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

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