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.

Chad & Mary (Part 2)

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I woke up the morning of August 21st 2009, the day my good friends Chad & Mary were to be married. Right off the bat, things were hectic. Tasha had lost her cell phone the night before sometime after the rehearsal dinner and before we took a cab ride home from the Pour House in Collingswood.  Tasha and “crazy bitch” Melissa left to go back to Philly where Melissa lived to get ready for the wedding, and I had to make my way over to Chad’s house with the rest of the groomsman to get dressed together in some sort of wedding day ritual. I also had to find a hotel room for the four of us to stay in the city that night. Turns out, I booked a wonderfully priced four star hotel room located in the heart of Center City, just a few blocks from the where the ceremony was going to take place, but across town from where the reception was being held. Thanks to Hotwire, there were absolutely no changes allowed to the reservation and no refunds given. Oh well I thought, I guess we’ll just have to find a way back to the hotel later that night. What I didn’t know was THAT particular ride would end up almost killing me, Tasha, “crazy bitch” Melissa and Parr, but we’ll get to that later.

Parr and I jumped the gun a bit and got dressed at his house before making our way over to Chad’s where we met up with the other seven groomsmen who were wearing shorts and tee shirts when we arrived. Chad was obviously nervous as hell and was waiting for his xanex to kick in, a mood altering pill he got from one of the groomsman Jason Kamieniecki, (Kam-in-NECK-ee) otherwise know to all of us as “P-Nut.” That’s P-Nut at the far right of the picture below, and his xanex would come into play later on in the night at the reception but for now, just remember to associate P-Nut with xanex and you’ll be fine. And now, in order from left to right, I’d like to introduce Chad’s groomsmen… Ronen, Me, Parr, Mike T, Chad, Adam, Chris Rock, Brian, and P-Nut.

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We looked pretty damn good if I do say so myself, but there was still so much more that had to happen before we got a chance to take such a great photo. Being a groomsman carries a lot of responsibility. Not as much as the best man, but being that Chad was impartial to the idea of singling out one of his best friends to put that label on, some of the best man duties fell upon the other groomsman who were somewhat responsible and close to him, or in me and Parr’s case, already dressed.

Chad gave us the task to bring the wedding rings over to Mary’s house to give to them to Amy Holt, the Maid of Honor. In classic Christian and Parr fashion, on the ride over we got a pretty funny idea into our heads and decided we just couldn’t hand the rings over that easily. Our plan was to show up kind of somber and sad, and tell Mary that Chad had decided that he couldn’t go through with the wedding after all. Albeit was a pretty bad joke, but one our friends would know to expect from me and Parr, so we went through it anyway. We pulled up to the house, got out of the car and walked up to the door. The door opened before we even got there, and then Parr and I put on our best game face and followed through with our ruse.

“Uhh, Can we talk to Mary?” I said.

“Why, what’s wrong?” Amy asked.

Amy was the Maid of Honor, a good friend of Mary’s and one of the only ones who was dressed at the time. She told us Mary was still getting her gown on and couldn’t come to the door. So we had to deliver the “fake” bad news to Amy.

“So, we just came by to let you know that uh……the thing is…”

Parr stuttered through his improved script, but I could tell he was about to laugh so I jumped in and said with a straight face…

“Chad can’t go through with it.”

Amy’s face went blank, and then she threw up her arms, and exclaimed in a “matter of fact” kind of tone.

“I knew it!”

That was all we needed to hear before we lost it and started cracking up and Parr had to inform Amy and the rest of the bridesmaids that had made their way to the front porch that we were just kidding.

“You assholes.” Amy said with a smile.

“I knew they were just kidding.” another bridesmaid said from the doorway.

With that, we apologized, handed the rings off to Amy, and made our way back to Chad’s house to get our shit together before the limo came to pick us up, but not BEFORE we decided to stop at TGI Friday’s in Marlton for a drink while still wearing our tuxedos.  That was classy.

All seven groomsmen and the Groom are riding in a long black stretch limo heading west on Route 70 towards Philadelphia. Chad looks like he’s about to puke. He’s pale and uneasy, and his nerves are not being combated by the dose of xanex from earlier. It’s at this point that Parr decides to tell Chad about our joke from earlier and that seems to ease his mind, but not before we decide to stop at a RadioShack along the way to pick up a cable we could use to plug Chad’s i-pod into the stereo of the limo so he could put on his favorite songs to hear on the way to his wedding. I was a little edgy too for some reason, but unfortunately the limo didn’t contain any beverages other than water to ease our pain meaning it did NOT contain any beer or alcohol, just some fancy glasses and a whiskey decanter that looked like it had something growing in the bottom of it from the last people who rented the car. Regardless, we eventually made our way over the bridge to Philly, rocking out to Refused and Avail and arrived at the church on time.

The ceremony was beautiful, and everyone in the room was enamored at how gorgeous Mary looked walking down the aisle. I got to say, I had known Mary for many years prior to this evening and she was always pretty, but there was something about her that day that just totally took my breath away. Not only could I feel the positive energy in the room, but she was beaming, and I knew this was the beginning of something wonderful for the two of them. I was really happy to be a part of it, and for the second time in my life I stopped to realize how much something like a wedding can really make us all believe in love again, even if some of us have never had the opportunity to find it. I knew their love was real and clearly, Mary and Chad did too. The whole wedding took about forty five minutes between the standing and the sitting and the procession and the reading of the Gospel from the book of John. Catholic weddings have a much needed religious element to them, and growing up in an Italian family, I’ve always thought that added a level of charm and tradition to a wedding. Mary and Chad had opted to write their own vows to each other which I kept hearing him recite to himself in the limo ride over. I like how couples now do this when they get married. It’s a way of making the wedding their own, and it resonated with me, and as I walked arm in arm down the aisle at the end of the ceremony with Dan Levy’s wife, I spotted Tasha in the crowd and gave a her a smile as she took a picture of us.

After the homophobic priest finished with his duties and the ceremony was officially over, we all had to congregate in the back of the church for the next fifteen minutes or so while everyone got organized about making their way over to the reception. I met up with my friend Gary, who I hadn’t seen in a long time and we caught up a bit with our friend Jenna who we had known since high school and was now living in Maryland. Eventually, the groomsmen, plus Mary with a cake on her lap got back into the limo, and we were driven to the Cescaphe Ballroom in Northern Liberties for the reception.

The first thing Parr and I did when we got out of the limo was what anyone would do when you are a member of the wedding party and had just witnessed one of your best friends get married….we headed straight to the bar for a drink. Ironically, as we were ordering our dirty Ketel martinis from the bartender, a server came around with a tray full of pre made drinks. Again, as anyone would do when you are a member of a wedding party who just witnessed one of your best friends get married, we grabbed two pre made martinis off the tray, downed them, then turned around to grab the two other martinis we ordered from the bartender before tipping him nicely. Then, within eight seconds of taking our first sip from our second drink, the wedding planner had to pry us away from the bar and corral us both into the hall to take pictures with the rest of the wedding party who looked shocked and a little jealous that we walked in with full martini glasses in our hands.

“Where did you fuckers get those?” One of the bridesmaids asked.

“From the bar outside.” Parr said with a smile.

We spent the next forty five minutes or so taking pictures with the Groom, taking pictures with the bridesmaids, taking pictures with the other groomsmen, taking pictures with the Bride, and then finally, after about 3000 or so pictures, we were eventually let loose into the reception hall where we had to be announced by name as we strutted through the banquet room onto the dance floor to pose with the Bride and Groom for, you guessed it…more fucking pictures.

By the time we got to our table for dinner, between the drinks and pictures, and the fact that I had no food in my stomach, I was little drunk. However, that didn’t stop me from ordering some more alcohol to celebrate the union of my two good friends with the rest of my table while I put my order in for a medium filet mignon. There was a lot of stuff going on during dinner. People were coming up and saying nice words to the Bride and Groom, the parents were applauding and crying and toasting and everyone in the place was having a great time.

At our table it was me, Tasha, Parr, Melissa, Gary, his girlfriend Desiree, (who Tasha would accidentally refer to as “Destiny” at another wedding three years later,) P-Nut, his girlfriend Efia, Steve, who had no date with him by his own choice, and Jenna and her husband Tim. Ronen, who was sitting at another table was currently in the middle of the dance floor with the microphone making a speech and toasting Chad and Mary. It suddenly hit me at that point that I needed to get up there and say something nice in front of everyone too. I was a little nervous at first, but when Ronen was done, I jumped up out of my seat and grabbed the mic.

I stood in the middle of everyone eating their chicken, steak or fish, took a deep breath, and in a slightly alcoholic state of mind I gave what I thought was one of the most heart felt speeches using the kindest words I have ever spoken to my friends on their special day. What was it exactly that I said you might ask? I have no fucking clue. Seriously. I got back to the table before the applause stopped and I turned to Tasha and I asked…

“What did I just say out there?”

“You don’t remember?” she asked.

“Nope.”

I replied as I grabbed my vodka diet coke and took an enormous swig. And the truth is, I really didn’t remember. I knew it was about a minute or less, which is the perfect amount of time for a wedding speech AND an actor’s reel, and I knew I said some nice things about Chad and Mary and some things that made people laugh, and I knew that there is this one picture of me making said speech in which I feel I look pretty genuine. Truth is, a picture tells a thousand words, and what this picture says to me in less than a thousand words is that I love Chad and Mary, and I wish nothing but the best for them.

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“Well,” Tasha continued, “You did good, drunkie.”

She smiled, then we toasted our friends and then all of sudden the room got really quiet as Jason, aka “P-Nut” made his way up to the deejay booth to grab the microphone and make his toast to his best friend Chad, and his new bride Mary. Then, something terrible happened.

The next few minutes were probably the most awkward and uncomfortable amount of time that the guests at the wedding all shared that day. P-Nut, who I love and who is definitely a best friend of mine, but also definitely NOT one of the best public speakers I know, was rambling on and on with his curdling speech for what felt like an eternity. It’s funny how I can’t remember much of what I said when I was up there, but I definitely remember P-Nut starting his speech by reminiscing about that one time that HE and Mary had gone out on a date, which coincidentally also happened to be right around the same time in 2002 when Mary started to date Chad….and it just got worse from there, if that was even at all possible.

Clearly at this point, the xanex had taken over P-Nut’s mind, as the drug was currently forcing him to regurgitate one of the most agonizing monologues in the history of weddings, while simultaneously making all 200 guests bare audio and visual witness to the most uncompounded case of verbal diarrhea, EVER. Someone had to stop this kid, NOW!

I glanced around at the horrid looks on people’s faces and did the only thing I knew that could end this moment in time, while concurrently saving all the wedding guests from any more excruciating dribble. I stood up, and in what could have been the the middle of P-Nut’s elongated speech, I put my hands together, and exclaimed…

“Alright! Jason Kamieniecki everyone!”

All 200 guests in the banquet hall ripped up in applause with me. It was like I acted out the scenario of what they all wanted to do, which was put P-Nut and everyone else out of their misery. Come to think of it, perhaps their applause was more for me putting an end to P-Nut’s speech than it was for P-Nut’s speech actually ending? Perhaps they were one in the same? Regardless, P-Nut made his way back to our table and didn’t make eye contact with me for the next hour and a half. I love that kid, but believe me, it HAD to be done. In fact, I would do it again if I had to, and I’m sure Chad and Mary would be just as thankful to me a second time, as they were that night. Now, with the food and speeches out of the way, the music started playing and I grabbed Tasha’s hand and hit the dance floor.

The next hour was an absolute blur. I remember dancing with Tasha for a bit, then dancing by myself in what was later described to as me as a solo New Kid playing the role of a one man sweaty Backstreet Boy, cavorting and picking up change on the dance floor, while Tasha picked up my cuff links, tie tack, and other pieces of my tuxedo that were being flung off of me at a rapid pace. Even though I had opted for the damage waiver when I rented the thing, she still found every accessory of my tux and put them in a safe place for later. I was drunk, happy, and definitely sweating a lot, that’s for sure. There is one picture of me and Tasha someone posted on Facebook back in the day which I immediately untagged myself from because of the fact that I looked like a well dressed puddle of sweat. My face was flushed, and it looked like I had just gotten out of a pool while still wearing my $175 tuxedo shirt, tie, and jacket. I don’t remember the throwing of the bouquet or the garter, and I don’t remember the entire room of desserts that was just a short walk around the corner. Truthfully, my only regrets that night was that I never visited the dessert room, and I regret stepping on Tasha’s foot at some point in the night on the dance floor.  Sometimes the latter happens when you’re drunk, unaware of your personal space, and you wear size twelves.  Sorry Tash.

I do remember bumping into my old friend Bezanis. I remarked at how thin he was for someone in his mid thirties, and I would later come to find out that Bezanis “may or may not” have had a slight prescription drug problem at the time. That was neither here nor there. What I did know was that he was my only Greek friend back in high school, and before we all went our separate ways, me him and Parr used to hang out a lot. But, if you put me, an Italian with a short temper, and Bezanis, a greek with a short fuse in a room together for a long enough time, we’ll probably end up killing each other. He’s very loud and very boisterous, and due to our naturally competitive nature and cut-on-a-dime type personalities, it was no surprise that at one point back in 1996 we ended up getting into a fight over a game of Mortal Kombat. After I lost for the third time, I told him to “watch his back” and then I didn’t talk to him for a few days after that because basically, I was an idiot and had too much pride.

Regardless, after catching up a bit, and being as how none of us drove to this wedding, Bezanis offered to give us a ride across town to the hotel where the after party was going to take place. Angelo’s date had disappeared that night, which was good for us cause there would be more room in his Beemer since he was transporting me, Tasha, Parr, and Parr’s girlfriend at the time, “crazy bitch” Melissa to the hotel. The car ride that followed was the most tumultuous twenty minutes of the whole weekend. It poured rain, he hit a curb, almost hit a car in front of us, drove up on the sidewalk by accident of course, and yelled the entire time. It was definitely crazy, but still funny in the end mainly because of the sole factor that we did not die. Tasha, who was riding in the backseat of the car and who luckily had my cell phone with her, ended up shooting about a minute of this nightmare car ride after all of the bad stuff had happened, but before the arguing and poking fun had yet to happen. You can see the video here.

As you could tell in the video, I was pretty drunk, but what you couldn’t tell from the video was that I was also extremely thankful to be alive. When we arrived at the hotel, Mary sat there in the lobby with the ghost cake from earlier and this is when she told me about how her and Tasha both had picked up all of the pieces of my tuxedo while I was sweating and dancing an hour or so earlier.

“Thank you two so much.” I slurred.

Hey Hayden, watch me ruin these tuxedo pants.” I said to one of the bridesmaids.

“No Christian, what are you doing?” Tasha exclaimed.

“Relax, I got the damage waiver.” I replied.

And with that statement, I decided now would the perfect time to dip my finger into the cake, and then proceed to wipe said finger which was now covered in butter cream icing onto my $175 tuxedo pants, just because I could. (Take that, Men’s Warehouse.)  In my defense, I was pretty drunk, and I didn’t really care about the pants now that the wedding was over, plus I feel like the night was coming to an end.  Eventually, and without the help of Bezanis, we made our way back to OUR hotel and passed out for the night.

I woke up at 6 in the morning in a pool of sweat. The sheets on the bed were soaked with a subtle mix of perspiration, vodka, and diet coke. Tasha literally thought I wet the bed. I  thought I pissed myself, but then I realized that it was just the remnants of the night before being flushed out of my system naturally. I decided to walk around Philly for an hour before everyone else eventually got up and we checked out of the hotel. It was raining, it was cold, and I was hungry. We stopped at a Chik-Fil-A back in Jersey before dropping off Parr and his crazy bitch, then we took it easy for the rest of the night before we had to catch our flight back to L.A. the next morning.

At the airport the next day, Tasha and I had a couple beers and waited for our flight to board. We talked about all the events that had happened, and reveled in the fact that this was probably one of the best weddings we had ever been to. We also talked about the state of our relationship, and how neither one of us really knew where we stood with each other. I was still happy to be able to introduce her to my mom and my sister, and I was elated that my friends accepted her and really took her in as one of our own. I was grateful to her for coming out to the East coast and taking care of me when I was wasted and couldn’t fully take care of myself, and I was happy for my friends Chad and Mary as they embark on a new chapter of their life together, and I knew that it wouldn’t be the last time we were all together for a wedding.

As for me and Tasha, we had been with each other for a couple of years, but the last six months had been extremely difficult to endure. Where we stood after this trip, we didn’t even know. We did know, however that less than two months away we were invited to the wedding of Shaw and Heather, two good friends of mine who I had worked with at the Grill on Hollywood back in Los Angeles, and of course, Tasha was my date. Just then an announcement came over the loudspeaker at Philadelphia International airport.

“Now boarding United flight 643, nonstop service to Los Angeles.”

Tasha and I grabbed our bags, and headed back to the west coast.

Next Wedding: Wednesday May 6th, 2015

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C&M wedding collage2

The top:  The Bridesmaids, The Groom, The Bride

The middle: Mary, The Guys ( Me, Adam, Ronen, Gary, Parr, Bezanis, P-Nut (kneeling) Me & Tasha

The bottom: Parr & me, Desiree “Destiny” & Gary, Mary and the Ghost cake

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

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.