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.

cjshaunacollage

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.

roballycollage

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.

Christine & Joey

candj

The first wedding I ever went to started out with a bang. Well, a bang of mental sorts if you will. I was traveling with two co-workers of mine to a co-workers wedding somewhere on a ranch in Carlsbad California. Please pardon my lack of memory for the exact location, because at the start of the car ride down to the wedding, I decided it would be a good idea to take a couple hits off of my friend’s joint and then settle in for the hour and a half ride. What I didn’t plan for, of course, was the panic attack that ensued as soon as my car started heading south on the I-5 freeway. To this day, I don’t know why it happened, but I didn’t say anything to my friends in the car, I just sucked it up and drove through the shuttering sounds of tractor trailers and commuters whizzing by my Honda Accord, while I tried to sing along to the Killers in an attempt to confuse the part of my brain that was telling me to pull over immediately and take a few deep breaths. Somehow, I got through it unscathed, and eighty five minutes later we arrived at our hotel, safe and sound. If the journey down was any kind of a window into what the next few hours would bring, I knew I was in for a bumpy ride.

Christine and Joey got married on June 9th, 2007. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony, followed by a reception in a lavishly decorated backyard of this southern California ranch. I remember Christine walking down the make-shift aisle to the song “You’re So Cool” by Hans Zimmer, which you would instantly know if you’ve ever seen the beginning or end of the movie “True Romance.” I remember blurting out how I knew what movie this song was from, maybe a little too loud, and I remember their loving vows, the perfect weather, the bowls of pistachios on every table, and of course, the open bar. What I have come to realize at each wedding I go to is that there are usually two options when it comes to alcoholic beverage choices. When planning both events, the “marrys” have to decide whether to choose between beer and wine, OR the open liquor bar at the reception and rehearsal dinner (if you are lucky enough to be invited to the latter) Being that there WAS no rehearsal dinner, or at least none that I was invited to, Christine and Joey opted for us to get liquored up with an open full bar at the reception of what appeared to be about 150-175 people. A wise choice if ever there was one. You want to get your guests loaded the night OF the wedding, not the night BEFORE the wedding, right? Right.

After dinner, I had found myself spending the next hour a little inebriated on the dance floor, shaking and shimmying all while eyeing this one intriguing brunette girl in a green dress. I didn’t know her name, but I knew I NEEDED to know her name. When I saw her for the first time, it was kind of like those “love at first sight” scenes you see in the movies. I went deaf, the action of people dancing and singing was suddenly projected in slow motion around me, and the camera panned up towards her as she looked back at me with a subtle smile and a look on her face that I found openly endearing. I danced my way over to her and without saying a thing, I spent the next fifteen minutes in my head reveling at how bright and full of life her eyes were, and how great she smelled. Was this what I thought it was, and if so, what happens next? There I was, dressed in black pinstriped pants and a pastel blue and pink button down shirt that my ex girlfriend from 2004 had bought me. I kind of looked like an human Easter egg, and I was still kind of reeling from an excessive mentally taxing relationship that had ended over a year ago, but had still left its proverbial scars on my body. I wasn’t really sure of myself, and it kind of sucked to be me at this time in my life so I did what anyone who has low self esteem and had just had a panic attack does at a wedding, I drank a lot. I figured I would need this liquid courage if I was going to make my way over to talk to this girl in the green dress, that is until the deejay played some lame ass song that no one really seemed to like and we all wondered aimlessly off the dance floor and back to the bar.

This was a co-workers wedding, and one of the first ones I had ever attended. I didn’t really know how to act because I knew I had to eventually work with these people again. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of the people I’m going to have to see face to face again on Monday, but at this point, who the fuck really cared? So I took a few moments to discuss what I was feeling with my friend Craig and stepped out of sight to finish that panic attack joint in my pocket from earlier. I told him about what had happened and he convinced me to relax and have fun and of course, have a other drink which is exactly what we did next.

So there I was on my fifth or sixth cocktail of the night, sitting on the stones which bordered the sidelines of the dance floor, talking with another friend from work. My dinner was settling in, and excuse me for not knowing specifically what we ate because the truth of the matter is, I just don’t remember. I’m sure it was steak, and I’m sure it was really good, but somehow all I can remember was being punch drunk and engaged in watching that beautiful exotic girl in the green dress strut her stuff to the sounds of 80’s and 90’s pop music while my friend, Shaw nudged me in my elbow and in so many words, calls me a pussy and tells me to go get her.

“She just danced her way over her and flashed you her ass.” He said.

You think that was on purpose?” I ask in a tone of naivety.

Of course it was, idiot.” He said with dry sarcasm.

She DID do that, didn’t she?” I stated.

Yeah man. What are you waiting for?” He replied.

And with that, I put my drink down, and danced my way over to her again, to start a non verbal conversation with my hips. She immediately engaged me with a smile and before I knew it, we were cutting a rug where there was no rug to be cut. I kind of got lost in the moment for a bit. If you give me a few drinks at a wedding, and give me some music with a good beat, I can fucking dance. I don’t even need a partner, although at this point in the night, I was more than happy to have one. And she was a good dancer, and she was pretty, and she had this life to her that I hadn’t seen in the eyes of anyone else in a long time. I found out her name was Tasha which to me was such a glamorous name to even have in the first place. She fascinated me immediately, and at the same time in the middle of everything that was happening, I could feel these eyes on us from off the dance floor. I didn’t really pay attention to what was happening on the sidelines, but I knew people were looking at us as if somehow WE were the center of attention. I liked that about her and I, and I immediately gravitated more towards her as the sun was setting.

Next up, was the obligatory tossing of the bouquet and garter part of the wedding. All the single ladies crowded around the dance floor, and then Christine turned around and tossed the handful of flowers into the air towards a group of beautifully done up and very “motivated” women. I watched as the bouquet bounced around a few hands before landing in the palm of one girl, who I think dropped it, for it only to be instantaneously snatched up by another girl who screamed and jumped up in the air with excitement and as if she had just won the lottery. Off to the side, I could see what appeared to be her date take a very large swing of his whiskey and coke, knowing full well that her catching the bouquet was all a part of a plan. Now it was time for the men.

All the single gents stood there looking at each other clueless, as if to suggest none of us really wanted to catch this thing in the first place. I on the other hand did NOT come with a date and did NOT have a girlfriend on the side who was coaching me as to where the perfect spot to stand would be to catch such a small accessory. Still, when Joey flung that garter up into the air, I thought to myself…I’m just going to innocently jump up with about 50% effort, put my hand out, and whatever happens, happens. Apparently, half an attempt was all I needed as the garter magically landed in my left hand, which was strange because I’m totally a righty. Simultaneously, every other bachelor in the crowd immediately breathed a sigh of relief. I smiled and took their “good lucks” unknowingly to heart, but in reality I kind of didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I just thought…”yay, I caught it, let’s take a picture and get on with the drinking and the dancing part of the night.” What I didn’t realize is that I would spend the next ten minutes trying to apply the garter to the thigh of the woman who had stolen the bouquet from someone else without the option of using my hands. So, I used my teeth, because what else was I going to do, and because honestly feet really gross me out. Even my own feet are weird to look at. I’m sure there is a video out there somewhere of me putting this garter in it’s place, but I’ve never seen it, and I’m sure hoping that someone NEVER shows it to me if it does exist.

It was right about the time when I was on my hands and knees in front of everyone that I realized because of all the dancing and sweating and garter applying I was doing, the shitty zipper on my pants decided to completely fail me, which left anyone in sight of my crotch with a clear view to an open window to my underwear. I luckily found a way to secure said zipper with a safety pin that I got from the bride herself. Crisis adverted, but now the evening was winding down and it was getting late at the reception of Christine and Joey’s wedding. People were tired, the bowls of pistachios were almost empty, and the deejay was making the announcement that this would be his final few songs of the night. I looked around at the lay of the land, spotted Tasha at the bar upstairs, and made my way to where she was so and I could walk up to her with my zipper intact and convincingly say….

“Your presence is requested on the dance floor.

A few minutes later, I saw Tasha make her way over to me for the final song of the night. After the music had finally stopped, and while all the guests were milling about trying to figure out what to do next, I took the initiative. I approached Tasha and complimented her dancing, her name, and her beautiful face. Then I did what any single man at a wedding would do at the end of the night after they had spent all this time dancing with a pretty girl, not knowing if they would ever see her again. I asked her for her phone number so I could take her out when we got back to L.A.

“I can’t do that.” She said with a mischievous smile on her face.

What? This didn’t make any sense to me what so ever. What did she mean she “can’t” do that? Was that code for something? Did she have a boyfriend? How are you going to dance with me all night and make googly eyes and smell so goddamn good only to never want to see me again!? I had to find out why.

“Why is that?” I asked.

And then, I heard the six words that totally changed the energy at the reception, and brought me and everyone else who witnessed this debacle back down to earth in an instant. From behind me on the dance floor, I heard a male voice combatively exclaim..

“Cause I’ll kick your fucking ass!”

I didn’t flinch one bit, and I stood my ground and said to Tasha without missing a beat….

“Did I just hear what I think I heard?

She was giving me the most uncomfortable smile, and I couldn’t even turn around, but I knew I had to. I knew what this was. This was her boyfriend verbally pissing all over his territory in front of a crowd of about 30 onlookers who were just waiting to see what happens next. So I took a deep breath, and like a gentleman, I turned around and extended my olive branch of a hand, and with a shit eating grin on my face I said

“Sorry man. I didn’t know she was taken.

Well, now you do.” He replied.

He was about six foot something with blonde hair and a crazy look in his eyes. I don’t remember much else about him, other than the fact that I didn’t want any trouble, and apparently according to the last two minutes of my life, that’s exactly what this girl was. It got a little tense after that point. People started talking, and the gossip started building and I retreated to my group of friends who had seen everything that went down and who were more than willing to “get my back” in case anyone tried to jump me. Luckily, nothing like that happened. The bride, who saw everything came over to me and apologized, and I apologized back telling her that I hope this little incident didn’t ruin her wonderful night. I told my friends that it was ok, and even though I had a great time, a little part of me was disappointed. My heart was still beating a mile a minute, and I associated that feeling with the onslaught of drama and emotion that was in the air, and the three or four red bull vodkas that were in my blood stream. However, I was suddenly sober, a little bit bit heavy hearted, and totally ready to go back to the hotel. A few minutes later, and right before I was able to gather my friends and head back to the car, Tasha came up to me and apologized.

“Sorry about that. He’s my ex boyfriend.” She said. “He’s a little bit crazy.”

Yeah, I could tell. It was good to meet you.” I said. “You’re also a really good dancer.”

She was beaming a little bit and she apologized again but I told her that it was ok. We said goodbye, and I drove my two friends and I back to our hotel room to get some much needed rest and sleep off the rest of this unavoidable hangover. Back at the hotel, I went out to get a non alcoholic drink from the soda machine and to smoke my last cigarette. My friend Craig and I were standing in the parking lot when we saw Tasha and her ex boyfriend sitting in a dark blue Scion XA, engaging in what appeared to be an argument that I’m 100% positive was fueled by the events of that night. Turns out they were not only staying in the same hotel as us, but their room was literally across the hall. The irony.

When I got back to L.A. the next day, I couldn’t get her out of my head. I felt like even though there was so much drama surrounding that night, there was something about her that I needed to get to know more of. I told my friends Chad and Mary about what had happened last night at the wedding, and after a little speculation and a possible warning from Chad who flat out said that this is girl is probably trouble, we did exactly what people did back in 2007 when we wanted to find out more information about someone…. we looked her up on MySpace.  I sent her a message proclaiming that “I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a little crush on you.” Feeling satisfied that at this point I did everything right, I put my heart on my sleeve and I put the ball in her court and awaited her reply.

We went out on a date a few days later, and yeah, it was pretty awesome. We went to The Roost, my favorite dive bar in L.A. where we conversed about growing up on the east coast and what life hacks we had learned in our time out west. We drank about 8 Newcastles and munched on about two bags of popcorn, and then I took her to the 101 Cafe at one in the morning for a late night snack. She ordered the chili cheese fries, and for some reason, that really turned me on. We started talking about the events of the wedding and how beautiful Christine looked, and how perfect the weather was, and how ironically as it turned out, Tasha was the one who “dropped” the bouquet. That’s funny I thought. It could have been her leg that I had to apply the garter to with my teeth. I’m sure her ex boyfriend would have loved that.

I dropped her off that night without kissing her, but believe me, I really wanted to. I suppose it turned out alright because we ended up dating for the next two years and spent almost every day with each other. After that night, Tasha and I were inseparable.

Next wedding: Wednesday April 22nd

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