Joe & Nicola (Part 2)

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

“Get out.” She said.

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

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

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

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

“Me neither.” I replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wanna get a drink?” She asked.

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

“Absolutely I do.”

“Let’s do a shot” She said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, he’s here.” She replied.

Wait, at THIS wedding?” I asked.

“Yeah.” She said.

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

“Let’s go back inside.” I say.

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

“Well I am, so I’ll see you later.”

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

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

Here comes the afterparty…..

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

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

“At me?” I asked.

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

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

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

“I broke up with him.” She said.

“For real?” I asked.

“Yep.” She said with a smile.

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

“He’s right there.” She said.

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

I’ll be right back.” I said.

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

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

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

“Ready to go upstairs?” The bridesmaid asked.

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

“I don’t think so.”

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

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

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

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

“That was a great time.”  Tasha said.

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

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

“Yeah, that too.” I said.

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

Epilogue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gary Des

(to be continued…)

See you in a month.

Next Wedding:  Late July 2015

Follow on Twitter @CMarc333

Joe & Nicola (Part 1)

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It was the weekend of May 16th, 2014 and Tasha and I were in New Jersey to attend the rehearsal and wedding of one of my best friends from high school, Joseph T. Carr, aka Parr, aka “Mouse” which no one ever referred to him by, except for some girl from elementary school who called him that all the way up to his graduation day. First of all, I sincerely hope that the use of Parr’s full name and moniker just now doesn’t constitute a lawsuit from him, because if you’ve been keeping tabs on some of the ridiculous events that transpired since the start of this blog, writing that you don’t like someone and mentioning a silly nickname you had for them in high school is apparently cyber-bullying and grounds for defamation of character. But, since I like Parr and we’re friends, I’m not expecting to be served with papers anytime soon.

Parr had found someone really special a few years back when he met in my opinion the sweetest, coolest, greatest girl he’d ever dated… the one, the only, & most importantly Italian, (and therefore BEST) counterpart to his flagrant Irish personality, Nicola. I kind of knew from the first time I met her that she was going to be the one for him. She’s cool, laid back, beautiful, and she’s not crazy. Truth is, every Italian from Jersey has the capability to be crazy, myself included, but instead of crazy I like to use the word “passionate.” Nicola was passionately in love with Parr, and I was more than passionately happy to be a groomsman at their wedding. As it turns out, it would end up being one of the most memorable and slightly dramatic nights of my life, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

I met Parr way back in the early 1990s. I probably hung out with him the most back in the day and it wasn’t only because he is so god damn good looking, we had a lot in common. Look, I’m not gay, but I got to be honest, if I WERE to cross over to the “pride side,” I’d definitely get it on with Parr. I think most guys would have. He’s fun, charismatic, and for a short amount of time he closely resembled Bille Joe Armstrong from Green Day. I think we started hanging out sometime when my friendships with Chad, Gary, Boner and P-Nut were kind of on the rocks, because I did something really stupid and immature to one of them.

I wasn’t a fuck up per se, I just didn’t understand common courtesy. Moreover, I knew nothing of how to cultivate good lasting male friendships, (thank you very much step father who left me and my mom at my 8th grade graduation) So I started over with a new group of guy friends including Parr, Bezanis, Woofy, and Ian who no one has heard from since the late 1990s. Eventually, I was able to mend my friendships with Chad and P-Nut, but Boner and I never really saw eye to eye after that time. It’s probably for the best anyway. I never could tell what that guy was talking about. He used to tell this story about how the FBI confiscated his computer in the 1980s because he apparently hacked into some government mainframe. I believed him at first, but then I realized how similar Boner’s FBI story was to the premise for the movie War Games. He probably made all that shit up, especially the story he told everyone about how he had dated my sister, that is of course until my sister denied it to Chad and Boner was called out.

Anyway, Chad, P-Nut, and Gary had gotten over it, which led to the melding of two groups of my guy friends that I have known since sophomore year. Like I said in previous blogs, I love these guys, and it was an honor to be part of their wedding(s) Joe (who?) and Nicola were getting married in Cape May NJ that weekend, so Tasha and I boarded a Virgin America flight in L.A. a few days before and flew all the way to Philadelphia International. I was actually a little sick on the flight out there. Sometimes when I go home, I get nervous and anxious and I had recently pulled a muscle in my shoulder which was really hurting me at the time. I couldn’t even hold a coffee cup in my left hand without feeling some level of discomfort. I’ll tell you man, getting old sucks.

Before we drove into Jersey, Tasha and I had spent the last six months shooting, and editing sizzle reels, teasers and the pilot episode of our project that used to be a web series, but had now been developed in to a 22 minute TV sitcom, Trent & Tilly. We had been meeting with a start-up cable network over the last six months who loved our idea, and who signed us to a contract to produce and air it on their channel. We did a table read, a photo shoot, attended some events and gave some interviews and we even brought in a few C-list celebs to be cast in the two supporting roles opposite us. Things appeared to be going good, except here’s the thing about Hollywood. It’s nothing until it’s something, which basically means, that contract we signed doesn’t mean anything until we have that check in our hand. And even though this network was supportive and really believed in us and our idea, because they couldn’t come up with the purchase price of the show within 45 days of signing the contract, the agreement was null and void and the ownership of the show reverted back to us. So being the innovative creators we are, we shot the pilot ourselves using our own money and slapped together a sizzle reel, a one sheet, and our agents were sending it out to networks and it was just a matter of time before it was sold and me and Tasha were millionaires and subsequently considered an “overnight success.” We knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when and how. I mean, why else had we put ourselves through hell, and why else were we exes still living together in a one bedroom apartment in Hollywood, and why else were we able to find a way to use that uncomfortably awkward situation and write it into one of the premises for the show? It can’t all be for nothing.

We landed in Philly, drove over to Jersey, got a hotel room in Mt. Laurel and spent the first couple days hanging with my mom and my sister, finishing off two bottles of wine at the Carrabba’s on route 73 in Marlton while catching up. The wedding was taking place at Congress Hall in Cape May so after a few days on the main land we headed down the shore to meet up with the wedding party at the hotel for the rehearsal on Thursday afternoon. Congress Hall was epic. It’s this huge old historic boarding house from the 1800’s that is located directly on the beach in Cape May. It had a bunch of rooms, a bar, a view of the ocean, and an underground speakeasy where we would eventually congregate after the wedding where some, if not all of the shit would go down. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but bear with me. This is my last blog, and I gotta build the suspense.

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Un like that picture, the forecast was for rain on Friday, which by the look on Nicola’s face, clearly sucked. She wanted an outdoor wedding, and who doesn’t? Currently, it was sunny and bright that afternoon on Thursday in May and the wedding party practiced our procession indoors, just in case the wedding got rained out. Parr and I and the rest of groomsmen had gotten our tuxes from Men’s Warehouse which did NOT fuck up the order unlike Jos. A Bank from such previous events as P-Nut and Efia’s wedding. This time around, Chad was again the aficionado of ceremonies, and me, Gary, Steve, Ron, Adam and P-Nut were the groomsmen. His brother Shaun was the best man, and of course we were all paired with bridesmaids to walk down the aisle with. My bridesmaid was pretty, and some might say that our pairing was the catalyst that lead to the unearthing of some chaotic events the next night, but for now, let’s just imagine us all rehearsing in jeans and tee shirts and everybody getting along and no drama to be experienced, yet.

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Everyone in the wedding party on the Groom’s side had one thing in common. We all worked at the TGI Fridays in Marlton on route 73 at some point in our lives. With the exception of Shaun, everyone was at one time either a busser, a waiter, or a bartender. Gary got me the job in ’96, when Steve was already working there, P-Nut followed suit and was hired a few months after me, then after I got fired in ’98 for reasons that shall not be discussed, Parr got hired as a waiter, Chad worked there for a minute as a bus boy and hated it because if you know Chad then you know that he is NOT the poster boy for manual labor. In the years after I moved to Seattle, Parr continued to work there when Adam and Ron were hired so it was not ironic at all that a lot of the guests at the wedding were at one time part of the Friday’s crew.

Back to the rehearsal, we were all gathered in this small stuffy hallway with the drinks we got from the bar before we started proceeding down the aisle in a very odd format. Steve and Ron went first, building from the outside in, followed by me, then P-Nut, then Adam, then Gary which put Gary closest to the Groom, and by that rationale made Steve furthest from the groom.

Wait a minute, I look like Parr’s worst friend! Steve said.

This is where the groomsman location theory came about. Out of all of us, Steve and Ron should have been closer to the groom being that Parr lived with Ron for years, and hangs out with Steve on a regular basis. Shaun is Parr’s brother and isn’t going anywhere, I was smack dab in the middle, so any adjustments to the first two, or the last two wouldn’t affect me at all, so after Parr mentioned this to the wedding planner we all had to start over.  So, while the other guests were in the bar having many drinks, the groomsmen and the bridesmaids went back to the hallway outside the room, grabbed the cocktails and beers we had set down on the stairs before the FIRST rehearsal, finished them, and then proceeded into the room for the second rehearsal, this time in correct order. After we rehearsed the walking to the alter, which didn’t really exist, and the reciting of the vows which were sweet and to the point, but didn’t really mean anything yet, we were released from the muggy convention room and we all headed to the bar for more drinks.

Tasha was sitting at the bar taking selfies with all the girls who weren’t bridesmaids at the wedding which included Efia, Desiree/Destiny and Maggie. I found Tasha’s old sim card in the drawer today and came up with these gems.  She sure loves her selfies….

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I had met Maggie a few years back in 2011 when I came home for the Eagles game/Irish weekend in Wildwood. I had a little crush on her, but it never really amounted to anything because A, she had a boyfriend at the time and B, she lived 3000 miles away in Jersey.  Of course and not ironically, Maggie also worked at the TGI Friday’s in Marlton for awhile and became really good friends with Parr, Adam and Ron. Maggie had sent me a Facebook message a week before the wedding asking me to save her a dance, but when I saw her commiserating with Tasha at the bar I started to wonder A. What were they talking about and B. is this is going to turn into a classic “cock block” situation.

The upside to having a best friend/business partner who is both smart and hot is that it works wonders when dealing with business stuff in a male dominated environment such as Hollywood. She does all the talking sometimes because she is charming and men like a woman who knows her shit. The downside to having a best friend/business partner who is both smart and hot is that every where I go with her, people assume we are boyfriend/girlfriend, so I never get hit on by any other woman. Tasha is sometimes what I like to consider a cock blocker through no fault of her own. It’s not her fault that chicks don’t talk to me when I’m with her, but it’s also her being “with me” that is the fault of why chicks don’t talk to me when I am. Regardless, I said hello to Maggie and a bunch of other guests that had arrived at the bar, and then I pulled Tasha aside.

“Talking to Maggie huh? How’s that going?” I asked.

She’s sweet.” She replied. “I told her we’re not together.

Really?” I said. “I just thought it would be a classic cock block situation.”

On the contrary I let her know it’s cool, so in a sense I’m cock allowing.” she stated

I don’t think that’s the way you say that.” I replied.

I’m allowing cock into your life.” She said.

That’s worse than the first thing you said!” I stated.

I knew what she was trying to say, I just don’t think there is a definitive term that means “not” cock blocking someone, but I thought it was nice that at least she was putting in some good words. I got to be honest, it’s kind of weird when your ex-girlfriend is trying to play matchmaker at your best friend’s wedding, especially since we had been sharing a hotel room for the past three days and that trend will continue tonight and tomorrow.

The last wedding we went to left me with a strange taste in my mouth, and I mean that both literally because I rolfed that night, but also figuratively because I wasn’t sure what to make of all this. We were in some kind of unchartered territory, but I would like to think our friendship has evolved past the point of jealousy, meaning that I’m cool if she hooks up, and she’s cool if I hook up, but I get the feeling that even though both of us are cool like that, neither one of us would actually want to witness the hook up first hand.

After about an hour of drinking and snacking from the bowl of pretzels and spicy crackers at the bar, the guests were getting ready to head to the Bayview in Wildwood for the rehearsal dinner, even though it wasn’t really going to be a traditional dinner. It was more like a bunch of Parr and Nicola’s friends getting drunk and eating bar food together the night before the wedding. Tasha and I headed back to the car which I had illegally parked somewhere on the backlot of the hotel, but before we made our way to the bar, we had to drive back to North Wildwood, otherwise known as “NoWo” to check into our room for the night at the Lollipop, otherwise known as that outrageous looking rainbow colored motel on the corner of 23rd and Atlantic whose main sign shows two close-up drawings of these random blonde haired creepy little kid faces. You see what I mean?

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I had booked the motel last minute because we needed a place to stay that was close to Cape May, but not actually in Cape May because of the location of the Bayview. The motel was close to Parr’s parents house, and even though it got a bad reputation because it looks likes it’s the perfect place for a pedophile to hang out, I went ahead and took a chance. Steve booked a room there too, but he went straight to the bar first. We got to the motel office and opened the door and went in. In the office were some pamphlets, a few pictures of local sights like the boardwalk and the pier, and a couple house plants. I heard the sound of the TV from this back room connected to the office covered by a curtain, which I would assume is where the hotel manager and their kids slept. On the desk in front of me where the pamphlets and parking passes were laid out was this black and white cat who was staring at me and Tasha.

We’d like to check in please.” I said to the cat.

Naturally, it didn’t answer but a few seconds later a man in his mid thirties appeared from behind the curtain like the great and powerful Oz, and we started the check in process. He told tell us stories of how all these crazy “Jersey Shore” types started coming down in the past few summers.

In fact,” he said “one of them crazy I-talians threw a TV in the pool last year.

“Well I’m Italian, but definitely not crazy, just passionate…. and maybe a little crazy.” I replied.

I think his name was John and he seemed really nice to us and gave us our key which was an actual key, not like one of those cards with the magnetic strip on it that they give you in modern hotels. It’s been awhile since I stayed in a hotel room where you physically get a key to the place. It felt so antiquated. We went up one flight and entered room 202 which was directly above the office. The room was….how can I put this….very quaint and “oceanic.” There was single bed, a couch, a tube television from the late 1990s, some really tacky wallpaper, a microwave, a tiny little bathroom and a bunch of nautical instruments on the wall.

“I call the bed!” Tasha exclaimed.

Fine, I call the pull-out couch.” I said.

I had done a little research on some of the hotels in Wildwood before I left. What I found by reading some of the Yelp reviews of other places was quite concerning. The Lollipop however, had gotten some relatively good reviews, it just looked like a shit hole place that would have gotten terrible reviews. Still, I did the first thing I do when I check into a shady motel, I got my flashlight, and checked for bed bugs.

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I actually had an issue with bed bugs a year before. My bed was slightly infested with them, and it sucked. For two months, I couldn’t sleep at all and it freaked me out right up until the whole apartment had to be exterminated. I won’t go into the details of how Tasha brought home a painting from her ex-boyfriend’s house and how that painting ended up against the wall next to my bed and how after I found out I had bed bugs I looked inside the frame of said painting and sure enough that’s where all the bugs had come from, or maybe I just did go into detail about that.  Regardless, I had to throw my old bed away so Tasha bought me a new one because even though I’m not pointing the finger directly at her, maybe she felt kind of gulity and maybe the whole the thing had “something” to do with that painting she brought home. Just a theory of mine.

After I found the sleeping quarters to be safe, we changed clothes, hopped in the car and headed over to the Bayview in Wildwood Crest. It was almost dark by he time we got there but when we walked in, everyone was gathered around the bar drinking and having some food. Most of Nicola’s friends and family were there, and of course ALL of Parr’s family and friends were there too, mainly because they are Irish and alcoholics, respectively. I went over to and said hi to my friends Halin, Rotzko, and Reynolds, who I refer to by their last names, and then we said hello to my friends Dave, Jenna and Tim who I refer to by their first names. There’s this weird thing about calling someone by their last names that I think only applies to guys. I’ve never heard Tasha refer to Mary and say “I’m getting a drink with Quinlan,” and I’ve never heard Mary refer to Tasha by saying “Do you know where Tacosa is?” I just think it’s a guy related sports thing, because that one time in 2007 when I did refer to Tasha as “Tacosa,” she stated “Hey, I’m not on your baseball team.” Point taken.

The next couple of hours reminded me of being at a mini-high school reunion. I caught up with people I hadn’t seen in awhile, put some music on the jukebox and ate some bar food that I think I remember was pretty good but to be honest, it was the company we kept that made it so much fun. It was nice to see all of these people in one place again, and it only made me look forward to the wedding tomorrow that much more. I ordered another drink and spotted Maggie at the bar. She came up to me and said hi, and then she told me she had talked to Tasha.

“Tasha’s really cool.” She said.

Yeah, she’s great.” I replied. “What did you guys talk about?

“Nothing.” She said.

“Did you talk about me?” I asked.

No.” She said with a smirk. “Just remember to save me that dance tomorrow.”

I didn’t know what kind of reverse bro-mance was going on with them. For all I knew this could be a set up, but in reality I don’t think that was the case. Did Maggie and Tasha have a little girl crush thing going on? Possibly, but at this point it didn’t really matter. I know Tasha has my back, especially in situations like this that we’ve NEVER been in before. It’s just the kind of relationship we have. We want each other to be happy, and we want each other to have fun and I’m sure that if there was some guy there that wanted me to try and sweet talk Tasha into “dancing” with him I would have done the same thing. That’s just what friends do, especially friends who I used to date 7 years ago, but who I don’t anymore, even though at this point we still shared a bedroom and shared many arguments about which one of us keeps leaving dirty dishes piling up in the kitchen sink.

Everyone in that room was a good friend of mine. I shared some great memories with each and every person going all the way back to 1992 when I first met Chad, Gary and P-Nut and we snuck out to the fields behind my house in the Vineyards in the middle of the night and saw what we thought to be the Jersey Devil. Then a few years later when I met Parr, Dave, Rotzko, Reynolds, and Woofy I threw a NYE party in a hotel room somewhere in Vorhees where I got violently sick and ended up puking and clogging the sink, and my boy Gary took care of me.

The friends I’ve known for years have each other’s backs, and they stick up for each other, and yes, it’s required in that same vein of existence they may also get into fights and bust each other’s balls in the process, but that’s just how it goes. We did almost everything together growing up, and I don’t have any regrets about the way things turned out, and I would hope the same goes for them.  As I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve been finding out who my real friends are, and that night on the eve of Parr and Nicola’s wedding I was happy to know I was in a room full of them.

Way back in the day we used to listen to this song by the hard core band “H2o” called “5 Year Plan” It wasn’t the greatest song in the world, but the first 8 words of the tune really emphasizes my point.

My friends look out for me like family”

That’s the way it should always be. For me, I didn’t grow up with a father or a brother, or any real extended family so naturally, my best friends became my family. I won’t ever know what it’s like to grow up as a kid in the world today, but I bet it’s not half as entertaining as it was for us back then.

Back at the bar, there was still drinking and chatting going on, but Tasha and I left a little earlier than everyone else that night because we were tired and tipsy and we headed back to the motel to get some sleep before the wedding tomorrow.

So….what did you say to Maggie?” I asked her

“I gave her my blessing” Tasha said with a smile.

It was a sweet and selfless thing to do.  I didn’t know what was going to happen the next night, but I do know that two amazing people were going to get married, and I was going to be able to be a part of it, and all of it’s legendary glory.

“Thanks Tacosa.” I replied.

You’re welcome, but I’m not on your baseball team.”

Part 2: June 24th, 2015

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Aaron & Marlowe

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It was April 13th 2013, but you could hardly tell it was Spring by the weather that afternoon. The day Aaron and Marlowe got married in Malibu, California it was overcast and chilly, and in addition to their beautiful ceremony, and amazing buffet spread, an extra redeeming quality for me was being able to gather with my west coast Philly sports family for a celebration that would include so much food, so much drink, and so much debauchery.

Tasha and I had been living together as roommates for the past 8 months. Within the four walls of my apartment all the time were me, Tasha, all of our stuff, my pet cat, and her pet rabbit.

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#bffs

We were kind of like one small dysfunctional family the last few months however during that time, Tasha and I had somehow worked together to write and produce 8 episodes of our award winning web series, Trent & Tilly. It was a small accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, but it was enough for us to gain some confidence moving forward as we tried to figure out how to make this little show into a much bigger show. The wedding couldn’t have come at a better time, as we both needed a little break to relax, unwind, and hang out with our big dysfunctional family, “The Nest of the West.”

I met Aaron at the bar one Sunday afternoon while we all were watching the Eagles game. Aaron loves his football, his wife, and yelling at Cowboys fans who try to taunt us.  Every Sunday it was usually me, Tasha, Shaun, John, Tim, Adam, Dave, Leland, Kerry, the Sinkler twins, our server Kym…. and the rest. We even harbored our friend Drew who is ironically a Redskins fan. Normally, I wouldn’t associate with the enemy on game day, but Drew gets a pass because I’ve known him since the 90s, he’s a good guy, and he takes the most amount of shit talk by sitting with us during the games. It’s great when we’re winning, but it sucks when we’re losing.  How would you like it if there is one guy sitting amongst you cheering loudly when your team fumbles the ball into the hands of the defense.  Sucks.  I always thought inviting us all to a wedding would be very similar to us all being at the bar, except we would all look a lot nicer, the food would be way better, and since Aaron and Marlowe provided transportation to and from the event, we would all be able to get a lot drunker, if that was even possible, but as I would find out later that, it certainly WAS possible.

Tasha and I parked our car at one of the valet pickup spots on Sunset Blvd. A few of us gathered into a pass van and made our way to the top of a mountain in Malibu wearing spring dresses and Calvin Klein suits. As the van climbed through the overcast skies into the upper stratosphere of this well known beach city, I stopped being able to see anything out the window than the road and the clouds. To be honest, it was pretty scary. The lanes going up the mountain were extremely narrow, and we had to pull over to let other cars pass us on the vertical trek to the house. Once we got there, it was pretty clear that we couldn’t see anything past the cliffs at the edge of the property. I had a few thoughts running through my head, one of them, was where the hell were we in relation to L.A., because none of us got any cell phone service up there. The other one was, just how much money did it cost to rent out a three million dollar mansion for the weekend, and how did Aaron get to know these people whose house he rented?

Aaron is a line producer and has worked on some big budget projects, and Marlowe is an exotic animal trainer, (hope I got that right) and she works at the L.A. Zoo, so I’m sure they have their connections. Still, I had been to Malibu before, but when we took a right turn off the Pacific Coast Highway and then headed up a steep road where I thought I was going to die a few times on the ride, I completely lost any sense of time and direction. Things would pretty much exist inside that bubble for the next 6 hours.

The location was decorated with black tablecloths, red roses, a stone patio, and a small set of chairs for the parents and the wedding party. We all gathered in the backyard of the mansion, and the ceremony took place just a few feet away from where we were standing. Most of us didn’t sit down for the ceremony, mainly because there weren’t any chairs for us to sit down in. I kind of liked the idea of Aaron and Marlowe having a wedding so quick and to the point, that within two minutes of them saying I do, and us all clapping and celebrating their union together, we were all at the bar, three feet away getting our drink on. It was just that kind of day. I knew from the start that this wouldn’t necessarily bring about any emotional revelations for me, nor would it bring me back to a time where I would reminisce about growing up with all these guys because for the most part, I had only known them for the last few years, but the people at this wedding are my west coast family, and I love them all, even if I don’t see them that much in between football seasons.

There was ahi tuna, steak, chicken, sushi, and other delicious food being passed around on server trays. Strong cocktails were being consumed all over the grounds, and a buffet was set up in the living room of the mansion where we could all gorge ourselves on many different types of meats, cheeses, salads and more apps. Aaron and Marlowe had what I called an “East Coast” California wedding. It wasn’t your traditional California wedding because there was so much bread and booze and food that you knew the Bride and Groom weren’t from California.  Aaron said that he wanted to keep the decorations and ceremony to a minimum, but he added one element we could all partake in that set this wedding apart from any other wedding I’ve been to. Gambling.

Not like real gambling where you lose your own money, however if we did run out of the fake cash in the perk pack we received at the start of the reception, we could pay for some more. I don’t remember if there were prizes or what not for the person with the most amount of chips, and I don’t recall any dancing or any other type of traditional wedding activities, although looking at this picture of Aaron and Marlowe below being held up on two wooden chairs, I could easily assume there was some traditional jewish element to it.

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Before I made my way up stairs where the blackjack, roulette, and poker tables were,  I had a few drinks, took some pictures with my boys, and ate a good amount of food, or so I thought. I got to be honest, that’s where the pictures stopped for me. It was as if as soon as I got a little bit more drunk than normal, I stopped taking pictures, the sun set, or at least the hazy ominous light from the where the sun would be if I could tell what direction I was facing had set, and I went up stairs with my bag of chips and sat at a table with Kym, John, and John’s “not” date to the wedding, Zenobia.

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John is like my brother from another mother. I mean, people literally think we are related. He’s a good guy with an creative sense of pride and he’s very opinionated, so we get along fine.  Kym was our server at the bar on Sundays for the past 6 years, and it may be true that Kym and I had a love/hate relationship sometimes, but that could possibly be attributed to the fact that we may or may not have gone out on a date or two that didn’t quite pan out, or ended with us getting totally drunk and screaming at each other in a public or private setting. Hey, sometimes those things happen and when they do happen, that’s when you know that some things just aren’t meant to be. She’s a comedienne, and a good person at heart, and maybe she’ll write me into her stand up routine one day if she hasn’t already. Finally, there was John’s “not date” to the wedding, Zenobia.

I didn’t really know Zenobia, but she kind of came off a little snobby to me, however I’m sure that had everything to do with the first question I asked her that night which was….. “What the hell kind of name is Zenobia?”

I never really got an answer. She seemed kind of…privileged. I don’t know where she is from, but I assume she probably moved here to be an actress from some place in the mid-west, possibly. She was younger than us, and acted very “west coast”  meaning she was not that friendly, kind of stand-offish, a little vapid, and trying so hard to be cool. It’s not all her fault, because if you put her in a room with a bunch of guys and girls who’ve all known each other for years and who have no filter on their mouths who also like to get drunk at weddings and on Sundays and don’t really care about the consequences, you might pick up on some or all of those traits I mentioned earlier. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism, maybe it’s just someone being a bitch. I don’t really know.  I kind of wanted to say…

We’re at a wedding, lighten up. Life isn’t that serious right now. Maybe have another glass of pink champagne and stop trying to be the coolest person in the room”

But look, I get that my group of Eagles boys and gals are an intimidating bunch, especially since we bust on each other a lot, and we all have big personalities. Regardless, I don’t really know or wanted to know what her deal was at this point, so after I blew all my money on roulette, blackjack and two hands of Pai Gow or whatever game we were playing, I made my way back downstairs to get myself another drink.

I traded in my empty glass for a full one. I was on my fourth, or maybe fifth vodka because at this point in the night, they just go down so easily. I turned around and started heading back into the house when I ran into Kristin. Kristin and I had hung out a couple times over the last few months, but we kept it really quiet because we both didn’t like people in our personal business. Of course, all of that is negated now that I am writing about her in a public blog.

I liked Kristin. She was a pretty, down to earth, and not like most of the girls in L.A. who think their shit doesn’t stink. She’s a tom boy, from the east coast, wasn’t an actress, nor confrontational, and she had a high level of self esteem. The downside was that she lived all the way in Venice, and I lived all the way in Hollywood, and shared a bedroom with Tasha which definitely complicated any and all dating scenarios that may have arose during that time. Kristen knew about my living situation and I guess she didn’t really care, at least not at this point in the night. So, without really saying much we started a self guided tour of the mansion and eventually disappeared somewhere inside that house.

“What about here?” I asked.

“The bathroom?” She stated. “Not going to work.”

We tried to make the bathroom work for a minute, but as it turns out, Kristin was right… that bathroom was quite cramped and way too bright, so on to plan B. Next, we did what anyone who was drunk at a wedding and looking to hook up would do, we found a bedroom in the back of the house that no one was currently using, we went in, and locked the door behind us.

I don’t know if anyone saw us but to be honest, the idea that somebody might have was kind of exciting. I mean, it felt like we were doing something wrong, even though technically we weren’t but morally we might have been, and in a certain sense I think that added a level of intrigue to the events that took place that night. It felt like we were getting away with something….for now anyway.

I did know that some people were staying over at the house that night as I could tell someone had claimed this room due to the fact that there was a bag of clothes and other personal belongings on the bed, like a hair curler and blow dryer. Oh shit…was this Aaron and Marlowe’s room? I kind of felt bad, but then I thought about the relationship Aaron and Marlowe have and how they probably would have encouraged two guests to hook up at their wedding, and since this bedroom was kind of small and located on the ground floor, the chances of this being the Bride and Groom’s suite for the night were pretty slim, so we continued with our carnal encounter.

Then, five minutes later, and before anything erotic or carnal could actually transpire, we heard a knocking on the door and a very agitated high pitched female voice asking who was in “their” room.

“Oh shit, who is that?” I whispered.

“I don’t know.” Kristin said. “But we better open the door.”

I so did NOT want to open that door. I kept wondering is there a window we could crawl out of? Is there a secret pathway back to the living room that we could escape into like the underground railroad? Let’s face it, we were trapped together and we were going to be found out. I just really hope it wasn’t Marlowe. To have the Bride find you getting it on in their bedroom not only would be embarrassing, it would be very disrespectful, and that’s the last thing I wanted to have happen.

“Get your shit together, I’m opening the door.” Kristin said.

I grabbed my shirt, my tie, and my suit jacket and then the door to the bedroom opened, and in marched the one person who I didn’t really want to talk to before, and who I definitely didn’t want to talk to or see at THIS point in the night. The one, the only, the unequivocally pissed off cockblocker of the night, Zenobia.

“What were you guys doing in here?” She stammered.

Just checking out the rest of the house.” I said with a shit eating grin on my face.

Yep, she hates me.  If she hadn’t before, she definitely did now and with that, we left Zenobia to wonder what had or had not just transpired in her room, and we made our way down the hall and back outside to the party, slightly embarrassed but also incredibly relieved. Once we were back in civilization, one of our friends was smoking a joint,  and we both decided to join in for a few puffs. If I hadn’t learned my lesson from getting stoned at weddings in the past, here’s where I had a crash course in reality, as everything finally became unravelled.

At first, I was overcome with a sense of giddy pride and accomplishment for almost being found out and the feeling that at some point in my life, I would be able to tell the story of what just happened and laugh about it, maybe years later. Then I thought about how good the food was at this wedding, but how I don’t really remember eating a lot of carbs or bread, even though there were plenty to go around. Then I started thinking about how many drinks I had drank that night which led to me getting the spins, and the uneasy feeling in my stomach that this was not going to have a happy ending like I wished it would have. Was there a double meaning in that statement? Probably, but all that was in the past right now and I was living in the present, the present where I could feel myself stumbling around in the darkness, trying to find a secluded place out of sight from the rest of the guests where I could do my dirtiest work of the night.

I’ve never gotten so drunk that I puked at a wedding before, let alone puked while wearing a suit and tie, but there’s always a first time for everything, right? Inevitably it happened, right there in front of what I think was the garage of this three million dollar house in Malibu. I ended up vomiting out the five or so drinks, and whatever ahi tuna, chicken or steak appetizers I had consumed in the hours before. For a minute, I couldn’t really tell where I was, or what was happening, but I knew I wouldn’t be feeling very good for awhile. And even though I’m sure she didn’t want to witness it, Kristin, like the sweetheart she is was there to help me up from the ground after my exasperating bout of regurgitating everything I had enjoyed eating at Aaron and Marlowe’s wedding.

We sat on the stones near the edge of the property and looked out into the dimly lit sky. I apologized again for having to put her through such a disgusting experience, and when she asked me if I was going to stay over, all I could think of was how badly I wanted to leave, brush my teeth, take off my puke suit, and go to bed. My head was pounding, my stomach was rumbling, and I just needed to find Tasha so we could catch the last ride back to civilization and go home.

Speaking of Tasha, where was she? I hadn’t seen her in what felt like all night. I went back into the house and walked around trying to find her, but to no avail. I asked a few people where she was, and they had said they had seen her in the back about an hour ago, but I still couldn’t find her. Then, all of a sudden I ran into John outside. He took one look at me and said…

“Dude, are you ok? You look like you’re about to puke.”

“Thanks John, but I already did that.” I replied.

Then I turned around and saw Tasha and Adam approaching us. There was something weird about them. I asked Tasha if she was ready to go and she said yes, but with a strange look on her face. Then I looked at Adam, and he had the exact strange look on his face too, as if they knew something I didn’t.

Did they hear about me and Kristin in the back room, or worse,.. did they disappear into a back room of their own?  Nah, I couldn’t see that happening. Don’t get me wrong, Adam is a good looking guy, and I always knew he and Tasha kind of liked each other, but I don’t think one of my friends would bang my ex-girlfriend at a wedding that I was also a guest at. This is my life, not Californication.

“Alright, well I just vomited all over what I think was the garage, so I’m ready to go.”  I said

“Great.” She said. “Let’s go.”

We said goodbye to whomever was within ear shot, and we grabbed our stuff and made our way down the dark and dimly lit driveway to the street where the last passenger van of the night was to pick us up. I wasn’t drunk anymore, and I was actually pretty happy we had a half hour ride back to the car from Malibu so I could rest my eyes for minute. We headed down the mountain via that creepy winding one lane road, and instead of looking out the window and fearing that we would tumble off the edge of the cliffs again, I just closed my eyes, and fell asleep. When I woke up thirty minutes later, I was cold, I was hungry, but it was time to get into the car and go home.

This was a strange wedding. I was happy for Aaron and Marlowe, the venue was apocalyptically beautiful, I got violently sick, and I feared for my life on the ride up to the house. I hooked up with another girl that wasn’t my date, and even though I thought I had a good time, if I had it to do over again, I think I might have done things differently. Mainly, I wouldn’t have gotten sick, I might have bet a little more with my head, instead of over it, and I would have tried to have a more traditional experience, but I live my life with no regrets, and I guess in some way it was part of the process.

I know Tasha and I weren’t together, but there was a part of me that still felt guilty about the events that transpired. I mean, just six months ago I was in Florida at P-Nut and Efia’s wedding and I was coming to so many emotional and grown-up realizations about life and love, that compared to this wedding I felt like I took a step back tonight. Maybe I was being too hard on myself, or maybe I just didn’t feel good and I was taking things too seriously. I’m allowed to have fun, and not every wedding needs to be a positive learning lesson, right? I guess when it comes down to it, I just feel like in my life I want to evolve, not digress.

I started my car and let it warm up a bit and I turned on some music and put on my glasses I need to see the road with, but still something was on my mind and I had to get it out in the most honest and blunt way I know.

Did you bang Adam?” I casually asked Tasha.

“What? No I did NOT bang Adam. How can you ask me that?” She replied.

“You made out with him though, right?” I said in a matter of fact tone.

“Adam is cute, so yeah maybe we made out.” She said.

“Ok that’s fine.” I replied.

Honestly, I was fine with it. I know Tasha is a pretty girl and Adam is a good looking guy and at wedding two attractive people will flirt and sometimes get drunk and maybe they will end up making out with each other. I mean, I certainly had no room to talk.

You sure you didn’t bang him?” I asked half jokingly.

“Shut up Christian, let’s just go home.” She replied.

And with that, I put the car in drive, released the E-brake and I drove me and my ex-girlfriend/roommate/business partner back to the one bedroom apartment in Hollywood we shared with my pet cat, and her pet rabbit. Just one “sometimes happy yet always slightly dysfunctional” family.

It would be a little over a year before Tasha and I went to another wedding together, but before I made my final appearance as a groomsman in a wedding on the east coast with all of my best friends from high school in attendance, something really big was about to happen in me and Tasha’s professional life. However as we would soon come to learn, in Hollywood, something is still really nothing, until it’s really something.

Last wedding: June 16th, 2015

Follow on Twitter @CMarc333

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

Jason & Efia (Part 2)

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Tasha and I woke up the next morning, and it would be an understatement to say we were a little hung over. Still, we made our way to the free coffee and continental breakfast bar and met up with a few of the guests and the wedding party. Most of them were there, except for Nicola who was still nursing her hangover in her hotel room. I grabbed a coffee and went outside to revel in the beautiful weather, and as much as I was looking forward to eating something free, I kind of wanted a breakfast sandwich which was not an option at the hotel so Tasha, Dave and I decided to take a drive into town past the area of last night’s post rehearsal dinner crime scene and onto the outskirts of the FSU campus.

We drove past a place called Zaxby’s which apparently is like the Chi-Fil-A of the south, and arrived at a well known college haunt called “Bagel Bagel.” Pretty much everything is served on a bagel there. They had pizza bagels, lox and bagels, & bacon, ham and turkey bagels.  After I incinerated the roof of my mouth from my breakfast sandwich, we all headed back to the hotel gym where Tasha and I would attempt to sweat out some of the alcohol from the previous night, while Parr and Chad sat in the hot tub enjoying the warm Florida weather in October. Shaun had to go to Jos. A Bank to pick up his tux which hopefully fit well, V.J. was shit out of luck when it came to acquiring a better fitting vest, and I believe Swift found a pair of pants which is evident in the photo below.

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(From L to R: VJ, Swift, Parr, Nut, Chad, Gary, Me, Shaun)

We headed over to the Golden Eagle Country Club and were ushered into a room upstairs. We all sat at a big wooden table as Chad broke out his binder and went over his duties as the minister of ceremonies. This was Chad’s second go around marrying two of his friends, so he was definitely a little more comfortable than P-Nut was, being that A. Chad had been here before, and B. P-Nut hadn’t.  There were some chips and sodas and sandwiches in the room, but no one was really eating nor talking a lot, probably due to the fact that we were all pretty lethargic and still feeling the effects of last night’s boozefest.

I can’t imagine what goes through the mind of someone who is about to get married in an hour.  Perhaps their whole single life flashes before their eyes? Perhaps all the moments leading up to this day come rushing back as they’re overwhelmed with emotion and nervousness, or perhaps they’re just so excited and overjoyed to finally be able to say “I do” to the love of their life in front of all their friends and family that they find it hard to communicate their feelings, or maybe they just want to be still and contemplate the next few hours in the hopes that everything goes right. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have that moment in my life, but right now the only thing going through my mind was how dehydrated I was, how happy I felt for my friend on his wedding day, and how I wish I had gotten a hair cut before I flew out for the wedding because this mop on my head closely resembled an unkempt piece of shit.

I’ve always had an issue with my hair, that issue being that I spend far too much thinking about it. It’s amazing to me that we put so much emphasis on dead protein filaments growing out of our head, but ever since 3rd grade when I idolized Jon Bon Jovi and used to spend fifteen minutes in the morning sculpting and “mousseing” my hair, I’ve always felt the need to want it to look cool. Was I succeeding in that quest that afternoon when P-Nut and Efia were about to get married? Absolutely not. On the other hand, P-Nut was having no issues what so ever. His hair looked like a dirty blonde mane, perfectly textured and styled to resemble the crest of a wave breaking on the Jersey shore. Mine looked like a dirty pile of hay sitting in a puddle in the streets of Philadelphia after a long rain storm, but as I had to remind myself, it wasn’t about me that day.

The wedding party met up with the wedding planner who went over the procession one more time and made sure that none of us screwed it up but especially, none of the groomsmen. I was the first to proceed down the grassy aisle with bridesmaid number one on my arm, which meant that I would be the groomsman furthest away from the Groom, or according to my theory, the worst friend. Wait, is it possible that this was P-Nut’s way of getting back at me for being a dick to him in high school? I don’t think so, but did he even want me to be in his wedding party at all?  Come to think of it, I don’t remember him even asking me to be a groomsman. I recall a few months back he told me he had something to talk to me about, so when I called him I basically assumed I knew what it was and when he answered the phone I said…

“Hey P-Nut, I would love to be a groomsman at your wedding.”

That statement was immediately met by an awkward silence. I think there was a issue with having an equal amount of bridesmaids to groomsmen, but eventually, it all got sorted out and the six groomsmen and six bridesmaids made their way to the “shore of marriage” before the man and woman of the hour proceeded down the aisle.

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P-Nut in his tux and perfect hair looked pretty good that day, but let’s be honest, Efia looked better. She was decked out in a gorgeous white gown, smiling ear to ear reminiscent of a classic Hollywood beauty as her father walked her down the aisle to meet “Jason” at the alter. I had a thought… What is it like to give your daughter away on her wedding day? I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a daughter, let alone multiple daughters, or what it must be like to go through the process of getting married and having to give these daughters away, but I would imagine by the time you got to that point in your life as a father, you’ve gotten past all that.

The minister of ceremonies, a.k.a. Chad presided over the formal tradition between his best friend and Nut’s beautiful bride to be. As he began to speak and reminded us all of why we were gathered there today, he was being slightly overshadowed by one of the children at the wedding who was not completely behaving themselves, and may or may not have started talking and screaming during the part where everyone was supposed to be contemplative and quiet. Chad continued on, but after a couple more outbursts, P-Nut’s mom took it upon her self to remind her grandson exactly where they were, and what the appropriate behavior was.

“Zip it! We’re in the middle of a beautiful ceremony!” She said.

I looked over to Parr the way Jim from the Office would look into the camera when Dwight said something ridiculous…or at least I tried to look over at Parr, but since I was all the way at the end of the line of groomsman, and he was at the other end, I’m not sure if he saw me. Regardless, Chad continued on with the reading of the vows, and then I started to hear weeping and crying. At first, from my vantage point I thought it was coming from where the guests were seated, like maybe a cousin or a mom was just overwhelmed with joy and couldn’t contain themselves, but then I realized it was coming from the same plane that I was on, a little further down the line right where the Bride and Groom were standing.  Aww, that’s sweet I thought. Efia is getting all teary eyed on her special day. Only thing was, it turned out it wasn’t the Bride who was crying tears of happiness, it was the Groom.

My initial reaction was at some point later during the reception we would all bust on P-Nut for balling like a little girl at his own wedding, cause that’s what guy friends do who have known each other for twenty plus years. I imagine Gary would grab a few napkins and hand them to P-Nut after the ceremony and tell him that “these are just in case you get a little too emotional on your honeymoon,” and we would all have a laugh and no harm would be done. However, in the moment as I watched one of my best friends cry during one of the most vulnerable and happy moments in his life, I got to admit, I was kind of envious.

Look, I’ve definitely gotten emotional and teared up a bit during a touching part of a movie, but I’ve never cried tears of joy. I don’t know what it’s like to be so in love with someone and happy to be with them that in the moment, I’m unable to hold back the water works streaming down my face while I look into the eyes of my soulmate on my wedding day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve cried before, but not because I was happy, it was because I had lost something, or someone. I cried when Tasha and I broke up all three times, and I cried when our cat Jose died, and most recently, (and I can’t believe I am admitting this in my blog), but this past holiday season when I was sad and depressed for many reasons, I found myself listening to the EDM song “Leave It All Behind” by Dash Berlin.  It was Christmas Eve, I was alone in my apartment, and I was incredibly moved by the lyrics that apparently hit too close to home that I ended up balling my eyes out and breaking down on the floor of my kitchen while the song played in the background. Go ahead, you can laugh. I know it’s pretty funny when someone sheds a tear to “electronic dance music.”

Tears of sadness are a common thing, and there have been many times in my life when I laughed so hard I cried, but I don’t know what it’s like to be so affected by the love I have for someone else that it causes me to shed tears of gratification. I can’t even find the words to describe what was going through my mind that day, but I knew in that moment how much P-Nut really cared and loved Efia, and how for most of my life I’ve been missing that feeling and longing for that connection with someone. Truth is, I never busted his balls for crying at his own wedding. When the ceremony was over and he and Efia were officially husband and wife and everyone was smiling and clapping, the only thing I felt for my friend was a complete and total sense of pride and respect. If I hadn’t said it before, at least he knows how I feel now.

All the groomsmen and bridesmaids were now subject to the part of the wedding where we were secluded like prisoners from the drinks, the apps and everyone else at the wedding to engage in the arduous task of taking pictures.  The groomsmen had to wait while the Bride, Groom and the parents of the Bride and Groom were getting their pictures first, followed by the bridesmaids, then the groomsmen, then finally all of us together. I took it upon myself to grab some beers for us while we sat around and waited for our time to snap a few memorable moments. You can see in the picture below how Gary made use the groomsmen gift we got from P-Nut while we were waiting for the photographer.

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Also below you can see how horrific my hair looked that day.

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After the pictures, we were all announced to the ballroom full of guests by our legal names, except for Parr, aka Joseph T. Carr whose was announced to everyone who could hear the Emcee butcher his name…..

Now, making his way into the ballroom is ‘James’ T Carr.”

Yeah, that was it. Here comes our good ol’ friend “James.” How do you mess that up? Sure, Joseph and James are similar, because they both start with the letter J, but clearly one has an extra syllable plus a different vowel in it. As the kids used to say back in 2012, THAT was an “epic fail.”

After the wedding party was announced and all of our duties were completed, we all found our seats, got settled in, ordered a drink and then hit the buffet. Ahhh, the buffet. I think I went back twice that afternoon for more food. I must have had two helpings of the shrimp and grits because it was excellent, an extra large potion of the lobster mac and cheese, and I’m pretty sure I threw some greens and chicken in there, but it was pretty much all carbs all day for me. There was a lot of southern home-style food at this spread which is what I would expect from a wedding that took place in the panhandle of Florida. The food was great, the drinks were being drank, but I gotta be honest, none of us were really pounding down the alcohol, especially Nicola who was a few seats away from me and Tasha at the table, definitely still hung over and apparently “on water” that afternoon.

That’s me and Tasha speak for not drinking alcohol in case you didn’t know. It came about two months ago when we were at the Golden Nugget in Vegas, and we were pretty buzzed and I noticed these two girls sitting at the bar who could have been hookers, but could have also just been “randos” who were just on the prowl, but they looked suspect to the former. Anyway, I leaned over to Tasha and said to her.

“Watch me freak these girls out.”

Then I told the bartender “we” wanted to buy them a drink. He came back a few minutes later and told us their reply was “Thank you, but no thank you.” Apparently one the girls already had a drink, and the other one was, as he put it, “on water.” Is that anything like “on ecstasy” or “on LSD?”  Tasha and I started cracking up because I’m sure those chicks thought we were making an indecent proposal, but the truth is, we just like to fuck with people we don’t know when we’re drunk. Try it sometime. It’s pretty fun.

Anyway, we were on alcohol, Nicola was on water, and P-Nut and Efia were on the dance floor, while Chad stood in front of them, and asked for us all to quiet down as he raised his glass of champagne and gave a heart warming speech to the newly married couple. You might remember Chad from getting married to Mary in a past blog entry of mine, and you might remember P-Nut from such past speeches as “Diarrhea of the Mouth at Chad’s & Mary’s Wedding.” If you don’t, you can always go back and read “Chad & Mary (Part 2)” to recall some of the things he ineptly said to the Bride, the Groom, and the room full of 200 plus wedding guests that day. In the meantime, here we are three years later and Chad was finally able to give P-Nut a little payback as he toasted his friends, while bringing up the wedding speech within a wedding speech.

At this point, the wedding speech retribution was accomplished, life had come full circle, and it was time for the Bride and Groom to unknowingly predict the next two singles who were to get married. Efia stood in front of a small gaggle of single ladies, and on the count of three, she tossed her bouquet into the air over her shoulder, and into the hands of…. Tasha. That’s right. Tasha caught the bouquet, again. She caught it at CJ & Shauna’s wedding too, but I didn’t remember it happening until she told me two weeks ago after I wrote that entry. So there she was on the sidelines, bouquet in hand as all the gents gathered on the dance floor behind P-Nut and waited for him to wind up and enthusiastically toss the garter over his shoulder, and into a dwindling group of single men including me and three of my single friends. It was pretty much not a contest at all. Gary, Parr and Shaun were standing behind me and to my left, each with drinks in their hands which unequivocally gave me the advantage in catching it, and anchored to my right was an older gentleman in a blue flannel who had either changed clothes, or just wondered into the a wedding reception that day.

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That’s me with the garter in my hand raising it up over my head after catching it like I just won the Stanley Cup, and that’s Parr, Gary, and Shaun, with their drinks in their hand and a look on their faces as if to say, “Of course he caught it” because as it turns out, it landed right in front of my feet on the dance floor. I had to pick it up.  P-Nut isn’t the most athletic guy I know, but also in his defense, a garter don’t make for a very good projectile.

So I caught the garter, and Tasha caught the bouquet for the first time in the five weddings we attended together. I knew this would eventually happen. To be honest, I was happy it was her who I was forced to humiliate myself with in front of all of P-Nut and Efia’s friends and family for next few minutes. In classic wedding tradition, she sat in a chair on the dance floor, and I got down to business. With careful meditation I assessed the situation, took the garter in my teeth and applied said garter to her upper right thigh with precise precision and calculated accuracy. It even might had tickled her a little bit, and it definitely made for a good show.

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After looking at the pictures of the wedding, the reception, and the ones later on in the evening when a teenager named Brandon tried to teach us all how to perfect the “Gangnum Style” dance, it really brought me back to a joyous and wonderful weekend in my life.  Almost three years ago, I had gotten a speeding ticket at the start of the weekend, Tasha and I were flat broke and living together in a one bedroom apartment in L.A., and we didn’t know what raw deal life was going to hand us next, yet we were able to let all of that go for awhile and be a part of the start of Jason and Efia’s new life together.

This wedding was like a milestone in my adult life. I wasn’t the one getting married, or giving a heartfelt humorous speech to my friend on the dance floor. I wasn’t about to go on a honeymoon to Hawaii, nor was I making the last payment on a diamond ring I bought almost two years ago. However, I felt like I had grown up a bit that weekend as I watched yet another one of my best friends from high school start a new chapter in a novel new life with someone they love. Love is the only word I know where I can use all the other words in the English language to try and describe it, but it still can never be truly defined.

I may not be able to fully comprehend P-Nut & Efia’s love for one another, but they caused me see love in a different way, a way that I could define for myself.  The events of that weekend made me cry just a little, and laugh just a little bit louder because it reminded me of how even though life may stress us out or make us ask why, at the end of the day, if you have someone you can come home to and you care about them more than anything else in the world and they tell you “everything is going to be ok”.… then you love someone, and they love you, and you’re the luckiest person on earth.

I’ve loved Tasha as my girlfriend before, but situations change and now we love each other in a different way. She’s still the first one I go to when I feel anxious about where my life is headed, and she’s still the only one I talk to truthfully when I’m feeling down and depressed. Sure, I may not have cried at my own wedding like a little sissy boy, (just kidding Nut!) but I do understand what it’s like to love someone in my own way, and I think for now, I’m ok with that.

Yeah, living with Tasha over the next year was a little difficult, I’m not gonna lie. We argued at times, we wanted to kill each other a lot, and neither one of us got laid much at all. We were working together on this project that we really believed in, even if the synopsis of our partnership and the logline of the show still had some room to grow. Trust me, to put yourself in an position where you sleep a foot away from your ex, but on a separate bed, and split cable, power, and water bills each month, but still take separate showers shows that you must really love someone, or some thing enough to put up with those awkward and unaccommodating moments.

I may not understand crying when you’re happy love, but maybe one day I will. I know that Tasha and I share a love for each other, even though it’s different from P-Nut and Efia’s or Chad and Mary’s or different from the love that you share with your spouse or significant other. And I know what you’re thinking…..how could you live “the married life” within the same four walls as your ex-girlfriend and NOT sleep with her.  Am I right? Believe me, I STILL hear that question, and the answer STILLl is it just never happened. But you know what, it’s alright if you don’t believe me. I wouldn’t expect you to fully understand “our” love.

When we all got back to the hotel, the wedding party sat around in the lobby drinking a few beers and eating pizza that I bought for everyone. We were all a little tired, yet somehow, still a little hungry and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the four hour drive back to Atlanta the next day so we could catch our flight home. I honestly wished we could have stayed a little longer and spent more time with our friends. As I’ve gotten older, and as my single friends have gone the way of the dinosaur, I’m starting to realize that there aren’t many more of these weddings left to go to. I guess that’s why I had a hard time saying goodbye to everyone that afternoon.

Dave and Shaun had to catch their flight, Parr, Gary, Desiree and Nicola had a long drive back to Jersey, and Chad and Mary had to pack up their stuff and their son Bastian and head back home. Sure, I know I’ll see them all again soon, but logically the next time we’re all together it will most likely be for someone’s wedding.  It certainly won’t be my wedding, even though the perfect unmarried couple caught the bouquet and the garter that afternoon. I guess sometimes life is bittersweet.

Tasha and I made it to the airport the next afternoon by driving exactly what the posted speed limit was the whole way through Georgia. It was a nice drive, and it only took us five and a half hours to drive 261 miles, plus I saved some money on the flight by flying in and out of Atlanta. What about that speeding ticket I got at the beginning of the trip? Well yeah, that part sucked, but I eventually did pay it when I got back home. No speeding ticket was going to negate the fact that I was honored to have been a part of my best friend’s special day.

On the airplane ride back to Los Angeles, I smiled to Tasha, put on my headphones and sat back in my discounted seat while I fondly recalled the events of the weekend, as I just kept telling myself  “I saved some money on the flight.”

Next Wedding: June 10th, 2015

Follow on Twiter @CMarc333

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

Jason & Efia (Part 1)

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

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

“Thanks officer.” I say regrettably.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Give me the dollar!” Barron said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You mean Desiree?” I said.

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

“How so?” I asked.

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

“That was sweet.” I replied.

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

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

Part 2: June 3rd, 2015

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

CJ & Shauna

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Me too” I replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re from Hollywood.” Tasha said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is this it?”

I think so.” She replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” I asked.

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

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

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

“What are we going to do?” She asked.

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

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

Next Wedding May 27th, 2015

Follow on Twitter @CMarc333

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

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

Heather & Shaw

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Less than two months removed from Chad and Mary’s wedding, Tasha and I had another union of two beloved souls to attend. My friends and co-workers Heather and Shaw were getting married in Ojai, California. The story of how they met could and should be the premise to a romantic workplace comedy. Heather and Shaw had worked side by side together at the same restaurant as me for the past 6 years. We were all bartenders at the Grill on Hollywood, and some time around the moment I met her, Heather swore to me and to everyone else who would listen that she was going to marry Shaw and have his baby.  And sure enough, after both of them had broken up with their respective exes, and dated for a couple of years, it was announced that they were going to get married and start a life together, one which everyone knew would eventually happen. They truly were a Hollywood story and I’ve got to give it to Heather, I admired her determination in pursuing Shaw, and in some ways it was inspiring to me that two people could get through the years when things weren’t perfect, the sometimes dramatic state of working together, and their past exes that almost stood in the way of their happiness. But when you love someone, none of that really matters. Love will always find a way, and it did on October 10, 2009.

Tasha and I were invited to both the rehearsal dinner AND the wedding, even though neither one of us was actually IN the wedding party. Lucky us, right? So on a Friday afternoon, we drove up to Ventura, dropped our stuff off at one of Tasha’s friends’ house where we were staying, and got dressed for the dinner. For some ungodly reason I had only brought two button down shirts for the weekend. One was a powder blue dress shirt that I was planning on wearing to the wedding because it matched my suit and tie, the other shirt was this fire engine red form fitting piece from Express I had bought way back in 2004 when I think the store was still called “Structure.” Tasha took one look at it and exclaimed with skepticism…

“Are you really going to wear THAT shirt?”

What choice did I have? I had only packed one other shirt, and I couldn’t wear it two days in a row cause that would just look stupid, like I wasn’t classy enough to own TWO different dress shirts. So, I regrettably buttoned up my stop sign colored shirt and we headed out to Suzanne’s Cuisine for the rehearsal dinner. I was really excited to go to the wedding, but also excited because I had just gotten my first medicinal marijuana card, and I was prepared with two joints to smoke out my friend Rus and whomever else would like to partake in such a pre-wedding ritual. However, I probably should have known by now that me + pot + weddings are just never a good mix. Somehow, in the most entertaining way for the other guests at the wedding, this prophecy would eventually come true later that night. But before all that happened, we would arrive slightly earlier to the restaurant than we needed to, even before the Bride, Groom, and the wedding party would get there. I love being early, but I wouldn’t say that “being early” was a theme that would continue for the rest of the weekend, but we’ll get into that later.

Tasha and I had been to a couple weddings together already if you include the time where we met and subsequently where my ass almost got kicked for dancing with her. It was that night when Shaw gave me the greatest advice in the world to pursue Tasha, and I was totally grateful for that advice, regardless of the fact that we were currently kind of not really a couple anymore, but still living together like white trash whores. I mean, she is a great person first and foremost, and the perfect date to bring to weddings. It’s just that we couldn’t seem to figure out this “relationship” part of our scenario. However, that didn’t matter that much as we were here to enjoy the company of others, and witness the union of Shaw and Heather, two people who I always knew were meant to be together.

Heather and Shaw opted for the open bar the night BEFORE the wedding, meaning tomorrow would be a beer and wine festival. I got myself and Tasha a drink and then we all sat down at our assigned tables to have dinner. I was seated at a table with a few friends I used to work with at The Grill, including my old GM, Dmitri. Dmitri and I had one of the strangest relationships ever. He was just one year older than me, but it felt like a decade was between us. He was very strict and methodical in his style, and of course a big Tiger Woods fan, who everyone knows is the whitest black guy in sports. He even teared up a bit nine years ago when it was announced that Tiger’s Dad passed away. Also, that last fact may or may not have been embellished for effect. I do remember that Dmitri was a great manager first and foremost, and he expected the best from people and commanded respect, but at the same time, he was kind of a dick to me sometimes and it was extremely tough on my ego when I worked there. Albeit, I was the sometimes insubordinate, loose cannon of the bartenders back then, and since Dmitri loved to micro manage everyone at The Grill, it was no surprise that I was one of his favorite employees to intimidate on a daily basis.

Luckily, I didn’t work there anymore, and neither did he. Unluckily, he was seated two spots down from me at the dinner table, so when he saw his place card and Tasha, my date sitting next to me, he immediately struck up a conversation which may or may not have been pretty passive aggressive. I came to expect getting my balls busted from Dmitri on a regular basis, and to some extent, he was very well behaved that night, and I think just a little inquisitive as to how I could get such a pretty lady to date me for almost two years. We told him the story of how Tasha and I met, which included highlights from Christine and Joey’s wedding, whom speaking of were sitting just a couple tables away. To his credit, Dmitri behaved himself pretty well that night, and we all did end up having a nice conversation that eventually gravitated towards the exotic choice of the “stop sign red” colored button down shirt I had chosen to wear. No one else was in bright colors, probably because they all had the sense to wear black or pastels to a rehearsal dinner, unlike me. At one point, it seemed like Tasha and Dmitri were all buddy buddy and had teamed up to mock my outfit that night, but I got Tasha back.

After I had finished my steak, and before the dishes had been cleared, I noticed one small piece of meat left on Tasha’s plate that had gone uneaten. Tasha was engaged in conversation with someone else at the table at this point, so I decided that it was such a shame to waste a gorgeous piece of filet like that, so I gave it a new home when she wasn’t looking, in my mouth. About ten seconds later, Tasha turned around and looked at her plate, which was now empty and then turned to me and said.

“Did you just eat my last piece of steak?”

With my mouth full and still chewing, I gave the only response that could justify the robbery I had pulled off. In a matter-of-fact tone I simply stated to her.

“It was filet mignon. Can’t waste it.”

“I know. I was planning on eating it myself, jerk.” She said.

And with that, our plates were finally cleared and the entertainment for the night began with a few nice speeches, and a healthy dose of Heather’s favorite pastime, karaoke. I met up with Rus out in the parking lot who was a good friend of mine, also a  Philadelphia Eagles fan, and from the same town in NJ as me, although we didn’t meet each other until we were introduced through his soon to be wife Dara who also worked at The Grill. Rus loved pot so he and I sparked a joint near my car right before I saw someone approaching us and I started to panic. Not “panic attack” panic, just regular panic that flows through my mind and body when I feel like something I’m doing may be inappropriate in some way. I mean, I didn’t work at the Grill anymore, but Rus still did, and I didn’t know if I should hide the joint, or offer it to this person who did work there and may or may not have been higher up on the totem pole than Rus and I ever were.

“Hey.” this person said.

“What’s up?” I asked.

Can I get a hit off that?”  

And with that, I partook in toking up with a good friend of mine, and my old co-worker, BEFORE I decided to sign up to sing karaoke in front of everyone I knew and had worked with the past 5 years. What could possibly go wrong, right?

I came back in the restaurant, and flipped through the song book. There were a lot of songs I didn’t know how to sing, so I wanted to choose a song that I knew the words to, was special and meant something to me, and one that I could dedicate to Tasha so if everything else failed, at least I had good intentions from the start. I stopped flipping through the book around the letter C, and picked the song “Round Here” by Counting Crows. I know most people don’t necessarily like Counting Crows, but fuck them, I LOVE that band. I have almost every single album, and on a more personal note, the band holds a special place in my heart as tracks 1-7 on their fist album “August and Everything After” were playing in the background way back in 1993 when I lost my virginity. That’s about a half hour-forty five minutes of music, so yeah, I lasted that long my first time.

Heather was currently belting out what I think was a Britney Spears song, and I was up next so I made my way to the bathroom to splash some water on my face and gain some confidence. I had NEVER sang karaoke before that night, and I still get kind of self conscious about doing things like this even though I had THC/ alcohol courage in me. My heart was beating a mile a minute because I was really nervous about embarrassing myself in front of most of my friends and all of their family. As I looked at my flushed complexion in the mirror, which ironically matched the shirt I wore that night, I knew I either had to go out there and totally nail the song vocally, or just completely go for it and commit myself to the song, regardless of what I was hearing in the monitor. Being as how I had not sang in front of an audience for over 10 years, and I had never sang karaoke before in my life, let alone in front of a room of people I knew, I chose the latter.

My performance that night was legendary. Not so much because of the stellar vocals or the fact that I stayed on key when singing the song, because neither of those things happened. Let’s just say, I put forth the effort, but I was definitely not making it to the next round of American Idol. What did happen though is that per my plan, I totally “devoted” myself to the song, and belted out one of the most memorable three minutes and thirty-nine seconds of the night. I could tell my voice was cracking and straining when I hit the high notes, but by the end I definitely had everyone’s attention, regardless of the fact of whether or not it had to do with how horrendously jarring that rendition of “Round Here” truly was, or the fact that I had the microphone in one hand, and Tasha’s hand in my other during some sort of indie-college rock serenade. Tasha was definitely laughing while everyone else’s jaws were on the floor. Not so much for how great the rendition was, but moreover because of the fact that I sounded like a whaling dead animal being amplified by a microphone while wearing a beet colored shirt.

After my performance, I received a modicum amount of applause, and was approached by my friend Asher who patted me on the back for fully committing while he simultaneously slipping me a dollar bill into my shirt pocket like a stripper. Seeing as how I didn’t want to endure any more embarrassment, or cause any more embarrassment to the soon to be Bride and Groom, about a half hour later we left the party and  Tasha and I headed back to Ventura to Tracy’s house where we were staying for some much needed sleep before the wedding tomorrow.

The next afternoon in the car went something like this.

“I’m sorry.” Tasha said to me for a second time.

I know.” I replied. “It’s ok.”

We were headed to the wedding which was about a half hour drive from Tracy’s house. The wedding started at 1pm according to the invite, and according to the clock in my car it was currently 1:07 and we were going to be late. I hate being late. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves, and even though Tasha was apologizing for taking a little too much time to get ready that morning I knew driving on that one lane road at thirty-five miles an hour we were just going to be late to the wedding. There was nothing I could do about it at this point, and what was the use of arguing or getting upset? I just wanted to get there.

As we pulled into the packed parking lot of The First Presbyterian Church of Ojai at around 1:15pm, I didn’t see any wedding guests milling about outside. Not a good sign. My fears had manifested. We were going to walk in looking like assholes while the wedding was already happening, maybe even after Heather and Shaw had walked down the aisle already. I so did not want that to happen, so we got out of the car, locked the doors and ran into the church to find it full of wedding guests sitting in the pews dressed to the nines talking to each other. By some stroke of luck, the ceremony hadn’t started yet. It was either luck or it was the fact that they held up the wedding by fifteen minutes like they hold the doors at a Broadway show or a play in Hollywood. Nothing really starts on time anymore, and I was definitely thankful for that.

We took a seat in a pew in front of Christine and Joey, and about five minutes later, the wedding began. Heather looked amazing as she walked down the aisle  I had never seen her so happy before in all my life. And Shaw looked like an uber stud up there, smiling ear to ear while watching the love of his life walk towards him beautifully decked out in her all white wedding gown. This was one of those moments in life when I knew in my heart how much Heather and Shaw had loved each other from the first moment they met, and how many obstacles they had to overcome before they could get to this point. I was really happy for them, and I may have even gotten a little teary-eyed during the ceremony, especially when Shaw was reciting his vows to Heather and got a little choked up himself. But that just showed me how much they really cared and loved one another.

One of the main reasons I enjoy weddings so much is that it proves to me for a moment in time and hopefully for an eternity that love, no matter how difficult to define is truly real and does exist. I don’t know when or if it will find me again, but I was grateful that I could feel it and see it that afternoon in Ojai at their wedding.

We spent about a half hour after the ceremony taking pictures and talking with the other wedding guests outside the church before we all loaded ourselves onto the complimentary shuttle service that brought us to the reception. The reception was held both indoors and outdoors at the Ranch House. Indoors was reserved for the wedding party, family and close friends, and the rest of us freeloaders were seated outside with a view to the inside where all the important people where congregating. It was beautifully decorated, and every table had a different movie for it’s theme. There was only beer and wine offered at Heather and Shaw’s reception that afternoon, and I have to say I was initially disappointed that I couldn’t get my classic dirty ketel martini that afternoon, but ultimately I understood.

If I haven’t stated this before, weddings are expensive, especially the catering/beverage part. I don’t know how much exactly because I’ve never gotten married, but I would imagine between the endless appetizers, the cases of wine and beer, renting out the location for the rehearsal and the reception, and the cost of dinner for all the guests, it adds up. Not to mention the fact that the married couple is paying for a wedding planner, and paying the salary of every catered employee walking around with mini chicken pot pies and coconut shrimp on a platter. Speaking of food, Shaw and Heather had some deliciously choice appetizers at the reception, but I wasn’t surprised at such a high quality of food from a couple who met at a fine dining restaurant where a perfectly cooked filet goes for $45-$50, and a glass of Pinot Noir will run you about $14.

Now came the time for the wedding party announcements, that point in the night when everybody turns around and watches each bridesmaid and groomsman enter the dining room floor, all leading up to the announcement of Mr. and Mrs. Shaw Jones. As they came through the wooden gate which surrounded the patio of the restaurant, I snapped the perfect photo of the new Bride and Groom, capturing them in a moment in time that I feel needs no words to describe. It’s the one at the top of this entry.

We were all seated at round tables with little tents that had the different movie posters attached to them like I mentioned before. I don’t remember which movie me and Tasha had, but I think it was either “Pretty in Pink”, or “Some Kind of Wonderful”, two classic 80s movies I loved. Me and Tasha and the rest of our table were also really happy that we didn’t get seated at the “Titanic” table tent table for obvious reasons, but then again, that table was inside where the A-listers were. Over at the C-list table was me, Tasha, Jason, who I think spent the night lamenting about his failed relationship with a girl who was coincidentally at the same wedding, OR lamenting about how he wanted to ask out one of the girls who was also at the same wedding. Next to Jason was an empty seat, and next to the empty seat was some rando blonde girl who none of us knew.

Don’t get me wrong, she was really sweet and wore a red flower in her hair, but for some reason made the ominous choice to wear a black dress to the wedding. I mean, if I’m going out to the club (which I do soooo much of) or to a nice dinner, I wear black because it’s cool and slimming, but out of all the events we as humans celebrate, the most joyous and happiest event IS a wedding, which she was currently at, NOT a funeral where black is the norm. Oh well, to each is own. At least she didn’t wear white. That would have been a total fashion faux pas.

For dinner, we had butternut squash soup, which was all the rage back then, and then I think prime rib for the main course which was topped with a peculiar orange sauce that I really enjoyed. After dinner and dessert, which I believe was a mass collection of gourmet cupcakes, of which I had about four of, Shaw and Heather made a truly noble and humbling speech thanking everyone for coming. There was a short time when Tasha and I tried to dance on the smallest dance floor in the history of dance floors, but ultimately, we gave up because it was hot as hell in that room, and we kept getting pushed off the four foot by four foot wooden square and had to dance on the grass in the dark which just wasn’t the same.

As the sun set in Ojai, the rest of the night was pretty mellow. I think after the last two weddings we attended, Tasha and I appreciated the more classic experience of Heather and Shaw’s wedding where at least on OUR end, nothing really crazy happened. No one grabbed anyone’s ass by accident, no one made any ridiculous speech that warranted interruption, and no one almost drove us to an early grave by jumping the curb on the streets of Philadelphia.

What I really appreciated about the weekend was that I saw this whole wedding play out from all the way back in 2004. I knew them both from the start before they were a couple and when we were all working together at The Grill. Then a few years later, I knew them in a different way when they WERE a couple and I returned for a short time to work there again. Then the next time I saw them, they were asking for my address to send me an invitation to their wedding. It’s like I was there through three different stages of their life together, BEFORE they even started their life together. I like that. I like that things may have changed in every stage that I knew them, but regardless, I knew that they were meant to be. Like I said before, this was a romantic comedy in the making, and one with a happy ending like we all want to have in our life.

On the ride back to L.A. that night something was plaguing my brain. I didn’t know where I stood with Tasha. Where was our happy ending? Hell, where was the part of our story where I knew that I would be with her forever? Truth is, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the next few months, or how things were going to play out in our “relationship” if you could call it that at this point.  Something had to change, because I swear if one more person at Heather and Shaw’s wedding had told us WE should get married and have babies I was going to rip my hair out. How could we get married when we sometimes couldn’t even be in the same room as each other?

Look, I knew me and Tasha were meant to meet each other. I’ve always known that, but maybe we had a different path to go down. Were we meant to be? Perhaps, but perhaps not in the traditional sense. What if “meant to be” for us doesn’t necessarily mean falling in love, getting married, having babies, and living happily ever after? There is nothing wrong with that scenario, but what if our “meant to be” means something totally different? What if it means something bigger than what we could even comprehend at the time six years ago?  Regardless of all these thoughts in my head that night, we definitely had time to figure it out, as it would be almost two years before Tasha and I went to a another wedding together.

Next Wedding: May 6th, 2015

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

shawandheathercollage

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.