Friday, July 10th, 2015
I woke up and had the sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I was excited because I hadn’t gone since the day before we left. Armed with my coffee and my smartphone I headed into the ‘throom at the Hotel ML at 7 in the morning, but alas, nothing happened. I informed Tasha about my situation and then she proceeded to tell me to stop talking to her about stuff like that, so I kept it to myself. Literally.
“I don’t want to hear about your airplane constipation woes.” she said.
Tasha hadn’t gotten out of bed yet, and I was convinced that some time during the night she ate my orange creamscicle tastykake pie because there were empty wrappers everywhere around the room, and I didn’t remember eating THAT much last night. So I did what any good friend would do. I food shamed her by putting all these wrappers and bags on her bed the next morning and snapped a picture.
Let me jump to the rehearsal dinner now because there is a lot of events that happened from Friday afternoon into Saturday night that I want to get to.
There was a rehearsal for Gary and Desiree’s wedding, but not one in the traditional sense. It definitely wasn’t going to be a huge event, but I think that kind of made it special and more intimate since it was going to take place in their backyard. There were no groomsmen and no bridesmaids, but regardless, we still all met at Tacconelli’s in Maple Shade that night for some great pizza, some good wine, and some incessant ball punching from one of the kids, but we’ll get to that later.
I parked the Stang outside and Tasha and I went into the restaurant into a private room in the back. Chad, Parr, Mary, and Nicola were already there, along with Gary, Desiree, and some, but not all of their immediate family. All of their kids were there too, playing with Star Wars stuff and what not around the table, and at one point, under the table too. I took a moment to think about that.
All of my friends who have kids were at this rehearsal dinner. I found it interesting the way they talk to them differently than they talk to me. I also thought the way Chad talked to Bastian is similar to the way I talk to my pets.
Bear with me for a second. I don’t have kids but if I did, I feel like I wouldn’t treat them much different from the way I would treat little human beings who are learning what’s right and what’s wrong, which is similar to how I treat my cat Dapple and Tasha’s bunny Rocco.
When they do something good, I say good boy or good girl, and I give them a treat. When they misbehave, I let them know that they did that by changing the tone of my voice. It’s like when good things happen, Chad’s voice would go up in tone, but when Bastian did something bad, his voice got more stern and serious. I guess in that way I could relate to what was happening around me. The pizza hadn’t come yet but the wine however, was sitting on the table ready to be opened.
“Is there a wine opener?” I asked.
Immediately Parr turned to me and reminded me of what happened a few years back at Chad’s wedding when “Is there a wine opener” turned into me accidentally grabbing the butt of one of the bus boys who was working Chad’s rehearsal dinner. I was kind of embarrassed, but also a little bit too drunk to care back then. This time however, I wasn’t going to be grabbing anyone’s ass.
There weren’t any dudes working at Tacconelli’s that night so every time a cute female server would walk into the room, I would ask “is there a wine opener” which somehow turned into code for ass grabbing. Fortunately for them, no ass grabbing occurred that night. I was fully behaved and ready to eat.
To my right sat Tasha who was drinking a watermelon beer, and to my left was Desiree’s aunt Phyllis who took a liking to me immediately. Maybe it was because we were both Italian, or perhaps it had something to do the fact that we were both single. Regardless, we were all having a nice mellow good time that night.
It was some time after P-Nut arrived that things started to get a little crazy. Not for us, mind you, but for Bastian, I think having all those people around and all that pizza was a little too much for him to handle.
After he kept shoving a fashlight into my face, bear hugging Nicola and Parr’s son Giann, and flirting with Tasha, he started to punch me, but not in a place where guys like to be punched. First I tried to pants him, and then I tried to reason with him (big mistake right there) I told him that he should never punch other dudes in the crotch area. Of course, when you tell a kid NOT to do something, it’s exactly what they WANT to do. This never happens with Dapple and Rocco, I kept thinking to myself.
It wasn’t too long before Bastian had tried and succeeded in punching both me and Parr in the nuts. It didn’t hurt that much because we knew it was coming, and we were able to defend ourselves. However, P-Nut wasn’t so lucky.
I pulled Bastian aside and “suggested” he treat everyone fairly, and by that I mean he should also go over to P-Nut and give him a good high five…..but in the crotch. Only thing is, Bastian was so stealth and P-Nut was so unsuspecting that when Bastian DID punch him in the nuts, I think it caught him off guard. Probably because P-Nut was preoccupied trying to connect to the restaurant’s Wi-Fi.
Bastian’s fist made it’s way towards P-Nut’s crotch, and then Nut let out a resounding grunt of pain and fear. Perhaps it was silly, but me and Parr started cracking up anyway. Looking back now, I’m pretty sure it was my fault that Nut’s nuts got punched. Sorry about that dude, but it was really funny in the moment.
After that debacle, I heard Chad scolding Bastian in the sternest most father-like tone I’ve ever heard come out of his mouth. Bastian was in time out, and so were P-Nut’s nuts. After dinner and the ball punching fiasco, a few pictures were taken, and we all headed back to Gary and Desiree’s for a few after dinner drinks before Tasha and I headed back to our hotel for the night.
Saturday, July 11th, 2015
The morning of the wedding was upon us. Tasha and I were invited to Chad and Mary’s snooty swim club in the afternoon so we headed over there to tan ourselves a little bit before the wedding. I felt pretty important being a guest at a swim club. Tasha, Mary and I were laying out, and Bastian was too….in his own way on the concrete next to the pool.
We laid there for an hour or so soaking up the sun and chatting about the night before. I started having this feeling like it was all coming to an end. Not the world, and not my life, but this whole experience of going my best friend’s weddings was about to be over. I don’t know how I feel about that.
On one hand, I’m extremely happy for Chad, P-Nut, Parr and Gary that they were able to find someone to share their life with. On the other hand, it kind of makes me look at myself and wonder, where did I go wrong? Maybe I didn’t do anything “wrong” but perhaps maybe my path is different. I’ve prided myself on being independent most of my life, although the truth is, I don’t know if I like it anymore.
Two months ago, I was dating a girl and had delusions of grandeur for a total of six days before I fucked it up. Before her, there was the heroin addict I met off of Ok Cupid. (That didn’t last very long.) Now, the date that I bring to this event, the last of my best friend’s weddings has a boyfriend back in Los Angeles. What am I doing wrong, and why hasn’t it worked out for me the way I want it to? Just then something pulled me out of my deep depressio thoughts as Bastian called out to me from the pool.
“Hey Christian, my nipples are starting to grow!” he yells from the deep end.
“That’s great buddy! Good job!” I reply.
I mean honestly, what else can you say to a statement like that?
Tasha and I left the pool and headed to the nearest Wawa/CVS to pick up a gift card for Gary and Des, and a light lunch to eat before we got back to the hotel and got ready for the wedding.
As we got into the elevator, we said hello to Desiree’s Dad and his wife who were staying a few rooms down from us. It would be only an hour later when I would see them again. I was outside the hotel just minutes before we were to leave as Desiree’s Dad would drive by in his truck and yell out the window to me as I was taking a selfie…
“You look great!” He said from the moving car.
I laughed a bit at my own self indulgence, but I still posted that picture on Instagram, and went back up to the hotel to see if Tasha was ready to go.
We arrived at wedding a little bit early. Almost too early since no one else was there, and Gary was still in his street clothes. A few minutes later I saw the guests starting to arrive and we went into the backyard for the ceremony.
We all grabbed a foldable fan and a drink before the wedding began, and I was able to catch up with Josh Borden who I hadn’t seen since way back in the 1990s when Stone Temple Pilots were still a band and Lane Staley of Alice In Chains hadn’t died yet. I would hear those tunes every morning when Josh used to pick up me and Gary for school my junior year before I had my license. I remember many mornings when that white Ford Tempo would pull up to my house, then roll over to Gary’s place, then head in the opposite direction from Cherokee High School to some place like Laurel Lanes or the Denny’s on Rt. 70 which is now called the Marlton Diner. I miss those days.
We took a seat in the backyard as the ceremony began. Gary, Parr and Chad were dressed in matching lavender suits and stood on the stone landing and watched as Gary’s beautiful bride was escorted down the stairs and onto the alter by her father. Desiree was smiling, bright and full of joy as she made her way to Gary. You could tell this was a moment she had been waiting for, for a long time. There was this air of love and confidence in the backyard that afternoon, one that had been set in motion ten years prior when they met.
As Chad began to minister the wedding, I got caught up in reminiscing a little bit in my own mind. Gary has always been a solid guy. He’s perhaps one of the smartest people I know. I’ve been in debates with him over countless hours back when we used to hang out on his back porch when his parents lived in Marlton, and I’ve been engaged in some spectacular and life changing events with him that I have never shared with anyone. Like that one time New Year’s Eve 1998 when I rented a hotel room, and in the middle of celebrating the new year, I puked up all my Captain Morgan. It was Gary who remained sober and told me it was gonna be ok as he cleaned up my mess and pleaded with me to aim for the toilet instead of the sink in the bathroom.
With one simple act in 1999, Gary helped me through a a difficult time and gave me a reason to look forward to the future at a point in my life when all I could do was dwell on the past and hope that it didn’t break me down anymore. What he did changed my life forever, and even though you the reader might not understand what I mean or what exactly happened, I know HE knows what I’m referring to, and that’s all that matters. For that and for many other reasons, I’m grateful. In some way it started me on a journey that got me to start writing, brought me out to Seattle, Vegas, then California, and gave me the confidence I needed to put the past in the past and move on with my life.
Gary is one of those guys that is strong minded and stands his ground and believes in what he believes in and doesn’t get influenced from the outside. I respect that about him, and lately I’ve wished that I could find a little more of the assurance he peels off so effortlessly in his life, in MY life. I love him like a brother. I love all my friends like brothers, but Gary is the one who challenged me the most when I was growing up. I’ll always remember that. I’ve never been more happy for him than on this Saturday afternoon in July.
In the middle of me catching feelings for the past, I looked up at Gary and Desiree who were staring into each other’s eyes and listening to Chad’s speech about making a commitment to their higher selves. Then Chad grabs the rings and hold them over his head. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something strange about the way Chad was standing. He stood there, feet planted firmly on the ground and arms stretched towards heaven, holding the wedding rings over his head in dramatic fashion like some superhero about to have them blessed by God.
All I could imagine when I saw Chad was the Masters of the Universe, specifically when Adam would change into He-Man by pointing the sword over his head and belting out the phrase “By the power of Greyskull, I have the power!!” I looked back at Steve who was sitting behind me.
“Please tell me you got a picture of that.” I asked.
“I didn’t, but I’m sure someone got one.” He replied.
And here it is….
A few seconds later by the power of Greyskull…..I mean by the power vested in Chad by the state of New Jersey, Gary and Desiree were officially husband and wife.
After the ceremony we made our way up to the deck to grab a drink and chill out before we headed over to Desiree’s Mom’s place for the reception. I saw Gary’s parents headed towards me and I wasn’t sure if they would recognize me, until Mrs. Butcher put that all to rest by hitting me over the head with one of the folding fans from the wedding.
“I remember you. You’re the troublemaker.” She said as I smiled and said hello.
Then I really thought about what she just said.
Mrs. Butcher was right. It’s not like I was a scourge on society, or set someone’s house on fire, or peer pressured Gary into doing something he didn’t want to do. I just don’t think I was a good friend some times. Granted, I had my own issues going on but that isn’t an excuse for not valuing the friendships and relationships I had back then. After I left in 2000, it took me another four or five years to fully get it. I’m one of those people that makes an impression on your life, but my problem back then was that I didn’t care if it came off as a positive impression or a negative one.
I guess what Mrs. Butcher said to me that afternoon resonated with me. I know I can’t go back and change anything I did, but at least I can try and make things right now by honoring my best friends and hoping to recreate the happiest day of their lives by writing this blog. Maybe it will lead to something bigger. Maybe no one really gives a shit at all, but in the end, I have to try and paint a different picture and I’d like to think that at the end of this story, someone somewhere will look back on these words and smile, especially during the rehearsal dinner with all the ball punching that was going on.
Tasha and I drove with the top down to the reception that took place in another backyard just a short drive from the backyard where the wedding took place.
While Tasha found where we were sitting, I found the bar and we all sat down at table 7 which was right up against something I hadn’t seen in like 12 years… an above ground pool.
All the troublemakers were at one table. There was me and Tasha in our matching wedding outfits that we didn’t plan on matching. Parr was “on beer” and Nicola was “on water” but this time for a different reason than being hungover. Steve was commenting about some dude who didn’t know how to put his collar down over his neck tie, and Mary was drinking some wine while Chad was waxing philosophical, and of course P-Nut was again trying to connect to the Wi-Fi. To my right was Heather and Josh Borden who unfortunately ended up listening to Halin talk for most of, if not ALL of the reception.
The appetizers and the dinner were spectacular. Mac and cheese, salmon, mini burgers, they had it all. Of course, after we all had eaten it was time for the Maid of Honor and Best Man speeches. I remember Parr’s speech fondly, as I’m sure everyone else there that afternoon did too. Every Christmas Eve, Gary’s dad would read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, but he would change the words in the poem to fit what happened in the family that year. I always thought that was a great tradition, and I also thought it was a great idea for Parr to deliver his speech in the same fashion. I don’t remember all of the speech, but P-Nut recorded it. The one line that got me and everyone else laughing so hard that afternoon went something like this…
“Des got a job, and makes lots of money. Gary, what can I say. You’ll always be funny.”
Now it was time for dancing and more drinking. The drinking was always going to be a success and the dancing part of the night started out really well. Gary and Des had sent out invitations and asked for all of us to put one song request on the RSVP so when we got to this point of the night, we would be able to ask the deejay to play our song. However, the deejay, was actually a giant touch screen i-Pod on the side of the dance floor with thousands of songs in it. After a few songs played, they got to the song I picked out a few months back. It’s called “Pay No Mind” by Madeon.
To me, it’s like the perfect summer wedding song. When that first beat hit, all of the young adults (meaning me and my friends) were out there dancing and picking up change. I had changed my shoes and put on my Nike Air Max for this particular reason. Ever try dancing in $100 Steve Madden dress shoes you’ve only worn for three hours since the beginning of the day? Yeah, it doesn’t feel good on your feet. Regardless, this song will always remind me of that moment in time.
“I’m always going to associate this song with Gary’s wedding.” Parr said to me.
The drinks were flowing, the music was kicking, and next up was the Beastie Boys to which everyone who was still on the dance floor was really into, except the “young” young adults (meaning not me and my friends) For some ungodly reason, they would veto “Shake Your Rump” and put on some stupid gangster rap song in it’s place.
How are you going to bump the Beastie Boys for some crappy rap song? Who the hell plays rap at a wedding anyway? Do these tweens not know that without that song they just skipped that this crap song probably wouldn’t exist? Dejected, we all left the dance floor immediately and headed to the bar where I saw Desiree’s dad sitting down in utter confusion.
“I liked that Beastie Boys song.” He exclaimed.
I think we all did, and I think we all learned a lesson from this musical wedding experience which is don’t give control of the music to people who weren’t alive before 1994. No offense, but that generation does NOT know good music at all. At one point they put on country. Travis fucking Tritt??!?! Come on! They may know how to Snapchat and Periscope better than me, but please, stay away from the giant I-Pod at weddings. It’s out of your league, millennials.
As the night started to wind down, I got my chance to hear a couple more songs I wanted to and danced with Mary and Tasha on the dance floor to Daft Punk, that stupid Chris Brown song that was featured in the wedding episode of the Office, and a few other hits like Hung Up by Madonna. By the end of the night, I was a drunk and sweaty mess, as I should be in the summer in July in South Jersey at a backyard wedding.
I had hit the proverbial wall meaning I wasn’t able to drink anymore, nor was I able to be in a social setting for fear of falling down, saying something stupid, or just generally embarrassing myself. Tasha took me up to the deck to say goodbye to whomever was in ear shot, which turned out to be Chad swimming in the pool.
“We’re gonna go.” Tasha said to Gary. “Christian is too drunk.”
“Too drunk for what?” Gary asked.
It was a legitimate question, but I know I was just… too drunk for life. Tasha got into the drivers seat of the ‘Stang, I put the top down and we drove back to our hotel, but of course, not before we stopped at a Wawa for some late night snacks.
The next afternoon we gathered up our stuff, checked out of the Hotel ML and were headed up to New York to meet up with my friend Mark for dinner, but before that, we stopped at Parr and Nicola’s to say goodbye.
“When are you gonna write the blog?” Parr asked.
“Probably in a few months. I’m gonna miss it.” I replied.
And I mean that. I started this blog back in April and since then I’ve been subject to some praise for what I wrote, and some controversy for how I wrote it. I have offended the small minded people that I knew would get upset, but I’ve put smiles on the faces of others who I guess needed to be reminded of how special their day was to me. I’ve branched out and I’ve started writing other blogs, but this is kind of the one that started it all. So the question remains, what happens next? This blog is definitely about my friends getting married, the ridiculous and wonderful things that have happened along the way, but there is a story within the story of how and why Tasha and I have gone to every one of these weddings together, but will never get married to each other.
We met back in June of 2007, some 8 years ago and since that day she has been a driving force in my life. Sure, things are not the way they used to be, and there probably won’t be any more weddings for us to go to together, but it still makes for a good story, within the story. Will we ever sell our TV show? Who the fuck knows. At this point, I don’t really care about that. I just want her to be happy and I want us to continue to remain friends for the rest of my life.
I was honored to be a guest at Gary and Desiree’s wedding, and I was happy to finally see one of my best friends find someone who compliments him perfectly. He definitely deserves it, and I wish them all the best moving forward, even though I know they don’t need it. They have a strong bond, one that is very clear and obvious if you know them.
I know how to appreciate my friends now in a way that I don’t think I could when I was younger. Through all these weddings, receptions, and rehearsal dinners, I’ve been lucky enough to share them with some of the most amazing people I’ve been fortunate enough to know for years and who I grew up with. I don’t know when I’m going to meet someone special or if I’m even going to get married, but believe me, everyone of these people will be there to celebrate with me, and I sure hope someone writes a blog about it.
“What are you going to write next?” Parr asked.
“Maybe after this I’ll write like a wedding awards blog.” I replied.
“What are you going to call it?” He asked
“The Weddie Awards.” I say. “What else?”
“Ha! The Weddies! Like the Dundies from the Office.” he says.
Tasha and I said goodbye to Parr and Nicola, got into our car and headed north on the New Jersey Turnpike.
“You need money for tolls?” Tasha asked.
“Baby, I got EZ-Pass!” I reply.
Thanks for reading. -CM