I am at "home."
I use the term ironically, because it really isn't my home anymore. Turtle-like, I carry my home on my back and set up shop wherever I land. And land I did. Very bumpily. In a gusty (ie unpredictable) crosswind that smacked the plane around like a tetherball in a prison yard. And that was the better of the two landings. I threw up on the first one. As did several other people. Then I laid down on the floor of Liberty Airport in New Jersey to try to recover my equilibrium, which I'd almost succeed in doing before they stuck me on the second flight of my sojourn which ended in the aforementioned crosswind that reduced pitch control to a figment of the pilot's imagination. (The bruises on my arm where the stranger sitting next to me clutched me for dear life have nearly faded.)
That was tuesday before last. Got home, slept, woke up, unpacked, repacked, got in the car and drove to Wisconsin. Whew!
Now, I must at this point go into a wee bit of detail about the drive. Normally I wouldn't deign to bore you with such minutae, but in this case i'm afraid it's rather critical to the plot. And the title of the blog.
So we're toodling along down highway 60 through some beautiful spring countryside, admiring the redbuds in bloom and that lovely light shade of chartreuse green that's dusting the early-leafing shrubs and trees. The fields are tilled and planted and smooth, but little green shoots have yet to make an appearance; the soil is dark and rich and eager.
Due to the impending birth of several babies, the mothers of which we are aquainted, we got on the subject of children's literature. I mention that my favorite book was Vanuk Vanuk. This comes as high praise indeed, as I am someone who knows from children's literature and can recite The Lorax and The Giant Jam Sandwich from memory.
Vanuk Vanuk was an awesome book. Once in a great while near the village a huge flower would srping forth from the ground with a tremendous "BOK!," all at once like, and this was cause for great rejoicing among the villagers. But the Sacrapanti would hear the BOK! and come and steal the flower, which is VERY BAD. So the villagers decided to build a huge cage over the next flower that bloomed and then drop it over the invading Sacrapanti when they came to steal it. The villagers called this cage The Trapamonio.
The mention of this book, a long-time fave with my parents as well at myself (it was very satirical of western society), got us all suffixing everything with blank-"amonio!" It became a running gag throughout the weekend's festivities. We declared it the jokamonio. (You can see where this is going, can't you?)
So we're tootling along, and we see some cows. "Cowamonio!" we cheer. We see some (really tacky*) modern sculpture. "Artamonio!" we declared.
yeah. that's my family. and we weren't even drunk. (yet.)
we arrive at the hotel (of which we've booked 3/4 of the total rooms for guests of Marley's wedding). We begin unloading luggage. Mom is carrying her dumbells.
"I never argue with a woman who packs her own weights," sayeth the night clerk at the desk. Good policy, me amigo. Me pater and I exchange conspiratorial glances. "Bitchamonio" we agree, smiling.
My parents, being the bloody eskimos they are, immediately turned on the air-conditioner and opened the windows in an attempt to get the temperature of the room down to a balmy 50 degrees. Farenheit. (That's 10 Celcisus for all you metric-Nazis.) I kid you not.
Sadly, this hotel room only had 1 bed. I got to sleep on the pull-out couch. Not a problem, except that the pull-out doesn't come with a duvet, only one of those icky, hotel-foam blankets. Touching them creeps me out. And they aren't very warm.
I immediately began shivering. Mom, in a streak of unprescedented generosity, offered to get me my own room. She even went to the desk to check the availability. They had 1 room left. Did I take it? You bet your sweet bippy I didn't. Oh, no. Me and my fucking Catholic guilt. I didn't want to be a nuissance or a burden to my parents. I wanted to be grateful for what I had. I went to the front desk to get 2 more gross hotel-foam blankets. I was fine with this decision until 2 nights later when I had a hot, single groomsman in my clutches but both of us were sharing rooms and had no place to go. God. Fucking. Damnit.
that was wednesday. thursday went by in a bit of a haze. I know i went over to the lake and ran around it a couple times (5 miles total). Oh, and I spent most of the day wrapping gifts for the bride. Not gifts to be given to her, but gifts she was giving to everyone who helped with the wedding but she didn't have time to wrap them. It took me 6 hours, 2 trips to Che Target for more supplies, and about 70 yards of ribbon, but they all got wrapped and dressed with hand-tied bows. None of this pre-packaged buisness for my new sister-in-law. That would be tacky. And clash with the cheese cubes they served at the reception.*** I do remember going with my dad and the bride's dad for lunch to a german brat haus. There are a lot of germans in Wisconsin. I don't know why either. But i'm not complaining. I "heart" wurst. All kinds of wurst. Big, thick, long, meaty, juicy...
Friday. The rehersal. I was assigned the tasks of a) carrying the crucifix at the head of the procession, and b) reading the first reading.
Fr. Nazi (more about that later) expressed concern that a woman was carrying the crucifix. Apparently it's rather heavy, and as a rule he only allows men to carry it.
"Fr. Nazi, I'd like you to meet my ego, and it's girlfriend, my right bicep."
"You really think you can carry it? You have to hold it quite high, for effect and all. And it is rather heavy."
"I lift weights."
"How much can you bench press?"
"How much do you weigh?"
"Are you suggesting you can bench press my weight?"
"Why don't you lie down 0n the floor just there and we'll find out."
"Um, perhaps you should just carry the cross."
"That might be simplest."
It went downhill from there. My relationship with Fr. Nazi, that is. The rest of the rehersal went fine. ish.
Fr. Nazi likes having the ENTIRE wedding party standing around the bride and groom while they exchange their vows. I think this is silly. I think it distracts the attention and focus away from the bride and groom. I think it makes the wedding ceremony look like a Homecoming Court at a high school football game. But no one asked me.
So there's Fr. Nazi lining up all the bride's maids and groom's men in a V-type formation that made them look like migrating geese. I've know some of the groomsmen for 15 years or more, and I was seated quite close by, so naturally I started whispering snide remarks to them for their amusement. While Fr. Nazi was adjusting the formation (he spent 20 minutes of a 60 minute rehersal telling groomsmen to move a foot to the left or take a step back, then he'd walk to the back of the church, gaze upon his hadiework, and mutter things like "no, it's not quite right." it took a third of the rehersal because obviously whether the best man is standing behind or next to the potted plant is the most important part of any wedding), I was saying things like "the problem here is that we don't have any hash marks." This is funny because the dude to whom i was whispering this was the one who had to go to band camp a day early every year to paint the hash marks on the field. he thought this comment was hilarious. when fr. Nazi told them to all turn to the left, i gave the old command: "Band! Left hase!" And the ex-bandis in the wedding party all whispered back "Left hase, one, two!" and then had giggle fits. Good times.****
Did I mention I looked great? Yeah, I looked great. I know so because Flirty Groomsman (the one I nearly managed to score on the wedding night and who henceforth shall be referred to as FG) told me so repeatedly. Right after he pulled my chair out for me at the rehearsal dinner. I always said the best thing about having an older brother was his friends. (Flirtamonio!)
FG and I have known each other for ages, but we only see each other about once every 2 years or so. We've always gotten along, and he's a hell of a flirt. I'm not nearly the flirt I used to be, but FG brings out the best in me.
(I thought you might appreciate a visual aid at this point. FG is the chummy-looking bloke in the red shirt. I'm the stunner next to him in the halter dress. That's Fr. Nazi on the left in the yellow shirt, and the very arian couple beside him are the bride and groom.)
So we're at the rehearsal dinner (fantastic German resturaunt), and the maid of honor and I managed to scare Fr. Nazi away from the table with our lewdness. I think it was the comment about the Groom's Dancers (bridesmaids designated to get nasty with him on the dance floor after the parents have left the party) rubbing up against him (the Groom, not Fr. Nazi) that was the last nail in the coffin. We didn't see him again after that. He just sort of disappeared suddenly. *taps fingers together* Excellent, Smithers.
Saturday. The Big Day. First order of business: hair. (naturally)
The bride made arrangements for every female even remotely connected with the wedding to get her hair done on saturday morning at a salon that served champagned and danishes to really large groups getting primped for a special occasion. I did not want to be foofed, teased, primped, or crimped. I just wanted a hair cut. I hadn't had one since december and my hair looked like a diseased marsupial climbed on my head and died there. After I had consumed an appropriate amount of alcohol and danish (it was only 9 am), it was my turn. (*mentally play opening chords of Beethoven's Fifth at this point.*) (Hey, how appropriate. Beethoven had a fifth, and so did I that morning.)
She gave me a really good cut, I can't deny that. But I have short hair, so I couldn't get the big sausage curls and wipsy tendril thingys that the other girls were getting. My stylist asked me if I wanted it more curly or smooth. "Smooth" I said. "Very sleek, very shiek. NOTHING POOFY."
You should have seen her definition of "nothing poofy." I looked like a poodle that stuck it's toe in a light socket. Welcome to the Midwest, i thought.
Still, all the other girls were telling me how great it looked. I'm genrally pretty resistant to change when it comes to my appearance, but I thought "hell, they all seem to think it's nice. maybe i'll leave it, just for today." (Blech- hairamonio.)
So I'm sitting with the bride while she's getting her makeup done, merrily having a one-way conversation, when one of the other stylists walks past. "Aren't you getting your hair done, dear?" she enquired.
"I've just had it done," I replied.
"Oh," she said.
Well that clinched it. Yikesamonio. As soon as i got back to the hotel I hit the shower (for the second time that morning) and attempted to scrub all the hairspray and mousse out. I had to stand under the jet of water for 5 minutes before my hair was even wet, it was that heavily coated and sealed with all-weather, tefflon, extra-super-hold product crap. Seriously, that shit was more water-proof than the under-body sealant coating on my Subaru.
Back at the hotel the bride had arranged to have lunch delivered to everyone in their rooms, so people helping with the wedding wouldn't have to go out in search of food. Very thoughtful. (I should mention that my brother and his wife are so totally fucking organized that at the rehersal they actually handed out an Excel spreadsheet with all the times and places that everyone had to be and when on the day of the wedding. So not only did each person know exactly where he or she needed bo be at any given time, but could also look and see where everyone else was. Holy type-A personalities, Batman! Talk about analmonio.) So i'm getting ready and there's a knock on the door and my sushi arrives. It sounded like a really good idea the night before. I really like sushi. But raw fish is not something one wants to confront when one's stomach is already in knots. I admit it; i was nervous.
The church. The Big Moment. (*mentally play opening chords of Get Smart*)
The best man and the groomsmen were absolutely charming. They greeted, they ushed, they knocked us all over with thier dapper good looks. What a great group of guys.
I led of the parade, erm, procession with the crucifix. (It was heavy, but that's ok. It made my biceps ripple in the sunlight. I figured if it got too heavy I could always hoist it over my shoulder for that authentic look. Actually, it would have been worth doing just to see the look on Fr. Nazi's face. But I wouldn't do anything to disrupt my big brother's big day. And believe me, that was the only thing that kept my tongue and behaviour in line!) Everything went fine. The music was uninspired but inoffensive, and basically the ceremony was ho-hum, but it wasn't acutally the fiasco the mater and i were anticipating.
To be fair, the exchange of vows was very moving, and that is, of course, the most important bit. Thankfully it was the bit they got really really right. Both Marley and Miss Happy said their vows calmly, sincerely, and with great self-assuredness. They both sounded as though they knew exactly what they were doing and meant to do it. Of course I cried. I kept looking at this blonde, balding man in a tuxedo standing in front of me and thinking "This is the same person who used to push me off the dock into the lake at summer camp. This is the same guy I built blanket forts with on snow days. This is the guy who taught me how to decorate my bicycle with crepe paper and ribbons for the 4th of July Bicycle Parade, who gave me bunny ears in every family photograph. How can this be that guy? Where did he go?" And then I started giggling. Wanna know what set me off? One word that crept into my head, univited:
(wait for it...)
Moving swiftly on.
Damn, what a party!
The reception was fabulous. My prime rib was over-cooked (if your prime rib doesn't arrive mooing and sitting in a pool of blood, it's over-cooked), and there were cheese cubes (foul abominations of nature), but that shit doesn't matter. What I remember is how much love there was in that room. If you just sat back and listened, everyone was having a good time, everyone was happy. There was great dancing. Lots of old stuff - Sinatra, Armstrong, etc. I danced with my dad for the first time in my life, and with my godfather, and my great uncle Frank (88 years old and flew up from Arizona for the occasion). I polkad with my mom and my brother (bless him he can't dance), and everyone was just so full of love and joy I don't know how to describe it. It was good family fun. The flower girl danced on her grandfather's shoes, there was a couple dancing with their 6-month old baby. Everyone was happy. The whole thing was just so, I don't know, life-affirming. It was a celebration of life, and a celebration of the only thing that makes life worth living, love. Life and love. And free booze. Now that's what I call a party.
This was my first time at a family wedding. Marley and I are the only children of our generation in the family, so there hasn't been a wedding in the family since my parents got hitched in 1972. Great uncle Frank came because, as he put it, "we need to get the family together for something besides funerals." Amen, uncle frank; amen.
It was teriffic. After the old folks left the DJ put the house on and wedding party, twenty-somethings, and other singles got down to the serious drinking and dancing. I'm not posting those photos. I still have my dignity, you know.
And that was it. I wish I had some big, grandiose, profound, "My Best Friend's Wedding"-esque conclusion, but I'm not a very good story-teller and there's really nothing exceptional or extraordinary about this wedding (except that it involved my nerdy big brother that no one ever thought would get married). It was a nice wedding, everyone had fun, and the happy couple are, at this moment, driving around Ireland in a rented Toyota Prius and stopping periodically to admire the sheep.
The fam, including my new sister. From left to right are dad, mom (hiding), Aunt Sr. Pain-In-The-Ass of Manchester fame, Mrs. Happy, Marley, yours truly, and Aunt Nene (second old nunny bunny in the fam and life-long partner of Aunt Sr. PITA).
*this particular piece of sculpture by the roadside came complete with its own life-size bronze admirers. I kid you not. I wish to GOD i'd had my camera. They actually made people standing around gazing at the sculpture. Barfamonio.
**yes, i blatantly stole the "ahem" technique thingy from Babs. What can i say? Immitation is the highest form of plagarism.
***Cheese should never. under any circumstances. be SQUARE. end of chat.
****If you are not, or have never been, in marching band, you won't understand any of this. Just trust me that it was hysterical. I give you my word as a section leader.