I went to a wedding. Actually, I was in a wedding. For the first time in a very long time, I had to take off a day of work, arrange for care of my children, and get dressed up to celebrate a union, instead of a life. Cool.
My friend John married a beauty named Melissa, and he asked me to be in their wedding. Melissa had a bunch of beautiful friends who were her bridesmaids, and that was cool too. We drank champagne (and one or two beers), we smoked cigars, and we ate steak and salmon on the banks of the Occoquan River in Virginia. We danced, we talked about life and love, and the only tears that were shed were tears of joy. My wife cried like a winner of…of… something important, when she talked to our friend Eileen about our kids and how proud she was of them. I cried when I watched John and Melissa exchange their vows as John’s younger brother preformed the union services with a tastefully perfect combination of humor and heart. Doug’s words and John’s twitching and quaking body forced tears out of my eyes and found some laughter that had been in storage down in the cellar of my heart; a place I hadn’t been in a while. The groomsman who stood next to me, patted my shoulders (my broad, manly shoulders) in comfort as he saw me wipe away a tear. I’m sure I looked a little ‘delicate’ to some of the people who didn’t know me, but I really didn’t give a shit. Judge me if you will…tears of joy may be the best expression of emotion that I know.
Just as I pulled myself together and settled down, the best man (John’s other brother, Dave) gave his toast…and it pretty much started all over again with the laughing and the crying and the comforting pats on my broad, manly, shoulders. Dave is an eloquent speaker.
These guys are like family, their joy is my joy, and we’ve shared a lot of it through the years – we were all together when Kurt Gibson hit his walk off homer in game 1 of the ’88 World Series. They were with me when I got hit in the face with a softball in the famous “Softball to the Face Incidentof 1989″. It put me in the hospital, earned me a couple of stitches, and for some reason it was one of the funniest things they had ever seen: Sick bastards! Those moments, are just a couple examples of a ton of great memories. We’ve shared some sorrow as well; people who are close have to share those things too. Today, I’ll just write about the joy.
It was a great day. In retrospect, the only thing I may end up regretting about the whole weekend is that I “photo-bombed” the bejesus out of the newlyweds.
If you’re not familiar with the immature art of photo-bombing, it’s when idiots (like me) sneak their way into pictures without the knowledge of the subjects or the photographer. The photographer caught most of them and took a second picture…most of them; but I’m a pro. The photographer was a really sweet girl, and no match for me. Despite my Large presence, I am a stealthy, cold-hearted, assassin when it comes to photo-bombing. I fear that after these photos are revealed, the happy couple will never invite me to anything again; they’ll be pissed. Spending all that money on a professional photographer to capture those special moments, only to have them sabotaged by a sick witted bald man with over-sized private parts, (NOT in any of the photos, just a point worth mentioning) a Large grin, and a Larger tux, would upset even the most patient of people.
I hope that by making my friends’ celebration the first subject of this Chronicle of Cool Things, they will take a little comfort in knowing that literally dozens of people across this great land of ours, (and 2 in Argentina) will know about their blessed union, and how their new love was the catalyst for an awakening of some joy and creativity in this troubled and weary heart of mine. Maybe since joy has been found in my heart, forgiveness might be found in theirs.
That’s what I hope, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. I’m probably in deep shit here.
& Ice Cold Pale Ale:
That’s just what I’m drinking as I write. No big deal, and hardly worth mentioning, but I thought it made for a cool title.
“You can go down and take a closer picture if you want” I heard a voice call out from behind me.
“She’s very sweet; you can pet her. If you whistle like that again, she’ll come right up to you.” The voice spoke again as I turned around and looked across the country road in upstate New York to see who was talking to me.
I was driving from one random place, to some other random place, and my GPS device sent me along several back roads instead of the usual freeway, in this case the quickest route would have been I-90, the New York State Thruway. Today, I chose not to argue with the greatest invention for a traveling salesman since penicillin; today, I let Lady Garmin’s mechanical voice lead me where she wished. I chose to slow down and take the scenic route for a change. I made a good choice.
Autumn was in her full glory on this late September day; the leaves were flexing their color muscles – muted to vibrant tones of red, gold, brown and green covered the mountainsides like a bulky hand stitched quilt. The sky was cloudy and the air was cool, and smelled like rain. I don’t remember the name or the number of the road that my beloved and ever dependable Ice Blue Buick and I were cruising because the GPS just said “Turn right”…and so I did without question or care. Spirits were guiding me.
As I rolled along, I passed one of those farms that always makes you take a second look; the large red barn, trimmed in white, standing magnificently on the side of a hill, the well maintained wooden fence that seems to go on forever, and the scattering of horses in the adjacent pasture. It was a picture. So, because it was a picture, I decided to pull over and try to capture an image of one of the horses with my phone camera to share on Facebook, or maybe to send to my animal loving daughter.
The voice that was calling out to me belonged to a lady who was standing at the front door of a house on the other side of this nameless road. She must have seen me pull over, or heard me whistle at the horse that was standing closest to where I parked. I acknowledged her hospitality by asking, “You’re not setting me up are you?”
“Setting you up for what? I’m just saying it’s okay to walk down to the fence to get a closer picture.”
“Sure. Thank you.” I replied. She wasn’t picking up on my Large Man charm, or sarcasm. I imagined her saying, ‘What a dipshit’ as she closed the squeaky screen door and went back into her home.
So having been given permission, I walked down the steeply sloped bank on the side of the road, and I whistled again at the richly colored mahogany and white Clydesdale mare that was grazing with a few other horses close by. As promised by my hostess, the mare walked towards me, and put her head over the top rail of the brown wooden fence. I have no certainty as to why, but the sight gave me goose bumps. I guess it’s just the experience of making a connection with such a huge, majestic animal. I could feel it immediately. Cool.
“Hey girl”, I whispered as her dark brown eyes watched me, and invited me to come closer for a visit. I patted her on the nose, and with that nose she quickly pushed my hand up and out of the way. “Okay, we’re okay…how are you?” She stepped a little closer and put her muzzle on my shoulder, and then kind of over my shoulder. I could put both hands on either side of her neck and give her a hug…she hugged back.
“Well this doesn’t happen every day” I said to her as we continued this interaction – she didn’t say anything as a reply, she was a horse. My Mom had a horse named Elvira that would cuddle like this – so obviously it reminded me of my Mom. It was a great ‘stop and smell the roses’ moment that just seemed to happen.
I could have stayed for the rest of the afternoon and watched this beautiful creature and her stable mates graze. I would have loved to just sit there on the side of that hill and enjoyed the fall scenery, sounds and air, but a commitment to commerce in Utica made me cut the visit shorter than was probably fair – to me and the horse. I think she liked me as much as I liked her. No regrets though, I’m lucky I got what I got. I’m lucky that the nice lady across the road encouraged me to go take a closer look. I’m lucky that I stopped in the first place. I’m lucky for the memory…
…I’m lucky I have a job where you can occasionally see and do stuff like this. I’m lucky I have a friend who would ask me to be a part of his wedding. I’m lucky that I have friends who would encourage me to start writing about these things, because even if they get pushed to the dark corners my memory, I can look back at these Chronicles and relive the experience. I’m also lucky that I’m smart enough to realize how lucky I am.
I’m really lucky that I live 300 miles away from John & Melissa.
Thanks for reading.