Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Added Some Color To Jacob's Wedding Weekend...Literally (The Big Day & Aftermath)

Sat. May 14

A huge day in my life--it's my high school girlfriend's birthday! Oh, wait, it's also the nuptials of my best friend "Jacob" and his blushing bride "Alice." I would have to start the day behind the 8-ball. Pounce, the big black cat, was missing his mommy I guess, so he started meowing very, VERY loudly at sunrise, around 5 or 5:30A. It was so loud that I kept sitting up in bed looking around the bedroom for him. But no, he was outside the door, disturbing me and Joe, who was sleeping on the couch in the same room as Pounce. He told me later that he held down Pounce to knock off the noise for a while, but he drifted back to sleep, loosening his grip and allowing Pounce to slip out and resume the caterwauling. It was horrible. I was tired from the day before and I didn't have much sleep, but there I was, lying in bed wide awake, hoping that I wouldn't be so tired that I made a mistake and screwed up the day of my best friend. After all, I have the rings since they didn't have a ringbearer, and I also have the marriage license that they have to sign in front of me and Dana, Alice's sister and the matron of honor. If I'm not sharp, I may forget the bag with the rings and license when we go to the church, or I may forget to put the rings in my pocket when I put on the tux, or...needless to say, I was a bundle of nerves. I dare say that I was more nervous than the groom all day. Jacob seemed as smooth and unaffected as he always did, not uncaring but not overly excited about anything either. I always admired that. I can be so dramatic and sky-is-falling in my demeanor, and that gets exhausting after a while, not to mention annoying. It's who I am, so it won't be changing soon, but I acknowledge how insufferable it has to be.

So I got my tired ass up and let Jacob and Joe shower up. The plan was to get to the church straight from home between 1:30 and 2. The ceremony was at 3. We would change into our tuxes after we got to the church in order to avoid having cat hair shedding off of us all day. So after we went to a restaurant for a coffee-filled breakfast (I had to pick up the tab just as a gesture of how appreciative I was of Jacob's hospitality), they took me back home and headed to the formalwear shop so that Joe could try on his tux. 10 o'clock, then 11. The day dragged on. Then, a shot of adrenaline as there was a change in plans. We had to leave at 12:30 to walk two doors down to Mark and Dianne's house to put our tuxes in their car. Then we'd drive in Jacob's car to the hotel where he and Alice would go after the reception. This was so he could leave that car in the parking lot so they could drive home Sunday morning. Then we all piled into Mark's car, the three dudes in the back seat, me and Jacob squashing Joe in the middle, and rode to the wedding venue. The big day was starting for the groomsmen slightly earlier than we thought.

But the day would come together just perfectly. The first thing I noticed when we got out at Willow Springs was that the ass smell was gone. Either that, or I really did get used to it. I took a pic of the colorful, wonderful tent for the reception. It had been beautifully decorated. We were so out in the netherlands that I couldn't get a strong signal to send the pic back to my fiancee. But I called her several times throughout the day to let her feel a part of the festivities. Jacob took the upstairs bathroom to get into his tux first so that he wouldn't have any last-minute fumbling. I let Joe have the bathroom next because I just wanted to stay out in the auditorium and take in all of the happenings. Flowers were being systematically spread out on the floor. Chairs were being placed. I held the front door to the hall closed while Alice and her party took pics on the stairs. Then they told me that the men's room downstairs was free and that I could take my tux and put it on down there. It's a good thing, because I did a lot of fumbling putting on the penguin suit, and it took me a good half-hour. And that's before Jerry had to put on the clip-on tie for me. The last thing I did concerning the tux was to put the rings in my upper breast pocket of the coat and the license in an inside pocket. The outside pockets did not open; they were sewn closed, so not an option. The shirt had no pockets at all. That left my two inside pockets and pants pockets as my other options. And because I didn't want to fumble in my pants for the rings in front of everybody, I decided to go with the small hanky pocket and hope for the best. Then I said hi to Mark, who was still happy and exuberant despite being in a urinal, grabbed my lotion, and stepped out for approval.

Dana, Alice's sister who would be my partner as we walked down the aisle, pinned a flower on my lapel as we waited for 3 o'clock to strike. While we waited to have pictures taken, something happened that seemed to be meant specifically to make me and only me relax. I just happened to notice Jerry say something to his wife about Booker T. He's a wrestler. I mean, there's a lot of things with the Booker T. name on them that have nothing to do with the wrestler. Jerry could have been talking about the black inventor Booker T. Washington, or he could have been talking about Booker T. Washington School in Memphis, where President Obama was going to speak soon. But he said something else to her that sounded like it was from the world of wrestling as well. She walked away, then I said, "I overheard you talking about wrestling. Are you in the business?" And with that, for the next 30 minutes, all the way up until the wedding, Jerry and I shot the shit about rasslin' from the good old days all the way up to modern times. I understand that Jerry was in the wedding to stand up for his friend Alice, but Jesus, did I need him that day to help calm me down!

Then the photog led us outside to snap some pics. It was overcast and windy, and rain threatened from far away. But it held off long enough to get some good pics in. One of them had Jacob standing with one leg up on a step, Capt. Morgan style, and his groomsmen up on the step in line. Then the photog had Alice peek around a corner where none of us could see her, and that probably turned out to be a pretty cool pic. I haven't seen it yet. We went back into the building, and Jacob took his place at the altar as we went back downstairs. Alice had to come back downstairs several times, including a bathroom break that had to be excruciating for her and for those holding her train trying to keep it clean. Jacob was still at the altar onstage with the officiant patiently waiting for the show to start.

Finally, the clock struck 3, and almost on cue, the smallest of the four flower girls, an infant named Mya, started crying loudly, almost as loudly as Pounce this morning. This affected me not because of the crying itself but because Dana is the mother of all four girls, so she took Mya and tried to calm her down, leaving me wondering for a while where my partner is. I mean, Trish and Joe had taken off down the aisle, and Dana and I were next, and I didn't know where she was. But she wasn't that far away, and when it was our turn, she magically appeared out of nowhere, handed off Mya to one of the other girls, took my arm, and headed down the aisle, unflappable and cool as a cucumber. I don't remember the walk because I was so afraid of something going wrong at that moment. I do remember getting on stage and raising my eyebrows at Jacob, who quietly popped off a couple of our one-word inside jokes as a way of releasing tension. The flower girls followed us. The third oldest, Ava, flung the flowers with no regard for being delicate, which was cute in its own way, and the second oldest, Makenna, carried Mya close to her chest like a trophy. Mya, perhaps respecting the moment or frightened by all these people staring at her, turned stone cold silent. Everyone cooed at the cuteness of the moment.

Then the opening strains of "Bitter Sweet Symphony" started, and I swear to God, I had no idea that song was going to be the bride's entrance! I would have NEVER said anything out loud about how depressing the song is if I knew that's what she chose for her big day! A lot of emotions washed over me as I watched Alice and Mark stand at the doorway waiting for the right moment to enter. I was stunned by the moment, I was delighted by the beauty of the bride, and I was ashamed that I had said one bad word about her song. If you know the song, you know that the big, bombastic drums don't start until a second group of strings come in and overpower the piece, making it soar in a crescendo. This is when Alice and Mark started walking down the aisle, and everyone stood in silent reverence, and I was a second or two away from just bawling my eyes out. I'm sure Jacob was too, for different reasons. To make me feel more like a tool, she had picked an instrumental mix of the song, so those horrible lyrics I was so concerned about? Never happened. So not only was I a jackass for trying to make fun of Alice's wedding song, but I had no confidence that she or Jacob were bright enough to play a version of the song without the lyrics. And I was the best man. Sheesh. Oh, Alice was crying as well.

The ceremony was about 30 minutes. Jacob and Alice had readings in the middle of it, and Jacob pulled his off, nervous but steady. Alice couldn't get through hers and had to whip out tissue again. I lost track of the Alice Tissue-From-Between-Her-Breasts count after 4. My ring exchange with Jacob was...wait for it...flawless!! The officiant had turned to me after reading what she told me would be my cue and loudly said, as if she didn't trust me to not fuck up, "This is your cue!" So I slid my right hand into my left hanky pocket, pulled out both rings using the tip of my one massive index finger, and when it was time, I placed the rings into Jacob's palm with no issues whatsoever. I had one role to play in this big show, and I pulled it off. The biggest issue for me wound up being the standing time. My legs started getting really sore after the first 5 minutes or so, and I don't know how I lasted until the end. I thought I was going to teeter over somewhere along the way. I've never done well trying to stand still, so that was a real test. And I know, I have another test in five months. Anywho, they said I do, the bride was kissed, and they made their way down the aisle, followed by us, the wedding party. Now, I don't do weddings--my last one was when I was ringbearer for my aunt and her husband in 1987--so I didn't know anything about how the receiving line worked. But when we all got outside, Dana immediately ran over to Alice and Jacob and hugged them, then Trish and Joe quickly followed. Then I noticed all of the attendees lining up getting ready to bum rush the happy couple and I figured, you know, I think this is where the wedding party gets the first congrats in before everyone else, so maybe I should do that now.

Then the wedding party slipped back downstairs while the couple continued greeting folks. I was so happy to grab a chair and wait for that to finish knowing that I'd have to be back on my feet for the pics. Before the pics was the license signing, and the funny part there was that Dana was more than happy to take the license off my hands after it was signed, then she came back up to me 20 minutes later and pointed to her lack of pockets and told me to hold it for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, the weather had turned worse. It was very chilly and windy, and the lightest little sprinkle of rain had come in, and it stayed that way the rest of the afternoon. The pics seemed to have turned out great, the few that I've seen, but we definitely cut the session short. The bridesmaids' dresses were sleeveless, and they had these fuchsia-colored wraps that didn't help at all. So before they got pneumonia, we packed it in and headed to the tent.

The music had already started before we got over there, and of course people were already chowing down. The happy couple got a big round of applause as they entered. I was impressed that all of our salads were already waiting when we got to our big table. I was also very hungry, so credit goes to Joe for telling me that maybe we should wait to sit down and eat until the bride and groom actually sit down. Forks started clanging off of glasses almost as soon as we did all sit down, and this made me nervous because the web sites I read indicated that I would be the master of ceremonies and give the first toast at the reception, and I had zero idea when I should do this. I was frozen. But the pressure was taken away from me because Alice let me know that Dana would be giving the first speech, followed by me. That helped a lot, knowing that I wouldn't be batting leadoff. We barely finished the chicken and dry beef before Dana stood up and gave her speech. It was soft and a little shaky, but the sentiment was great. She said that Jacob was the stallion that Alice had dreamed of ever since she played dolls with Dana as kids. It was a very nice speech, even if it was hard to hear. I made sure that my speech wouldn't suffer from that problem. It may suffer from bad taste, but it wouldn't suffer from not being loud enough. "Alright!" I bellowed after being handed the mic, then I delivered my speech pretty much as I wrote it in this previous post. I had to toast with actual wine instead of the sparkling grape juice. I just felt like I had to make it real. And I have to say, that Michael Jackson joke? Big. Went over huge. I'm talking I-had-to-pause-for-the-laughter-to-stop huge. That room of lily white people thought that was the funniest thing they'd heard in forever. I felt like a stand-up act that got off a perfect line. It was fucking awesome. Jacob hugged me afterwards, then told the crowd that I'm getting married in October and he would have gotten his revenge if my speech was too off-color. He thanked me for not going into detail about the bad times in his prior relationships. I think he thought I was going to go there and tell everyone that his last long-term girlfriend had taken his dogs and his money and abandoned him in Montana and left him in bankruptcy court. Nah, I wasn't ever planning on telling his business like that. Except on this blog, I guess. Alice's speech lasted about five seconds. She thanked everyone for coming out on the best day of her life, then she shoved the mic into Jacob's chest. Jacob's speech was very poignant and detailed. He thanked as many people individually as he could remember. He acknowledged those in their families who were deceased and couldn't be there, but told us that he knew they were there anyway. He almost cracked at this point, but he held it together nicely.

From there, it was time to mingle and get ready to dance. I mostly tried to hang around the people I already knew, but at one point I had to take a piss, and that meant leaving the tent and going back to the ceremony building. On those steps, I ran into the woman who would become known that weekend as my stalker, or my groupie. (I should insert at this point that Alice warned me three days ago that someone at the wedding would hit on me because she loved black men, but she didn't tell me who.) This woman was overweight but not obese, wearing a blue jean jacket, with dirty blonde hair, somewhat tired looking eyes, a crooked smile and a cigarette between her fingers. For you wrestling fans, and Jerry would certainly get this, she looked like a female Ray "The Crippler" Stevens. That's not a compliment. She would engage me for ten minutes in talk that included the water situation in Memphis, her being a bridesmaid in other weddings but never a bride, my pending nuptials, and this ceremony. When it started getting a little uncomfortable, I made a move towards the building and said that I really gotta go, and she said, "Yeah, go ahead. Don't leak." ??? So back under the tent, right before the dancing would start at 7, I find myself talking with an older brunette woman, and The Stalker strides up besides me and sorta sticks her nose in the convo, although she wasn't saying anything. The brunette starts talking about Chicago, which she knows well, and she kept looking at The Stalker, who eventually says, "I'm from Iowa. I don't know about Chicago. Stop looking at me." Okay. The next question from the brunette to me is, Cubs or White Sox?, and I of course say Sox, and I had previously talked about living up north in Chicago near Wrigley Field. So the brunette seems perplexed by my answer, and I'm explaining that I only lived near Wrigley, I was never a Cubs fan, always White Sox...and The Stalker at this point grabs me around the neck, pulls me in, and kisses me on the cheek. Yeah. I don't know why either. She didn't seem drunk. She hadn't been overtly flirting with me before, just made me a little uncomfortable. The timing of the kiss made it seem like she was giving me support because I was a White Sox fan, but since she never said a word, I have no idea what her motivation was. Besides, don't look at her, she's from Iowa, right?? Just so weird.

Shortly after that, Jacob and Alice had their first dance, "The Best Is Yet To Come" by Sinatra. My focus now became whether there would be a mandatory dance for the wedding party, because I really didn't want to dance. I was happy for the couple and all, but I didn't need to be out there dancing in front of everybody. No one ever needs to see that. I actually read on a web site that there should be a best man-bride dance as well, and that terrified me. Alice is a sweet girl, but she's forward and somewhat aggressive, so I just imagined her trying to playfully knee me in the nuts or something as I took her by the hand. So I asked the DJ about any kind of dancing the wedding party would have to do, and he said to not worry, that won't happen for another hour. I told Joe this, and he seemed as pissed about having to dance as I was. So we stood aside waiting for this terrible burden to be placed upon us. I danced to the first uptempo song, Kool & the Gang's "Celebration," because the dance floor was full and I wouldn't stand out. Then I immediately sat down and watched all the wedding favs get pulled out--"Chicken Dance," "Beer Barrel Polka," "Save A Horse Ride A Cowboy"(??)...and while that was happening, I was alternately watching out for my stalker, who seemed to be always lurking nearby but wasn't coming towards me. The chair that I took was as close to the far end of the dance floor as possible, so she would have had to walk across the floor to get at me, and she didn't seem to be in a dancing mood.

Again, I'm not a wedding veteran, but like the dance clubs, I assume that every wedding reception features some people that make themselves famous, or infamous, based on what they did on the dance floor. We had three that stood out to me at the end of the night. One was a guy we called Justin Bieber because he didn't just look like him in the face, he chose to get his hair cut just like him. It could have been Bieber for all I know. He would have stood out just for looking like Bieb, but at one point a mini dance-off broke out during "Ice Ice Baby," and Bieb broke it down for us, doing handstands and shit, and even nailing a reverse Worm! (We watched a woman's cell phone recordings of the day's events Sunday after the gift opening, and she filmed Bieb drinking out of a plastic cup, and the liquid had a yellow-brown color to it. He's a high schooler. That footage should be destroyed immediately.) The second was Speed Girl. She couldn't have been older than like 15, and she was very thin, like future sprinter thin, and all she did all night long as a form of dancing was run sprints around the dance floor. Slow songs, fast songs, mid-tempo songs, it just didn't matter. Her form of dancing was running at almost top speed around the perimeter of the floor, occasionally grabbing someone's arm, me, Trish, Joe, whoever, and doing a three-second doe-si-doe before taking off running again. She seemed to me like she was on speed. Trish made a nose candy reference at one point. Later, she guessed crystal meth, but I said she wasn't missing teeth, so that couldn't be it. Trish said maybe she just started it. It was probably the nervous energy of the day combined with maybe some candy or caffeinated soft drinks. But man, was she a dizzying sight. I mean, she would grab little kids, like 4 and 5-year-olds, and swing them around while she sprinted! The girl seriously had no off button. "Come on! Let's go!!" she'd scream almost angrily if she came across someone who didn't want to run with her, like me. I had to lie and tell her, "Bad knees," although ironically, my left knee was swollen all day Sunday. The third and most infamous person was The Stripper. This was a brunette who came with a date, a nerdy guy who seemed genuinely embarrassed by the night's events, and they took the dance floor about three or four times within the first hour. And every time they took the dance floor, the girl danced with her date as if she was trying to freak him right there on the spot, like they were at the nastiest club in the town at 1 in the morning or something. She was grinding him, she was pumping her arms and shaking her tits, she was making that pussy pop...I actually took out my wallet at one point to check and see if I had enough singles. She performed like she was on the main stage at a strip joint. And there was a metal pole holding up the tent right there for her if she wanted to use it, but she didn't. This tale did not seem to have a happy ending; she and her date disappeared after that first hour, and Jacob reported later that he saw her in the ceremony building in tears telling her date, "I just wanna go home." Maybe word got to her from one of the more dignified guests that she was making a fool of herself, or maybe she figured it out for herself once everybody on the floor stopped dancing and started watching her. Whatever, some pre-teen girls learned some new dance moves this evening, and those moves will make them very popular with the fellas.

Then it was time for the wedding party's big entrance. For this, we had to step outside the tent and wait for the DJ to introduce us all to the crowd. The last song that came on before our intro was a Michael Jackson song from 1979, and I felt like I had missed my one song that I would be willing to dance to because I did, after all, reference MJ back when he was black. So I danced a little on the grounds for only the wedding party to see. Before Dana and I got introduced, she was huddling up with me because the wind had picked up outside, so that made me feel good. A damsel in distress (and in dis dress, lol) needed me to warm up and protect her from the cold. Her husband's a lucky man, I said to myself, ignoring the fact that, hello, they have four kids. Then we were called in, and I entered with one index finger in the air the whole time because, despite this not being my show, I felt like the king of the world with Dana on my arm. Then we did all have to dance to "Friends in Low Places," oddly enough, and we had to switch partners for like thirty seconds all throughout the song at the DJ's calling, and when I made it back to Dana, she kinda grabbed me by the neck and I kinda grabbed her by the waist, and it was all good for about three seconds until she looked over at her husband, who had not smiled all weekend and sure as fuck wasn't smiling now, and then she took her hands off and we went back to the normal way of dancing. I found that whole episode very amusing for some reason. It's like Dana started to enjoy herself a little bit and then remembered that she was tethered to the stern-looking man a few feet away and it startled her back to reality. Then we all did "YMCA," and later I danced to "Thriller" because, again, it was Michael Jackson when he was black, and that was it for my dancing adventures for the night.

Late in the evening they had a dollar dance where anyone could pay a dollar and run up and have a dance with the bride or the groom. At this point, The Stalker decided to be the very last person to pay a dollar and have a dance--with both the bride and the groom separately. And after this was over, she made a beeline towards me and said, "Are you going to be at the gift opening tomorrow?" I nervously said yes, then she said, "Great! I'll be there too. So I'll see ya tomorrow." She then leaned in face first, and maybe I'm being an arrogant prick, but I swear I think she was going to try to kiss me on the mouth. I turned to the side and she got all cheek as she gave me a big hug and left. I had never been so grateful for a white woman to not try to get with me. Trish and Joe were sitting nearby witnessing all of this, and they were quite entertained. I couldn't help but shake my head at where I was as a person now as opposed to several years ago. Before I met my fiancee, I probably would have tried to do something with that woman on this night. Trust me, I know that a lot of singles hook up at weddings just because watching two people pledge love to each other makes some feel like this is their time to find someone to make them feel loved too, even if it's for a night or a couple of hours. I would have had no problem being that guy, even though I've already acknowledged that this woman was not hot. I would not have cared. Thankfully, I don't have to be that guy anymore. Someone was waiting back home in Memphis for me, so I didn't have to chase love or tail this evening. (And as far as a woman hitting on me because she's into Mandingo, Alice told me the next day that The Stalker was not to whom she was referring. The one into black men was a different brunette who caught the bouquet. That woman hardly said two words to me. Alice guessed that maybe it was because Jacob told everyone that I was getting married after I delivered the best man speech, so she knew I was off limits. Didn't stop The Stalker.)

The night wound down and Jacob and Alice got me and Trish and Joe on the floor for their big one-two punch for a finale: "What A Wonderful World" followed by "Let's Get It On." I left the floor for "Let's Get It On" because I wasn't getting in on tonight. But that wasn't the last song. The DJ had some generic club song that he played as he broke down the equipment, then ten seconds of the Looney Tunes sign-off, "That's all folks!" I thought that sucked. Jacob and Alice had been talking about how cool they thought it would be to have the last song be "Let's Get It On," even though they may be too tired to get it on when they finally got to the hotel. But the DJ decided to play his own shit as the last song. I would have been mad at that. Plus, the version of "Let's Get It On" was sung by someone other than Marvin Gaye, and that's blasphemy. But I think Jacob and Alice were too tired to be mad. Besides, the day had been perfect up to that point. No need to let that ruin anything. Joe, Trish and I piled into Jacob and Trish's mom's car, and she dropped me back off at Jacob and Alice's house. Jacob had given me his key earlier in the day. I'm glad I had it in a handy place because I could have wrapped it up in my clothes thinking I was going to put my street clothes back on at the venue. But I was so tired, I wore the tux back to the house and stripped there. I chatted with Buddy, watched some TV, surfed the net, put my best man speech on Facebook, and fell asleep hoping that the cats would give me some peace on this fabulous night.

Sun. May 15

Not much to yak about on this day. My entire body was sore all day. The cats did indeed give me peace, but I was so tired that upon waking up around 6:30A, I couldn't go back to sleep. When your muscles are that sore, you can't even fall back asleep. So I hobbled around all day, telling Buddy that his parents were coming home soon because he was just looking at me like I had killed them or something. Jacob and Alice arrived home, and we made it over to Mark and Dianne's around 12:30P. The gift opening was fine. We chowed on Paul Bunyan's Donuts, which are such a big deal in that neck of the woods that Jacob presented them to Dianne as an offering before he proposed to Alice. I gave the marriage license to Dianne, but not before threatening to hold it ransom until Alice deleted those pictures of me getting a pedicure from her camera. I didn't have too many funny lines today. When Jacob opened his gift from me and my fiancee, a set of Green Bay Packers cups and pitchers, I yelled out, "That's the last Packers stuff you're ever getting from me!" But I was proud that all weekend, I placed the funny lines where they should be at the right times, and I didn't say inappropriate things in front of any kids. Most of my conversation was with Mark and some other adults talking about the socioeconomic breakdown of Chicago and Wisconsin and Memphis. Oh, The Stalker was there as she said she would be, but she left me alone. I lost a paper plate in the wind, and it was her foot that happened to stop it, so I was afraid of what would happen when I went to retrieve it. But all she did was say loudly and happily, "You're welcome Andre!" when I thanked her for the plate. Then, when I was moving gifts from Mark and Dianne's deck over to Jacob and Alice's house, The Stalker was standing outside the fence. "Take care, Andre," she said, "and good luck on your future nuptials!" Guess she didn't feel the spark from me, so she let it go. Whew. We had some of the wedding cake and watched the cell phone footage that a woman had of the wedding and reception, then we all dispersed to our respective homes, in my case Jacob and Alice's house. They went out to run some errands and brought back a heat-and-eat chicken and veggie pizza for supper. It was bordering on gooey how they were acting with each other, calling each other "husband" and "wife" instead of their given names. But they're allowed to be gooey the day after their wedding. Jacob and I watched the Bulls beat the fuck out of the Miami Heat, then we played some NBA on the PS3 and called it a night.

Mon. May 16

I had a couple of tasks after Jacob and Alice left in the morning for their honeymoon: Turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and make sure the door is locked when I leave. I accomplished all those tasks just as flawlessly as I accomplished my main task of handing off the rings to Jacob at his wedding. I'm still tickled that I got that right. Mark and Dianne picked me up at 10:30A and took me to the airport, both still happy and joyous. A little drama occurred getting out of Wisconsin, just like when I entered. First, that "Swiss Army" flashlight with the blades didn't make it past security. They said I could check my bag with Delta Airlines, or go to the gift shop and mail the thing to myself. I guessed that mailing it would be much cheaper than checking my bag, and I was right. I'm sure checking my bag would have been in the $15-$25 range, and mailing it to myself only cost $5.25. Then my keys became an issue. The first time at the Memphis airport, no problem. This first time trying to leave Wausau, no problem. But I had to get scanned a second time after the flashlight drama, and this time they noticed that my key chain had a Swiss Army-like connection of blades as well. I honestly didn't even think of that until they told me. So yes, a black man tried to go through an airport in the middle of Wisconsin with two sets of switchblades. It's a wonder I'm not in prison. I told them to take the key chain and trash it because it wasn't important to me. Finally, they let me on my way, and after all that, a generator fell off our plane as we sped down the runway for takeoff. That led to a one-hour delay. But don't worry, dear readers. I specifically scheduled both of my 2nd-leg flights for about three hours after the landing of my first flight because I wanted to have some time in case my 1st flight somehow got delayed. I almost fell asleep in Detroit waiting for my flight to Wausau, but it was all good. And this time, instead of having three hours in Minneapolis to fall asleep, I wound up having only an hour and a half, which didn't bother me in the least. The really interesting part is, Jacob and Alice just happened to decide to fly to Minneapolis as well as the 1st leg of their trip to San Francisco for their honeymoon, and if they would have booked the 2nd flight out of Wausau on Delta instead of the 1st, they would have been on that plane with me! And poor Jacob would have had to suffer through the thought of a generator falling off of a plane that he was about to get on. You see, Jacob's deathly afraid to fly. And I wasn't, not before this pair of flights in and out of Wausau that I took. But I found myself really fearful on both takeoffs from Wausau and from Minneapolis, and more grateful than ever for both landings. At least the rides were smooth. But I'm not flying again anytime soon, and I'm not sad about that. I met my bride-to-be at the airport, and we started sharing thoughts and visions about our fast-approaching special day.

Final thoughts? As I said in my best man speech, I'm just happy to see Jacob happy. He's been through a lot of shit with women, arguably more than me because his woman stole cash from him. And he doesn't deserve it because he's a really cool dude who doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He just lives his life his way and doesn't sweat the small stuff. I was thrilled to be a small part of his and Alice's special weekend. I'm grateful for their hospitality. I'm eager to start planning our wedding and see what elements I can steal from Jacob and Alice's nuptials. And I'm not sure when I'm coming back to Wausau, but I'm sure there will be little Jacobs and Alices running around. And I'll be happy and thrilled and emotional for them all over again.

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