Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Weekend Catchup - wedding, Mary-Kate and The O.C. box set

So I haven't made an entry in a long while. For that, I apologize. Maybe not profusely, but at least superficially.

It was quite a busy weekend, as I went to the second wedding in North Carolina in as many months, this time to see my friend Kirby play the blushing bride.

Some background on Kirby and her family.
I've known Kirby for a really really long time, from back when Clinton was known for not inhaling rather than not having sexual relationship with that woman. Which is to say, the summer before my junior year in high school. We met at chemistry camp at NC State, which wasn't as nerdy as it sounds, but well, I guess it was a bit nerdy.

If you want to know how to get from Raleigh to Gastonia, here's how.
At the end of the camp, despite the distance that separated us - I lived in Raleigh and she lived in Gastonia, which is only about 3 hours by car, but that's a lot when you don't have your own car - few of us from the program kept in touch afterwards and had a semi-reunion of sorts after that. After high school, I went to UNC at Chapel Hill and she to Duke, about 20 minutes apart, and we we would be able to meet up more often.

Another thing that happened after my high school graduation was my parents going back to Japan. Which was fine, because I was all about being independent and free of the rein that my parents held on me. But a hitch was that during breaks, the university shut down the dorms completely and no one could stay. I happened to mention to Kirby that I needed to make plans for Thanksgiving break - I'd be homeless for 4 days, which is entirely too short for a trip to Japan - and she offered to let me stay with her folks for Thanksgiving.

I was a bit ambivalent about crashing another family's Thanksgiving, but I figured this would be a good time to catch up with her and enjoy some home comforts. As it turned out, Thanksgiving with the Drake family just might be the best holiday good times, ever. The Drakes treat friends of their kids just like family, and they treat their family, immediate and extended, really really well.

They didn't seem to mind me too much, as I've been invited back every year, plus a few Christmas breaks here and there. I'm forever grateful for their hospitality.

Fast forward to 2004, I'm doing whatever I'm doing in NYC and Kirby is an attorney in Dallas. I don't get see her very often and I keep in touch with her mostly through her younger sister Whitney, who's living way downtown in the Financial District. So enough background.

Day 1 - Friday, September 24

I stayed in Brooklyn with Maureen the night before, because I wouldn't see her for the next couple of days, and she had an appointment in Park Slope that morning. So despite no work and 3:20 pm takeoff from Laguardia, I had to wake up early. But that turned out to be for the better, as I had some portfolio printing to do, and I still had to pick up my suit and my shirt from the cleaner. By the time I was ready to go, it was 1:30 pm and probably too late to take the subway and bus to the airport.

I've always been able to catch a cab pretty quickly at the corner of Canal and Allen, just around the corner from my apartment, but today, there wasn't any yellow to be seen (ironic for Chinatown, no?) so I figured I would walk towards the Bowery and see if I can catch one there. Fortunately, I saw a minivan cab unloading passengers half a block away so I got in. As the cab made its way up Allen St towards Delancey St (Delancey St connects to Williamsburg Bridge), I looked around and found no fewer than 3 cabs, all with the for-hire lights lit up. It's like rain on your wedding day.

Construction on BQE made the traffic quite a bit messier than usual, but I did manage to get to the airport with enough time to check in, go through security and sit down for a bit before boarding.

Fast forward to 5:17 pm, Charlotte NC. Whitney's boyfriend Scott picked me up at the airport, dropped me off at the Courtyard by Marriot in Gastonia. Now, this area, it's almost like a service road next to Interstate 85, and in this one strip, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Best Western, Hampton Inn and Comfort Suites all stand next to, or across from each other. The only businesses breaking up the roadside hotel hegemony are Waffle House and Cracker Barrel. Scott and I vowed that we would drunkenly patronize the Waffle House, across the street from the Courtyard, before the weekend was over.

At 7, we made our way to Gastonia's science museum, where the rehearsal dinner was held. I'd arrived too late for the rehearsal, and the attendants were already there. The food was fantastic. I love Carolina style BBQ. Boy do I love shredded pig meat. And open bar.

The pigmeat-filled masses invade Charlotte
After the PowerPoint slide shows of embarrassing baby pictures and speeches by the parents, the dinner turned into what resembled an amateur night at the local comedy club. Oh no, I'm fine with the speeches and if people care enough about the bride and/or the groom to get up and say something, that's great. It's just that the passing of the mic started just as I was getting seconds from the buffet, and I would have had to cut in front of the speaker to get back to my table.

The international sign for "You've taken quite enough pictures already, don't you think?"
So Sufficiently filled with pig meat, we drove out to Charlotte for a night of non-open bar drinking. Regrettably, Waffle House did not happen for me, though Scott and his friend who drove in for that night did partake in the greasy goodness.

Day 2 - Saturday, September 25, The Wedding Day

So in retrospect, the night before was a bit brutal. I'm just not used to starting drinking at 7, staying buzzed but maintaining an upright position till closing time. The last thing I want to do is admit that I'm a lightweight, but there's no getting around reality - I am a lightweight.

I am surprisingly refreshed, if a bit tired as I find myself awake at 7 am. After some aimless channel surfing, I find myself inexplicably drawn to an old Mary-Kate and Ashley flick. It's the one where Mary-Kate or Ashley is the tomboy orphan lovingly cared for by a single, overworked foster parent played by Kirstie Alley, and Ashley or Mary-Kate is the only child of a rich, but unfulfilled tycoon/widower (a quick IMDB search reveals that the movie is It Takes Two released in 1995).

Ah yes, that's the one
It's not that I'm a huge fan of Mary-Kate and Ashley - it's just that the day before, I happened to turn on the TV and found myself similarly drawn inexplicably to an episode of Full House, an episode where Mary-Kate or Ashley is dressed all heavy metal-like. Now, that's some freaky, X-Files shit, yo.

Just before 10 am, I finally get myself out of bed and shower and am about to go downstairs for breakfast. Okay, so when I booked the hotel, one of the amenities included continental breakfast. But when I was carefully reviewing the hotel services booklet as I always do immediately after checking in, I saw that breakfast was $6.95. $6.95! For continental breakfast! Traveshamockery! Continental breakfast should always be free! Argh!

Luckily for me, Scott called me on my mobile and invited me to join him and his friend at breakfast at his hotel. Thankfully, it appears to free. Well, I assume it is because I just walked right in, grabbed coffee, a shot of cranberry juice, some unnaturally yellow "scrambled" egg, couple of pieces of pan fried pig meat and an apple, because I care about my health.

Ran some members of the groom's family - the parents are pretty easy to identify, but since Bryce has 4 brothers and 4 sisters, I have no idea which one is whom. The best I can do is shake hands and smile.

Now, the wedding isn't until 5 pm and I don't have to be there until 3:30, so we're just killing time. Which is easier said than done in Gastonia - a nice town, but it lacks the excitement that you might find in, say, Hartford, CT - especially without transportation, as Scott and I are. We are in luck. Scott's friend drove in and he's here for the morning, so he can drive us. And Scott needs a shoelace, which means a trip to the mall is in order. Hooray.

Why this movie never got a sequel, I have not a clue.
As we are getting ready to leave, we find ourselves transfixed, not on the Olsen twins, but on the Ted Danson/Whoopi Goldberg comedy Made In America. Whoopi plays a single mother who finds out that, due to a mixup at the sperm bank, her teenage daughter's father is a car dealer played by Danson. I know, fascinating stuff. But you can't look away! After miraculously awaking from the trance put on by the former Cheers star, we made our way to the mall.

The mall, which is just across the interstate, is a strange little place. It has everything you would expect a mall to offer - an array of stores, a food court, department stores, etc, but we simply found it impossible to go upstairs. Sure, there are down escalators, but where is the up escalator?

Unable to solve the mystery, we settled on just getting Scott's shoelaces and exited the mall.

Nothing of note happens between 11:45 and 5:00. We shall skip over those 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Okay, forget what I just wrote. I lied. I'm sorry. Something did happen between 11:45 and 5:00. If you guessed "a trip to Bojangles", you would be correct. You see, Bojangles is a fast food fried chicken chain. No, it's not like KFC. No, the Colonel and his secret recipe can't come close to this motherfucker. Church's? Well, the bullet proof glass at the counter is a cute touch, but no. Popeye's? Puh-fucking-lease! Yes, it's heavy on the grease. Yes, it's heart attack on a tray, a bucket or both. But it's the seasoning. It's the dirty rice. It's the cajun fries. And yeah, the completely shameless amount of grease. The little-too-sweet sweet tea helps too. I even bought a half gallon jug which is now sitting in my NYC apartment. Holla!

The Wedding

The Wedding of the Centry, a.k.a. Kirby & Bryce's big day was quite beautiful. No, I did not get teary eyed, so I suppose the meds were working. Kudos, GlaxoSmithKline.

Usher has the voice that makes the booty go "Smack", apparently.
The Drakes were foolish enough to give hand me with responsibility, however minimal, of ushering the guests to their seats. Surprisingly enough though, I managed to to seat the guests without tripping, destroying valuable items or setting the church on fire.

And the wedding went off without a hitch. No runaway bride, no one speaking up with a reason why Kirby and Bryce should not be joined together instead of forever holding peace, no America's Funniest Home Video moments. Well, almost without a hitch. The minister forgot to tell Bryce to kiss the bride and Bryce apparently forgot as well. Or maybe it was a no kissing church. I don't know. I don't go to many churches so I'm not up on the current in-church kissing protocols. The ceremony was short and sweet - I've been to much longer weddings, and let me tell ya, there's no such thing as a "long and sweet" ceremony.

The photographer was great. It was rather large, bearded gray haired man in a black shirt with suspenders. He may have breathed fire, I don't remember. Well, by "great", I mean "hard to understand", which may not be a problem in many professions, but it is if you photograph weddings. When you finally realize that he's saying "come closer" and do go closer, he then mumbles "no, back up". For a moment, I thought he was playing "Simon Says" but he didn't seem like the game playing type. I think I pissed him off later at the reception, if he wasn't pissed already, because seemingly every time I took a picture, the flash went off in his face. Good times, good times.

The reception at the country club was fantastic. Good food, lot of dancing. Great to see Dr. & Mrs. Drake getting down. At one point, I suspected that I may have had drunk too many glasses of gin & tonic. The suspicion grew stronger when I noticed that the bartender had switched to a larger beer glass. That suspicion was proven correct later. I'll see if I can put up a picture.

I imagine this is how I looked, except without the joint and the "ARNOLD IS NUMERO UNO" t-shirt.
After the country club did the old "You ain't gotta go home but you can't stay here", we made our way to the Drakes residence and chilled by the pool. I may have been singing a really bad rendition of Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds, which is probably not the most appropriate song for a wedding day. I should've gone with something more fitting, like Billy Idol's "White Wedding".

And yet again, no Waffle House.

Day 3 - Sunday, September 26 - a day to repent, escape from the hurricane

If he did dive, I would've posted a pic, wouldn't I.
Again, I found myself awake at 7 am. Finding no Mary-Kate & Ashley programming on the tube, and learning that my beloved Carolina Tar Heels had fallen 34-0 to Louisville, I thought I'd try to sweat out the toxins in the fitness room.

Bad idea. My body simply refused to wake up and be productive. I did a token mile on the treadmill, then did a few pullups, when mercifully, Casey (note: Kirby's youngest sister) called, sounding awfully like someone who had just been dragged out of bed by her sister and still half asleep, and that my ride would be outside the lobby at 10 am. That was my cue to go upstairs and shower.

Oh, I seem to have replaced the power adapter for my iPod. Darn it. I called Courtyard, but the housekeeping staff hasn't found it. This really sucks, as this means I can't recharge my iPod and I am lost without my music.

Nothing exciting otherwise, really. Well, other than Hurricane Jeanne wreaking havoc on Florida. Just too tired, though the airport margarita treated me well.

Okay, I think that's about it. Congrats on reading this far down. You should be commended.

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