Monday, February 25, 2008

The Wedding Of The Decade (Part Four)

David Ortiz is too spectacular to put into words. He's the best clutch hitter of my lifetime. I saw Yastrzemski in 1967, and he was amazing, but Ortiz? He's established a new standard. On top of it all, he's a nice guy; humble and a great teammate.

Why would I interrupt this continuing saga to talk baseball - aside from the obvious fact that David Ortiz is magnificent? Well, it's the type of thing that guys will talk about at the reception. Women might discuss the beauty of the bride's gown or make fun of the hideous bridesmaid's outfits or perhaps they'll say how pretty the floral arrangements were - I can only speculate concerning these things, of course, since I don't own a vagina. Men, however, will not utter a single word concerning the groom's manner of dress - unless he got married in a kilt or something, in which case he becomes fair game and he knows it, too. No, men will talk sports.

Also, you women need to understand that, if you decide to schedule your wedding on a day containing a major sporting event, there are only two possibilities.

If you schedule the ceremony at the same time as the major sporting event, every guy in the church will be pissed. This includes your father, your brother and the groom himself.

If you schedule the ceremony to happen before or after the major sporting event, that's better. However, if you schedule it before, every guy at the reception - once again including your father, brother and groom - will be trying to find a TV to watch the sporting event. If you schedule it after, they will spend the reception talking about the sporting event. As a matter of fact, they may still gather around the nearest TV, beers in hand, and watch the replays.

The only guys the above does not apply to are your gay friends and those guys in the wedding party who are trying to hit on your bridesmaids. And if you're not hitting on bridesmaids or talking sports, it will be assumed you are gay.

Two stories that prove this:

1 - MY WIFE, prior to meeting me, volunteered to write and send out wedding invitations for a friend of hers. On the invitations, it was supposed to say "So-and-so & guest". Well, when she sent them out, she had it say that on the female invitations, but not on those going to men.

The Machiavellian idea was that this would bring many single dateless men to the reception. Then she and her friends could troll the waters for a catch.

It was a fine idea, except for one thing. The wedding happened during the World Series. Every man at the reception, dateless or not, gathered around the TV at the bar and watched the game. MY WIFE and all of her friends didn't go home with a damned thing except experience.

2 - MY WIFE and I attended a wedding reception in 2004. Nice couple, now residing in Brooklyn. The wedding reception was in October. The wedding reception was held in a suburb of Boston.

Boston. October. 2004.

The groom spent nearly the entire evening in conversation with various buddies rhapsodizing about how sweet it was that the Red Sox had come from 0 - 3 down to beat the Yankees. Luckily, his bride was also a Sox fan, so she wasn't pissed. Wouldn't have mattered if she was, though. Some things are just in the genes and if you schedule a wedding or reception at certain times, the genes will out.

My best advice, ladies? Schedule your wedding during a time when there are no playoffs happening in any of the four major North American sports. Also, no Olympics, World Cup, major golf tournaments or NASCAR championships. For instance, February 29th.


So the morning of February 29th arrived (arrove?) and we were ready. Every detail was taken care of and all of the stuff we had to bring to the hall and church - for decorating, etc. - was packed up in boxes and bags and ready to be loaded into the car for transport. A couple of very close friends and relatives had agreed to help us that morning with the actual decorating.

I loaded the stuff into my car and drove over to the Knights of Columbus hall we had rented for the reception. I would drop off the stuff with our very good friends and oversee the set-up. I took this task onto myself as a solo venture voluntarily. MY (future) WIFE was on the edge of clinical exhaustion and remained at home taking care of last minute clothing details and popping tranquilizers. I say that not unkindly. She was subject to amazingly hideous migraines and had copped a scrip to make a preemptive strike against that possibility. I was all for her avoiding migraines, of course.

I parked the car, got out, and went into the hall. I then stood there in drop-jawed amazement, not believing what my eyes were seeing.

The entire floor of the hall was covered with trash and I literally mean every inch of it. The hall had been used for a bingo game the night before and it was strewn with discarded bingo cards, scratch tickets, markers, paper plates and drink cups, cigarette butts and every other bit of detritus that could possibly be associated with a night of gambling.

After the bingo game, whoever was in charge had just swept everything on the tables onto the floor, folded everything up and gone home. Our friends and I had to actually clean the place and set up the tables and chairs before they could even begin doing the decorating.

Before that happened, though, I had to go home. MY (future) WIFE expected me to take perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes at the most to drop stuff off and go over a few details with our friends. There was no way in hell I was going to tell her about what was transpiring. So, I went home, made some sort of lame excuse about having to head back to the hall, and then did so - pissed and ready to start busting my balls cleaning.

Thankfully, MY (future) WIFE had a serious case of Bride Brain, so I didn't have to be too effective in my lying.

I went back to the hall and joined in scooping up trash - by hand. I had a change of clothes at home, of course, but the other folks were already in their beautiful wedding duds. They hadn't expected to be working shin-deep in filth that morning. But they did, God bless them, they did.

After helping to dispose of the greater part of the mess, I had to head back home to continue with our pre-wedding prep. I left everything in the capable hands of Peggy Lavoie and she, along with my future brother-in-law and sister-in-law... well, she absolutely guaranteed herself a spot in heaven, if there's any justice in this universe. She took all of the boxes of stuff, along with my hurried instructions concerning set-up details, and she did as magnificent a job with that hall as we could have done given three days to accomplish it. She set up every table with the specific decorations for that table's theme and did so with her marvelous eye for artistry. I won't show you the details yet - that will come later, at the reception - but you need to know that, without her efforts, our day would have been fairly much ruined.


Back home, we packed up the programs we had made and readied to bring them to St. Gregory’s, the church we were being married in. Our greeters (photo above) would hand one to each of the guests as they entered the church. Since we had many friends who were not Catholic, we included fairly much every word of the liturgy within the programs so that they could follow it easily and participate without hesitation or embarrassment.

After dropping off the programs, we had to go to the florist and pick up the floral arrangements, bring them to the church, and set them up on the altar. MY (future) WIFE also had to get her hair done. We both had to dress in what we were wearing for the ceremony. And I had to write a speech, too.

You see, it was our idea that we would both address our guests at the ceremony. I would give a welcome and MY (future) WIFE would say a couple of words after we were married, including pointing out that directions to the reception were in the program.

Remember how this whole story began with an improvisation on my part? I hadn't learned my lesson from that. After all, horrible improvisation though it may have been, she had agreed to marry me. So I figured I could wait until the last minute to come up with something to say as an introduction to our guests.

You know what? I was right this time.

After picking up the flowers, and while MY (future) WIFE was having her hair done, I was at home reading the funny pages of the Boston Globe. I had it in the back of my head that I had to come up with something to say, but I wasn't too worried about it. I could wing it, if need be. I came from a long line of successful b.s. artists and panic under pressure is not a trait you inherit from folks like that. As I was reading Andy Capp, Bringing Up Father, Blondie, and other fine literature sure to instill confidence in a soon-to-be-married man, I glanced down the page and miraculously found the text upon which to base my pre-game talk.

A regular feature on the comics page was the Quote Of The Day. In this case, it was from someone named Festus. The only Festus I knew was the deputy from Gunsmoke, but I assumed it wasn't him and, miracle of miracles, I was now right twice in the same day. As I later found out, he was a Roman philosopher. At that moment, however, he was a gift from God that I gratefully accepted. I clipped the quote out of the page and put it into my pocket.


Her hair now done, MY (future) WIFE was ready for the wedding. We got into our car and drove over to the church. I'd say we had at least twelve or thirteen minutes to spare before the ceremony.

At the time, I was driving a 10-year-old monkey-shit brown Oldsmobile that was not without its charms, but had acquired 10 years worth of dents, dings and other personalizations. We pulled up in front of the church and were immediately accosted by a helpful church official.

"Hey! You can't park there! There's a wedding today and that space is reserved for the limousine!"

"We are the limousine", MY (future) WIFE said, as she moved the orange traffic cones out of the way.


We waited in the sacristy, peeking outside every now and then to count the house - not unlike performers on opening night. I fingered the quote from Festus in my pocket, figuring out my opening lines.

The third person "on stage" with us that day would be Fr. Vincent McKiernan, CSP. We knew him as Vinny. When we decided to get married, he was MY (future) WIFE's immediate choice as celebrant and I agreed wholeheartedly.

Vinny was currently in residence at Ohio State University, but he had previously been a resident at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston. This is where we knew him from. He had been a great help to MY (future) WIFE during a time of great distress (prior to this time of great distress) and a friendship beyond the usual priest-parishioner relationship had developed. I didn't know Vinny as intimately, but I did know him as a kind and gentle man with a wonderful sense of humor, especially adept at punning.

(Since Vinny was from out of town, we had to get special papers to allow him to perform a wedding in Massachusetts. Conservatives want more people to get married and stay married? They want to cut down the divorce rate? Have the government get the hell out of the marriage business. If you left marriage to the religious institutions and dropped all of the hideous paperwork and blood tests and licensing and permissions and fees and other crap, more people might find it easier and might do it. In addition, most churches consider a marriage final. They don't grant divorces; the state does. Mini-rant over. Sorry!)

Vinny was ready. MY (future) WIFE was ready. The musicians were ready. The gathered guests were ready. I pulled Festus out of my pocket and walked out to the lectern on the altar. I began...

"Thank you for coming here today to join us in our celebration of marriage. I'd like to read you a quote that we've pretty much based our entire life together on."

(I had never seen the quote until about an hour ago.)

"The quote is from Festus."

(I here explained that it was not the same Festus as the character from Gunsmoke. I still had no earthly idea what Festus he might have been.)

"We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial."

"We have tried to live our life together thus far by following these words."

(This was pretty much true, but we had never actually seen the words before.)

"Each one of you holds a special place in our lives and it is our fervent hope that you'll find the deeds, thoughts and feelings expressed today filled with love."

(Whatever the hell that means. I know it sounded good because everybody was smiling.)

Having now baffled everybody with bullshit, it was time to begin the actual ceremony. I stepped off of the altar and joined hands with MY (future) WIFE, who was giving me a "Who in heck is Festus and we do what with who now?" smile. We made our way to the back of the church via a side aisle and then followed the rest of the wedding party up the middle aisle towards the altar.

Why, here we are now!

I have to condense slightly here, otherwise I'll have to rent out space on another blog to finish. If you know the Roman Catholic liturgy, you more or less know our wedding.

Dearly beloved...

Husband and WIFE...

(A few minutes previous to this, we had exchanged a high five - somewhat to the chagrin of Vinny, I'm afraid.)

And then we went home, while everyone else...

... headed to the reception. Why did we go home? You'll find out at the reception.

(See you there in a little while!)

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