Friday, May 14, 2010

Scenes From A Wedding

For those of you interested in the continuing saga of my so-called pathetic life (and I believe that number is somewhere around ZERO but I’m not gonna let that stop me) here are a few highlights from my trip to Kalispell for Jake and Rachel’s wedding:

Old McDonald Had A Lake
I flew into Kalispell late Wednesday night (and boy, were my arms tired). Other than Las Vegas most towns don’t look all that cool in the dark and a little town in northwest Montana is no exception. BUT, in the morning it was a different story! There were plenty of snow-covered mountains, lakes, trees and other outdoorsy stuff that looked like it had been put together by Disney Imagineers.

That made us decide to take a whirlwind tour of Glacier National Park. Turns out Glacier doesn’t really “open for business” until later on in the year. (Glacier National Park – Hours of Operation: July.) None of the lodges, restaurants or tours were open. But that’s not to say it was boring because all of the Industrial Light & Magic matte-paintings of snow-covered mountains, lakes, trees and other outdoorsy stuff were pretty cool.

An especially cool thing was all the warnings about the animals – especially BEARS. There was even a whole brochure about BEARS that sounded like we’d see one every ten feet or so. Don’t feed the BEARS. Don’t taunt the BEARS. Don’t get out of your car and shake hands with the BEARS. Don’t put your two-year old on the back of a BEAR and try to take a picture. Just the usual kinda common sense stuff that some bozo must have actually been stupid enough to do, so now the National Park Service has to warn you not to do it! So, did we see any BEARS? No. Apparently they only come around when the park is actually in full swing (otherwise known as July). Couldn’t the Disney folks have planted at least ONE audio-animatronic bear for me to see? Sheesh!

On the other hand, we did see a really honkin’ muthah huge squirrel run across the road. Elizabeth tried to tell us it was a mongoose, but I know that mongooses (mongeese? mongoosi?) only live where cobras live. At least, according to all the Discovery Channel stuff I’ve seen. If you see a mongoose, a cobra must be near by so they can fight to the death. There are NO cobras in Montana so there can’t be any mongoosy-thingys either, right?

So, no cool animals. No cool lodges. Just cool scenery. And one cool picture of Elizabeth and Jake.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Up until the day of the wedding, it seemed like most of my time was spent eating and drinking. Dinner at Rachel’s parents house – check. Breakfast out with the guys – check. Rehearsal dinner – check. Cold Smoke (Montana’s best beer) - Check. Gin & Tonic – check. Cool, clear Montana water – check.

Apparently, even for a fat guy like me, there is a limit on how much you can eat. And let me just point out this obvious fact: Chicken Fried Steak – it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

True confession: I am a horrible person. Saturday afternoon everyone is getting ready for the wedding. While I’m waiting for everyone else I decide to have a gin & tonic. (I believe gin & tonics have some kind of magical healing power that can always make a queasy stomach feel better. And after Chicken Fried Steak (Motto: Like lead but tasty!) I needed something before the wedding started.) Before I finished my drink, all of a sudden it was time to go. So, um, I rinsed out my water bottle and poured the G&T into it. But, er, it looked so puny that I decided I’d add a bit of gin. And tonic. And ice. And lime. Next thing you know, the water bottle was full and off to the church we went! How horrible is that? Pretty horrible. (I feel better having confessed my sin, can you tell?) Let me just remind you that in spite of all my talk about drinking I never get drunk (or could count on one hand the number of times I’ve been drunk anyway) and, on the whole, am pretty responsible about it. So, it wasn’t like I was drunk at the wedding – or even tipsy. I wasn’t. But you just don’t bring alcohol into a church! (Communion wine excepted.) What was I thinking? Or not thinking, as the case may be.

But I told you about that, so I could tell you about this . . .

After the picture taking was done – and about an hour before the wedding was set to start – Nancy asked, “I’m really thirsty. Does anyone have a water bottle?” My water bottle was conveniently sitting in the pew right next to where she was standing. She KNOWS what my water bottle looks like, so I panicked thinking she would see it, pick it up and take a swig. That would have resulted in a disaster of catastrophic proportions! Luckily someone else offered her there water bottle before she saw mine. Disaster averted.

Speaking of pictures, here’s one of my kids and their spouses – except for Rachel, who was off doing some kinda bride thingy. From the left it’s Cassie & Jeremy, Jake is at the top and then Jeremiah & Elizabeth. (And be sure to notice the Chuck Taylor All Star Converse we wore for the wedding!)

The Ceremony
I wasn’t just a father, along for the ride, for this event, I was also a groomsman. It is very fun (and a very cool honor) to be asked by your son to be in the wedding party. (I was fortunate enough to be a groomsman in Jeremy’s wedding as well.)

On the other hand, I am old and could die at any moment, so when you’re standing up front through an entire wedding ceremony, you can’t help but wonder if you’ll make it to the end without falling over or something. Fortunately, I lived to tell about it.

The guy who married Jake and Rachel is a good friend of theirs from college. His name is Robert and he's a youth pastor in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He did a GREAT job and kept things light but also solemn at the right moments.

I, of course, was solemn and well-behaved throughout the entire ceremony. Except at the moment Robert pronounced them “man and wife.” Then I reached into my pocket, and sent the following Tweet / Facebook update: “It's official! Rachel & Jake are now married! (Sent surreptitiously during the ceremony while standing at the front of the church.)” No one saw me do it. (It’s just our little secret.)

And one other thing. As I have now done in each of my kids weddings, I did not wear socks. Like the Masters - it's a tradition like no other.

No wedding update would be complete without a picture of the bride. Here’s one with Jake and Rachel (on the left) and the pastor, Robert, and his wife, Kristi (on the right).

Lighter Than Air
One last thing . . .

On Sunday morning I think the whole week – including the lack of sleep and excess alcohol - caught up with me.

As a groomsman gift, Jake had given me a very cool cigar lighter. It was one of those sweet “torch” lighters and a very nice personal gift that I really appreciated. Knowing there are some restrictions on that kinda thing when you fly, I got to the airport on Sunday morning and confessed that I was carrying contraband. I expected I would have to check my luggage. I was sorely mistaken

When the Horizon rep kept telling me that there was no way the lighter could go on the airplane - even if my luggage were checked - I couldn't believe it. She was such a weasel about the whole thing - and offered no alternatives (except to throw it away for me). I think I’m normally pretty good about rolling with the punches but in this case, I was way more ticked off than I would normally have been.

I was so ticked off that I just got my boarding pass and left the ticket window. And then I did a dumb thing and packed it back in my suitcase and tried to get it through TSA. How did that work out for you, you ask? Uh, not very well. However, the TSA guy was at least nice enough to show me how I could ship it home by UPS. After all that crap - and the emotion of it being something Jake had given me, it was all I could do to keep from crying. Honest. (What a wuss! Being all wound up about a stinking lighter!)

So, Tuesday I get a call from a nice woman named Megan from the UPS office in Kalispell. She called to say that butane lighters can only be shipped through companies authorized to handle hazardous materials! (No, I am not kidding!) Of course, if it were empty it could be shipped then cuz it's just a piece of steel. So, I ask, “Can you just drain the thing for me and then ship it?” Of course not! Megan was very nice and I understand that they gotta follow the rules and regulations, so I wasn’t ticked at her, but could this be more ridiculous?

Of course I could ask one of my good friends in Kalispell to go down to the UPS office, pick up the lighter, drain it of butane and then send it to me but, let's see . . . Who do I know in Kalispell? Maybe I could call Rachel’s wonderful but very conservative parents! Certainly they would go to the UPS office to pick up the illegal item which I use to smoke semi-controlled substances (just tobacco, mind you) which they probably view as a sinful and serious vice, right? Okay, maybe not.

And then on Wednesday I read about a guy who had a gun in his carry-on luggage on a flight from New York to Cairo. And when did they discover it? In Cairo, of course! NOT BEFORE the flight but at THE END of the flight.

And yet somehow my torch lighter poses a terrorist threat and can only be shipped as a hazardous material . . .

Other than that, it was a GREAT wedding!
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