Gone to Texas: Day Two

One of the few good shots I got on the trip.

I slept like the dead after the rehearsal dinner. Between waking up super-early for my flight and the many events of the day, I was thankful for the freedom to sleep in. I woke up some time around 7 AM feeling refreshed and excited for the day ahead. After a quick shower, I queued up the poem I would be reading that afternoon and read it over and over. I knew I wouldn’t be able to memorize it in time, but being comfortable with the piece would be more than enough to make it look good. (Well, good enough.) Rain intermittently pattered on the balcony outside my room as a paced back and forth, playing with tone and emphasis.

Just after 9 am, I received a text message from Amelia, who was wishing me a good morning on her way back from the fitness center. I know down to the month how long it had been since someone had last wished me a good morning, and it’s long enough that I know better than to share. It was nice. Less nice was the fact that my phone got next to no signal on the resort grounds. After a few responses, the phone seemed to stop sending my messages, so I walked to her room and knocked on the door.

Because she hadn’t received my text messages, my visit took Amelia by surprise. We quickly settled on grabbing brunch in a half hour. After a little more time practicing the poem, we drove to the resort’s restaurant to check out their buffet. Finding the selection to be somewhat limited (biscuits and gravy, sausage, a few other country staples, and fruit), Amelia and I instead decided to order from the menu. Since I hadn’t had it in over a decade, I got a bowl of oatmeal topped with brown sugar and bananas. Amelia opted for a breakfast sandwich, substituting the meat for an extra layer of eggs. While we ate, Amelia told me about her teaching career.

With a few hours to kill before the wedding, we each retired to our rooms. Amelia did homework for a calculus course she was taking, and I continued to practice reading the poem Gir and Peanut wanted me to present. I also took a quick nap and jotted down notes about the trip. While reading, the song Youth, by Daughter, got stuck in my head. I collapsed onto my bed and stared at the ceiling, letting any number of jumbled thoughts and daydreams overrun me for a while.

Knowing how easy it was for me to get wrapped up in my own head, I’d set an alarm to remind myself to get ready for the wedding. Its blare pulled me from contemplation and got me back on track. I took a quick shower and got dressed. The main color of the wedding was purple, so I wore a shirt and tie to match it. My suit was the color of charcoal, with faint grey pinstripes.

I decided to wait outside until Amelia was ready. I watched a squirrel romp about near a tree. Although the sky remained somewhat overcast, the day’s rain had subsided. She emerged from her room wearing an elegant purple dress the featured striking lacework at the shoulders. She looked lovely.

(I know, you should always tell a woman who put a great deal of effort into getting dressed that she looks beautiful, but she really was.)

On the way to the Welfare Cafe, where the event was being held, we listened to Daughter’s Wild Youth EP. More than halfway to our destination, I realized I’d forgotten the purple handkerchief for the front pocket of my suit. I had no choice but to shrug it off. Amelia again acted as navigator for the trip. True to form, I drove right past the location’s parking lot and had to turn around. As we walked to the barn-turned-restaurant, Amelia and looked for the soon-to-be-newlywed’s car so that it could be readily identified for vandalism later.

Outside the Welfare Cafe, The Edge and Pinky were engaged in a match of wits. They were playing a game of Jenga with two-by-fours, and had reached a point where the stack nearly rose above them. Both of them had remembered to wear their suit-pocket-handkerchiefs, effectively making me look like a schlub. In fact, everyone there looked fantastic. It was basically a party full of photogenic people and then me, the goofus who couldn’t remember his handkerchief and had to ruin the whole thing.

I walked with Amelia into the cafe, past a table where sangria and poblano goat cheese dip were being served. Gir and the other bridesmaids had taken over the second floor. Although I did not join Amelia and the others upstairs, thanks to Hollywood I can assume the following occurred:

1. Gir almost certainly ruined some part of her wedding gown, probably with fire.

2. Whoever was to bring either something borrowed or something blue totally forgot it, leading to a mad dash through the crowd before the entire day was ruined.

3. Peanut had to provide something of dire importance, but since he could not see Gir before she walked down the aisle, he awkwardly climbed the stairs with his eyes covered.

4. Lots of complaining about men. Stupid, stupid men.

5. Gir went through two bottles of wine as she had a minor freakout.

6. Milhouse doesn’t count.

Again, I can neither confirm nor deny that these things happened, but if romantic comedies can be believed — which they almost certainly can — at least some of them did.

Giant Jenga, with Bags/Cornhole in the background.

While memorable mishaps were with 99% probability happening just a few feet away, I observed the giant Jenga match between The Edge and Pinky. The pile was balanced precariously, now well over the heads of both of them. Because this was a handmade facsimile, the blocks were not sanded, finished, or perfectly cut. This made some pieces hard to pull than others, leading to a great deal of testing between moves. As the competition wore on, The Edge took to skillfully performing knifehand strikes upon blocks that would otherwise not budge. Children stood and watched in awe as two masters played what may have been the game of their lives. In the end, The Edge sent the tower toppling over. As punishment for his failure, he was forced to pick all the blocks up and reset them for a new game.

At the request of the bridesmaids, the three of us haplessly searched the grounds for a safety pin(I told you — madcap whimsy, just like in the moving pictures!). All the while, cafe staff were preparing the grounds and the wedding planner was making sure everyone in the wedding party was properly outfitted with flair. Eventually, a pin must have been found, though not by us. The bridesmaids and groomsmen, along with the bride and groom themselves, headed toward the area the ceremony would be held in order to take pictures.

I walked the grounds of the cafe and made small talk with some of Gir’s other friends. Event staff had nearly completed the task of setting up tables, complete with decorations that fit another theme of the wedding: Gir and Peanut’s shared love of stories. Strewn about each table were a variety of books and comics. Some of them I recognized, some I had even read, but there were far more that I did not and had not. It made me think of going to the library, picking up a book from the shelf, and just reading. It has been a long time since I did that.

Despite the rain having subsided, there was still a chill in the air. It was an unseasonably cool day for Texas, or so I am told. The temperature was making Amelia uncomfortable, so I volunteered to get her sweater from the car. After I returned, we played an impromptu game of “Bags” with Bono and The Edge. A particularly large and aggressive bee honed in on Amelia’s wine, however, leading us to call the game off temporarily. Bono and The Edge went to go look at the animals on the farm next door, and Amelia and I instead returned to play “Bags” with Pinky and The Brain, although they called it “Cornhole” and played by slightly different rules. Amelia proved herself to be incredibly skilled, scoring more points than everyone else combined.

Shortly thereafter, the wedding began. I took a seat toward the far end of the second row so that I could quickly walk up when called upon. The entire ceremony was quick and to the point. It was officiated over by a close friend of Gir, and true to her nature, skipped over the religious aspects to focus only on the affection the bride and groom had for each other. There were points where I strained my ears to hear everything, but by and large the entire thing was wonderful.

Toward the end, just before the vows, I was called up to speak. I read Tim Pratt’s Scientific Romance, which you can read here. Despite my slightly rushed performance, I got a few chuckles from the audience. After me, a friend of Peanut read another poem. I took my seat, and then the couple read their vows. Each of them earnestly praised the other, with Gir making sure to point out that Peanut was absolutely perfect. It was really wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding where two people adored each other more.

After the wedding party left, everyone else headed to the cafe. Though some of the guests were seated outside, I was in the main dining hall. I was pleasantly surprised to find my place maker next to Amelia. I don’t know where else it might have wound up, since we were going to be at the same table, but it was still nice. Bono and The Edge found a pop-up book about computers among the tomes on our table. The Edge excitedly presented it to everyone within earshot. It was an impressive piece, with intricate moving parts and removable hardware. At the next table, a young woman who had the most dazzling blue eyes — so bright that I figured they had to be contacts — tried to talk to me. Sadly, the cacophony around us made it difficult to converse. She was asking how I knew Gir, but we may as well have been speaking different languages.

Somehow, the subject of having an Ice Cream Truck at a wedding came up. I declared I would make a note of it and pulled out my trusty moleskine. I also wrote “Mirror” and “Bono insists upon ‘Better off Ted,’” but only one of those makes sense now. A few onlookers asked to see what else I had written, and I quickly presented some of the scrivenings within.

Like the previous night’s rehearsal dinner, food was served buffet style, with each table being called up in turn. The feast began with a large basket of dinner rolls, beside which were a multitude of thickly-cut pads of butter. Beyond the bread, servers dished out portions of brisket, chicken fredricksburg, vegetarian lasagna, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Gir insists salad was also offered, though I do not recall seeing any. I skipped the lasagna and the potatoes, but had a little bit of everything else. Amelia had vegetarian lasagna and passed on the brisket. She probably made the right decision. Although the chicken fredricksburg was phenomenal, I didn’t see the appeal of the brisket.

Following the meal, speeches were given by the fathers of both Gir and Peanut, as well as the best man. Gir’s father recalled a story about her as a child. They’d had an argument, and she attempted to get back at him by writing him a letter: she pretended to be her mother, demanding he leave the house immediately. It was classic Gir. Peanut’s father asked them to hold hands, with Peanut placing his hand upon Gir’s. “That’s the last time you’ll have the upper hand,” he declared. The best man recalled the trials and tribulations of growing up nerds in Texas before the Internet boom, and how thankful he was to see Peanut realizing his dreams.

Because Peanut moonlights as a dance instructor, the first dance of the bride and groom was exceptional. The newlywed couple moved about the dance floor with practiced grace, completely in sync. They were perfect partners.

Knowing that there would be a great many dancers at the wedding, and knowing that Amelia was a big fan of dancing herself, I decided it would be prudent to take a few dance lessons before the wedding. I was able to fit in four salsa lessons before leaving Chicago. It was time to put my training to the test.

When the dance floor opened up, I first danced with Dmitry’s wife, who had taken a single salsa lesson several months prior. It was simple and low-pressure for the both of us. We stuck to the basic step and a couple turns. Later, I danced with Gir. She knew I had taken a few dance lessons, and was surprised with my progress. Although I stuck with simple steps, I got more daring with our turns. “Definitely level two,” she told me.

I danced with Amelia twice, though neither attempt went as well as I would have liked. The first time we danced, I rather unsuccessfully attempted to use salsa moves to merengue, and the second time I was distracted by the concern that I would wind up bumping into someone else. It was still fun, albeit unimpressive.

Vandalism + Censorship = Hypocrisy!

While Gir and Peanut danced, The Brain collected Pinky, The Edge, myself, one of the groomsmen, and me. We quietly left the cafe and headed to the parking lot. After collecting our vandalism kit from my trunk, we went to work on Peanut’s car. The Edge blew up balloons, the groomsman wrote on the rear windshield with shaving gel, and Pinky and the Brain painted the windows. I wrapped the car in streamers, then took the shaving gel and drew a giant smiley face on the hood of the car. The others took it upon themselves to draw lewd images across the front of the car, which mercifully fell off before the night drew to a close. Proud of our handiwork, we crept back into the party unnoticed. Amelia talked to Dmitry and his wife about taking dance lessons, and later had a similar discussion with Bono. Bucking tradition yet again, no wedding cake was served. Instead, warm blueberry cobbler a la mode was provided as a dessert.

As the party came to an end, we gathered outside the cafe to talk. Many of us saw bats in the wild for the first time. We chose to dub them nightbirds. We spent the remainder of the night in a circle, cracking jokes and telling stories. When Gir and Patrick finally left the party and headed to their car, we followed them in order to catch their reactions.

With the bride and groom gone, the party was over. We all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I made it back to our resort missing only a single turn this time. Amelia and I quickly went over our plans for the next day, then said our goodnights.

Posted on October 21, 2014 and filed under Travel.