Spoiler Alert!!!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you anything about Star Wars or Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead or Max and Ruby.  This spoiler is TOTALLY about Bobbing for Popcorn!

TOMORROW is our ONE HUNDREDTH POST!!!  1 – 0 – freaking – 0!!!  I’m kind of pumped about it.  When I started this whole thing I thought I’d have a fun little Lenten challenge and tell some goofy stories about my childhood and some social commentary about subjects that wouldn’t necessarily polarize people.  I love talking about quirky things, I love writing, and, above all, I love making people laugh.  I never expected the response I’ve gotten from this little hobby.  I am humbled and psyched simultaneously.

However, TOMORROW will be very different.  And since it’s going to be different, I asked for some help from some very special people.  I’ve talked about the comedy troupe I perform with in past posts and I am fortunate that these fellow performers are in my life all the time.  Anyone who has performed on stage knows that your cast mates turn into a sort of theatre family.  Not these people…they ARE family – we complete each other’s thoughts, we bring out the best (and worst) in each other, and we are together more time offstage than we are onstage.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have all of our troupe involved, but we did gather a healthy helping for tomorrow’s celebratory post.  ALSO, unfortunately, at no time do we explain who these people are, so just to get you ready for tomorrow here’s a bit of a visual aid:

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So get ready for something new.  Be patient, we’re venturing out in unfamiliar territory for your entertainment.  And if you could have a few heavily loaded Tom and Jerrys before checking out tomorrow’s post it would be greatly appreciated.  It is scientifically proven that we get funnier the more you drink.  Mazel Tov!

“I don’t care if the turkey said the dog was a turkey! The dog is not the turkey! The turkey’s the turkey, you turkey!” ~ A Muppet Family Christmas

RETURN THESE SOCKS! I REFUSE TO GROW UP!

You know the biggest difference between kids and adults?  Adults have learned to fake happiness and appreciation when they receive lame gifts.  We’re supposed to be practical and responsible and blah, blah-blah, blah, blah blah-dee-blah.  “Yay!  Tongs!”  “Antifreeze?  How did you know I needed this?!”  “One of Oprah’s biographies because you remembered six months ago when I said I could tolerate her in small doses.  How thoughtful!”

Well I’m here to say the world has severely failed its immature adult population!  How many of you out there have ever snapped some Legos together when the kids weren’t around?  How many of you have tiny little adventures with the action figures or dolls you are picking up off the living room floor – even just to make them walk a couple steps or yell in terror as you pitch them into the toy box?  How many of you mold PlayDoh with your little ones and you say you’re making a snake, but that devious little inner child knows you’re making a wiener?  If you can relate to any of these, there’s still that little bit of you that holds out hope that there is something “cool” for you under the tree on Christmas morning.

***On the other hand, if you answered “no” to all of these, you are officially lame and I am no longer your friend.***

When did we start getting weird looks for playing with stuff?  When were we supposed to be too old to ask for fun stuff on our lists?  And I’m not talking about things adults call toys: cars, televisions, gerbils (don’t ask).  I’m talking about being in your 30s and asking your family for a giant Nerf shotgun or the big ol’ $400 Lego Death Star or the Barbie Dream House that you always wanted as a kid!  You’re a grown-ass man and/or woman (B4P: for all your gender progressive blog reading needs) – you should be able to get all the stuff you never did as a kid!  Instead we settle for socks and undershirts and accept them like their long buried pirate booty.

***If you didn’t at least think about butts for a split second when I said “booty,” you are officially lame and I am no longer your friend.***

We can’t rely on OUR children because their toys suck!  How many of you are guilty of steering your children toward certain toys because YOU want to play with them?

***If you answered “no” to this, you are officially lame and I am no longer your friend AND YOU ARE A LIAR!***

But times have changed so drastically and toys just don’t seem fun any more.  They have to be either educational and creative, minuscule and featureless, or weirdly asinine.  I don’t always want to expand my mind and create things out of rubber bands or beads or at-home science experiments.  I don’t want little rubber toys that don’t move and that are so small I can’t even have them interact with each other without covering them with my hands while I play – these are extremely detailed (and expensive) pencil toppers, nothing more; we used to get something like a Shopkin or a Squinkie as a freebee with our Scholastic book order in elementary school. Finally, I don’t want a Hatchimal or a Fingerling – what the hell people?!  “Daddy, can I have a mutant animal in an egg?”  NO!  We will only buy cool toys in this house!

I say we need a resurgence of the good ol’ days.  If you are over the age of 20, you need to ask for one guilty pleasure toy as a gift at some point in the coming year.  And OF COURSE, if you get it, you need to share it here so we can all enjoy the victory for our inner children’s revolution.  Power to the Immature!  Viva le Fun!

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“That’s just for starters. Now this is what Christmas is all about.” ~ A Garfield Christmas Special

He LITERALLY Saw Me When I Was Sleeping

Now, keep in mind kids, this post IS NOT, I repeat, IS NOT about the REAL Santa.  This is about my experience with one of his many helpers.

There are a lot of things that a parent could do to mess their kids up: locking them out of the house when they go out to get the mail, using zebra mating videos when at a loss explaining about the “birds and the bees,” dancing around their junior high dressed in an inflatable turkey costume, building up hopes for a huge surprise just to show them a Justin Bieber concert – all of which I am guilty of.  However, something I am innocent of, that my parents burdened me with, is being friends with Santa Claus.

Again I say, this was not THE actual Kris Kringle.  One of my dad’s best friends was the mall Santa.  They worked together, they were in a bowling league together, we went out to breakfasts and dinners together, and I even remember going to baseball games with him.  We are talking the best of buddies.  And, as a child, I loved this guy – to this day, he was one of the funniest guys I had ever met (sort of a Bob Newhart dryness wrapped up in a Lou Costello physique).  I remember that a lot of these events, like ball games and bowling matches, were late at night – past my bedtime – so he literally saw me when I was sleeping, knew when I was awake, knew when I was bad or good…the whole shebang!

You may be asking, “So what?”

You know what?!  You best watch your lip, slow your roll, check yourself before you wreck yourself, and other euphemisms for backing off a smidge – I have just begun to spin my yarn, spill my beans, tell my tale, and other euphemisms about me saying things to you about stuff.

This.  Messed.  Me.  Up.

You know when you go to the mall and Santa starts with, “What’s your name?”  Uh-uh.  Not me.  He already knew it.  Yelled it out as soon as he saw me coming.  Once, I was just walking through the mall with my parents and he was just getting ready to start his shift – he greeted me by name, took my hand, and walked me through the crowd of kids already in line.  Come to think of it, that probably did not help my popularity among the other children growing up…thanks, Santa!

You know when you wrote a letter to Santa?  He wrote me back!  Like a pen pal!  Sometimes the letter came through the mail, sometimes he hand delivered it to me when I got to the mall.  He had lovely penmanship, by the way.

You know when your parents threaten to call Santa when you’re misbehaving?  SANTA FREAKING CALLED ME!!!  Yup!  That’s when you KNOW you’re screwed!  I had to be the most well-behaved kid of my generation!  And my mom and dad, those con artists, milked that trump card for all that it was worth.  They DID know his telephone number!  He WOULD take their calls!  He was NEVER too busy making toys for the other kids; he was busy checking out his baseball cards and watching All in the Family!  And even though my parents are not the tallest people around the water cooler, they are far from the elves I pictured Santa Claus hanging out with!  Oh…but they were those elves.  Those cool, calculating, conniving, perfectly-pokerfaced elves knew exactly how to play this parenting game to win!

When I finally found out what was up (which was way, WAY, WAY older than I would like to admit – in fact, I was not 100% convinced until I could tell you my age with a “teen” attached to it) I could not even be mad!   I mean, how could I be?!  It was perfectly equal parts warm-hearted and diabolical!  In my youth I was in awe of how flawlessly they executed their plan (I was a bit peeved that he quit his Yuletide gig before my sister was old enough to be equally as messed up as me, but c’est la vie).  Now, in adulthood, I am so freaking jealous that I don’t have such a powerful secret weapon at my disposal – a Santa Scud, if you will.

My parents worked hard every day of their lives raising my sister and me.  They definitely did not have an easy run of things.  But on this one particular matter, they were given a gift even the real Santa could not pull off!

“Charlie, stay away from those things. They’re reindeer, you don’t know where they’ve been. They all look like they’ve got key lime disease.” ~ The Santa Clause

With Friends Like These…

We all have that one group of friends who have been with you since you were a kid.  The ones who have stuck with you through everything.  The ones who you have grown up with for so long that you don’t remember a time when they weren’t a part of your life.  The ones that, when you’re with them, always did something stupid.

There were three guys I always hung out with throughout high school and we were always coming up with ideas to keep us entertained and if we didn’t…we just beat the hell out of each other.  Like typical teenage boys, we watched professional wrestling religiously!  We watched a couple different shows every week, we called each other when something cool happened, we ordered all the Pay-Per-Views and watched them together, and, of course, we beat the hell out of each other whenever we got together.  We challenged each other to see if we could escape some painful submission move or to see if we could pin each other down for the three count. One of my friends had a finished basement and another had a bedroom over his garage – these two were the best places for our shenanigans because it was harder for parents to hear the debauchery ensuing under their roofs.  My house didn’t have a lot of battle space.  Not that we didn’t engage in a bout…or fifty…at my place, we just did so and freaked my parents out more (both of my parents have high blood pressure now, but I’m pretty sure that’s just a coincidence).  I remember one epic evening when we had ordered a Pay-Per-View special event in which there was to be a main event where the two be-mulleted, speedo-ed gladiators were to face each other in battle for a solid hour; whoever had the most pins or got their opponent to submit the most within that hour would be declared the winner. Unfortunately, something went terribly wrong with the broadcast and it was blacked out.  Well, when life gives you lemons…beat your friends with them!  We moved Mom’s coffee table and decided we would have a four-man, 60-minute battle!  I remember hearing my mother say (a few times), “Be careful.  I don’t want anyone getting hurt!”

That woman is a prophet.

I don’t remember who was the champion (although one of the guys was a head taller and fifty pounds heavier than the rest of us and had a granite physique from swimming a couple miles a day – so I think my money is on him) but I know we all ended up in pretty bad shape.  Lots of bumps, bruises, brush burns, and fat lips.  My mom was not too pleased when she went to the grocery store (where, of course, all four of us worked) and saw one of my friends in the produce department and realized, he no longer had the ability to move his head (he pulled a muscle out of his neck and his head was cocked to the side for a couple days – Mom wasn’t amused – we thought it was freaking hilarious).

We didn’t always battle each other, though.  We also had an affinity for making movies with my parents’ camcorder.  But we didn’t want to make boring stuff, so we began to worry my parents by falling down the stairs, kicking open doors, and once jumping fully clothed into the lake.  I think it was around the time my father came home and found one of my friends dressed in my mother’s clothes that they decided to stop complaining when we busied ourselves by beating each other up.

Now the years have passed.  We’re all married.  We have eight children between us with two more on the way.  We have gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of hair.  But some things never change…

After I had my health scare that sent me to the hospital for a few days, I started paying more attention to my health.  I lost a lot of weight and I decided I wanted to take up a physical activity to keep building up my strength so I started going to karate with my older son.  He left his kid’s class and joined his dojo’s all-ages, all-levels class with me.  After I had been doing it for about 9 months, I got a call from one of my friends.  He wanted to get back in shape too and wanted to know if he should join the class with me…

So here we are.  Almost a quarter of a century later.  Flipping each other onto the ground. Slapping on a chokehold.  Trying to get each other to tap out from a shoulder or leg lock. We’re grunting, groaning, sweating, and taking a lot longer to stand back up than we used to, but we’re still laughing the whole time because, deep down, we’re still those stupid boys who just need to satisfy that insatiable yearning to open up a can of Whoop-Ass on their friends.

Our wives are so proud.

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tee Fore Two (or seven)

I golf.  Although if you were to ask me if I’m a golfer, my response would be, “I golf.”  “Golfer” implies that I might actually have a knack for it.  But I don’t.  I’m really horrible.  Like for real.  I know everyone who goes out golfing says that they’re bad, but I am legitimately terrible.  How bad?  I once hit it behind me.  Yeah…that bad.  But I enjoy it – it’s a fun activity and the courses are usually beautiful.  It doesn’t really bother me that I suck like a shop-vac.  Not even kidding, once I actually got passed by a blind woman who was playing behind me…let that sink in for a second.

I’m a teacher (though if I apply the same terms as I do with golf, some would argue that “I teach”) and for many years, the last day of school meant the annual “Summer Vacation Golf Outing.”  The happiest day of the year!  A bunch of my coworkers toss the clubs in our cars and as soon as the bell rings to signal the beginning of break, we head out onto the golf course.  It is a glorious day when summer is brand new, spirits are high, and the sun is (usually) shining.

The exception to that was the one year we relied on one of our buddies to be our doppler radar guru.  It was supposed to be an absolutely horrible day, except for the exact time we were on the golf course.  He kept referring to the radar image, “Watch!  Watch!  See when that little clear area passes over where the golf course is?  It’s the same time that we’ll be there!  It’s perfect!”  Now on any other day, any one of us would have told him he was crazy and we’d literally take a raincheck.  But as the saying goes, “None of us is as dumb as all of us” so off we went to hit the links.

We were having a blast!  NO ONE was out except the seven of us (that should be a red flag right there); we had the place completely to ourselves.  I was loving it because we actually went along with someone who could rival me for last place!  The dude not only hit a ball behind him, he hit it so hard it shot precariously by the rest of our faces and went through a utility shed.  THROUGH.  IT.  Like there’s a hole in the siding where the ball breached the building.  I was impressed.  Beyond that, the weather was a bit dreary but, as much as we hated to admit it, our friend was right – not a drop of rain…until the 13th hole.

We even discussed when we finished the first 9 holes if we wanted to take our chances with the other 9…and we looked at the radar again and observed that the minuscule little dot of clear weather was still over us, so we went for it.  Then as soon as we were as far from the club house as possible- all hell broke loose.  Instant downpour.

This was a biblical kind of rain!  Coming down in sheets, wind blowing so hard the rain got thrown back up your nose.  But we kept golfing – not even God could stop us from our summer vacation kick-off ritual…and believe me, He tried!  We couldn’t see.  We couldn’t hear.  There’s a good chance we would drown while walking.  At least there wasn’t any lightn…BA-BOOM!!!  Yup, now we were sure we were going to die. Lightning, thunder, wind, rain – this was a hug your friends and confess your love to them kind of weather!  But we didn’t stop playing.  I mean, it’s not like we were in a big open field holding long metal rods or anything…oh wait.  But if this was the end for us, we would go down swinging; literally.  Besides, there weren’t many options: keep playing, run for our lives (and running on wet grass is dangerous), or build an ark.

Miraculously, as abruptly as it started, the bad weather stopped.  Completely.  And there we stood, ready to tee off at the next hole, soaked to the skin, looking around at each other as if we had just survived a war with Mother Nature.  But before we could all tee off, a little old man walked out of the woods, barefoot and dry as a bone, and stared at us.  He smiled and said, “I’ve seen threesomes and foursomes, but I’ve never seen a sevensome. Weird.”  Then he teed off and walked away.  I’m pretty sure that was God and he was mocking us.

“They call it golf because all the other four letter words were taken.” ~ Raymond Floyd

If You Are What You Eat, We Must Have Eaten Dumb

Let me start off by saying I have very intelligent friends.  When we gather around a table together there are multiple Masters degrees.  There are teachers, heads of college departments, military specialists, and the most formidable force for any trivia competition.  However, there’s something wrong with our chemistry – when we get together, the stupidity seems to emanate from every fiber of our collective being.  Especially when it comes to food.

It all started one day when my family and I went out to eat at a Quaker Steak & Lube and read about their “Atomic Wing Challenge.”  These wings are supposed to be so hot that you need to sign a waiver before they will serve them to you.  Now, I don’t know where you are from, dear reader, but unless you are from the same part of the country that I am, respectfully, you don’t know real buffalo wings.  We’ve eaten the buffalo wings from the place where buffalo wings became buffalo wings.  There is no way we can let this restaurant (which didn’t start anywhere near Buffalo) tell us their wings are “challenging.”  So on our way out of the restaurant I bought a bottle of their Atomic Sauce and rallied the troops.

At one point in my life, I worked in a pizzeria so I know my way around some wings, therefore I worked my magic and whipped up a couple batches of Atomic wings.  Sure the bottle said “add a few drops to any recipe” and sure I added half of the bottle…but I figured it was okay to round up.

We each had six wings (and a buttload of celery) that was it – no biggie.  The plan was to muscle through those six wings as quickly as possible and then just “man up” and handle the heat.  The plan worked perfectly for a while.  The first wing was very tasty (I make damn good wings, by the way).  The second wing was equally delicious.  The third wing introduced a tingle in the back of the throat.  Wing four went from tingle to flat out fire.  Wing number five killed the sense of smell and got the eyes pouring tears.  The final wing made us understand why there was a waiver to eat these things.  But at my house, there are no waivers.  There was just a bunch of chicken, hot sauce, and dumbasses!  And PAIN!  Let’s not forget the copious amounts of PAIN!  Grown men were crying, coughing, guzzling anything liquid (nothing helps, by the way – water, milk, pop, beer, tears…nothing), and eating celery with reckless abandon.  Our voices were high pitched and whiny like teenage female hyenas sucking helium at a Bieber concert.

The pain (and ridiculously unmanly behavior) continued for a solid half an hour before it became manageable.  I wiped the tears from my eyes.  Do you remember the part where I said I washed my hands before wiping my eyes?  No?  Because I didn’t…and that hurt way worse.

You’d think that we would have learned our lesson after that…wait, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you probably know better than to think that.  We all had gathered to hang out once again and we brought up our favorite topic again…food.  We brought up another staple in our diet – Texas Hots.  For those of you who are unfamiliar: take a hot dog, add mustard, onions, and a spicy brown gravy and you’ve got yourself a Texas Hot.  We were in agreement that we could take down obscene amounts of those dogs.  I opened my big, fat (finally extinguished) mouth and said I could easily get through a dozen of them.  One of my friends (who was intelligent up until this point) matched my challenge without batting an eye.  My wife, who is a vegetarian, decided that an order of chips and salsa from a Mexican restaurant was more her speed…you know, the large bowl they bring for a party of  five or six people.  Another formerly smart friend of ours decided he could easily satisfy his sweet tooth on six packages of marshmallow Peeps (a dozen bunny Peeps per box – yup, half a gross of sugar coated sugar).  Another compatriot decided he would eat an order of sushi, a bowl of popcorn, and a quart of milk.

***Okay, to this day none of us think that his quantity was comparable, but he certainly got the “What the Hell Made You Think of THAT Combo” Award***

Finally, I talked about our escapades at work the next day and I gained the interest of one of my coworkers who swore she could single handedly conquer a dozen glazed doughnuts.

The food was ordered, the places were set, the guests had arrived, and we dug in.  The first couple hot dogs, chips, Peeps, and doughnuts went down easily.  Surprisingly, my hot dog partner (well, THAT sounds dirty) was the first one to finish, followed shortly thereafter by sushi/popcorn/milk guy (seriously, eew).  Right around my halfway point, we started to worry about our sugary duo.  My friend with the Peeps had quickly downed about two packages and my coworker was halfway through her third doughnut when they both started getting jittery and speaking to each other a mile per minute.  “DO YOU FEEL WEIRD I FEEL WEIRD IS IT SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE THIS I’M ALL SHAKEY AND MY STOMACH HURTS AND I WANT MORE BUT I THINK I’M GOING TO THROW UP AND AND AND AND AND…”  We actually had to Google: “can you get diabetes in one sitting” for them – it was a legitimate concern for them (as was passing cars, fluorescent lights, specks of dust, and the sound of their own jittery breathing).  Our doughnut eater tapped out shortly after that and the Peep challenge ended after three packages.  My wife was feeling “no muy bueno” with her “salsa grande” after only polishing off one of her two 32oz containers.  As for me, I finished my dozen dogs as my quicker counterpart sat next to me complaining about chest pains…probably indigestion…probably.  We immediately agreed that this was a stupid challenge and we all hated ourselves (and each other) a little bit for even agreeing to attempt this asinine dinner.

The next day I went to work feeling like absolute garbage.  My stomach hurt, my head hurt, my mouth tasted like funky lint (as opposed to all of the tasty lint out there).  The strangest thing was, all I could smell was onions.  Everywhere I went: onions.  In my classroom, in the hallways, in the office…it must be me!  I tried gum.  I still smelled onions.  I brushed my teeth.  Onions.  And then it hit me – it was coming out of my pores!  I WAS SWEATING TEXAS HOTS!!!

So that was it – one case of “dolor del estómago,” two cases of lighting diabetes (one of which was paired with a tongue that was dyed neon pink for a few days), a minor cardiac arrest, a full-out onion detox, and…well…whatever you get by combining sushi, popcorn, and milk – we swore to never, ever, EVER do something that stupid again…until we heard about the Quaker Steak & Lube TRIPLE Atomic Challenge…

Yes, we did.  Yes, it turned out as badly as you’d imagine.

Buon appetite!

“When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.'” ~ Yogi Berra

Old, New, Borrowed, and Ham

I had the perfect ring (even though I was scolded by a jeweler for buying tanzanite during a time of war) and I was ready to propose.  I was home and I was planning on asking her in the morning.  It was late on a warm summer evening.  I was on the porch with my father and grandfather – the two men I looked up to the most, my heroes; the two guys I’m glad I was with on the eve of the most important day of my life.  My father speaks out calmly through the darkness, “Are you ready?”

“Yeah, I think so,” I reply.

“Did you ever think she’d say ‘no’?”

“…………….well, not until right now.”  I figured that was as good of a time as any to go to bed and lie awake for the rest of the night.

The next morning we were getting ready to take a short trip, but I didn’t want to wait; we had been together a long time and I didn’t want to wait a second longer than I had to.  So I went over to where she was living at the time and proposed.  It was the perfect moment: just the two of us…and her landlady who joined us just as I got down on my knee.  The three of us shared a hug.  It was magical.  Hey, did your proposal get crashed by your landlady?  No. You’re jealous.

We had a year to plan– we wanted the wedding to be the same day as the anniversary of our first date, which was also the same day I proposed.  Awwww, how sweet, right? (plus we only have to remember one day – good planning, huh?!)

We started planning immediately after I proposed.  Our wedding party was going to be massive!  If you counted us and the flower girl and ring bearer, it was seventeen people.  On top of that, we were going to try and pay for most of it ourselves.  And on top of THAT, I’m a control freak who really isn’t too good at organization and time management.

Luckily, my wife and I have large families and lots of friends with eclectic hobbies – including florists, photographers, videographers, DJs, cake designers, and musicians.  CHA-CHING!  We got a ton of good deals with all of that!  Then we took care of invitations, decorations, and favors ourselves.  That left the tuxes and gowns (which we had a friend’s mom cut us a good deal), the reception hall, the food, and my wife’s gown.

The gown was easy!  My wife is brilliantly thrifty.  She found a white prom gown that she fell in love with and found a seamstress to make a train for it.  It was gorgeous!  And her seamstress was a little person.  No, that’s not a criticism and no, I’m not going to make any distasteful remarks about little people.  But this a fact that will be important later.

As for the food, we wanted it to be simple.  Pasta, veggies, cold cuts, and cookies.  However, my mother wanted ham.  No, that’s not entirely true.  We needed ham.  Apparently, it’s a wedding staple, and my mother looked at me like I had an arm growing out of my forehead when I told her we weren’t getting any.  She looked to my father for backup, but all he cared about was having fresh shelled peanuts on the tables (which we had brought in from a professional peanut roaster just for him, but the caterers lost the bags, and he hasn’t let us live that down yet).  I was unaware that all weddings have ham.  And even though my wife is a vegetarian and I’m not a big fan of ham (now bacon…that’s another story), we saw the err of our ways and added ham to the menu.

Finally, the big day arrived.  The guests were arriving and I was hanging out in a little prep room in the front of the church.  One of my groomsmen came in with this weird look on his face, “You have a wedding crasher and…um…she’s…” he held his palm down by his knee.

“What?  Short?”  Both my wife and I have a lot of Italian blood; short people at our wedding would be the norm!

“Yeah, but like not just regular short.  I asked her if she was here for the bride or groom and she said she’s just here to see the dress.”  Then it all clicked.  Apparently, the seamstress makes it a point to crash all the weddings of the brides whose gowns she works on.  Hey, did your wedding get crashed by a little person?  No. You’re jealous.

The ceremony was about to begin and it was a thousand degrees outside (no air conditioning, by the way).  My aunt (our mistress of ceremony) went out to get things prepped for the candle lighting and face-planted at the altar.  Our mothers had a difficult time with the child-proof lighters, which might have been a good thing considering my wife almost tipped the candles over and burned the church down…probably wouldn’t have been the best omen for our marriage.

After the ceremony we decided to drive to a very scenic spot by a lake to take our photographs.  My cousin was our photographer, so I was already familiar with his work – plus he lives far away so it was cool just to have him there.  Because the wedding party was so big, we just teamed up and drove cars instead of renting a limousine.  Upon arriving at the spot we realize we had lost two groomsmen AND the photographer.  The two groomsmen were also cousins and were the transportation for the photographer.  Their car was there, but they were nowhere to be found.  The bridal party fanned out and began a search party.  We looked everywhere and couldn’t find them.  Keep in mind, this was back before cell phones were so popular so we just stood around trying to figure out where they could have disappeared when all of a sudden we see them walking up the hill from a local bar each carrying an order of buffalo wings. Now, to this day, I’m not upset that they ditched us to go get wings. However, coming back without wings for the groom on his wedding day?  Inexcusable.

We finished our pictures and drove to the reception, and my wife and I entered to the dulcet tones of Ozzy Osbourne.  We ate, we danced, we sweat (no air conditioning there either, by the way), we had our cake taken away from us before we could eat it…it looked so good too, and I needed something to get the taste of ham out of my mouth.  We had a full contact garter toss and the lucky catcher (who technically was never invited to the wedding…) tackled other guests to grab victory!  And, of course, like I wrote about in yesterday’s post, I blew out my knee on the dance floor.

As the evening was winding down and coming to an end, we retreated to my parents’ house to open the gifts and cards with just our parents and sisters…and an Abraham Lincoln impersonator.  Nope, there’s no other story to go along with that.  He’s a family friend and when I came downstairs from taking a shower I was surprised to see him there.  Hey, did your intimate family gathering get crashed by the 16th President of the United States?  No. You’re jealous.

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” ~ Winston Churchill

A Bum Knee is Better Than a Kneed Bum

I am hurting today!  I had a really awesome karate class yesterday with hip tosses and flipping your opponent.  SO COOL!  But, today I am paying the price.  My knees are killing me!  Of course, I have earned every bit of this knee pain over the years through gross amounts of stupidity.

It all started back in high school; back when I started having a life outside of my normal activities with my family.  Before I left the house my father’s famous advice for me was, “Don’t get stupid.”  Most nights I would come back in time for curfew and I could walk by my father with my head held high, confident that I had a stupidity-free night.  Other nights, though, I went and got stupid.

One night in particular I got stupid enough to experience a whole new world of pain.  It was at a dance and, incidentally, a first date (boy, would I impress her).  First of all, I cannot dance.  Furthermore, I do not like to dance.  Not my thing.  I mean, I can slow dance decently, but anything upbeat that takes any sort of rhythm – no thanks.  But, this was a high school dance in the 90’s and we had a DJ who had a thing for the Spice Girls and the Macarena and Cotton Eyed Joe and the dances were pretty upbeat most of the time.  Yippee.  Now, just like any high school kid, I had a circle of friends and this circle of friends brought the dumb out of each other.  One of the less-than-wise things we frequently did was to jump up into each other’s arms (like a groom carrying his bride across the threshold).  I don’t know why!  It seemed pretty harmless at the time, but I soon learned that this was an example of what my father warned me about.  My friend jumped and I caught him, then something went wrong.  Allow me to illustrate with letters: my left leg should have been like an “I” when I caught him, but for some reason it was pointed out like a “/” and when both of our full weights landed on it, it made my knee look like “>” and I said, “*&$#!”  I knew right away that my knee was dislocated.

It popped back in before the doctors at the hospital could see it.  So they braced me up, gave me some ibuprofen, patted me on the head, and sent me home (okay, so there were no head pats, but wouldn’t it be nice if that was part of the treatment?) to rest my leg for a while.  The real bummer was, from time to time, that knee would randomly pop out of place and I would be braced up again.  It was still giving me problems in college – it popped out once and I had to drive myself to the medical center (it was a real hoot trying to drive a stick shift with one leg that wasn’t entirely attached the way it should have been) where the campus doctor/nurse/shaman squeezed it (ouch), told me it was dislocated, gave me Tylenol, patted me on the head, and sent me back to my dorm.

Over the years, I learned how to put it back in place myself – yeah, I know, I know, another example of “getting stupid.”  But, in my defense, the first stupid is what wrecked my knee, the second stupid fixed it.  Therefore, two stupids make a smart.  It wasn’t a frequent problem though; it slipped a bit occasionally, but nothing too concerning.

And then came my wedding day…

As stated above, I don’t dance.  I dislike it.  Not my thing.  But it is my wife’s thing and it was our wedding and I was determined to make the most out of every second of that special day (tune in tomorrow for the rest of that tale) and if my wife wanted to dance then, by golly, I would dance.  And I danced with my wife to our song, and I danced with my mom, and I danced with tons of guests for the dollar dance, and, yes, I even danced to the fast stuff and our DJ played all the typical wedding stuff.  For a while, I was actually starting to forget how much I disliked dancing as I busted out my best ChaCha Slide moves…in treadless tuxedo shoes…on a hardwood floor.  The good news is I only slipped with one leg, the bad news is the leg that stayed in place looked like a “<” and the worst news of all…it was the other leg.

That’s it.  No more dancing.  Karate and bodyslams, sure.  But, dancing?  No.  My dad told me not to “get stupid!”

“The Rolling Stones set the bar to where I look to as a band.  But I don’t envision myself touring in the way they do.  My knees won’t hold out.” ~ Jon Bon Jovi