Saturday, April 23, 2011
30 years ago today
Thirty years ago today I was embarking on a new adventure that would change my life dramatically. The scar on my abdomen was just about healed but I was still pretty punk from three months of being hospitalized and not eating. The previous Halloween had seen me vomiting and convulsing every time I tried to eat something. Long about the first of the year I met Cary, a new tech on the ward and we started hanging out. When they finally cut me open and took out a few things I was pretty wasted from lying around and being shot up with all sorts of odd pain drugs. I had a tube up my nose and ate through a central line for months and aside from being freaked out from not knowing what was wrong I was horribly out of shape.
I stayed at her place instead of going to my folks place when they put me on convalescent leave after the surgery and she never let me leave. Now we were heading to South Lake Tahoe to get married. Little did I know that rather than coming out of the dark times I was heading into crazier days.
We loaded up the car with our clothes some beers and my pickle jar of “Cedar Ravine Green” and headed up highway 50 to south lake. Cary and her best friend Mary and I heading for a night of gaming and partying before the big day. Sort of a dual bachelor/bachelorette party before the big day. Yes we were young and reckless and I was sipping a beer while driving when the Highway patrol drove by the other way and freaked us out for a few miles. Like everything else that day my luck was good and the flashing lights and sirens that rent the air minutes later flew right on by to track down some other miscreants.
We stayed at a place on the California side that I had stumbled upon earlier that had two bedrooms. Not a suite but separate sleeping areas. We checked in and headed for the casinos of Nevada without really checking anything out. It never occurred to us that there would be any problems. Were we young and nieve? I guess I was but as I said luck was with us and any obstacles were still in the future. For now it was all free drinks and black jacks and a nice run at the tables. It would seem that I couldn’t lose and my winnings more than covered the ladies losses. I hate to stoop to clichés but right up until the wedding I was on a roll and afterwards couldn’t hit a lick and Cary couldn’t lose after we said our “I Do’s.”
Our night at the tables concluded we went back to our stateline honeymoon hideout for a last night of debauchery before becoming a respectable married couple. In the morning Mary emerged from the 2nd bedroom teeth chattering and lips blue as the only heater in the place was in the main room and the second bedroom was freezing. “With the noises coming from you two there was no way I was opening the door” , she said with a laugh when we asked why she didn’t come out and turn up the heat.
The big day had arrived and our simple ceremony plan was about to become a comedy of errors in a big hurry. We began by meeting my family for a nice brunch at the top of Harrah’s south lake Forrest Buffet. This was the third wedding for Cary and she was not interested in making a production out of it. She had done the big wedding and having it fail took some of the thrill out of ceremonies for her. I am just not into the rituals of property and religion that most people tend to prize, not that that makes me different from lots of men. The wedding is for the bride in our culture.
I mentioned that I had been quite ill and was on the mend but Cary had also picked up a little health issue, a time bomb was ticking that we both ignored at our peril. When as part of her training she went through a rapid decompression exercise for the Air Force and developed what was thought to be an inner ear infection. The weekend of the wedding was the first time in a long time that one of us if not both was not bent over a trash can or toilet.
We had a nice brunch even though our wishes were ignored. Both my sister and one of my aunts brought their young children. We had wanted the guest list small and no kids but my mother through a monkey wrench into that and my other aunt wanted some payback from when I was a child at her wedding. I had learned long ago that arguing with my mother was pointless. She was a selfish drama queen without equal so there was no point in hurting everyone else’s feelings. We ate and headed for the chapel.
That was when the wheels started to come off our story book love at first kiss story. It was funny the next day but at the time it was crazy. Even now I think back and smile about stopping in the turn out at the edge of town Me, my folks, my bride to be and her maid of honor smoking a huge joint of home grown sensimilla on the way to the Chapel in the Pines and a ceremony presided over by the Reverend Love.
Stoned to the bone we discovered that there was a wait at the chapel. No biggie I thought 90 minutes was not too long to wait but there was a catch. That was the only open time slot for that whole weekend and we needed a license. This was the big shock, it doesn’t work like the sitcoms where any old drunk can show up and get married. To get that license one has to go to the count seat.
We did a wild ride Mary, Cary and I over mount Rose at 100 mph to the courthouse and back making it with about 10 minutes to spare. As a cliché plot device in countless mediocre films arriving at the last minute may work but in real life it can make you crazy. Paper in hand we then went into the tackiest office of red velvet cupids and hearts to select our wedding package. Pictures, audio tapes and souvenir leatherette bibles were all on offer for a fee over and above the basic charges for the room and the Pastor. The people in line ahead of us had taken things a lot more serious then we as they had groomsmen in pastel blue tuxes and bridesmaids in the most appalling lime green dresses all holding huge bouquets of flowers. Our pictures had everyone in the wedding party, all 4 of us in dark glasses to cover our bloodshot eyes.
Some one. most likely my niece Amanda asked why her knees were shaking and then we were outside and Linda got her revenge as little Kenny pelted us with rice. All the time I was thinking how wonderfully tacky the whole event had turned out to be. This was not anything like my picture of a wedding and was not what we planned but after the terror of the flight over the mountain and the now crash from having no more adrenaline I was in a uniquely bliss filled space.
Here ends part one. If you like a happy tale this would be the place to stop as I think I have captured a little bit of the joy of the day. In part 2 reality creeps in and spoils the fairytale.