Thursday, August 11, 2005

End of an Era: An "Incredible" Wedding

* Note* I have been advised by mother that although all the events contained in this story are "real," I should NOT use real names because you never know if true details will cause someone to get really strange looks at work. How true! So in the interest of preserving anonymity, I have thinly disguised any real names so that you can only figure out who I'm talking about if you're psychic. Now back to our original programming.... Hubby and I achieved separation from the kids last weekend by jetting out of Florida for a family wedding in Columbus, Ohio. Little did we know this is a favored vacation destination for gun-toting couples fleeing the law. I promised Hubby that three years from now for our tenth anniversary I would shoot him in the leg. It was a significant milestone for us. It was the first time in six years that BOTH of us had been away from the kids. I can't tell you how romantic it is to pack light and avoid the baggage claim! I felt so carefree I almost wanted to get a tattoo. I think toenails are really the best place for tattoos because you can eventually clip them off. Also baby teeth and possibly your appendix. Note to trendwatchers: INTERNAL body art is going to be the next big thing. Start stocking up on antibiotics and malpractice insurance now! However after about two hours of being away from the kids I started missing them terribly, and compensated by reminding Hubby periodically to "go peepee" and insisting he use his "indoor voice" in the airport. He proceeded to strike up a conversation with more normal passengers that he wasn't married to. So instead we contented ourselves with calling the kids every hour at my inlaws' and asking them if they missed us. "I think so," the 6-year-old said. The 3-year-old refused to speak with us. Naturally. He was busy taking over all Aunt Sue's and Uncle Rob's toys. We were attending an Incredible Wedding, which is the Ohio variation of the traditional Reilly Family weddings normally held in Buffalo to great effect. My cousin Jeff Incredible was to exchange vows with his bride of choice Sarah LEE. (Two very talented and creative individuals. He designs the insides of buildings. She works for an ad agency. Let's just say even their "save the date" card was a keeper!) Additional note, "Lee" is not her real name either. Sarah Lee is in fact a pastry. Then there is the tale of how he hid the surprise engagement ring in the chandelier of a restaurant he had just finished designing. I guess he was pretty confident of a "yes" because he had invited the parents of both families to this dinner! Fortunately there was no Phantom of the Opera-like romantic rival, or I'm sure the chandelier detail could've turned tragic. There are few people I know who are more cerebral than my cousin Jeff, so it was fascinating to watch that side of him create a number of special romantic and touching moments for both his bride and his family as the courtship and wedding played out. Which just goes to show if you are confident of who you are, you can pull off just about anything! Meanwhile I had the good fortune of having a good friend from college, Kathy Grauer, (who hopefully will send me an angry email if she doesn't like me using her real name) living precisely six miles from the Marriott where we were staying in Dublin Ohio. (Corporate home of Wendy's Non-Severed Fingertips Chili) Naturally we did lunch and plotted another reunion with our fellow Alpha Gamma Delta sorority sisters from Lehigh University. (Conclusion: We should have one.) As is our tradition whenever Kathy and I get together, we overate. The overeating could be viewed as strategic, however, as at the LAST Incredible Wedding in November, there were logistical problems vis a vis the food and the alcohol. Casualties: One aunt almost face down in her food and carted back to the hotel shortly after the dinner; One cousin upchucked into the decorative foliage in the hotel (other cousins applauded her ingenuity and dexterity); and I myself was guilty of some extemporaneous speaking that was not fully appreciated by the table next to us. And this was only the women! Oh well. I was fairly eloquent considering I couldn't feel my extremities. I don't get to drink much anymore and I forgot alcohol is toxic when consumed over the course of a day without enough food barriers. There are five stages of G.R.E.E.T. we normally go through at a family wedding. GATHERING STAGE. We arrive at the designated hotel and spot the first familiar face. Our family is large, and we start multiplying at a rapid pace. Soon we are the majority on our assigned floor, so we vote to secede from the hotel. Thus allowing us to skirt regulations concerning open containers, elevator capacity and proper attire for entering the pool from the diving board while armed with alcoholic beverages. REGALING. We hear the latest updates on family progeny, employment, parties or illnesses such as rashes that have lasted longer than six months. EUPHORIA. People have a few drinks. People wonder why we don't do this more often. EVENT. "I do's" are exchanged. Toasts are made. Embarrassing public displays are recorded for posterity. Injuries are tallied. Example: twisted ankles during ill-advised maneuvers; head injuries incurred while dancing; carbon monoxide poisoning for good measure. THANKS. For the memories. Take it easy on the drive home. Great to see you again. Come visit! We mean it! (and we do.) There were several reasons why I wanted Hubby to attend this particular wedding: 1) Jeff is my last unmarried Incredible cousin. Thus, this is the last opportunity to experience an Incredible Wedding in its classic form. 2) I needed someone to offer me sandwiches in case I turned pale. (see previous wedding details) 3) This is why I got married. So I'd have a date! 4) Crazy Neal was to be the Deejay Emeritus Now that the event is over I have to say it lived up to every expectation and then some! And although the food wasn't one of the big things I was focusing on, it was great. Fortunately buffet style, so I was able to grab seconds, which is not normally my habit at weddings. The prime rib melted in your mouth, veggies done to perfection, the pasta so good I wanted to lick the plate! Okay. Crazy Neal. Crazy Neal originally played my cousin Peter Incredible's wedding back in 1985. When we heard Peter's "accounting major friend" was going to be the deejay this did not raise any particularly thrilling expectations with us. Accounting, for Pete's sake! And Kimberly's sake, his bride. Two of the nicest people I know. But was he really going to let his accounting buddy try to entertain a wedding crowd? Heh. I do believe Crazy Neal missed his calling. As far as I know he is still an accountant back in eastern Ohio somewhere. Jeff and Sarah had to import him for their occasion. Fortunately he was able to tear himself away from balance sheets and income statements long enough to dust off his sound system, special trunkful of props, and assistant who looks like a cross between an Amish farmer and the lead singer for ZZ Top. When we arrived at the reception Hubby pointed to a guy with shaggy blonde hair and a big grin. "Is that him?" he asked. "Who, Kato?" I shook my head. "No, he's a friend of the family. He makes sure everyone has too much to drink and that no one ends up in the local news the next day." His name isn't actually Kato, but that's what my uncles call him, and now there's no further need to describe what he looks like. I pointed to the Quentin Tarantino-esque figure clad in black spandex pants, a beret, two black fingerless bowling gloves and a lilac-colored satin smoking jacket. "THAT'S Neal," I said reverentially. "He's just getting warmed up." Indeed, my father was trying to get his attention, and Neal had just blown him a theatrical kiss from across the room. Checks! Balances! Depreciation! Neal! (Just imagining his business card.) As the reception got underway, Neal boomed out the story of Jeff and Sarah's meeting back in "The Year 2K." It took on a baseball trajectory. Strike one. Strike two. Finally they strike up a captivating conversation! Neal likes to entertain the crowd with any particularly mortifying bits of a couple's history that might prove instructive. And the voice! Neal's voice is so distinctive that if you've heard it once, you will never forget it. He could easily do radio. All Accounting, All the Time! Brought to you by Crazy Neal! Maybe as a country we'd start cutting up those credit cards if Neal told us to. I have a particular fondness for Neal's use of language. He doesn't just introduce the bridal party. He UNLEASHES them! Really. Neal is like a Renaissance Deejay. I tried to keep track of Neal's costume changes, but it was impossible. He makes Cher look like the Church Lady. After the beret he sported: An Uncle Sam Getup, a fez, a KISS Gene Simmons outfit, a fright wig, a sombrero, a bandanna, and Egyptian Pharaoh headdress...there were more that I can't recall now, but every 10 minutes or so I was poking Hubby saying, "Look at Neal NOW!" Although I had prepared Hubby for the idea of Neal, the reality still stunned him. I wish the kids had been there to see the bubble machine. I should also mention that Joran Van Der Sloot crashed the wedding. And I can hardly blame him, he's getting so much bad publicity in his home island. Yes, he was there in his blue shirt, dancing with many girls (but I noticed the blondes studiously avoided him.) When I pointed Joran out to Hubby, he rolled his eyes at me, but did admit a strong resemblance. "No, I'm sure it's him," I insisted. "The bride and groom are honeymooning in ARUBA. Do you think that's a coincidence?" I started looking around for Beth Holloway Twitty. She couldn't be far behind. Maybe hiding out in the ladies' room until she saw her chance to buttonhole Joran and ask him pointed questions. Well they picked the right wedding to crash! By the end of the evening some of us had adjourned to a patio outside to take a break from the loud music. But we were shortly summoned back in. The younger Incredibles had overtaken the dance floor. Literally. Cousin Dan was on the floor, sliding through brother Pete's legs. And Peter? In his younger days he's been known to doff a few articles of clothing. All the better to Shake It Down, my dear, as the Wolf said to Little Red Riding Guest. But now he's a family man. With a daughter old enough to go to college. His Shaking It Down Days were long past. And anyway, he's an accountant. Whoops. Did I say...ACCOUNTANT? Now Peter is a large man. If you owned a football team you would want him on your offensive line. He is also one of the nicest people I know, certainly one of my favorite cousins of all time. I'm sure there was a side of him that said, "I'm too OLD for this!" I'm also certain there was another side that whispered, "This is THE LAST Classic Incredible Wedding. I have Neal. I have my fans. There are some expectations here!" And thus off came the shirt. On sprang Neal's sombrero. Boogeying commenced. To the delight of his fans. As Uncle Tom remarked, "The suspenders! They're slimming!" Heh. Pete is a gentle giant with a terrific sense of humor. He takes everything in stride and is the first to laugh at himself as all Reillys do. And Incredibles. Because life is a hoot, and then you die. Really, I love these weddings. And all these aunts, uncles and cousins who attend them. And I'm thrilled Hubby got to tag along this time and see just what it was I've been chuckling about to him all these years. I hope these women who marry into the Incredible family understand what they'll be facing in 5-10-20 years. Another Incredible wedding. Of their own kids. It's not too early to book Neal!


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