The first wedding I ever went to started out with a bang. Well, a bang of mental sorts if you will. I was traveling with two co-workers of mine to a co-workers wedding somewhere on a ranch in Carlsbad California. Please pardon my lack of memory for the exact location, because at the start of the car ride down to the wedding, I decided it would be a good idea to take a couple hits off of my friend’s joint and then settle in for the hour and a half ride. What I didn’t plan for, of course, was the panic attack that ensued as soon as my car started heading south on the I-5 freeway. To this day, I don’t know why it happened, but I didn’t say anything to my friends in the car, I just sucked it up and drove through the shuttering sounds of tractor trailers and commuters whizzing by my Honda Accord, while I tried to sing along to the Killers in an attempt to confuse the part of my brain that was telling me to pull over immediately and take a few deep breaths. Somehow, I got through it unscathed, and eighty five minutes later we arrived at our hotel, safe and sound. If the journey down was any kind of a window into what the next few hours would bring, I knew I was in for a bumpy ride.
Christine and Joey got married on June 9th, 2007. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony, followed by a reception in a lavishly decorated backyard of this southern California ranch. I remember Christine walking down the make-shift aisle to the song “You’re So Cool” by Hans Zimmer, which you would instantly know if you’ve ever seen the beginning or end of the movie “True Romance.” I remember blurting out how I knew what movie this song was from, maybe a little too loud, and I remember their loving vows, the perfect weather, the bowls of pistachios on every table, and of course, the open bar. What I have come to realize at each wedding I go to is that there are usually two options when it comes to alcoholic beverage choices. When planning both events, the “marrys” have to decide whether to choose between beer and wine, OR the open liquor bar at the reception and rehearsal dinner (if you are lucky enough to be invited to the latter) Being that there WAS no rehearsal dinner, or at least none that I was invited to, Christine and Joey opted for us to get liquored up with an open full bar at the reception of what appeared to be about 150-175 people. A wise choice if ever there was one. You want to get your guests loaded the night OF the wedding, not the night BEFORE the wedding, right? Right.
After dinner, I had found myself spending the next hour a little inebriated on the dance floor, shaking and shimmying all while eyeing this one intriguing brunette girl in a green dress. I didn’t know her name, but I knew I NEEDED to know her name. When I saw her for the first time, it was kind of like those “love at first sight” scenes you see in the movies. I went deaf, the action of people dancing and singing was suddenly projected in slow motion around me, and the camera panned up towards her as she looked back at me with a subtle smile and a look on her face that I found openly endearing. I danced my way over to her and without saying a thing, I spent the next fifteen minutes in my head reveling at how bright and full of life her eyes were, and how great she smelled. Was this what I thought it was, and if so, what happens next? There I was, dressed in black pinstriped pants and a pastel blue and pink button down shirt that my ex girlfriend from 2004 had bought me. I kind of looked like an human Easter egg, and I was still kind of reeling from an excessive mentally taxing relationship that had ended over a year ago, but had still left its proverbial scars on my body. I wasn’t really sure of myself, and it kind of sucked to be me at this time in my life so I did what anyone who has low self esteem and had just had a panic attack does at a wedding, I drank a lot. I figured I would need this liquid courage if I was going to make my way over to talk to this girl in the green dress, that is until the deejay played some lame ass song that no one really seemed to like and we all wondered aimlessly off the dance floor and back to the bar.
This was a co-workers wedding, and one of the first ones I had ever attended. I didn’t really know how to act because I knew I had to eventually work with these people again. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of the people I’m going to have to see face to face again on Monday, but at this point, who the fuck really cared? So I took a few moments to discuss what I was feeling with my friend Craig and stepped out of sight to finish that panic attack joint in my pocket from earlier. I told him about what had happened and he convinced me to relax and have fun and of course, have a other drink which is exactly what we did next.
So there I was on my fifth or sixth cocktail of the night, sitting on the stones which bordered the sidelines of the dance floor, talking with another friend from work. My dinner was settling in, and excuse me for not knowing specifically what we ate because the truth of the matter is, I just don’t remember. I’m sure it was steak, and I’m sure it was really good, but somehow all I can remember was being punch drunk and engaged in watching that beautiful exotic girl in the green dress strut her stuff to the sounds of 80’s and 90’s pop music while my friend, Shaw nudged me in my elbow and in so many words, calls me a pussy and tells me to go get her.
“She just danced her way over her and flashed you her ass.” He said.
“You think that was on purpose?” I ask in a tone of naivety.
“Of course it was, idiot.” He said with dry sarcasm.
“She DID do that, didn’t she?” I stated.
“Yeah man. What are you waiting for?” He replied.
And with that, I put my drink down, and danced my way over to her again, to start a non verbal conversation with my hips. She immediately engaged me with a smile and before I knew it, we were cutting a rug where there was no rug to be cut. I kind of got lost in the moment for a bit. If you give me a few drinks at a wedding, and give me some music with a good beat, I can fucking dance. I don’t even need a partner, although at this point in the night, I was more than happy to have one. And she was a good dancer, and she was pretty, and she had this life to her that I hadn’t seen in the eyes of anyone else in a long time. I found out her name was Tasha which to me was such a glamorous name to even have in the first place. She fascinated me immediately, and at the same time in the middle of everything that was happening, I could feel these eyes on us from off the dance floor. I didn’t really pay attention to what was happening on the sidelines, but I knew people were looking at us as if somehow WE were the center of attention. I liked that about her and I, and I immediately gravitated more towards her as the sun was setting.
Next up, was the obligatory tossing of the bouquet and garter part of the wedding. All the single ladies crowded around the dance floor, and then Christine turned around and tossed the handful of flowers into the air towards a group of beautifully done up and very “motivated” women. I watched as the bouquet bounced around a few hands before landing in the palm of one girl, who I think dropped it, for it only to be instantaneously snatched up by another girl who screamed and jumped up in the air with excitement and as if she had just won the lottery. Off to the side, I could see what appeared to be her date take a very large swing of his whiskey and coke, knowing full well that her catching the bouquet was all a part of a plan. Now it was time for the men.
All the single gents stood there looking at each other clueless, as if to suggest none of us really wanted to catch this thing in the first place. I on the other hand did NOT come with a date and did NOT have a girlfriend on the side who was coaching me as to where the perfect spot to stand would be to catch such a small accessory. Still, when Joey flung that garter up into the air, I thought to myself…I’m just going to innocently jump up with about 50% effort, put my hand out, and whatever happens, happens. Apparently, half an attempt was all I needed as the garter magically landed in my left hand, which was strange because I’m totally a righty. Simultaneously, every other bachelor in the crowd immediately breathed a sigh of relief. I smiled and took their “good lucks” unknowingly to heart, but in reality I kind of didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I just thought…”yay, I caught it, let’s take a picture and get on with the drinking and the dancing part of the night.” What I didn’t realize is that I would spend the next ten minutes trying to apply the garter to the thigh of the woman who had stolen the bouquet from someone else without the option of using my hands. So, I used my teeth, because what else was I going to do, and because honestly feet really gross me out. Even my own feet are weird to look at. I’m sure there is a video out there somewhere of me putting this garter in it’s place, but I’ve never seen it, and I’m sure hoping that someone NEVER shows it to me if it does exist.
It was right about the time when I was on my hands and knees in front of everyone that I realized because of all the dancing and sweating and garter applying I was doing, the shitty zipper on my pants decided to completely fail me, which left anyone in sight of my crotch with a clear view to an open window to my underwear. I luckily found a way to secure said zipper with a safety pin that I got from the bride herself. Crisis adverted, but now the evening was winding down and it was getting late at the reception of Christine and Joey’s wedding. People were tired, the bowls of pistachios were almost empty, and the deejay was making the announcement that this would be his final few songs of the night. I looked around at the lay of the land, spotted Tasha at the bar upstairs, and made my way to where she was so and I could walk up to her with my zipper intact and convincingly say….
“Your presence is requested on the dance floor.”
A few minutes later, I saw Tasha make her way over to me for the final song of the night. After the music had finally stopped, and while all the guests were milling about trying to figure out what to do next, I took the initiative. I approached Tasha and complimented her dancing, her name, and her beautiful face. Then I did what any single man at a wedding would do at the end of the night after they had spent all this time dancing with a pretty girl, not knowing if they would ever see her again. I asked her for her phone number so I could take her out when we got back to L.A.
“I can’t do that.” She said with a mischievous smile on her face.
What? This didn’t make any sense to me what so ever. What did she mean she “can’t” do that? Was that code for something? Did she have a boyfriend? How are you going to dance with me all night and make googly eyes and smell so goddamn good only to never want to see me again!? I had to find out why.
“Why is that?” I asked.
And then, I heard the six words that totally changed the energy at the reception, and brought me and everyone else who witnessed this debacle back down to earth in an instant. From behind me on the dance floor, I heard a male voice combatively exclaim..
“Cause I’ll kick your fucking ass!”
I didn’t flinch one bit, and I stood my ground and said to Tasha without missing a beat….
“Did I just hear what I think I heard?”
She was giving me the most uncomfortable smile, and I couldn’t even turn around, but I knew I had to. I knew what this was. This was her boyfriend verbally pissing all over his territory in front of a crowd of about 30 onlookers who were just waiting to see what happens next. So I took a deep breath, and like a gentleman, I turned around and extended my olive branch of a hand, and with a shit eating grin on my face I said
“Sorry man. I didn’t know she was taken.”
“Well, now you do.” He replied.
He was about six foot something with blonde hair and a crazy look in his eyes. I don’t remember much else about him, other than the fact that I didn’t want any trouble, and apparently according to the last two minutes of my life, that’s exactly what this girl was. It got a little tense after that point. People started talking, and the gossip started building and I retreated to my group of friends who had seen everything that went down and who were more than willing to “get my back” in case anyone tried to jump me. Luckily, nothing like that happened. The bride, who saw everything came over to me and apologized, and I apologized back telling her that I hope this little incident didn’t ruin her wonderful night. I told my friends that it was ok, and even though I had a great time, a little part of me was disappointed. My heart was still beating a mile a minute, and I associated that feeling with the onslaught of drama and emotion that was in the air, and the three or four red bull vodkas that were in my blood stream. However, I was suddenly sober, a little bit bit heavy hearted, and totally ready to go back to the hotel. A few minutes later, and right before I was able to gather my friends and head back to the car, Tasha came up to me and apologized.
“Sorry about that. He’s my ex boyfriend.” She said. “He’s a little bit crazy.”
“Yeah, I could tell. It was good to meet you.” I said. “You’re also a really good dancer.”
She was beaming a little bit and she apologized again but I told her that it was ok. We said goodbye, and I drove my two friends and I back to our hotel room to get some much needed rest and sleep off the rest of this unavoidable hangover. Back at the hotel, I went out to get a non alcoholic drink from the soda machine and to smoke my last cigarette. My friend Craig and I were standing in the parking lot when we saw Tasha and her ex boyfriend sitting in a dark blue Scion XA, engaging in what appeared to be an argument that I’m 100% positive was fueled by the events of that night. Turns out they were not only staying in the same hotel as us, but their room was literally across the hall. The irony.
When I got back to L.A. the next day, I couldn’t get her out of my head. I felt like even though there was so much drama surrounding that night, there was something about her that I needed to get to know more of. I told my friends Chad and Mary about what had happened last night at the wedding, and after a little speculation and a possible warning from Chad who flat out said that this is girl is probably trouble, we did exactly what people did back in 2007 when we wanted to find out more information about someone…. we looked her up on MySpace. I sent her a message proclaiming that “I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a little crush on you.” Feeling satisfied that at this point I did everything right, I put my heart on my sleeve and I put the ball in her court and awaited her reply.
We went out on a date a few days later, and yeah, it was pretty awesome. We went to The Roost, my favorite dive bar in L.A. where we conversed about growing up on the east coast and what life hacks we had learned in our time out west. We drank about 8 Newcastles and munched on about two bags of popcorn, and then I took her to the 101 Cafe at one in the morning for a late night snack. She ordered the chili cheese fries, and for some reason, that really turned me on. We started talking about the events of the wedding and how beautiful Christine looked, and how perfect the weather was, and how ironically as it turned out, Tasha was the one who “dropped” the bouquet. That’s funny I thought. It could have been her leg that I had to apply the garter to with my teeth. I’m sure her ex boyfriend would have loved that.
I dropped her off that night without kissing her, but believe me, I really wanted to. I suppose it turned out alright because we ended up dating for the next two years and spent almost every day with each other. After that night, Tasha and I were inseparable.
Next wedding: Wednesday April 22nd
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All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.