It’s the 18th of October, 2012. Tasha and I are sitting in our rental car, pulled over to the side of the road just across the border between Georgia and Florida. It’s about 8pm, the sun set a few hours ago, but there were these bright flashing red and blue lights in my rear view mirror that I couldn’t ignore anymore. Why? Because they were beaming from a police cruiser who had just stopped me for speeding less than twenty miles away from our planned arrival at the Hilton Garden Inn in Tallahassee Florida to celebrate the wedding of our friends Jason and Efia.
“Here you go.” The man said as he hands me the ticket.
“Thanks officer.” I say regrettably.
I wonder why I said that. Why would I thank the officer for just putting me $225 into debt, which ironically was almost the exact amount I saved on our plane tickets by having us fly into Atlanta instead of Tallahassee? Some times you make decisions in life with the idea of saving money, and sometimes it backfires while you’re driving down a single lane highway in the backwoods of the south, trying to make up for lost time by going slightly above the speed limit. This is how the wedding weekend started off for us, but that would be just one of a few minor hiccups along the way. It could only get better form here, right?
I’ve known Jason since I was a sophomore in high school, but neither me nor any of our friends actually call him Jason. His nickname since his freshman year at Cherokee High School has been “P-Nut.” He got this nickname from that one time when he shaved his head and someone remarked at how closely he resembled the shape of an actual peanut. The name stuck, and to his credit he really embraced it. He even went so far as to wear a necklace with a gold nameplate charm attached that had “P (diamond) Nut” on it back in the 90s when Z-Cavaricci was cool, and sweater vests over turtlenecks were all the rage. I can’t blame him for that. In fact, I was kind of jealous because if I could have had a nickname stick that was cool and didn’t offend me, I would have done it too. But let’s be honest, who wants to spend $120 to get a gold charm with the moniker “Chris Da’ Lips” on it? Certainly not me.
People were pretty hard on P-Nut back in the day, myself included. I mean, we all used to bust on each other, but I met the kid in Concert Choir so I couldn’t bust on him for that. It’s just that teenage dudes break each other’s balls a lot. It’s a rite of passage to be made fun of by your best friends at your most awkward and graceless phase of adolescence. Nowadays, if you were to post some of the stuff we used to say about each other on the internet, it would be considered “cyber bullying.” I swear, America is turning into a country full of overly sensitive, self-righteous idiots and pussies, but that’s just my opinion.
Out of all of us, P-Nut took it on the chin more than anyone else. However, regardless of how many tasteless jokes I made at his expense, P-Nut grew up to be one of the most loyal and selfless friends I have. When Chad and I got locked out of our car (for a second time) in the parking lot of the EDC festival in San Bernadino, P-Nut was the guy that drove all the way from Los Angeles at 3 in the morning to pick us up and bring us back home. A year later, when my ex girlfriend dumped me in a public restaurant right before Thanksgiving and I was balling my eyes out, it was P-Nut who gave me a hug and told me everything was going to be ok. He’s always been there for me when I needed him, and regardless of all the shit I put him through, I’m the lucky one because he remains as one of my best friends ever. With the exception of killing someone, I would do anything for him. In fact, I might kill someone if I knew I would get away with it, but I don’t think P-Nut has enemies like that. I’m grateful for having someone like him in my life now, and even though this trip started out with a five hour drive through the backwoods of the south and a speeding ticket, I was really happy to be able to be a groomsman at his wedding and be part of what I hoped would be the most happy day of his life. At around 9:15 pm EST, Tasha and I pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, got our room and went to bed.
The next morning, everyone started to arrive for the wedding. The rehearsal dinner was later that night, but today all the groomsmen still had to pick up our tuxedos, go to the wedding rehearsal and make sure that everything went smoothly. All of P-Nut’s best friends were there. Rounding out the groomsmen were me, Parr, Gary and Chad who was not only in the wedding party, but also the wedding aficionado, or minister of ceremonies. I’m not sure what the official title is, but I thought it was pretty cool that Chad, one of Nut’s best friends was marrying P-Nut and Efia. There was Shaun, who is Parr’s younger brother and who also lived out in L.A. with me and Nut, and then there was V.J. who was a good friend of P-Nut’s for years who I think lived across the street from him since middle school. Then there was Swift who I didn’t know at all, but he seemed liked a pretty good guy and clearly he was winning the coolest name of the year award. I would imagine in that same competition you would find Swift at the top, and probably reality show sex tape entrepreneur Kim Kardashian and her once talented sell out rapper husband Kanye West’s stupid baby’s name North West in dead last.
Yep, all of P-Nut’s best friends were there to partake in this wonderful day….except for one. Normally, I would just out this person at this point but instead, I’m going to give him a fake name. Why? Well, recently I was subject to a lot of negative criticism for using someone’s first and last name in a past blog post who apparently didn’t like the fact that I wrote about them. That person also sent me a private e-mail where they proceeded to insult me and my blog by calling it a “half-wit-garage-band-wanna-be-Hunter S. Thompsonesque-revisionist-self-exploratory fable about love, liberty and whatever else ‘I thought I was doing’” (I don’t know about “liberty” being a theme in this blog, but I really do like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)
This person also pompously stated that they were “kinda famous” and accused me of defamation of character while informing me that they would be taking legal action against me if I didn’t immediately take down the post. In my defense, and according to the opinions of a few of my good friends who read that post and enjoyed it, I didn’t do anything wrong which is exactly why I chose not to take it down. It’s not a crime to say you didn’t like someone back in high school, is it? I didn’t think so. It’s not defamation of character to recall how you used to have a silly nickname for someone, right? Obviously, the real crime here was this person’s inability to recognize a quintessential example of what we call satire. When writing a fictional short story based on actual events, a writer may some times have to exaggerate the circumstances to make it interesting, relative, or funny. So, with all due respect to the person who e-mailed me, GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF.
Anyway, getting back to P-Nut’s groomsmen, and to avoid any threat of being sued in light of the events that took place recently, the fake name I will use for the best friend who was M.I.A. from P-nut’s wedding will be “Boner.” I looked around for Boner, but I didn’t see him anywhere. P-Nut went on to tell me that Boner had some things he had to do and that he just wasn’t able to make it. Ok, I guess I could understand that. I mean, we all get older and get busy with our lives and certain commitments can’t be ignored and sometimes, we have to compromise. It’s just that I always thought that we would be able to make time for our best friends when they get married, especially when you are given three to four months advance notice. It was weird because me, P-Nut, Chad, Gary, and Boner were pretty inseparable for many years, especially early on when no one else had a license except for P-Nut who used to drive us to shows and to the diner, and NEVER asked for gas money, but I’m positive Boner probably had a huge project he was working on that weekend, and I’m sure he regrettably told P-Nut he wasn’t able to make it because of those reasons, whatever they may have been…… But come to think of it, Boner wasn’t really known for telling the truth a lot back in the day. Oh well, his loss. I just hope out that of respect for his friend, he at least sent P-Nut and Efia a wedding gift.
After all the groomsmen arrived and were accounted for, the girls went to the liquor store to stock up on the booze, while the guys went to Jos. A. Bank to pick up our tuxedos. There we were all trying on our outfits in the dressing room together. (Well, not “together” more like all together in separate dressing rooms ) Mine fit pretty well. The pants were a little baggy, but apparently the M.C. Hammer drop crotch style was one P-Nut was going for. Plus, in retrospect I was a little fat at this wedding so I appreciated the extra room. Parr’s fit good, Chad’s was alright, but that’s where all the satisfaction with the tuxedos ended. Swift didn’t have pants with his tux, V.J.’s vest wasn’t even big enough to button across his chest, Gary was missing a key element and Shaun’s tuxedo was missing in action. We had all been fitted months ago and paid for the rentals at the same time, so I don’t understand how on earth a big company like Jos. A Bank could fuck this up so bad. Should have gone to Men’s Warehouse.
Needless to say, P-Nut started stressing out and needed a drink to calm him down. Only thing is, P-Nut doesn’t drink alcohol, so after some of us got our tuxedos and some of us didn’t, we all headed to a bar around the corner to have some beers, some apps, and calm our friend down as we tried to ease his pain through what we hoped would be a successful alcoholic contact high. The look on P-Nut’s face made me think otherwise. I get it, he wanted everything to go smoothly and who doesn’t want that on their wedding day? I could only hope that the rehearsal and dinner would be stress and drama free for all of us, but more importantly, for P-Nut’s sake.
We got back to the hotel and chilled by the pool for a bit while we told our sorted story about the amazingly horrendous customer service and incomplete tuxedos to our ladies. There was Chad and Mary, Parr and Nicola, Gary and Desiree and me and Tasha. Our friend Dave was there too, but unfortunately his wife Gwen couldn’t make it. It was at this point that the ladies pulled out the following: an enormous gallon jug of Stoli vodka, a bottle of whipped cream flavored vodka, a liter of Jack Daniels, a case of beer, and various mixers including tonic, diet coke and red bull that they picked up from the store while we were out getting our tuxes.
“Who the hell is gonna drink all of that?” I asked.
“We are!” Mary said with a huge smile on her face.
It appeared the girls had started pre gaming quite early that afternoon, but little did they know that we would be still be drinking late into the night after the rehearsal dinner until one of us couldn’t drink anymore.
We all piled into our cars to made our way over to the Golden Eagle Country Club in Tallahassee for the rehearsal. I got to say, out of all the weddings I have been to, P-Nut and Efia win the award for the most beautiful, gorgeous, and therefore “best” location ever. I will probably put up a separate post when this blog is completed with the top ten categories and the winners of each, but man, when you have a large open grassy field that is adorned by swooping trees and decorated with a make-shift alter and carefully placed white chairs and rose petals in sunny Florida, with perfect weather next to a flowing stream as you say “I do” to the love of your life, how can anyone compete with that?
We spent the next hour at this stunning location, with P-Nut and Efia’s friends and family, and our semi-buzzed lady dates, all while being carefully directed and scrutinized by the woman of the hour, the wedding planner. Planning a wedding is something no one really wants to do. It’s a huge task to make sure everything goes right, the location is perfectly set-up, and nothing is left to chance so that is why you hire someone to take care of all that. I’ll say this about the wedding planner… she may have been strict, but overall she did a really great job with everything especially because part of her job that evening was to show the bridesmaids and the groomsmen where to walk, where to stand, and of course, when to shut up. It may or may not be true that at some point during the rehearsal one or two of us groomsmen were not really paying attention and perhaps got yelled at for sneaking in a beer, not listening when we were supposed to, and just basically being a royal pain in her ass. However, after forty five minutes of rehearsal, and after one uncomfortable moment when I might have snickered to myself while one of my friends was getting scolded at by the wedding planner, we were released into the wild to convene at a place called Food Glorious Food for dinner. You can check out part of the special menu below.
We couldn’t be seated until the Groom arrived, but Nut was nowhere to be found for awhile. Then he finally showed up with the dreadful news that he had locked the keys in Efia’s mom’s car and had to wait for AAA to arrive to either jimmy open the door, or open it using a spare key. I don’t pretend to know what method they use, but when a frantic Nut arrived at the restaurant, we finally, we got our table, and we did what most people do immediately when they sit down to a rehearsal dinner, we put our drink orders in. Then we waited, and waited, and waited some more for the drinks to arrive. The waitress did come back ten minutes later to take our food order, but she didn’t have any beers, cocktails or wine in her hands. I mean, rule number one at rehearsal dinners is simple: don’t deprive the alcoholics of alcohol.
Eventually, drinks arrived and we made the smart decision to order another round as soon as they did and BEFORE the food came out. In true form, the food was glorious, the drinks were flowing, and after we were all done with dinner, I decided to stir up some shit.
One of the jokes my friends and I constantly make to each other is to poke fun at the heritage we were born into. For example, Parr and Shaun are Irish, and me and Dave are Italian. So I am naturally subject to many friendly insults that may include the names, “dego” “wop” “guinea” or the classic term “Pasta eating, sweaty olive oil loving hairy greaseball Italian.” I take it with a grain of salt because I love my friends, and I know it comes from a place of respect and no one’s feelings really get hurt. That night however, Parr and Shaun were beating up on me and Dave pretty bad, so I pulled in some reinforcements.
There were a few little ones running around the restaurant that night. They were sons of P-Nut’s sister Tina, and Efia’s sister Heidi. I had known Tina since high school because we were in the same homeroom since freshman year, and her son Ryan and Heidi’s son Barron were coming over to me and Dave and asking questions and talking and just acting like inquisitive little kids. Then, Dave and I had an idea of how to get back at Parr and Shaun for ragging on my Italian background. Here’s what I said to them.
“I’ll pay you a dollar, to go over to those two guys over there, pretend to pose for a picture and when I say so, start saying “dirty mick” over and over again. Can you do that for me?”
“Give me the dollar!” Barron said.
And with that, I shelled out two bucks and sat back to watch this onslaught of insults unfold. They took my offering, went over to where Parr and Shaun were sitting, pretended to pose for a picture and then proceeded to insult my Irish friends over and over again. You can see the video here.
Just a little harmless fun between friends right? I mean, I hope neither one of the kids grow up to be prejudice against Irish people, but if they do, now we all know the catalyst that started it all. After dinner, the parents went back to the hotel to relax, and the kids (meaning us) headed to a bar in town where our friend Lisa from NJ just happened to be working. I thought it was kind of ironic that out of all the cities in America for P-Nut to have his wedding, it just happened to be the same city in which Me, Parr, Gary and Shaun knew one of the bartenders from way back in the day. The name of the bar eludes me right now, but it was near the FSU campus so the place was packed with college kids dancing and binge drinking with those red solo cups in their hands. We all did a shot to celebrate our friends marriage, and we then spent the next hour or so drinking and talking and taking pictures, and just having an all around good time.
Not since Chad’s wedding had all of my best friends and I been together. I was happy to be there with everyone and I was even impressed that P-Nut made his way out to the bar even though he didn’t drink alcohol considering tomorrow was his big day. I thought about how the trip started out with me and Tasha being pulled over and getting a speeding ticket. None of that seemed to matter at all. I don’t even think I told anyone about that until right now. You know, I’ve realized that as I’ve gotten older I’ve looked forward to moments like these with my friends. We had been there for each other for half our lives, and there wasn’t a memory from high school or the years after that didn’t include one or all of the people in this room.
I had sat with Gary in Olga’s diner for years drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes while playing gin rummy. I used to cut school with Parr and go to Denny’s for breakfast then drive to New York just for the hell of it. We all used to congregate in Dave’s basement on summer nights playing NHL ‘94 on his Super Nintendo, or you could find us hanging at Chad’s house till 3 in the morning eating Doritos and drinking all of his soda and Snapple. I used to buy Shaun and his friends alcohol when they were underage, and P-Nut and I drove down to Disney World four days after I came back from my senior trip to Disney World just because we could. I don’t have one memory of my high school days without these guys, and even if I could remember one, I probably didn’t have as good a time as if I was with them. I am proud to know them and I am glad to know they all have found a lady to compliment them.
Chad and Mary are a perfect couple and had married two years back at an epic celebration. Gary and Desiree are a perfect match for each other and I would think eventually will get married soon, and P-Nut had found a perfectly sweet and beautiful girl in Efia and he did the right thing by asking her to marry him. Parr had finally found the perfect Italian woman to compliment his Irish personality, but at the moment none of us knew where Nicola was. And then there was me an Tasha, the perfect anomaly of the group.
Speaking of whom, a few minutes later I saw my ex-girlfriend/multiple wedding date and partner in crime come up to me with a concerned look on her face.
“What’s wrong? Where’s Nicola?” I asked her.
“I’ve been in the bathroom with her and Destiny.” Tasha stated.
“You mean Desiree?” I said.
“Right, Desiree. Anyway, Destiny and I think Nicola might have had a little too much to drink.” She said.
“How so?” I asked.
“She looked a little sick, so we took her to the bathroom and then she proceeded to tell us how much she loved Parr and how she was going to have his babies one day.” Tasha said.
“That was sweet.” I replied.
“Yeah, but then she puked in the trash can” Tasha said.
I don’t think we were going to make last call. It was time to leave the bar, go back to the hotel, and get some sleep.
Part 2: June 3rd, 2015
Follow on Twitter @CMarc333
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.