Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Country Grammar

Close your eyes. Now, in terms of the planning details, describe what you would consider to be the perfect wedding.

If you’re a female, odds are good that you just painted a picture that involved a marble-and-gold-trimmed hall filled with thousands of guests, immaculate flower arrangements, elaborate silk gowns, one or more men on horseback, and doves—carrying wreathes of heather woven into hearts—flying in formation to spell out the names of you and your groom, followed by more that spell “Forever”.

If you’re a male, odds are you ignored the exercise altogether. You probably countered with, “Trick question!” Then you cracked open a beer and turned on a playoff game.

And, of course, the guys were right. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume there is such a thing as “the perfect wedding”. I propose that: (a.) the women were still miles off; and (b.) I attended just about the closest thing to it two Saturdays ago.

My boy Ton has always been an original. A 6’1”, 300-plus-pound Ohio farmboy with a heart of gold and the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s giggle, he’s the type of guy who’s more likely to laugh off a stranger’s taunt—and skate circles around him on Heelys in the process—than to crack heads just for the sake of cracking heads. It follows logic then that, when he finally managed to find himself a woman worthy of wearing his ring, their big day would be done a little differently than how tradition might dictate.

This started with the instructions that were included with the invitations. While the decorative pink cardstock and fuchsia calligraphy were straight out of a 14-year-old’s diary [Note: This isn’t a knock on his wife; it’s a knock on women, in general...], they included at least one specific guideline that I had never seen before in an invitation of its kind: “Dress comfortably”. The ceremony and reception, it turned out, would be held at Ton’s house in Ohio. And not just at his house, but in his barn. Guests were invited to either make reservations at a nearby Days Inn…or to camp out on his property.

Dupa and I decided not to be cowboys, and booked a hotel room. On the Monday before the wedding, we discussed the other logistics and details via texts, with jovial bemusement.

Me: “What are you wearing? Invite sounds like people won’t be wearing suits.”
Dupa: “Yeah not a suit, maybe flip flops, shorts and a beater?”
Me: “Well, it IS a wedding. Got to at least add a trucker hat. #OhioFormal”
Me: “Maybe a button down shirt and jeans?”
Dupa: “Jeans? Wtf it’ll be hot”
Me: “Hadn’t looked at a forecast.”
Dupa: “Lock it up!”
Me: “Shit, so we’re really wearing shorts to this wedding?”

We consulted TK, the best man. He said that, really, anything short of assless chaps was fair game; that being said, the groomsmen would still be wearing tuxes. This left quite a bit of leeway. As a result, when we arrived I was wearing a white dress shirt, black dress pants, and dress shoes. My traveling companion had on a dress shirt, dress pants, flip flops, and a rainbow-colored serape (it was Cinco de Mayo, after all).

Ton’s house sits on a road…and that concludes the list of things that makes it comparable to my way of life. The road itself is gravel, and cuts through fields and untamed wilderness in Southeastern Ohio. Looking in any direction from his house, you don’t see any other homes for (literal) miles. So far as I know, he doesn’t own any crops or livestock, but he certainly has the property to do so if he chose. As we parked, approximately 200 people milled about the barn and road, in every combination of attire between the “formal” and “casual” extremes on the dress scale. Almost all of the women wore a dress of some sort. The men, though… Some wore suits, some wore t-shirts; Ton’s brother-in-law wore a dress shirt, tie, cargo shorts, and sneakers. It was actually beautiful to see so much variety and freedom of individual expression.

Lined up outside the barn [which, for my fellow city slickers, looked more like a large garage than a classic “barn”] were coolers filled with cans of Bud, Bud Light, Yuengling, and Yuengling Light. Just inside the first of three garage doors along the face of the structure was a small bar where you could order wine and liquor. The bar was manned by a little old man in a black dress shirt with an orange and red western scene of horses racing freely across a desert plain. Pimpin’.

We were all instructed to find seats among the rows of picnic tables arranged inside the barn, and the ceremony began. As TK and the maid-of-honor two-stepped down the aisle, I heard someone crack open a can of beer somewhere in the room. I finished my first can of Bud Light as Ton and his wife exchanged vows; I considered opening my backup can that was sitting on the table, but I didn’t want to be that guy. Once the groom had kissed his bride as commanded by the minister, I discreetly cracked it open amongst the roar of applause and cheers.

Before dinner was served, we had to send some people to the beer store for a re-up; 21 cases had met their maker. It mattered little to me, though, as I had switched to gin & tonics, a much more suitable drink when wearing dress clothes outside on a warm spring day. And Crazy Horse, the bartender, was pouring a liberal mix into those 8 oz. Dixie cups. I tore through dinner (homemade barbecue!) while laughing with friends at a table on a patio, enjoying the camaraderie and trying not to stare at my boys’ girlfriends’ chests. Some of our group played “Bang, Marry, Kill” using the wedding guests at the table next to ours (Dupa: “I’d bang the younger chick, kill the older chick, and marry the guy.”). Our buddy Kyle made a run to the bar, and when he came back with a new G&T for me, it was in a 16 oz. cup. They had run out of the smaller cups. And yet, it seemed Crazy Horse had still used the same amount of tonic as he had been putting into the 8 oz. versions.

Viva Ohio!

It had only just dawned on most of us the prior night that TK’s role as best man meant he’d be making the traditional toast. This could only mean good things. And, sure enough, he didn’t disappoint. During the speech, he produced a cocktail shaker, shot glasses, cans of Red Bull, and two flasks from a bag; then he mixed together a batch of Vegas Bombs and distributed them to the wedding party. As they raised their glasses, and the rest of the wedding raised ours, TK closed his toast with, “Here’s to heat—not the kind that burns down buildings, but the kind that brings down panties.”

The dichotomy of crowd reactions was unavoidable; everyone 15-45 years old cracked up, and everyone 46 and older sucked their teeth in (unconvincing) disgust. TK gave less than a standard-measure “fuck”. He brought the leftover Vegas bombs out to us as the party resumed following the maid of honor’s speech. A short while later, TK appeared again, this time carrying a fifth of Patron and an air of determination. “We’re finishing this today.” It took all of 15 minutes for his goal to be realized. The bottle was soon dry, after being passed around a group of about five of us. Even Dupa, who had stayed away from tequila since spring break his senior year, took a swig. There’s a certain fearlessness that comes with drinking miles away from all civilization.

As you might have predicted, things started getting out of control from there on.
  • Not long thereafter, several rows of tables were removed from the barn to create a dance floor. As things started getting funky, our friend Shafe’s girlfriend convinced Crazy Horse to let her wear his shirt. She then bopped around the dance floor in the shirt comically, winning the heart of every guy around. At one point I leaned over to Kyle and said, “The only woman here that I want to bang right now is Shafe’s girlfriend.”
  • When I recounted that anecdote to Dupa during the drive home the next afternoon, he replied, “Buddy, you weren’t alone in that sentiment.”
  • As for the Polish madman, he quickly got wild on the dance floor in typical fashion. That led to the mother of the groom pulling him to the side and politely asking him to pull his pants back up, saying bluntly, “There are kids around.”
  • We discovered the photo booth. Kyle and I took a series of random, mildly-homoerotic shots; Dupa and two of our other friends did the same. Our boy and his girl snapped a series of shots, after which they sheepishly showed us their clips, saying, “We didn’t know these were going into the wedding book!” In the last of the string of four pics, our friend was clearly groping his girl’s titty from behind, while giving the camera an equally-raunchy smile.
  • As good as that was, though, they were outdone by a random couple at the party, whose photo booth pictures were circulated the next day. The first two pics were normal silliness, but in the third the guy lifted up his gal, who supplied the camera with a full-on, panties-full-off beaver shot.
  • I awoke early the next morning to a pizza box snuggled close in my hotel bed. Dupa had ordered a pie after we’d (miraculously) gotten back to the hotel, but I was passed out before it arrived. He therefore ate half and tucked the other half in next to me. I tossed it on the ground, stumbled to the bathroom, and then went back to bed.
  • A few hours later I awoke, asked Dupa where the pizza on the floor had come from, and then munched on a slice while we gathered our stuff up and checked out.

Those country boys know how to do a wedding.

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