Monday, August 15, 2011

Going back to Cali...

One of my very good friends invited me to his wedding. Then, he threw the curveball at me by asking if I would officiate the wedding. Hmmmm….  I had just completed the lengthy ordination process to become a minister (filling in some data fields and clicking "submit"), so rather than let all of that hard work go to waste, I agreed. Later, I'd reflect, what the hell had I gotten myself into?

My friend, Brian, is one of my BMX buddies, whom I met nearly 15yrs ago. He and I ended up spending many months on the road together, in a van, doing stunt shows at bike shops, fairs, and many bizarre venues all across the U.S. We had some crazy times. He's an accountant now, and handles my taxes and financial planning, yet every conversation still includes snails, ghosts, Cru Jones and Dio (R.I.P.). Anyway, somehow he convinced a beautiful woman, Sarah, to marry him, and amid the legitimate wedding participants, I was to be there to "solemnize" the event.

I kind of thought that "the world" would be the
world's largest 3-D experience...
The flight out was uneventful, which is what you want a flight to be. Although, a 6:00am flight, which required a 4:00am pick-up preceded by a 3:30am alarm clock was a bit annoying.  We had a quick stop in NYC, then arrived safely in Burbank, CA.

I like California, I lived there for many years, and I still have plenty of good friends in the Golden State, but it's a weird, weird, weird place. As much as I despise, loathe and abhor winter, I couldn't leave New England. That being said, I re-acclimated to California (i.e. seeing a Jamba Juice, Carl's Jr, Jack in the Box, Exxon, Mobil, Taco Bell, In 'N Out, Del Taco, EVERYWHERE), and was ready for some fun.

Brian picked us up in his giant Tahoe, you know, cuz you need a truck like that with California's unpredictable weather. We made a couple of quick stops and arrived at the Embassy Suites, our defacto home for the next few days.

We actually got in to Cali a few days earlier than we needed to. We were under the initial impression that I had to be "deputized," in a county clerk's office, but in reality, my ministerial credentials were good enough. Jean and I took advantage of the time to do some solid chill-axin. The hotel had free breakfast, and WiFi, and drinks at 5:00p, and a fitness center…

Brian also gave me a tip on a good local canyon to go hiking/trail running. Unfortunately, he said to take the highway NORTH, which put me about 30 miles out of my way… so it was a total of 60 miles, round trip, of a wild goose chase, but that's okay, it's his gas. We did finally find Towsley Canyon, which was only a couple of miles SOUTH of the hotel. There was a fun 5 mile loop which we hiked one day and then I ran the next day.

In typical California foothill style, this was anything but flat. But that's okay, we got a good work-out and great views. We were a little reluctant at the start because of the sign at the trailhead warning of bees, wasps, and of course, a bear. Once we stepped past that sign, the first thing Jean saw on the ground was a decapitated snake head. Hmmm…. all forbidding omens to say the least. We did however, escape harm.

While desert-like, the area was teeming with wildlife, from rabbits and squirrels, to lizards and snakes, to a variety of birds. But of all of the things we saw, the weirdest were the bubbling tar pits… Yep, actual tar pits (see below). Bizarre indeed. Anyway, the 5-mile hike was fun and also provided some great vistas of the surrounding canyons and foothills. Of the things I miss the most about living out west, it's the hills.

So, it wasn't all chillin' though… I had some serious work to do. I know enough about Brian to implicate him in many deeds that may or may not be illegal, but are at least immoral and indecent. I had to get to know Sarah too. Brian, Jean, Sarah and I went out for dinner and I learned that Brian must have some dark secret that he's holding over Sarah. Otherwise, why would this smart, funny, woman marry a man afraid of snails? Whatever bet she lost, they make a great couple. I was excited to be a part of their wedding, but how the hell did I get roped into this?

I'm certainly no stranger to public speaking, but I was definitely feeling some stress with this as wedding days are supposed to be the most important day in a woman's life, and there were more than two hundred guests in attendance. Oy. Things really started to seem real at the rehearsal and I think I may have been more nervous than the groom.

Saturday morning, I got to have some breakfast with another my California BMX friends, Mike D. Then it was check-out time and a whole lot of hurry up and wait. Jean and I hung around Brian's house, watching the greatest movie of all times, RAD, until it was time to convoy to the Valencia Country Club. Brian passed out the groomsman gifts and I got a sweet flask filled with…. um…. water, to refresh me if I became thirsty. The ceremony was delayed a bit because Sarah's dress had a wardrobe malfunction, but soon enough, it was time to put the lotion on the fingers and get this done. The groomsmen, and I, walked out to Europe's "Final Countdown" and took our positions. The bridal party came in and it was finally time to get my ministerial groove on. Vows were exchanged, rings were given, brides were kissed, doves were released, a husband and wife were proclaimed, and it was time to hit the open bar.

All in all it was super fun and I was happy to be a part of their wedding. I didn't screw it up, as I feared, and I even had someone come up to me after the ceremony to ask about doing their wedding! At which point Jean became my booking agent and tried to rent me out. She's funny like that. Unfortunately, we bailed out the wedding a little bit after dinner. I was exhausted and my mind was on packing and making the pilgrimage home.

At the airport, we learned that our flight was not only delayed, but overbooked. We elected to get bumped, took a different flight, only got into Boston about 45 later than originally planned, was on a less crowded plane, AND each got $400 travel vouchers. I guess being a holy-man has its perks.

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