The Wedding

I never expected to be married, or that I would want to be married. My parents divorce was too painful, from my solo perspective, and after a brief period of imaginary fecundity following my literary introduction to Cheaper By The Dozen, I began to think of myself as a loner, perhaps a Ranger - as in Aragorn, not Special Forces. Romantic that I am, I once told this wonderful woman who would be my bride I equated marriage to being nailed to the floor of a burning house, with sixteen penny nails driven through each of my testicles. Small wonder she was unable to resist me. I’m getting hot just thinking about it...

I think the fact that this woman loved me enough to deal with all the fecal material I heaped on the table was the catalyst that changed what’s left of my mind, but it was - for me, anyway - a flash of satori. It only makes sense from my oddball perspective.

Typical male, (never thought I’d say that) I let her make all the arrangements for the wedding - except refreshments. She found a genial couple - the Grays - with a three story beach house for rent, just south of the Gate station in Ponte Vedra. It was great for what we wanted: a cozy beachfront location to host a wedding, and a place for friends that needed a place to stay. And a pretty decent sandbar break just offshore.

This would be the first and only time my parents saw each other after their divorce. My friends Phil and David drove down from Atlanta; my friend Eric drove from West Virginia, going through several kegs of beer in the process; Mary’s friends Nancy and Mark from New Jersey; Neil from wherever he was at that particular moment in time; Carol and Bob from Tampa, and a gaggle of out friends from the surrounding Jax Beach area.

David and Eric - our housemate crew - accompanied me to retrieve libations. My friend Vince McGuire, who I worked for and with at Campeche Bay, had offered to sponsor the refreshments (I could order and reimburse through the restaurant.) So we picked up two kegs of Bass Ale and several cases of wine: Pat Paulsen’s Refrigerator White and American Gothic Red: certainly the most entertaining bottle of wine ever created. On the bottle, Paulsen’s mournful countenance smiles lopsidedly above a framed homily: “It is not necessary to heat your teeth over an open flame to enjoy the waste products of anaerobic organisms contained within this bottle.” True to his word, we never did. (A political aside: ``Only a cheap politician, greedy for political gain, would try to single out one individual for blame,'' he said during the 1972 campaign. ``The fault lies not with the individual but with the system, and that system is Richard Nixon.''

David, Eric and I made it home to the beach house about two AM in our habitual state - what I now would call plowed. I climbed into bed in the upper story sleeping quarters with the magnificent woman who would be my bride in less than twelve hours, nuzzled her neck, and became inert.

At five thirty the door opened and Eric’s head appeared. “Tide’s dead low: it’s as good as it’s gonna get.” How I managed to crawl out of bed and into my baggies is, to this day, a mystery, but wading into the November water jolted me into an approximation of consciousness. Eric brought his waveski - a bizarre hybrid of surfboard and kayak, and the first I ever saw - and ripped!, his increased paddle power formidable. After a couple warm up waves, we had a blast for an hour and a half - squinting into the rising sun, turning my nose into the inevitable pork rind.

We exited the water, reached the surrounding deck and stopped, confronted with the sight of two kegs of Bass glistening with condensation. “We should probably check ‘em to make sure they’re OK?” grinned Eric. Cold beer after a morning surf is one of the best things on the globe. It turns out I was about to experience the best.

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