I left my internship around 8:30 PM and got started on my list. First, I raced back to the production company and quickly manufactured the report that I needed to complete in about twenty minutes. With the first item checked off my list, I jumped in my car and headed for the closest Bed, Bath & Beyond. I made it into the parking garage at 8:59, but I didn’t get into the store until 9:03. The point here, though, is that I actually made it into the store. As I walked up to the counter to exchange my item, one of the clerks came running across the store and said that he saw me enter the store after 9:00. I asked what the difference was, as there were still customers shopping around the store. He maintained that I needed to leave, as I was not actually a customer during regular business hours. At this point, I started to unravel. Feeling defeated, I got back into my car and searched on my GPS for the nearest CVS. The first one that I arrived at closed at 9:00, so I headed to the next closest location. By the time I arrived, it was already 9:30. I started my hunt for the perfect Mother’s Day card, which proved to be an impossible task. Every card was either extremely cheesy or overly sentimental. It was then that my childhood friend, Clare, called to see how my week had been. I tried to carry on a conversation with her while shuffling through hundreds of cards, but soon realized I was failing at both tasks. After an hour of searching, I finally cracked. I went on a tirade to Clare about the Greeting Card industry, and while others around the store stopped to stare, Clare remained calm on the other end of the line and agreed that I needed a vacation.
By the time I got back to my apartment, it was already 10:45 PM. I debated skipping my late-night run, but I realized that that was not an option. Days before, I had found an insensitive, Italian tailor on Yelp who had told me he could do alterations on my suit five days before the wedding. When I tried on the suit for him, he told me that I needed to lose at least five pounds. Since cutting food out of my life is never an option, I had made it a priority to run every night that week after work, regardless of how late it was. Honoring my commitment, I put on my running shoes and headed off for one final sprint around Santa Monica. The run was going fine until I passed a group of twenty-somethings coming out of a bar. As I looked up to see the name of the bar, I hit a crack in the sidewalk and wiped out in front of them. It hurt like hell but I sprang up and acted like I was fine. I then did that thing where I walked back to investigate the allegedly enormous crater in the sidewalk that had caused me to slip, and cautioned the twenty-somethings to be careful. I hobbled back home, showered, and then began working on my ND files.
The next thing I knew, I awakened to the sound of my roommate entering the apartment at 6:30 AM. I must have fallen asleep around 3:00 working on files, and I hadn’t yet packed. For the next twenty minutes, I ran around my apartment like the McCallister family in Home Alone (1 and 2), when they realize they’ve overslept for their flight. As I raced around my bedroom, shoving anything and everything into my suitcases, I tried to figure out what to do about parking at the airport. I had pre-purchased a non-refundable parking pass at an off-site location by the airport, but my flight was departing at 7:55. I knew that I needed to arrive no later than 7:15 AM in order to check my bag. At this point, I doubted that I would make my flight if I had to wait for a shuttle to cart me to the airport. But since money doesn’t grow on trees for this Hollywood Hoosier, I elected to stick with my original plan of parking at the off-site location. I finished overstuffing my bags, and drove like a bat out of hell, hoping that I hadn’t forgotten to pack something significant like my tux (the wedding was “Black Tie Invited”).
After running two “yellow” lights and making a sharp U-turn that I’ve only seen performed in high-speed chase movies, I arrived at the off-site parking garage at 7:02. Clumsily jogging with my four bags (for a 2-day trip) to catch the shuttle, I made a mental note to remind myself that I had parked on the 7th floor. When I got to the shuttle, the driver decided to stand up and give us an overly informative description about where she would be dropping us off and where to go for pick-up when we returned from our trips. I decided to be that guy by interrupting her and asked her to please get on with it, as I was going to miss my flight. The passenger behind me echoed my sentiments and the driver actually complied. I rolled up to the airport at 7:12 and raced to the ticket kiosk. After I input my information, I got an error message that said, “Please see agent.” FML! I ran over to the “Special Services Desk,” and the agent explained that LAX requires you to check your bags 45 minutes before departure, not 40. She then said, “You’re way too late, I’m sorry.” I pleaded with the agent to make an exception. I told her that I’m usually never late to anything, but that I had gotten stuck on the shuttle. I don’t know which lie I should be more ashamed of?! The fact that I’m never late (because I’m always late) or that I got stuck on a shuttle (I don’t even know what that means)? The important thing is that the agent bought it and overrode the error message. I hightailed it through security and made it to my flight right as they were boarding.
As I boarded the plane, I was greeted by a Chatty Cathy who had the seat next to mine. I personally hate talking to people on flights, so every time she said something, I paused, pulled out my earphones like it was some monumental task, and said, “I’m sorry. What?” Keep in mind that there wasn’t any music playing in my ear, and I could hear everything that she was saying, but I was trying to convey a point. Unfortunately, she was oblivious to my signals and continued talking until I was saved by the PA. The flight attendant announced that there were some empty seats and invited us to move around if we so desired. Before she could even finish this statement, I had grabbed my bags and leapt across the aisle to an empty row of seats. Suffering from sleep deprivation, I was looking forward to taking a quick nap on the short flight to Phoenix. Unfortunately, I was also full of adrenaline from the morning’s events and instead of sleeping, I sat there with a crazed expression on my face. I’m pretty sure others were alarmed, as the flight attendant walked right past me during the drink service. I’m just lucky no one called the Air Marshall to report a “Suspicious Person. “
When my dad and sister picked me up from the Phoenix airport, I noticed that Jess was wearing workout clothes. Apparently the tailor had called her and told her that I needed to lose weight. Just kidding. But a nice workout did seem like the perfect stress-reliever, so when we arrived at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, we headed straight for the gym. After our workout, Jess and I explored the grounds, which were beyond impressive. There were tennis courts, basketball courts, Ping-Pong tables, a golf course, two pools, a lazy river ride, and a waterslide! I was in Heaven. Nervous about the amount of recreational time that I had already missed out on, I raced up to our room and threw on my swimsuit.
Once Jess and I arrived at the pool, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my aunts, uncles, and cousins had already started drinking. Anytime that it’s socially acceptable to drink in the afternoon is my kind of time! I immediately ordered a beer, and once it came, I jumped in an inner tube and set off along the lazy river. After a few laps, I decided that it was time to go down the waterslide. Fortunately, the height requirement was only 42 inches, so I was good to go. I asked the lifeguard if I could go head first, but she refused my proposal and insisted that I go down the traditional way on my back. I decided not to argue with a 17-year-old, at least not in front of the 10-year-olds who were waiting their turn behind me. After five run-of-the-mill turns down the slide, I grew tired of it and returned to the pool to get my drink replenished. While drinking poolside, about ten different family members approached me and asked if I was doing ok, as I looked “really thin.” The thing is, I am actually up about five pounds from my normal weight (ten if you asked the tailor), so this must have just been their nice way of telling me that I looked like crap. Message received. I ordered another drink. The rest of the afternoon was a bit of blur. It involved a lot of throwing my little cousin around in the pool, drinking, participating in a frozen t-shirt race, going back in the lazy river, and devouring a plate of nachos…but I couldn’t really tell you in what order any of those events occurred.
I took a quick nap before heading to the rehearsal dinner, and when I woke up, I felt…well, not great. I’m not sure if it was the plate of nachos or the ten drinks that I had by the pool, but I was feeling subpar. When my dad heard this, he sprang to his feet, grabbed his briefcase and pulled out a bottle of Aleve. I often tease my dad because he reminds me of the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who believes in curing everything with Windex. Growing up, whenever I had a headache or an upset stomach or even a runny nose, my dad was always nearby pushing his magical Aleve on me. But in this particular case, his wonder drug worked its magic, and after two capsules and a quick shower, I was ready to party! Oh yeah, and my suit fit! For those of you looking to try new diets, apparently beer and nachos does the trick!
The rehearsal dinner was absolutely incredible. The food was amazing, the venue was beautiful, and the video and speeches brought everyone to tears. But more than that, I was just thrilled to see all of my aunts, uncles, and most of my cousins gathered together in one room. This was the first time that I had seen the majority of my extended family together since my grandmother’s funeral last July. I’ve always maintained that the relationship that we have on my mom’s side of the family is special. And I’m not just saying that because they make up 95% of The Hollywood Hoosier’s subscribers. Since I was a child, my friends have told me how fortunate I am to have such a fun and caring family that truly enjoys being in each other’s company. Sure we have squabbles from time to time, but what family doesn’t? The point is that when we get together and let loose, there’s nowhere else that any of us would rather be than with each other. At least that was always the case when my grandmother was alive. She was the heart and soul of our family, so I often wondered if we would still be close once she passed. Well, this weekend proved to me that our love for each other is solid, and that even in the absence of our matriarch, we are still committed to making the effort to be there for each other and celebrate life’s big events. I’d personally like to believe that Grandma Shona was watching over us this weekend with a smile on her face, as there was nothing that she loved more than seeing her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren assembled together. I think that’s the best Mother’s Day Present that we could have given to her.
Well, that’s about as serious as this blog will ever get, so back to the fun times! The wedding wasn’t until Saturday night, so after another workout on Saturday morning, I headed straight back to the pool. This time, I was too lazy to get my butt out of the lounge chair and over to the lazy river, so I just stayed planted there all afternoon. Since I didn’t have to wear that tailored suit for the rest of the weekend, I decided that it would be a good idea to order a side of fries with my nachos. Also, I wanted to ease my family members’ concern for my shrinking frame, so I was really doing it for them. Riiight. I did limit myself to five drinks on Saturday afternoon, as I didn’t want to overdo it before the big celebration. My sponsor would have been proud.
We loaded the party bus at 4:45 and set off to the beautiful Sassi for the ceremony and reception. Now I’ve been to my fair share of weddings the past six years (that’s the understatement of the century), but I can say that this was hands-down the nicest wedding that I’ve ever attended. I know that that statement might offend some of my friends, but if you were there, you’d understand. The scenery looked like it was straight out of a movie. There were mountain views, lush gardens, and traces of Old World Italy everywhere you looked. The wedding party and the guests were dressed to the nines, and the bride and groom looked like they had stepped out of a magazine. All I kept thinking was, how the hell did I get invited to such a classy affair?!
Before the ceremony started, my aunt had asked me to look after the 4-year-old ring bearer during the ceremony, as his mom was the maid of honor and needed to stand beside the bride. Since the ring bearer happened to be one of the coolest and most well-behaved kids ever, I happily obliged. After he totally nailed his role, I signaled for him to come sit with me. He decided that the view was better from the front, so he stood in between the minister and the groom. After a few looks from my family, I snuck over to the side and dragged him back to our chairs. He looked up at me and said, “I just want to see Whitney (the bride).” Seriously, cutest kid ever. I explained that he could see her from our seats (second row) and asked him to please sit patiently during the thirty-minute ceremony. He was fine until about fifteen minutes in, when he turned to me and said, “OK I’m going to go stand with my mom now.” He started walking up to the front and I quickly grabbed him by his sport coat and pulled him back to me. He was becoming more and more restless, so I finally decided to give him my iPhone to take pictures. And pictures he took. Over the course of the next fifteen minutes, he snapped approximately 150 photos. Some of them were actually really good and have made their way to Facebook. During the last two minutes of the ceremony, he figured out how to make the iPhone lens reverse to shoot selfies, so he took quite a few of those, too. This was my favorite.
After some group photos and a cocktail party in the courtyard, the reception was officially underway. I grabbed my table assignment, and my sister and I were relieved to see that we were at the same table as my cousins and two of their friends. It should be stated that we were at Table 7. Maybe you’ve heard of us? Word on the street is that Table 7 was the best table ever and even generated its own hashtag on Facebook. I don't recall seeing a hashtag for the Head Table...just sayin. Once everyone had gotten seated, we noticed that we had two empty seats at Table 7. The only rational explanation that I could conjure up was that the missing couple had walked in, gotten intimidated by our good looks, and then fled home feeling bad about themselves. When the server arrived at our table, we returned one of the place settings. The other place setting? Well…as we’ve established throughout this blog, I have an insatiable appetite and there never seems to be enough food at weddings to soak up all of the alcohol. Therefore, our table decided that it would be best if we just created a fictitious guest, named Debbie, and rationed her food amongst the group. Throughout the night, we assigned Debbie various attributes to account for her absence from the table. I told the group that I had heard Debbie was bulimic, and others had heard that she had a drinking problem. This way, if anyone asked, she was either in the bar or the bathroom. Like Table 7, Debbie also earned her own Facebook hashtag, and my cousins and I are still discussing her crazy antics today.
The reception was an absolute blast. The band was great – they kicked off the night with Pharrell’s “Happy,” so everyone was out of their seats and on the dance floor. Early in the night, I had noticed this pithy sign on the bar, and because of my unwavering trust in Vodka, I spent most of the night dancing. Near the end of the night, my cousins and I did some pretty hardcore detective work. We walked over to the table that had the unclaimed table assignment cards and located the name of the couple who had stood us up. I refuse say their names on this blog because I don’t want to give them the attention. I did attempt to find them on Social Media, but I was unsuccessful. The wife had a Facebook page, but access was limited to her friends. I’m not sure what I was going to write on her Facebook wall, but I figured I’d cross that bridge when I got there. Vodka was sure to lead the way! The wedding ended just as classy as it had started, with us forming a pathway lit with sparklers to send off my cousin and his beautiful new bride. When we returned to the hotel, a group of us met down by the pool, and I proceeded to order three plates of nachos (it’s part of the new diet people). In short, it was a perfect night.
I actually felt pretty good when I woke up on Sunday morning to head to the airport with my parents and sister. Jess and I both had flights on Southwest, so after giving my parents a hug and bidding my mom a Happy Mother’s Day, we headed to our gates. Since Jess’ flight was an hour later than mine, she sat with me at my gate. As we waited, I realized that my hangover was getting worse as the morning wore on. To take my mind off of my impending headache, Jess and I took to Facebook and started posting our pictures from the weekend. About twenty minutes after I had posted my photos, I received a Facebook notification that the woman who had stood Table 7 up had just “liked” my photo. I about freaked out. I had half a mind to call her out in the comments section, but then I realized that had she shown up, none of us would have met Debbie, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed three pieces of cake and two servings of chicken.
Jess and I became so invested in Facebook that I totally missed the fact that my plane had already boarded. By the time I looked up, no one else was sitting at the gate, and I freaked out that I had missed my flight. Just then, I heard them announce “Final Call,” so I raced on the plane. Since this was a Southwest flight, I had the last pick of the seats, and all that were left were middle seats. I sat in between the skinniest two-some I could find, and then I prayed that my hangover stayed under control for the duration of the flight.
When I landed at LAX, my headache had reached new heights. All I wanted to do was get back to my apartment and take a nap. Sadly, that desire had to be put on hold because I had no idea how to locate the shuttle to get back to my car. I probably should have let the driver finish her spiel on Friday morning, but that realization was not going to help me now. Eventually I located the shuttle and when I finally got dropped off at the parking garage, I thought my head was going to explode. I hauled my four bags up to the seventh floor, and when I clicked my keypad to sound the alarm…silence. I walked around the entire 7th floor, and nothing. I then went up to the 8th floor and the same thing happened. Getting nervous, and feeling like I was going to pass out if I didn’t make it to my air conditioned car soon, I walked through all 8 floors of the parking garage desperately searching for my car. After an hour of looking, I concluded that my car had either been towed or stolen. When I shared this information with the guard manning the gate, he explained that I had walked into a hotel’s parking garage, and that my parking garage was next door. In my defense, parking garages all look the same! They should really develop a way to help differentiate them. Hmm…maybe I’ll take that idea to Shark Tank? Anyway, when I got to the other parking garage, I found my car, parked safely on the 7th floor. On the way home, I stopped at Taco Bell to nurse my hangover. As I ate my Mexican Pizzas alone in my darkened bedroom, I started to long for my poolside nachos at the Westin Resort. Welcome back to LA (and reality), Hollywood Hoosier.