Pick up the receiver, I’ll make you a believer

In the absence of inspiration, scotch works well enough.

Let’s begin our discussion with Matrimony.

I flew to Orange County recently, for Mr. Couevas’s wedding. Several things occurred to me: The only difference between a wedding and a funeral is cake.

Others, also. We’ll get to them later.

There comes a time in every man’s life when he’s smoking a cigar, drinking Negra Modelo, leaning against the transformer behind a hotel in LA overlooking a freeway, a SuperCuts, and a Michael’s. The significance of this moment varies, depending on the man. You watch the distance, the crawling insectoid headlights on the freeway. You sip the Mexican beer somebody’s uncle paid for, and wonder about true love, and tomorrow’s wedding.

Every time I’m in LA, I can’t figure how I got there.

————-

We spent the first night in the hotel, despite the proximity of Hot Sauce’s house. The room was already paid for, and completely destroyed by Couevas cousins, so fuck it. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve woken up in a hotel room full of broken glass, smoldering ashes, and bloodied sheets. The previous night was a bit hazy. Driving 130 MPH down toll roads through the desert, looking for gyros at 3:30. Watching the entire Couevas tribe punch each others’ balls and complain about the Browns mistreatment at the hands of conspiratorial left-wing NFL referees, enjoying the Steven Seagal movie on TBS, and preparing myself spiritually for the nuptial ceremony to come, I came to the brutal realization that I am woefully unprepared for life in general.

Not in any kind of practical sense. I can jiggle the handle and work an ATM and earn a paycheck as well as the next American.

It’s a much more grandiose, antiquated flaw I recognized that night, staring into the smoggy sprawl.

It’s more of a people thing.

I doubt I will ever be ready to marry. I doubt my spirit and self-respect will ever reach the absolute rock bottom suicidal levels necessary to dedicate my life to someone else. I doubt I will ever clean the gutters, or smile sheepishly at whatever dumbass condescending thing my wife says to her friends about me while I’m in earshot.

Oh you’re right honey, it sure was silly of me to forget to pick up that dry cleaning after you’d asked me to.

Go fuck yourself.

————

We woke up the next morning at 9:56. The continental breakfast ended at 10, so Pete had set his alarm to give us plenty of time to stumble into the stairwell and careen, bleeding and agonized and smelling like a South American Prison, down into the hotel lobby for our complimentary Froot Loops and bacon. A dismal, stomach-turning LA storm had set in, and it was raining without intensity or conviction. Just enough to ruin your day.

After breakfast, the Wheeze and I changed and immediately hit the pool and jacuzzi, despite the weather. Wearing dark sunglasses and borrowed trunks, we lounged in the overheated spa for nearly an hour, shouting at any passerby to bring us strawberry daiquiris. The sporadic rain fell pathetically, the grey murk loomed, and we were wholly non-plussed. Check out time came and went with nary a fret, the latest in a thousand missed deadlines.

“You know, Peter.” I said, waving ineffectively at a maid I saw digging in a storage container which I hoped held Strawberry Daiquiris, “Couevas is getting married today.”

“Hard to believe.”

“Seriously.”

We pondered the world, life, love, and their variegated intricacies for many moments.

I broke the silence.

“Why won’t that fucking maid bring us some daiquiris? What kind of fucking hotel is this, anyway? Look, that brat won’t even look me in the eyes now. GUADALUPE! HEY GUADALUPE, COME HERE. DAIQUIRIS, MI AMOR, YO NECESSITO MAS DAQUIRIS.”

“They don’t have room service here. This isn’t that kind of hotel.” Peter said.

“What the christ? We’re 15 miles east of the burial site of the American Dream. Everything out here is toll roads and faux Mestizo architecture and shopping centers, and you’re telling me I can’t get a god damn daiquiri at the pool of our hotel?”

“Nope.”

“OC really is hell.”

Peter convinced one of the younger, more impressionable cousins to bring the remaining half-box of Dos Equis to the spa, which held us for a while longer.

Sopping and shivering in the drizzling gray, we came inside to find our card-key disabled and our belongings tossed carelessly into a bin in the hallway. We passed a woman shrieking at the desk manager, crying almost desperately about the poor night’s sleep she and her husband had got because of “those mentals next door.” You can rest assured that “those mentals next door” were Couevas relatives, or close family friends like ourselves. A lot of the evening is hazy, but I do seem to remember several multi-generational wrestling matches and someone calling security on their own father… I hesitate to even imagine what the sound of 15 Couevas males sounds like through the paper-thin walls of a cheap Orange County hotel. Rather like drunken gibbons, or a prison riot, I would expect.

Certainly the kind of sound some frail housewife from Oxnard is wholly unprepared for at four in the morning.

—————–

Suddenly, several hours later, I’m in a suit and tie, watching Chris walk to the altar.

Peter and Paul, slumped shoulder to shoulder, are bawling like whipped infants.

“What the hell is with you two? I haven’t seen you get this emotional since we netflixed Ghost.”

*sniffle, sniffle*

The rest of the parties arranged themselves, and finally the bride emerged. As she walked the aisle, their sobs became moans. They cried with the kind of shrieking shameless abandon one typically only sees in veiled wives whose husbands have just been blown up by a mortar in some Middle Eastern hot spot.

“Did you assholes get maced? Why are you crying so hard? Cut that shit out. You’re embarrassing me.”

My mandate had little to no effect.

The priest talked, talked about God and Jesus and love and then some more about God. By this point I had climbed up onto a rafter in a vain attempt to see over the sea of large-domed uncles and cousins between me and the action. I can’t remember exactly what the speeches were, but I think I can at least paraphrase:

Priest: “Jesus jesus jesus love partnership jesus jesus good times bad times jesus jesus jesus jesus. Yes or no?”

As an aside, if on some dark and woeful day I set aside all that I am and all that I stand for and actually get married, I can guarantee you Jesus is not invited to the wedding. He and the rest of the deities can stay home and craft new agonies for my posthumous eternal torment or something, because they certainly ain’t coming to my party.

Then the moment came. The vows. A hush settled over the pre-existing hush, creating an even more hushed hush. They both said I do, and in the distance a sound rang out.

It came from all directions; a wet, crunching sound that echoed mournfully in the night. As if somewhere across the lake someone had blown up a head of lettuce with an M-80.

It was the sound of a million hearts breaking at once, a million hearts belonging to a million plain, desperate and somewhat overweight women in a million different dive bars who knew, somehow, that Chris belonged to them no more. Couevas was, is, officially a one woman man.

I toasted the happy couple, and poured a little out for all the beat women going home alone tonight. Sorry ladies.

We clapped and drank more.

“Well gentlemen, now we are three.” I said. Mopping their blotchy, tear-soaked faces, Peter and Paul nodded in concurrence.

—————————-

We weaseled our way into the buffet before everyone else, and loaded up on taquitos, tamales, and powerful salty margaritas. Then, the whole Poly crew crowded around one table.

*RINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRING*
“I got five bucks that says Pete’s the next to go.”
“No way. Paul’s next. His mom’s gonna buy him a wife from Estonia for his 25th birthday.”
“Think she’ll drop the extra money for luxury options? Like teeth?”
*RINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRING*
“These enchiladas are pretty good.”
“Seriously Meghan, the plural of fish is fosh. Honey I’m an English minor, I know this stuff. Trust me.”
“Here take a picture of us. Jesus Mike did you get any of that in your mouth? Or did you just smear your tie on your plate for five minutes? Stand behind me at least. Jesus.”
*RINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRING.
“OK WHICH OF YOU RETARDS GAVE BRIAN A BELL? CAN YOU TAKE IT AWAY FROM HIM PLEASE?”
*RINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRING*

Ah, weddings.

————————-

All in all it was a quaint and tasteful affair. The reception was completely devoid of girls, which is odd for a wedding. Such a public display of emotional commitment usually brings them in droves, like chumming the waters behind a shark boat. Instead, we strapping lads had to withstand much oggling and eye-rape at the hands of the cadres of aging, catty aunts.

Such are the burdens of youth.

————————-

Another Sunday draws to a close. My body shudders and shakes with exhaustion and hurt. No doubt work will come early tomorrow morning, long before the wounds of the weekend have healed.

Packing flavor like lifesavers,

-T.

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