Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle

So there I was, driving on I-95 through South Carolina. I've got my kid in the back seat, possibly sleeping, possibly watching The Muppets, possibly contemplating an overthrow of the power structure in which he is subject to Yes Dear and myself so that he can rule the household and have his demands of a 24-hour television channel consisting of nothing but Sesame Street and Sid the Science Kid and . . . well, really that may be all he wants.  Yes Dear is sitting next to me, possibly sleeping, actually, it's very likely she's sleeping.

We're about halfway through our 360 mile trip from Wilmington, NC to Statesboro, Ga. Coincidentally, we're also about halfway through South Carolina, roughly 100 miles into the state. It's about this time I wished I had a book on CD, but apparently listening to a book while riding with your wife is frowned upon. It turns out you're supposed to talk about things on trips, or at least have that option available to you, rather than requiring her to be be quiet while you listen to a story.

So I'm riding down the road and there, for some reason, on my right is a sign for a South Carolina Welcome Center. Mind you, I've already been in the state for about 100 miles (there's 200 miles of Interstate 95 in South Carolina.) I've passed this particular welcome center a number of times in the past 10 months and can't, for the life of me, figure out why it's there. A rest stop, I understand, but why are you welcoming me after I'm halfway through your state?

Granted, this is the same state that is led by a governor who told his Argentinian mistress that she was his soul mate and had his aides tell the press he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was actually getting some Argentinian tail. Obviously the decision makers are not the best and brightest (though to be fair, they may be the best and brightest of South Carolina.) Maybe it's just my lack of traveling, but don't most states have their welcome centers, you know, near their border? It seems odd to me that you would welcome me at the very point where I stop traveling into your state and start the process of leaving your state.

(Quick aside: Welcome to my blog)

According to its website, "The Santee Welcome Center is strategically located Southbound on I-95." It's convenient in that if you missed the one 100 miles back, you can stop here. Are there people who have been driving for 90 minutes who think to themselves, 'You know, we were just going to pass through South Carolina, but now that we're here, let's see what they have to offer.' (Quick note: go east to Charleston or northeast to Myrtle Beach. There, now you know what they have to offer.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I think I love my wife

I love my wife. She's smart, knowledgeable about things that are important to me (it's nice having my own personal injury expert to ask about injuries regarding my fantasy team) and a host of other reasons. Obviously I'm not doing too much wrong as she's stuck around with me for almost seven years.

So I was a bit surprised at the events that took place Friday night. we had a guys night out that involved darts, games and a few rounds of Rock Band. All in all, a fun night. Well, it was until I arrived back at my apartment. As you might expect, I didn't get home until rather late, meaning Yes Dear was sound asleep. (To be fair, on most nights, if I got home after 9:30 p.m., she'd be sound asleep.)

So I get to the door, unlock the lock and get ready to go inside. But alas, fate was not on my side that night. For you see, Yes Dear felt the need to close the latch (the kind used in hotel rooms), thus making it impossible for me to enter my humble abode for some much needed slumber.

Had I done something wrong? We hadn't had a major blowout. There hadn't been any yelling or screaming or throwing things at each other. She knew I was going out and was going to be home late. Was she trying to send a message? If so, what was it? I know I left a few dishes in the sink, but that's only because they wouldn't fit in the dishwasher (which I loaded and started before I left.)  Even if that was the trigger, it seems like an overreaction to lock me out.

So I did what any loving husband would do. I called Yes Dear's phone in hopes that she would hear it, wake up and then come let me in. But it was not to be as I could hear her phone downstairs, far away from where she slept.

This leads to a dilemma. Do I try to yell up to her, risking waking up not only the little guy who is sound asleep, but also neighbors who probably are sleeping comfortably in their own apartments? Or do I knock on the the door over and over, hoping somehow it wakes her up, but doesn't wake up the little guy? Or, do I go sleep in the car?

I opted for option two, and for the next ten minutes, I'd  knock on the door, wait a few seconds, then knock again. At the 10-minute mark, I decided I'd give it five more minutes and then go sleep in the car. Assuming this wasn't her way of kicking me out, the one night of inconvenience would be worth being able to bring up this little episode anytime I needed to score easy points in a discussion.

'Honey, I want to watch Dancing With The Stars tonight.'

'Well, I wanted to sleep in a bed instead of the car, but we don't always get what we want, do we?'

But just when it seemed all hope was lost, I see the lights for the stairwell come on. I was saved from a night sleeping in a parking lot. I took this as a sign that she wasn't kicking me out. But I'm not great at reading signs, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reality is never as good as fantasy

To commemorate their 30th year giving husbands and excuse to not do whatever it is they were supposed to be doing, ESPN has been running documentaries chronicling sports stories that happened over the past three decades. So far they've ranged from the oddball story (the marching band for the old Baltimore Colts didn't disband after the team left for Indianapolis, but played on, including halftimes of other NFL teams), the story of how and why Wayne Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles from Edmonton and recently the trial of Allen Iverson when he was convicted for participating in a brawl at a bowling alley when he was in high school.

So when I found out they were doing on the history of fantasy baseball, I was as giddy as a school girl. The documentaries had all been really well done. Even the ones I didn't have a particular interest in were still captivating.

Unfortunately for me, Silly Little Game was scheduled for the same time as American Idol. Now normally I don't dislike Idol, and in the past I've even enjoyed it. But this year, the contestants suck. They make William Hung sound like Placido Domingo. But as luck would have it, Yes Dear had to work late, meaning I was free to spare my ears from whatever noise was going to be coming from the Idol stage.

But sadly, Silly Little Game did not live up to my expectations for a number of reasons. First, it was overproduced. Sure, it's a film about fantasy sports (which basically boils down to picking players and watching them perform, so it's not like there's a lot of action going on to make into a documentary), but the graphics and vignettes they used to illustrate their film was a bit much for me.

Second, and most surprisingly to me, was that I didn't really learn anything of substance that I didn't already know. I've not read extensively on the history of fantasy baseball, but I'd read a little and knew the basics of it's founding. I knew about Daniel Okrent who first came up with the rules. I knew that he's never won a league he's participated in. I knew that the tradition for that first league is to douse the winner in Yoo-Hoo instead of champagne. (Which, unlike the Masters, truly is a tradition unlike any other.) Basically, what the film confirmed is that I'm a nerd who knows far too much useless information.

Note: For a more interesting take on fantasy sports, I'd recommend Sam Walker's 'Fantasyland.' Walker was in the documentary, but the fact he'd written a book (which may be turned into a movie) about diving headlong into fantasy baseball wasn't mentioned.

Monday, April 19, 2010

And our final category for the jeopardy round, potpourri

Note: After asking for suggestions about a topic to write about on facebook, I tried to write about a few of them that I liked, but none of them seemed to work. So now I'm going to include as many of them as I can in some sort of mad-libs, whose line is it anyway type post. We'll see how it goes.

So there I was, sitting in the 12th inning of a 0-0 baseball game between the Mets and Cardinals with my good friend Sudie Pennebaker  discussing the merits of a scoreless baseball game against those of a 3-0 football game. She believed the baseball game was better due to the tension on every pitch while I maintained the football game was better due primarily to the presence of cheerleaders.

In the 13th inning, Sudie went to get a burrito. When she got back, I couldn't believe just how big it was. I know ballpark food is usually a decent size, but this burrito was huge. It would have taken me three different meals to eat the whole thing. But not my friend Sudie, who managed to devour it in one sitting. And then she just kept going on and on about how she couldn't believe she ate a whole burrito. I mean, she would not stop talking about it to the point where anything that happened from that point on, I couldn't believe it happened. A batter was walked . . . I couldn't believe it. A guy was talking on his cell phone . . . I couldn't believe it.

As the game progressed to the 14th, we started talking about our strangest dreams. Mine was one in which I was the victim of a murder on Criminal Minds and the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI was called in to investigate. Strangely, my spirit hovered over the crime scene as if it could give clues to the FBI agents. Unfortunately, it couldn't and my murder went unsolved. Her's was a sex dream involving President Obama just before the National Day of Prayer. It seemed like an odd dream to have, but then again, I dreamed about being killed in a television show, so I couldn't really say much.

The 15th inning (still scoreless), saw the discussion move to the volcano in Iceland and it's impact on my life. Other than having to convince Sudie that just because Iceland is cold doesn't mean they can't have volcanic activity. She refused to believe me, insisting that it's cold in Iceland, so there's no way anything hot could come from underneath its cold ground. We went round and round for far too long about this before I finally caved and agreed with her. Despite beer sales being cut off in the 7th inning, I think she was still drunk at this point.

During a pitching change in the 16th inning, we started talking about Jersey Shore and reality shows in general. Once again, Sudie took the outlandish position that reality shows are actual portrayals of reality and the editors and producers and writers were just there to ensure the most accurate display of what happened was presented to the audience. It was at this point I began to question my friendship with her. It was also at this time I wished I'd bought more $7 beers before they cut off sales.

In the middle of the inning, I got up to get some food and came across three new Pringles' flavors, soft-shelled crab, grilled shrimp and seaweed. Figuring I would never see these flavors again, I one can of each. (Why they were selling cans of Pringles at a ballgame, I'm not sure, sometimes it's best not to ask questions.) We decided it was nice of Pringles to look out for our health by offering grilled shrimp when it would have been so easy to go with fried shrimp. We were also dying to know what kind of market research went into the decision to release those flavors.

As the game entered the 17th, we got into a discussion about books and literature. Sudie, still drunk, claimed the best book she'd ever read was The Da Vinci Code, which made me wonder if she'd ever read any other book in her life. Sure, the book was interesting, but not all that well written. I told her the best book I'd read was the book Friday Night Lights, which if you've only seen the television show, you really don't know what it is about.

In the 18th inning, I got tired of hearing how she STILL couldn't believe she ate the whole burrito, so I launched into a 25-minute explanation on my beliefs and strategies concerning fantasy baseball, including which stats I look at, how I value players in regards to position scarcity, and the websites I read to try to gain an edge in the game. However, she seemed bored by this, so I decided against recapping that portion of the conversation in detail.

Finally, in the 19th inning, the Mets scored a run and it was looking like we might finally get to go home, In between innings, the topic of Tim Tebow and the NFL draft came up. I hate the NFL draft. There, I said it. It's overrated, overhyped and for the life of me, I don't care what Mel Kiper Jr. thinks. I don't see how running the 40-yard dash .05 seconds slower than you were expected to means you're now no longer a top-10 selection. Fortunately, it seems as though ESPN has spent less time building up to the draft than in years past. Maybe it has something to do with baseball, The Masters, NBA and NHL playoffs all going on. It's like they have actual sports to cover rather than a media event.

In the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals tied it. We were actually so engrossed in the game that we didn't have time to talk about our favorite ESPN personalities or how I'm facebook friends with ESPN Radio's Erik Kuselias.

The Mets then took the lead in the 20th inning, about seven hours after the game started. By this point, we'd run out of things to say and just enjoyed the fact that the game ended.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Five for Fighting

When all else fails, an easy post is to make lists. So to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Najib Mikati becoming the new Prime Minister of Lebanon, replacing Omar Karami, who resigned for a second time after seven weeks of frustrated efforts to form a consensus government, (I hope you sent flowers to commemorate such a momentous occasion), I give you Five Lists of Five.

Five Books I Want to Read by the End of the Year: 
Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell) - I've read Blink and Outliers so I figure I need to finish off his books. Plus, it makes me sound smart to say I'm reading books by Gladwell.

The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America (Joe Posnanski) - I've read a good number of books on baseball, but one topic I've managed not to read enough about is the Negro Leagues. I first learned of Buck O'Neil from Ken Burns' Baseball and regret it's taken me this long to read more about his life.

Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman) - After reading Eating the Dinosaur and listening to Downtown Owl, I know that I don't think about the world the same way Klosterman does. Fortunately, he's written books that help me expand my view of the world.

A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy O'Toole) - To be honest, I know nothing about this book other than ESPN's Keith Law listed it in his top 100 books and of his list and it seemed the most accessible and understandable to someone of my limited intellect.

The Big Short (Michael Lewis) - I'm not a political policy guy, don't follow it, can't speak intelligently about it (see previous entry regarding my intellect), but Michael Lewis can tell a damn good story. (He wrote a little book called The Blind Side that you may have heard of.) I read it and his other sports book, Moneyball, and if this is anything like that, the story will be compelling and complex ideas will be explained in such a way that I could explain them to someone else.

Five Websites I Visit Daily: - Weird news stories AND snarky comments. Where do I sign up? - How else would you have found this blog if it wasn't for Facebook? - Unless you found this blog through Twitter. - Shocking, I know. - Those fantasy teams aren't going to run themselves.

Five TV Shows I Enjoy:
Lie to Me (Fox) - It's going to be canceled, I'm sure (It's been on hiatus ever since 24 came back . . . makes its Spring debut later this month). Nevertheless, I'll keep watching as the Lightman Group searches for the truth using the science of microexpressions to tell when someone is lying. I still wish I had this talent for spotting microexpressions, because if I did, I'd be a much better poker player.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS) - Yes, I know that no father would tell some of the stories to his kids that Ted Mosby has told his kids. And Yes, I know no kids would still be listening to a story that's been ongoing for three-days, non-stop. And yes, Robin and Lilly are hot. And Barney is hilarious.

Criminal Minds (CBS) - Another crime drama that focuses on the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit as they track serial killers. It's rather intense, so much so that Yes Dear refuses to watch it at night.

Law & Order (NBC) - When I go to buy ice cream, there are a lot of different flavors. Some are really good, some are not so good, and then there's chocolate. It's good, you know what you're getting. There may be better flavors out there (in fact, there are), but sometimes you just want a couple scoops of chocolate. Law & Order is chocolate ice cream.

The Daily Show (Comedy Central) - Jon Stewart could break into my apartment, spit on my dog, steal my Wii and insult every member of my family and kick me in the gonads repeatedly before taking my wife and I'd still watch his show every night (granted, with an ice pack on my groin).

The Five Best Bon Jovi Songs of All Time (In no particular order)
Living on a Prayer
You Give Love a Bad Name
Bad Medicine
One Wild Night
It's My Life

Five Places I Want to Visit In North Carolina
Cape Hatteras - Yes I live near the beach, that doesn't mean I don't want to see other beaches.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Seems like it'd be a nice weekend trip to the mountains.

A Durham Bulls minor league baseball game - The nearest Major League teams to me are the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, both of which are six hours away. For two less hours, I can go see a team that's likely as good as the Nationals.

Cameron Indoor Stadium/Dean Dome - I'm not a college basketball fan, but these are two areas (along with Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. and Fog Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas) that I'd love to see a game in.

Moore's Creek National Battlefield - It's 20 miles from me, so I should be able to knock this one out fairly easily. Then again, I've been saying that for 10 months now, and here we are.

Monday, April 12, 2010

White Wedding 5 - It over. It's all over

For roughly 80 hours from Thursday to Sunday, I got to experience a Hindu wedding. From the Garba and religious ceremony/party on Thursday to the reception early into Sunday morning. We laughed, we cried, inappropriate jokes were shared between me and my brother. Dances were danced, songs were sung, rings were exchanged, drinks were consumed and at some point, my brother and sister-in-law became married. For a more in depth recap of the week's events, start here, then proceed to here, here, here and finally here.

Rather than rehash everything again, this post is about what I've learned. So, in no particular order, here's an incomplete list of what I gathered.

The line between religious ceremony and party is not overly clear in some Hindu rituals.

My family exemplifies the fact that white people have no rhythm.

Practitioners of the Hindu faith are extremely friendly.

Practitioners of the Hindu faith know how to throw a party.

Irish Catholics and Hindus together throw really fun parties together.

I don't have the attention span to sit through an entire Hindu wedding.

Indian food is spicy, but good.

I really, really, really can't dance. (Go to the 1:05 mark to see me dancing.)

Thriller is fun and funny in any culture.

Apparently white people look good in Indian clothes (that or our new Indian friends are very polite and had no trouble lying to us.)

The sweet tea at Smoke on the Water in Greenville is fantastic. The unsweet tea at the hotel is whatever you consider the opposite of fantastic.

GPS devices should incorporate music into their directions (Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' when you need to make a U-turn, 'Irreplaceable' by Beyonce when you're supposed to turn left.) It's 2010, why isn't this a standard feature yet?

Making my mom cry is fairly easy at weddings. Predicting the number of times she'll cry in a given hour is a bit more difficult.

Kids who don't like large crowds should not attend a baraat (though my kid did fine until I brought him into the middle of the circle to dance, he looked around for about two minutes and then realized 'holy crap, dad, wtf are you doing to me? Get me out of here.')

Alright friends, it's been a long weekend, thanks to everyone for reading. If you enjoyed it, tell your friends. Thank you, come again.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

White Wedding - hey, it's an actual wedding ceremony (Part 4 of 5)

If you've missed any of the adventures so far, find part one here, part two here, part three here and a bonus post here.  Also, please note that this will likely be fairly lengthy, so it won't hurt my feelings if you skip a bit. It'll hurt my pride, but not my feelings.

When we last left our heroes, the wedding had been delayed for unknown reasons (ok, I know them, but unfortunately I've been asked not to share the reason - especially on the interwebs, but I can tell you it was nothing fun, serious or even interesting). This gave us extra time to wear our Indian clothes (women wear what is called a sari while men wear a Sherwani) which was nice since the odds are I'll never wear them again. Ok, that's not completely true, I plan on wearing it to any Halloween party I'm invited to from now until I die.

For those of you not familiar with Hindu weddings (and I'm going to assume that's most of you), traditionally they are arranged marriages. So on the wedding day, the groom's family and friends would parade from his town/village to his bride's town/village with drumming, dancing, singing. This is known as the baraat and to be honest, I didn't really have high expectations for this. You see, our extended family is a bunch of rhythmically-challenged white people who exemplify the stereotype of white people not being able to dance. 

What I didn't know is that there to assist us would be a relative of the bride who had his wedding on TLC's Extreme Weddings who was going to guide us. A high school friend of mine also played the traditional drum of the ceremony (he told us earlier that day that he wasn't as technically proficient as the professionals he'd been watching on youtube the past month, which came as a shock to all of us. We figured a month was plenty of time to master a technique that others have devoted years to learning.) Obviously we didn't march to another town, but instead were just marching around the side of the hotel to the pavilion where the bride's family would be waiting to greet us.

Once we all gathered outside, the drumming started and the dancing started and no matter how hard I tried, there was no way to avoid having to dance. Many of the Indian women came and grabbed me and my brother and brought us to the circle where my brother and others were doing what can only be described as very bad dancing. However, the energy and enthusiasm was so infectious that eventually I got over my self-consciousness and got into the dancing. I wish I'd taken the time, however, to look at the guests at the hotel who were checking in when there were about 80 people dancing and chanting to Indian drumming. I'm fairly certain that wasn't the scene they expected when they booked their room.

So we proceed to making our way towards the pavilion where the ceremony was to take place. Now what my brother didn't know is that shortly after my mother learned about the baraat is that she emailed everyone who was going to be there and asked them to learn Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' to perform as we got close to arriving. So we get to about 50 yards away from the bride's family greeting us and all of a sudden, the bass notes of Thriller start playing over the speakers. Slowly, the chaotic mass of people turns into a slightly less chaotic mess of people who have all started poorly performing the dance. My brother, who was leading the parade, had no idea what was happening behind him until someone told him to turn around where he saw all his friends and family desecrating a dance. (We later learned that the Bride's friends and family LOVED seeing us do that and it meant a lot to them that we'd gotten so involved in their traditions, so that was cool.)

After finally arriving at the pavilion, there was some sort of ceremony were my brother was welcomed (I'm going to be completely honest, even though the priest explained everything that was happening and what it meant, I don't remember most of the details.) At some point, he had to take his shoes off and Official Brother and I were supposed to guard the shoes from the Bride's cousins who were supposed to try to steal them. You can probably guess by the fact that I said we were SUPPOSED to do that as to how that went. (The end of the ceremony, he has to pay to get his shoes back . . . they ended up costing him $100.)

We neglected that aspect of the ceremony for two reasons . . . first, we didn't realize it'd happened already, and second, we were concerned about holding a sheet in front of my brother to keep him from seeing his bride. We had no idea when this was to take place in the ceremony, and we were terrified of ruining the wedding but screwing that up. Fortunatley, they made it abundantly clear when we were supposed to begin holding the sheet and the priest said with some dramatic flair "Drop the Sheet!" to let us know our job was done.

What we didn't realize is that after we'd done that (about 20 minutes into the wedding) it would be another two hours before it was finally over. Fortunately, my son was there and every now and again, he'd wander off to play in the grass or explore the bushes, so I could go follow him and not feel too bad about not paying attention. As it turns out, a lot of people (from both families) wound up leaving before it was over, which is acceptable. And I guess if I'd traveled to a different village and walked a few miles or more, I'd want more than a 15 minute ceremony. 

There were a lot of symbolic gestures involved, but the most bizarre to me was how they managed to continue the tradition of the bride's family giving the groom's family a cow. Instead of getting a live cow (which I would have loved to have seen, mostly for trying to see my mom get a cow back to Georgia), they got a miniature silver cow. I'm dying to know where that's going in the house.

At some point, the bride and groom walked around a sacred fire four times while family and friends showered them with flower petals (or you hit the bride in the face with the flowers . . . you know, either way). Again, I'm sure this symbolized something, but at this point, all it meant to me was that it was another something I didn't totally understand that meant lunch had to continue to wait.

Eventually, the wedding ended (though my brother swears he heard the priest say two or three times that whatever they'd just finished doing concluded the ceremony, only to have it to keep going) and we got to go enjoy some Indian food for lunch. It was a bit on the spicy side, but it was pretty good. It's not something I'd ask Yes Dear to make, but if we're ever invited to another Indian wedding, I'll look forward to the cuisine. However, if you want to know more and have a few hours to spare, I'm sure you can youtube a ceremony. It honestly was interesting

After (a very late) lunch and pictures, we went to catch the end of the third round of The Masters before heading back downstairs for the reception, which was a fantastic time. Among other reasons for being so fun, I can now say that I've danced with a woman who had her wedding shown on TLC. (I'm not allowed to add that to my bucket list after it's already happened, am I?) After a few too many rum and cokes, my brother and I got into a discussion about the two female bartenders working in opposite corners of the reception hall. The hot one poured less alcohol in the drinks she served, but she was substantially hotter than the more liberal pouring bartender. We'd just witnessed a Hindu wedding no more than six hours before this, but this topic was the one that needed our attention that night. (Our verdict, go with the less attractive bartender . . . you're never going to see them again . . . .  well, that and I'm married and he's engaged.)

Note: Tomorrow I'm hoping to write an overall wrap up with my observations from the weekend.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ironic rain on the wedding day

 The wedding started late for an undisclosed reason. The following is a list of reason's why we think it started late. (Note: These were written hastily this morning after we realized there would be a delay. Expect a full recap of the actual ceremony and reception tonight. If you're late to the party and want to start that beginning, you can find part one here, part two here and part three here.

Dan stole Rachana’s shoes

Rachana took too much Ambien, crashed her car into a tree, Dan rescued her with a three wood.

The priest didn’t show up.

Brunch at Hooters ran later than expected.

Rachana forgot her dress

Dan has second thoughts

Rachana had 17th thoughts

Dan was late b/c he couldn’t find his ball on the 18th hole

Master’s Coverage was on.

SportsCenter was on.

The debate regarding sandals and flip-flops turned physical

Rachana wanted new henna

There was rain on his wedding day, which was ironic, don’t you think.

They changed their mind and decided on a Christian wedding

Rachana found out Dan’s 1/64th black

They finally executed the arrest warrant for Dan’s outstanding jaywalking citation.

Incriminating photos of Dan surfaced with three of Tiger’s mistresses

Incriminating photos of Rachana suffered of her with Tiger and Jesse James is a freaky three-way.

The drummer forgot the drum.

It’s a tradition unlike any other to start weddings late.

Rachana’s brother asked ‘where the white women at?’ offending some of the white women.

Rachana really wanted to go to the Greenville Zoo after seeing photos of a Tiger.

Dan and Rachana kidnapped my son and held him for ransom.

Rachana wanted to give Dan another chance to run.

The groom got excited, did a stage dive from the fifth floor, breaking his leg.

The groom got tired of waiting, jumped from the fifth floor, breaking his leg.

White Wedding (Part 3 of . . . let's say 5)

For those of you just joining us, feel free to catch up on parts one and two. Just set your Internet DVR and this post will be waiting for you when you're ready.

After a Thursday night of revelry, drinking, dancing, drinking, eating, drinking and more drinking that ended with a midnight run to McDonald's, I was woken up to the dulcet tones of a toddler crying at 5:45 a.m. Fortunately, Yes Dear woke up and took care of him (she'd gone to bed at a more reasonable hour the night before - you know, like a responsible adult) and let me sleep to the crazy late hour of 6:30 a.m..

After taking our time to get ready, the three of us, plus Official Brother and Official Fiance (Note: These are not the two getting married on Saturday, this is the other brother and his soon-to-be bride. However, it appears they're going to have a 'normal' wedding, so there won't be nightly updates about their wedding week . . . unless I'm REALLY bored then)  departed from Greenwood to make the 45 mile trip to Greenville, SC (home of the hated Furman Paladins) where we were took the little guy (Note2: I need to come up with the official name for him in this blog) to the Greenville Zoo. If you've never taken a 17-month old to the zoo for the first time, it's an experience I highly recommend. It's even more fun if you can see exotic animals and then have your sibling turn to you and say "The weird part is this isn't the most exotic thing we'll see all weekend." This usually works best if you're going to a wedding or some other ceremony of a culture completely foreign to you. We did get to pet a goat while we were there, because, you know, there's nowhere in the south you could go to pet a goat, unless you go 15 miles in any direction outside of any city in the region.

We then arrived to the hotel where the remainder of the weekend's events will be taking place. After a few hours of greeting family I hadn't seen in roughly 14 months, a few of us went out for a late lunch at a local barbecue joint (I feel like Spike Lee when I call something a 'joint.' Well, I also feel like a marijuana user. I'm not sure which is worse.) By the time we finally got lunch, we were starving. I did enjoy some of the finest sweet tea that God has graced this fine planet with.

(Unrelated tangent: When I moved from Georgia to North Carolina, I wasn't expecting a huge cultural change. They were both southern states and while North Carolina may be a bit more progressive than it's neighbor to the south, but overall, I wasn't expecting a drastic change. However, one of the first things we learned was when you're out at a restaurant, ordering 'tea' doesn't automatically mean you're getting sweet tea. The look of disbelief on my face when asked 'do you want that sweetened or unsweetened' is the same as it will be when (if) the Cubs ever win the World Series. The idea that a city in the south wouldn't automatically offer sweet tea scares me. I don't know what's real in this world anymore. My son is going to grow up thinking unsweetened tea is a legitimate option for a beverage choice.)

Anyway, after getting our meals (I got pulled pork with a couple sides) we chowed down. As we were winding down, my soon-to-be sister-in-law turned to me and said "I'm eyeing your meat," which was incredibly blunt considering my wife and her fiance were both sitting right there. As it turns out, she was referring to my lunch, which didn't make it any less awkward.

During 'normal' weddings, the night before the wedding is reserved for the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. However, there's none of that in a Hindu wedding. So instead there was a cocktail party for about 250 of the bride-and-groom-to-be's closest friends and family. After about two hours of mingling, the main event of the night was eight of their friends and family telling stories about them - how they met, what their friendship means to them, all that crap that's usually encapsulated in the Best Man's toast. In our efforts to make charming, heartfelt comments about a couple on the eve of their wedding day an excuse for cheap laughs and a good time for us, Official Brother and I turned each speech into our own Mystery Science Theater 3000 where we'd crack wise on whatever each person was talking about.

Also, being the caring, considerate and compassionate son's we are, we set the over/under for the number of times my mother would cry during the speeches (and 13-minute video she put together) at 13.5. I took the over while Official Brother took the under. I felt pretty good about my chances of prevailing when, after three speakers, we were up to eight different instances of crying. But alas, it wasn't meant to be as my mom pulled herself together and topped out at 10 total times crying during the hour-long portion of the evening. (No, I don't think I have a gambling problem, why do you ask?)

Apu quote of the night: Never before have I seen such abuse of the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny tray.

Saturday's Schedule: Actual wedding ceremony begins at roughly 11:30 a.m.
Reception: 7 p.m.
Irrelevant YouTube clip: Benny Lava
Blog post expected: roughly midnightish -  assuming all goes well.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

White Wedding (Part 2 of more than 2)

If you missed part one, find it here.

I never had the pleasure/disappointment of going on a blind date. Apparently none of my friends ever thought to themselves "you know who would be perfect for Luke, this girl." Ok, maybe they thought it, but they never bothered to put any of those thoughts into action. So if you're reading this and you thought that at one point, thanks for nothing, jerks.

However, from what I understand, there is pretty much one of two ways it can go. Either you really enjoy yourself and find yourself clicking with what was until earlier in the night a complete stranger, or you're looking at your watch and answering text messages during dinner and finding any excuse possible to end the date before whatever activity you'd planned commences.

That was kind of how I looked at going to my brother's Hindu wedding. I didn't know what to expect, but I figured it was either going to be lots of fun, or I was going to find myself saying "I need to go check on my son" a lot during the night. Fortunately for me, it was the former and not the latter. With that said, let's begin the recap, going Brent Musburger style.

"You are looking live" at the blog I wrote while the Thursday night party was still raging. One of the drawbacks to having a kid who goes to bed early is that either myself or my wife has to spend time in the hotel room with him while he sleeps while the other, to quote our favorite Hindu character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, "parties like it's on sale for $19.99." 

Fortunately for us, the little guy decided to stay up late, so we both got to see the beginnings of the party. Now to be completely honest, I'm not sure if what I saw tonight was a party or a religious ceremony, or both. We (by which I mean myself, Yes Dear, my kid, my parents and grandmother) were the only non-Indian people in attendance, which had its drawbacks, but also meant we could pretty much do whatever we wanted and then say "I'm sorry, I didn't know."

Anyway, the event kicked off around 6:15 with what is apparently called a Garba. Basically all the women do different kinds of dances in a circle. It's possible this symbolizes something. It's possible it's an excuse for the guys to gawk at the women (the majority of whom were wearing Saris.) (My wife's coworker wanted to come to the wedding because, as he said, "there will be lots of hot Indian women in Saris.") Either way, they danced, and danced, and danced. Now I'm no expert on Hindu weddings, but I'm assuming the dancing is the equivalent of what would happen if the Irish did the Riverdance prior to a wedding ceremony.

The dancing continued for roughly two hours before dinner was served. I'd been warned by both my brother and mother that the food is very spicy and that, odds were, I wouldn't like it. Because of that, we stopped at Zaxby's before we got to the event. There was a vast array of different types of food there that looked really good. However, a few bites of most of it left me longing for the non-spicy food of my unrefined palate. 

As I was leaving to take my shift with the little guy, one of my brother's soon-to-be relatives asked me if I was going to dance. I politely informed her that I hadn't had enough to drink yet and she told me I'd better drink up, because after dinner was what is known as the dandia raas, which is some form of dance involving involving the sticks you learned to keep rhythm with when you were in third grade. I'm assuming that's going on as I write this. I'm watching the end of the Cubs first win of 2010. On the plus side, I did drink up in preparation for writing this blog.

More to come tomorrow night as we move to Greenville, S.C. for night three or four (I'm not sure how long this goes, but it's a lot longer than a rehearsal dinner and a wedding ceremony/reception.) Be sure to tune in tomorrow night for more riveting coverage of Hindu Wedding 2010 - This Time It's Personal.

And as always, "thank you, come again."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's a nice day for a . . . white wedding (part 1 of some undetermined number)

Beginning Thursday, I'll be in South Carolina for a three-day wedding extravaganza for my brother and soon to be sister-in-law. It's going to be an experience as it's essentially a Hindu wedding, which as you might expect, will be the first of those I've ever attended. Most of the weddings I've attended have been traditional church weddings with bridesmaids in ugly matching dresses that all of them hate, groomsmen in tuxes that they tolerate for a chance to hit on the bridesmaids and a pastor that gets left at the alter when everyone recesses at the end of the (hopefully) 25-minute ceremony.

Needless to say, this will not be one of those weddings. Instead, it's turned into a three-day ordeal in which I honestly don't have a clue what's going on for any of it. The actual ceremony is set Saturday, but there's something Thursday night, and another Friday night. I don't really know what to expect. The only thing I'm reasonably confident in is that there won't be any hamburgers or steak all weekend. Oh, and I get to wear Indian clothes (the subcontinent kind, not the native American kind). Don't worry, there will be pictures.

I'm going to do my best to recap each day's events with the irreverence you've come to expect here at ExpectingTheSpanishInquisition. Some holds will be barred out of fear of insulting a culture I know nothing about (other than the lack of bovine-based food products and what I've learned from Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons.)

Note: I'm hoping to be able to write something each night. They likely won't be long and I'll strive for a longer recap sometime next week. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Soda, blondes and hugs

My wife works at university gym. She has a Bachelors and Masters degree in Exercise Science. I think she has a minor in nutrition. I turn to her for advice when it come to injuries on my fantasy sports teams. (She told me to avoid Tom Brady the season after his ACL injury and not to worry about Albert Pujols the one season people were worried about whatever injury he had regarding his elbow.) She's run a half-marathon and mentioned today she's thinking about doing another one. She's much like Fergie (the singer, not the British Duchess of York) in that she's constantly 'working on her fitness.'

So when she told me this morning that I should go to the grocery store to take advantage (again) of their Buy 2, Get 3 Free offer on 12-packs of a particular carbonated cola. This is good news for me because, as you might have guessed from the first paragraph, my wife doesn't drink a lot these types of beverages. As you might also guess, my 17-month old son also does not drink any of these types of beverages, meaning of the 60 cans of cola, I'll likely consume about 45-50 of them over the next few weeks.

So I made the short trek to the store to grab up a my carbonated sugar water and make it out of there. I found a short line with a reasonably attractive blonde in front of me who was just about done with the check out process. (To be clear, I don't ALWAYS choose which line to stand in based on the attractiveness of the people I'd be standing behind . . . sometimes my wife's with me.) Just as she (the blonde, not my wife) finished paying and I started to move up, she stopped me. Thinking it would be odd for a woman I just met to stop me after seeing me for mere moments was flattering. I mean, I'm happily married, but come one, a little attention never hurt anyone's ego.

But alas, she wasn't concerned with me. She wanted to give the cashier a hug and wish her a happy Easter.Yes, you read that right. She wanted to walk around the counter and give her cashier a hug. I generally try to be polite to people serving me. I never 'order' food at a restaurant, but always ask 'can I have ?' I make sure to say thank you each time my glass is refilled. I'm more than happy to make small talk with the UPS guy when he stops by my apartment for the third time in two weeks with another shirt that my mom ordered for my kid. But not once have I ever had the desire to hug my cashier or my waitress. (Ok, you're right, there were some times I wanted to hug my waitress, but only the hot ones, not the older ones.)

As the blonde was leaving, she told me two things. First, she said 'You don't have to hug her, that's not part of the check out process.' Then she said 'She is the sweetest woman in the world.' I couldn't help but wonder two things. First, can I get a hug too? Second, that's a really good cashier to garner that kind of devotion for someone you may see once a week.

When I did get to finally check out, I did find Margarete to be incredibly sweet. She asked why I was buying so much soda, encouraged me to have a happy Easter and smiled the whole time. I, in turn, wished her a great weekend. But alas, I did not hug her. Maybe next time.