Of all the hardcore: Our friends got married on the beach in Duluth on December 30. That takes 40 pound nuts and an appreciation of Mukluks as formalwear. A big bonfire. It means saying, "You think you know Duluth? I'll show you Duluth." It. Was. Awesome. The bride wore a fur shrug over her strapless dress. There must have been thick-soled boots under that subtle puff of skirt. A friend crocheted white gloves for her. Geo Grrl made an 8-minute walk on the beach from a B&B on the shore, across a mixture of sand and snow, on the arm of her uncle, a former professional wrestler. The ring bearer was on a leash in front of them, escorted by a cousin and the maid of honor. The officiant wore a stocking cap. So did the groom, until seconds before the ceremony. Chuck, the best man, had a boutonniere pinned to his wool coat and he regretted wearing dress shoes instead of boots.
When I slid my car into the parking lot, a wedding guest was lacing up knee-high boots over his snow pants. The boys had built a big fire and everyone gathered around it to watch the bride make her walk and listen to a folk duo sing along to an acoustic guitar. It wasn't too cold -- about 30 degrees -- the waves on Lake Superior about shin deep and everything was pretty grey, more of a fragile color than a dour colorless color.
The photographer split the crotch of his pants during his first plie of the day, back when he was shooting the pre-game. When he stood a certain way you could see a flash of red underwear, but only if you were looking for it.
If you got a little choked up over the perfectness, it would be hard to tell if those were tear-tears or the wetness that involuntarily leeches from ducts in the winter.
The reception was at Norway Hall, a recently re-decorated venue the local Norwegians buffed up with warm hues for a visit from Norway's royal family. We ate barbeque ribs and salmon on a bed of dressing and the bride and groom sat in thrones and drank from mason jar shaped goblets. According to wedding day lore, the bride's bouquet had been kept in the venue's refrigerator overnight and ended up smelling like the leftovers from a lutefisk feed.
The wine flowed like wine and the beer flowed like wine and a local rockabilly band took requests. I saw a teenaged kid do a legitimate moon walk. It was pretty impressive. Chuck gave a great speech, short, funny and sweet about the time about seven years ago when he asked The Great Archivist, his oldest friend, about his plans for the night. "I'm hanging out with my girlfriend who I love very much and am going to spend the rest of my life with," he'd answered. The Great Archivist didn't remember he had said that.
Mod Podge and Me
Did the wheels fall off at the reception, or was it later when we collected a small group of people and went to a douche-y college bar just because Chuck had about $70 in gift cards? We stood around a table; Chuck made it rain. Hot Rod would stop random bar patrons and say:
"Yeah, we'll take another round of drinks."
"Another round," he'd say.
"We don't work here," they would tell him.
"Yeah, one more round."
Until it seemed like this was going to end in injury, this fantastic bar trick.
JCrew and Knifey
Then we stumbled down the block to a better bar. I hung back with my friend Knifey and we sang the hit single "Whiskey, Cigarettes and Country Music" from his 2010 album. I mis-sung the lyrics in a way that Knifey found preferable, or so he said. What if he officially changed them and then he mentioned me during an awards ceremony!
Also: from the annals of Knifey-advice: Don't buy a pink ukulele. A pink ukulele is a toy. Buy a real ukulele and paint it pink.
I have no idea what happened at Pizza Luce. Every one in town was either wasted-wasted (on booze) or sugar-wasted on wedding cupcakes (Chuck). What a shitshow. I got to see my friend CHRISSIE! But first I hugged another woman with blonde hair in a fit of wine-blindness.
I felt fine on New Year's Eve day. A little cloudy. A little bloated and puffy. My tongue tasted like it had been soaking overnight in a mason jar filled with sweet white wine. We had plans to go tubing, maybe dinner, perhaps a movie. A straight-edge New Year's Eve. I hopped out of bed and immediately begin firing off text messages to the principals. Then, suddenly, hangover. Epic hangover.
Chuck and I spent New Year's Eve holed up on the couch watching "Portlandia," a shitty horror movie, "I Love you Phillip Morris." In and out of almost-sleep, pizza and Coke. A marathon of "House Hunters" that caused Chuck to proclaim "I hate white people."
He passed out during "Ghostbusters 2" while I summed up a years-worth of my favorite books for future publication on the Internet. He set his alarm for midnight and woke up just long enough to suck face and then drop back into where he left off with his coma.
Brunch with CHRISSIE! Then Chuck and I went to "J. Edgar."
CHRISSIE! and I planned to go see "New Year's Eve." I found her at RT Quinlan's with her mitt wrapped around a PBR tall boy.
"Oh, you came," she said. Stood up, moved toward the door. Set her PBR on top of the phone booth and walked out the door. "That will still be here when I get back."
"Are you going to tell QT (her husband) that you're leaving?" I asked her.
"Nah," she said. "He won't notice."
The movie was brutal. Every time a big name actor cropped up on the screen, CHRISSIE! groaned as though she was physically pained.
"Oh no, her?" (Katherine Heigl)
"Ugh." (Sarah Jessica Parker)
"WHAT?!" (Robert De Niro)
"What the hell is wrong with her face? Why does she look like that?" (Michelle Pfeiffer)
"Take it all off!" (Ashton Kutcher)
"Is that John Mellencamp or Jon Bon Jovi?" (Jon Bon Jovi)
"There are like five Academy Award winners in this movie. WHAT ARE THEY DOING? (Halle Berry)
"Oh I hate her" (Hillary Swank)
This went on and on and proved to be far better than the movie. When two characters get trapped in an elevator early in the show, she made a noise like menstrual cramps and slunk lower in her seat.
"Is that the girl from 'Little Miss Sunshine?'"
After an hour of not-funny, cliche bullshit I googled "How Long is the Movie New Year's Eve" only to find that we were in for another solid hour of non-entertainment.
"I'd rather just stare at a blank screen than watch this," I told her.
So we left.