It was a fine spring day. It was a glorious day.
The birds sang. The bees buzzed around, pouring honey on each other's bodies and licking it off.
On May 31, 2002, my dear buddy, Bill "Pancho" Wolbrink and Corinne got married, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Corinne recounted to us how, when she'd first met "Pancho" seven years ago, she'd thought to herself: "What a dork."
But, smooth-faced, big Pancho has this great, fun joking-around-ness to him. In the end, Corinne couldn't resist. She has one of the best laughters I know - like a barking beagle puppy rolling around in a sunny field of daisies, trying to eat the daisies. As you can see, they were practically made for each other.
I played "Pancho's Friend 6" in the wedding. It was an important part. I mean, we all really loved Pancho. We six groomsmen looked up the concrete steps at this big, old church. Loveable Pancho had on a black tuxedo and a bright white, very visible vest. Blond Corinne looked as pretty as a tail-wagging beagle puppy on a trampoline, with her hair tucked up and a glossy white dress making her lovely. They said their vows and kissed. Woohoo!
Yeah, man. Pancho and Corinne walked out, proud man and wife.
The groomsmen and the bridesmaids and I watched out proudly, happily.
Then came my modest part. I had to walk out of there. Unfortunately, there were only five bridesmaids who needed escorts from the large church, and I was the sixth groomsman. It didn't take a mathematician to see that I was fat out of luck.
Now, for some wedding functions, "Pancho's Friend 5" played by Jason R. Fox, and I would share "Corinne's Girl 5", Traci Wolbrink, but that was no fun. Sharing her, I mean. Traci Wolbrink was actually a lot of fun; she'd gone sledding with me years ago for the winter-wondrous "Date of the Week" XVII. Jason and I wanted her all to ourselves.
Jason won the first round; he got to escort Traci out. I walked out of the church there with "Cute Flower Girl", played by a blond three-year-old. By "walked out of there," I mean to say that the cute flower girl took six steps in my direction, saw me and my tall height and long hair and periwinkle vest and realized I terrified her, and froze in the middle of the church like a fly on a windshield.
Tarzan in a tux, I resembled to her. She wouldn't come near me, and so I embarrassingly walked down the aisle alone.
No big deal, of course. This just meant I got to be the first one, outside the church, to congratulate the big man, Pancho. Way to go, you guys! You're awesome.
Jason and Traci would soon walk out, hug the bride and groom. Jason joked to me, "You should've run up, grabbed the flower girl, and held her to your shoulder and run out of the church!"
Everybody took off from the church pretty soon. Pancho and Corinne, as well as the bridesmaids and groomsmen, took off in the backs of antique cars rented for the occasion. Groomsmen rode with bridesmaids. Except for "Pancho's Friend 6" and "Pancho's Friend 5." We'd both lost the coveted Traci sweepstakes on this one. Her German boyfriend, Marton, had won actually. Darn Germans! ... Traci rode with Marton, and I rode with Jason.
I loved the ride, since: 1. We were in the cool, vinyl backseat of an old, shiny red car with a grill, and 2. Although Jason is a sometimes weasely little guy, he's loads of fun and one of my best friends. The car's two older owners drove us around, and Jason and I tried to make conversation.
The old car ambled slowly. The old couple spoke with a slowness and dullness that I'd never seen in live bodies before. Jason and I spoke with a lot of young vigor, but we couldn't inject any into them.
I was excited by how the car called to mind the "Good, Old Days." I asked, "How did you guys meet?"
"well ..." said the wife. "i used to work in a bank, and he used to come in."
"Oh, yeah?" said Jason. "Did he used to hit on you?"
She rested three seconds before saying, "no. ... he went to the army. then, after some time, he came back, and I was still working ..."
Her story didn't ever get exciting. So, Jason tried telling them about ourselves - of how I had just got back from South America, or how I planned to travel and write around the world. "have you been to Europe?" was all they had to say about that, and I doubt they listened to my response.
The old man continued ambling along, with his hands placidly on the 10 o'clock/2 o'clock steering wheel positions. I learned that they lived on Grand Rapids' northeast side. "Do you guys go to Townsend Park much?" I asked, excited in my tux.
"well ..." the guy paused, bored. "our daughter got married there three weeks ago."
Man. These guys didn't show emotion for anything. It was like talking to trees. We later got out of them the information that their son-in-law worked in a national park in Montana.
Hot dog! I would've thought if we would've been around in the fifties. Or: "Oh boy, geez, wow!"
One of my greatest stories ever had taken place at this national park, and I was excited to tell it. It had become a challenge of Jason and I to try to get an actual reaction out of these old people. I began:
"One time, my family and I were in Glacier National Park." This was the story of when my brother and I got chased by the moose. "... and just when we were about to get a great picture, the moose ran after us, like he was crazy, he just wanted to stomp us!"
Nothing from the old people. No reaction.
I continued. "We were with these two motorcyclists. Well, one cyclist and his 'motorcycle momma.' And we went back, this time within five feet, and that crazy moose ran after us again! Trying to stomp! us, 'cuz, you know, that's what moose do."
No reaction from the old people. Jason, though, was curled up in his corner in hysterics.
I continued exaggeratedly. "... so the moose was running after us, trying like hell to stomp!!! the bejesus out of us, 'cuz, you know, that's what moose do, and the motorcyclist yelled out, "Run like hell! It ain't Bullwinkle!" I'd yelled, "stomp!!!" so loud I thought they'd jump out of the car. But, the whole darn story got no reaction.
Boy, were Jason and I happy to see Pancho and Corinne and get out at the reception hall.
Pancho and Corinne, and we bridesmaids and groomsmen, were introduced upon entering into the reception hall. Jason and I walked in each holding Traci on one arm. She was like Madonna, except that Traci's dress (purple, glossy, and shoulder-less) was classy. As we walked through some tables, though, I managed to shake Jason loose off her left side, and only I arrived to the front table arm-in-arm with Traci. Ha, ha, I'd won the Traci battle there.
At the head table, a slight problem arose. The head table was placed with one chair too few, and Jason and I stood eyeing the final spot. We stopped an important-looking hall director with a stupid-looking headset on. We pointed out the problem.
The guy counted all the place settings and counted all the groomsmen. He mulled it over in his head. He was apparently no mathematician. He was just some stupid guy in a headset. He shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, I can't just make a place setting appear out of magic!"
Heck of a response. He said one of us was going to have to go find a seat at one of the other tables. Jason lowered his head and walked away.
Man, I felt terrible. "Pancho's Friend 1" gave his nice best man speech, but I worried about poor "Pancho's Friend 5" the whole time. As soon as I got the chance, I told everybody at the head table to squeeze down so we could fit in a chair for Jason.
Most of the table didn't scoot down, meaning that Jason and I had to practically share one spot at the table. But, it sure felt happy to have Jason up there by Pancho and me. A scared-kid-type relief shown on Jason's white face. He and I didn't always get along. But, on this day, we shared our piece of bread, our glass of champagne, even our napkin.
And we made fun of that stupid guy in the headset. We called him "David Copperfield." Jason wiggled his fingers in the air and remarked on how I'd "worked magic."
We enjoyed our dinner. Afterwards, Jason enjoyed his Long Island Iced Teas while I enjoyed some rum and cokes. We began thinking we had some funny stories, so we went out telling everybody.
We told eeeeeverybody. Once we decided you were next to hear the "Well, I can't just make a place setting appear out of magic!" story, it didn't matter if you were already in a conversation. We were going to interrupt you, because you had to hear this one! We took turns telling the best parts. Jason wiggled his fingers in the air to demonstrate how I'd "magically" got a place setting for him off the nearest table. I boasted, "I pulled a rabbit out of a hat! I turned a dove into a deck of cards!"
During one rare moment in the night, I found myself mingling with someone other than Jason. Just then, the dj announced that there'd pass a slow dance for the people in the wedding party.
Jason's and my ears immediately perked up. We knew what this meant. Oh, god, where was Traci, our shared bridesmaid, "Corinne's Girl 5?" Hot dog! I'd lucked out. She was standing right by me. Smiling big, I took her hand in mine towards the dance floor. Jason came running at us from the other side of the room, dodging white tablecloths, Long Island Iced Tea in hand, shouting, "Hey, hey, hey! Not so fast there!"
"Wait a minute!" Somehow, Jason managed to grab Traci's other hand and steal her way from me. Rats! They danced on the floor and I was bridesmaid-less. I went and asked the cute, little flower girl to be my partner, for a joke. She buried her head in her hands. I was like Frankenstein to her.
But, I would fight on to win this Traci battle yet! Jason's funny wife, Michelle, came up and invited me to dance during this song. Jason saw us, said, "Hey!" and traded me his bridesmaid for his wife. The funny thing is, though, that once Jason and his wife were dancing, she took off and left him all alone on the dance floor. I still had my Traci. I'd laughed last.
Not "last" really. Because, Jason and I still had our stories to go tell. We added to our repertoire the story of the dead-dull antique drivers. Traditionally, we would go sit at a table, "Oh, boy, you gotta hear this one!" tell the story to the person on Jason's right, "Oh, boy, you gotta hear this one!" tell the story to the person on his right, "Oh, boy, you gotta hear this one!" and tell the story to the person on his right.
By the time we finished, the person on Jason's right would've heard the story being told five or six times. We just drank more and more. And we got louder and louder, forcing all around to listen to us. By the end, I was saying, "... and the fricken'! moose tried to stomp!!!!! us!" so loud silverwear practically flew off the tables.
Our worst moment came when we decided to share our turns at being interviewed for a Pancho and Corinne wedding video diary. "First, I would just like to thank (Pancho) and Corinne for having an open bar," Jason started us off on-camera. The interview went downhill from there.
The night wore down. Finally, some salsa and merengue music passed on the speakers. Yeah! Traci and I had been waiting for this all night. She'd just recently returned from a trip to South America herself, and we danced really well together.
This means, of course, that I ultimately won the "Corinne's Friend 5" sweepstakes, and not Jason. Yes!!! But, that darn German boyfriend was watching Traci and I like a hawk, so it was only a friendly sweepstakes. Darn Germans.
The greatest sweepstakes of them all was won on the night by Pancho and Corinne. They got married. And, they had an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico leaving the next day ... the expenses had been paid by them. It was their honeymoon.
And that beats a stupid moose story any day.
Way to go, Pancho and Corinne! "Pancho's Friend 6" is here for you when you need me. Have lots of fun!
Yeah - Modern Oddyseus
"You look wonderful tonight." - Eric Clapton (Pancho and Corinne's song)