Nobody Cares

Summer has gotten a little busy on me. Those beers aren’t going to drink themselves, you know. I am surprised by the number of people who have actually taken some time to read these, um, stories. So, thank you if you are reading this… it is nice to know that I am not just writing for myself and that when I do put a book together (notice I said when, not if), that maybe a few people would be interested in reading. Thank you again.

This might get a little mushy and sensitive and you may not be interested in that type of story today… you have been warned.

Early, June 28, 2008. When I say early, I mean 1 AM. First, let me fill you in on what was happening preceding this day…

When Jenni and I first got engaged we had the opportunity to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Orpheum in downtown Minneapolis. And, as fate would have it, the majority of his show was about being engaged and wedding plans. One thing he said that I swore I would remember (I don’t think my fiance made the same oath) is, “when you are engaged you think your wedding is the most important event in the world but, in reality, nobody else cares.”

While I did remember this advice, I didn’t really apply this knowledge in a useful way and found myself getting wrapped up in a few of the details and began to worry about them obsessively (as I do about everything). There were three things that I worried about and thought about until I was on the verge of insanity.

1. Who my groomsmen would be… Important to me, nobody else cares.

2. Wedding cake. For whatever the reason having a wedding cake was important me… nobody else cares.

3. Weather… we’ll get to that.

Without getting into details, I wasn’t allowed what I wanted. Looking back, I don’t even understand why I cared so deeply about these things but they were a constant source of stress. For the record, I think our wedding was the best wedding I have ever been to and wouldn’t change a thing (nobody cares…).

The day prior to the wedding was dark cloud covered day, but the rain managed to hold off the majority of the day. Our wedding was going to be outside, no tent over our ceremony… this is why weather had been on my mind for the better part of 12 months.

As we were going through the rehearsal of the wedding the clouds began to get a little darker and darker and then a little greenish… then the rain came and we had to take cover under the tent where our reception would be held the next day. Luckily, it was about 20 yards away. It’s ok, I thought, let’s get the rain out-of-the-way so that it will be clear tomorrow.

The rain didn’t let up and we went to our rehearsal dinner at my brothers restaurant. (Side note: My brother, PJ, is the best chef west of the Mississippi and is running the kitchen at Bar Harbor on Gull Lake. Go. Eat. Enjoy, you won’t regret it.)

Our dinner was beautiful. My dad gave a toast that I think I could still recite word for word and is something I that I will never forget (Despite his best efforts, I didn’t cry… I almost did, but not quite).

Then, we separated from my bride to be and went back to my parents house for fun and cocktails… lots of cocktails, mainly Dr. Mcgillicuddy and as we say at family functions, “the doctor was in.” We drank and had a great time… Then we watched a movie that my brother made that compiled lots of old home videos from when I was a kid (chubby, awkward, freckle faced, buck toothed… remember?), this did make me cry, but that is easy once I am loaded.

After the movie, people were leaving and it was time for us to head out to the guest house (my grandma used to live in this house… not sure why I felt the need to explain this but I couldn’t leave it as “guest house,” it just sounded weird).

June 28, 2008 – 1:00 AM. Apparently, all of the stress that had been building was looking for a way to get out and it chose to do so early morning the day of my wedding when I was hammered drunk. Somehow, I decided that I would take this out on my groomsman Andy. So, I decided to wrestle/accost him for about an hour all over the house… I don’t usually act like that, but like I said there was a lot of stress that needed to be released (for those of you that know Andy, I think we can agree that we would all like to take out some stress on him at some point). After I wore myself out, I decided that I needed a shower before I retired for the evening. The problem was that there wasn’t a shower curtain and I didn’t feel like standing… so I curled up in the fetal position in the tub. The problem was that I didn’t lock the door and Andy came in the bathroom, evaluated what he was seeing and said, “what the fuck are you doing?”

I decided to respond honestly and said, “I was HOT!”

Needless to say it was an interesting night…

The next morning I woke up ready to get married. However, there was a slight misunderstanding on the time we were supposed to be there for pictures prior to the wedding. We were drinking Miller High Life and watching The Goonies when my mom came and said we were supposed to be at the wedding already… yes, I was late to my own wedding… I am sure my bride was mad but she did not show it when we showed up.

Now, you hear people describe moments like this, but this was the first time that I had ever experienced this…

They were already taking pictures when we showed up for pictures. I was nervous the entire car ride there. It wasn’t “cold feet” nervous, it was more like the nerves you get before you have to stand up in front of a crowd.

It was cloudy, the air was heavy and it was hot even without the sun. The grass was still wet from the morning dew and there was not a breath of wind. I finally saw my bride and felt a pang hit my heart that slowed everything in that moment. I have never seen such a beautiful woman (yes, she was a woman in that instant) in my life. If she was nervous at all, she didn’t show it. I realized that I was looking at the rest of my life and if it turned out to be a tenth as beautiful as the woman in front of me I would be extremely lucky. From her hair, her makeup, her dress, I couldn’t dream of anything that beautiful. I felt like I didn’t deserve her and, truth be told, I probably don’t.

Once the wedding started and I saw her walking down the aisle towards me I went from nervous to excited. I started to realize that I was so lucky to be starting the rest of my life with Jenni… this was only the beginning! As we started the ceremony, it started to mist… the mist turned into drizzle. Next, the sky started to get a little darker and a little darker… I had seen this story play out 24 hours earlier and I knew what was coming. Only, the rain held off until our ceremony ended and all of the guests were in the safety of the tent. Then, the rain fell. It was like someone had cupped their hands under the shower head until they were full and pulled their hands apart letting the water surge to the ground in one big splat.

We had a great party and dance. It was so humid in the tent, but nobody seemed to… (say it with me..) care! It went by way too fast… If given the opportunity I would relive that day at a moments notice. At the end of the night we made our way to our suite at Maddens on Gull Lake.

I woke up the next day and, of course, it was a perfect summer day. Not a cloud in the sky, no humidity, perfect. Why couldn’t we have had this weather yesterday? I thought. But, when I looked at the woman who I would be spending the rest of my life with, I thought about Seinfeld’s words of wisdom and realized that nobody cared about the weather, the groomsmen, the cake, any of it.

In that moment I realized, I didn’t care either.

It is our 4 year anniversary as a married couple. The best 4 years of my life. She is my wife, my muse, my world but, most importantly, my best friend.

Sink or Swim

Hi. Did you know that I used to be a competitive swimmer when I was 8 and 9? It just gets better and better doesn’t it? It is true, I was a proud member of the Brainerd YMCA Dolphins in 2nd and 3rd grade. I wore the speedo and everything. I wish I had a picture to post with this because due to my athletic physique it often looked like I was walking around the pool naked. I don’t remember noticing this when I would be around the other kids in my speedo (that is to say I was no more self-conscious than usual, but I spent as little time possible between the water and either a towel or a shirt jiggling around the pool deck (no different from today).

Remember though, I was and continue to be surprisingly agile… especially in the water. It is one of my natural abilities, I am a good, check that, great swimmer. This is due to growing up swimming constantly in the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY, I would stay in the water for hours jumping off of our boat house and diving for rocks. I would even go up to Jacques Cartier Park on the river and help with swim lessons for kids 3 or 4 years older than me when I was 6.

Winter 1993. The sectionals were being held at the high school in Brainerd for the opportunity to get to the state meet that was held annually at the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers). I was competing in 3 events for the opportunity to make it to state, 50 meter freestyle, 100 meter freestyle and the 4 x 50 meter freestyle relay. Obviously freestyle was my preferred event, however I had made it to state my first year swimming in the 25 meter backstroke (there’s a fun fact for you). My favorite event or at least the one I was best at was the 100 meter freestyle.

I was racing in the final heat, which meant that it wasn’t a full pool, there were 4 lanes being used. I made my way to my starting block looking like a topless pregnant midget (sorry, not PC, I know). I had my swim cap and goggles on as I did my pre-race stretches (think truffle shuffle), that I am sure looked exactly like Michael Phelps before I stepped up on the starting platform (I really do wish there was video of this). I was nervous as the starter requested us to take our marks. Everyone around the pool stopped what they were doing leaving nothing but silence. The starter said, “Set”, as I bent over resting my gut on my legs and probably showing a lot of crack to the lane official behind me (who happened to be my dentist, but he had never seen that side of me).

I can still remember the feeling of the hot, heavy air and the overwhelming smell of chlorine as the sound went off that signaled us to begin the race.

I threw myself off the starting platform into a diving start and entered the water looking like some sort of chubby human/porpoise hybrid. As I surfaced and took my first breath I could see that I had gotten off to a good enough start as I started my stroke and pulled my self through the water.

I came out of my turn and was neck and neck as I started to kick as hard as I could. As I took my breaths to see where my competition was I could see that I was pulling away. I’m going to do it, I thought, I am going to state. The finish was just a few strokes away as I pulled harder to the finish and slammed my hand into the wall. I had done it! Or, so I thought…

As I pulled my head above water and looked at my lane official with a proud smile, I quickly noticed that he looked confused. Then he said, “What’s wrong?”

As he said that water splashed in the lanes next to me as the other swimmers made their turns… I had only swam 50 meters, I was only half way done.

Defeat, embarrassment, stress. This is what I was feeling as I pushed myself off the wall trying to catch up with the other swimmers and we all know what that means (or should at least). I began to cry underwater as I worked to finish the rest of the race. This wasn’t just a little cry, this was bawling. The kind of cry where you make weird noises that you didn’t really know you could make. I couldn’t see as my goggles were beginning to feel up with a mixture of pool water and tears.

I continued to swim as hard as I could to make up as much time as I could to make the race as least embarrassing as possible. I actually ended up making up enough time to come in 3rd place in the heat but it was not good enough to make state.

I cried for a long time following that race. I was inconsolable and obnoxious being far to dramatic over what has happened (doesn’t sound like me does it?). As luck would have it our relay team did make it to state and we did win.

Unfortunately for all of my fans, that would be the last time I put on the speedo and swim competitively. I had a good but short run. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I stuck with it because I did enjoy it so much… could have been competitive at higher levels? Did I miss my calling? I guess I will never know…

Eh, I didn’t have the body for it anyways.

Skiing Hide & Seek

I know. I’m sorry. I have no excuses. Thanks for making me feel guilty about not sticking to my original commitment! The problem is, I thought I was running out of things to post up here because I am still far to frightened to write something fictional and put it up here. So, I took a little break (like you care).

It is weird that I thought of this story given the time of the year but I think it’s a good one, hopefully you do too (not really, but that seems like a nice thing to say).

Winter 1994 (I think). My parents brought me on a skiing trip to Big Mountain in Whitefish, MT. It was my first time really being able to ski anything that would be considered a mountain. I loved to ski and still do even though I rarely have a chance to do it lately. Anyway, I don’t think I need to go over all of my, um, attributes as a 10-year-old but I will any way (as my dad would say… “just for grins”). Chubby/fat, freckles, buck teeth, awkward yet surprisingly agile and accident prone… I think that about covers it.

We took a train to Montana with 4 other families that we were friends with, however, I didn’t know the kids especially well as we had only been living in Minnesota for a few years at that point so, of course, I was constantly self-conscious and worried that they didn’t like me (you know, like I do now). I am not very good at proactively making friends, but it turned out ok and I got along great with everyone.

The train left Staples, MN at 2 AM… which, as luck would have it meant that we were rolling through North Dakota in the afternoon and hit Glacier National Park in the middle of the night. If you haven’t seen Glacier National Park at 2AM, I really suggest you add that to your bucket list… the views are AMAZING!

I don’t remember a lot from this trip, actually. I can’t really remember where we stayed or what it looked like. My only memories are from the actual skiing which are quite vivid due to what happened to me…

It was unseasonably warm while we were there. One day we actually all wore garbage bags because of the mist/rain. Now, while I did enjoy skiing, I did not enjoy putting/wearing all of the ski apparel. From the snow pants to the jacket that fit to tight and made me feel bigger than I already was to sweating and fighting with my mom trying to help me put on my ski boots (I am getting frustrated just remembering the process of getting ready to ski). Think the little kid from A Christmas Story that can’t put his arms down but huge… that was me on skis.

It was extremely foggy each day we were skiing, this day in particular you could only see about 100 yards ahead of you. We were in a big group for a while and then eventually the kids split off on their own, which is always fun. It was the most fun I had ever had skiing and could not get over how long the runs were and how big the chairlifts were.

Now, if you’ve ever been skiing you have most likely participated in the strange tradition of getting half way down, stopping, briefly discussing the last 45 seconds of left, right, left, right turning that you had just done and the continuing down the rest of the run to the chairlift (never understood this, never will… why not just meet at the chairlift and talk about the whole run on the nice long ride back up the mountain?). The conversations were littered with “this is a good run” or “that top section was really fun.” Glad we stopped for these gems, I am usually thinking (I’m a dick, I know).

On this particular run I realized that I had to pee, but I could make it down to the chalet with plenty of time to spare. I got half way down and stopped to wait for the rest of the group as I was the first to arrive on the account of having to pee. I waited. And waited. And waited. Then they hit…

Now, when I say “they” I don’t mean people. I mean the phenomenon I have since dubbed the “hide and go seek pees.” See when I was little and would play hide & seek with friends I was always assured to have to go to the bathroom with in seconds of finding my hiding spot… I am talking emergency, out of no where, dancing or bouncing your legs, I am going to piss my pants if I don’t go now kind of deal. This would lead to me leaving my spot just as the seeker would come walking by, stupid hide and go seek pees screw me every time.

Back to the story..

So, there I am on the side of a mountain dancing in my ski’s trying to fight off the hide and go seek pees until the rest of the group caught up to me… it was no use, I had to go immediately. The only question was,where?There were people skiing by all over the place (more than likely laughing at the fat kid shoved into his snow pants dancing around like an idiot, aahh, the great outdoors).

I finally decided I would head down and meet them at the chair lift after I made a stop in the woods… I flew up to the woods and hopped out of my bindings as quickly as I could running awkwardly in my boots to privacy. Then, I started to work my way out of the straight jacket that were my ski clothes. Mittens were easy, coat was fine, but the snow pants… I stood in the woods cursing my mother because she always made me wear the snow pants that had shoulder straps and made emergencies such as this one even more dangerous. I am sweating now fighting with the zipper and shoulder straps talking out loud to my, err, anatomy, “Please! Just one second, I’ve almost got them off!” as I am quickly shifting weight from one side to another.

I got them off in time, crisis averted. I was so happy as I walked out of the woods proud that I had avoided wetting my pants and having to figure out what to do with my wet self for the remainder of the afternoon. I hopped on my ski’s and made my way down to the lift. But when I got there I knew immediately that I had taken a wrong turn someplace as I was blinded by the hide and go seek pees.

This was not the chair lift we were headed to and, apparently, neither was the rest of the mountain. There was one chair lift attendant and myself. I waited for a while but realised that it was useless and that I should head up to where ever this led to make my way back to the other lift. Another couple came into line behind me as I was waiting for the go ahead from the attendant to ski to the line and get on the chair.

He told me to wait… one chair went by, two, three and finally he said, “alright, you can get on.”

I pushed my self up to the line, put my poles in my left hand and looked over my shoulder at the on coming chair when the attendant said, “aaah, sorry dude…”

That is when I saw that he was putting me on a chair that had 6 inches of snow on it from the night before and it had been given a nice glaze from the morning mist. When I sat down, the snow gave way enough to put me on a miniature ice slide as I quickly ascended up the mountain. I was able to get the safety bar down and wrapped my arms around that as I tried not to slide underneath and plummet to either a broken leg or early death (I was convinced it would be death). Then I heard the couple in the chair behind me through laughs ask, “are you ok up there?”

“Yeah” I said through fake nervous laughter as the lump crept into my throat. As I assessed my current situation, I began to cry. I was lost now, on a chairlift of which I had no clue how long it took to get to the top and now, worst of all, I was embarrassed. Just then, the chairlift stopped abruptly causing my enormous ten-year old ass to slip even closer to the edge of the seat… now I was officially scared. I didn’t want to lose my poles but I was having a hard time gripping with my mittens… more crying.

Finally, the lift started back up and over the next ridge was the end and I was able to get off safely. I continued to cry as I made my way over to the correct lift that the hide and go seek pees had forced me to miss. As I got off at the top everyone was waiting for me and worried about me as I had been missing for a while at this point. Luckily, I had dried my eyes by that point and probably made up a story that I thought would make me sound cool.

I wouldn’t recognize the chairlift attendant if I saw him and have no clue where he might be today, but I hope that the next time he is waiting for someone or something that he gets a serious case of the hide and go seek pees and doesn’t get to a bathroom in time.

I have to go to the bathroom now…