What’s Got Billy So Spooked?

In an attempt to have a unique and creative ceremony, I really wanted to have live crab present at the wedding. Not because it is a delicacy, but because of the theatrical opportunities. Anytime a live crab is available, I like to hold it against my face and do an impression of the alien from the movie “Predator.” Specifically, I like to re-enact the scene where the alien takes off his helmet and growls hauntingly at Dutch (Arnold Schwartzenegger.) With the crab’s writhing legs functioning as the mouth tentacles of the alien, this impression is nearly dead-on.

This particular scene is the climax of the movie, where Dutch comes face to face for the first time with the alien hunter that has slaughtered his platoon. It is a very powerful moment, as the alien and Schwartzenegger, individuals literally from two different worlds, demonstrate an unspoken, mutual respect toward each other.

Of course, this kind of symbolism transcends a movie screen, and it could be easily integrated into a wedding ceremony. Think about it, instead of played-out traditions like “unity candles” and “wedding vows,” my fiancé and I could perform a special scene from Predator to demonstrate our respect for each other. I can’t fathom anything more romantic than that…

Also, this scene has great personal meaning. My future in-laws have witnessed the live-crab-on-my-face spectacle countless times, and each time I am greeted with increasingly worried expressions. This has actually become somewhat of a tradition with my in-laws, as I have never missed an opportunity to put a crab on my face in their presence. Honestly, at this point, it almost seems odd to not somehow incorporate a crab into the ceremony. Next Saturday, I guarantee when me, my fiancé, and a crab stand together at the altar, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

More to come…

Wedding Observations…

Well, we have just a few short days left, and the wedding planning is in full swing. There is an ungodly amount of details to organize and plan, at least that is what my fiancé tells me while I’m playing XBox. Anyway, in the next few days leading up to the wedding I thought I’d share some quick thoughts and wedding observations, starting with…

Vellum Paper: Allow me to define this: Vellum is a clear, delicate, thin piece of paper suitable for printing fancy invitations on. Actually, this is its only function. Think wax paper, but 80 times more expensive. I really don’t know exactly how this product is created, but based on its price, apparently it is pulled from mines deep in the earth’s core. Naturally, my fiancé decided to corner the vellum market and buy about three quarters of the world’s supply to do our invitations. I’m very excited to be getting married, but sometimes I think wistfully back to my bachelor days, when the bulk of my hard-earned paycheck wasn’t going towards the purchase of massive quantities of vellum.

When I suggested we use a cheaper alternative to vellum, like making our invitations out of hundred dollar bills, it was instantly rejected. Of course, I didn’t want to send out traditional invitations in the first place. “Too postage-intensive,” I thought. In this day and age, I was really hoping it would be socially acceptable to just send out a massive wedding email to our guests. I considered even scheduling an appointment through Outlook, so that everyone would get a nice pop-up reminder 15 minutes before the wedding.

Sadly, my ideas were completely ignored, as my fiancé was too busy agonizing over the fact that our invitations didn’t include an inner envelope. Of course, this “inner envelope” isn’t sealed or addressed, it is merely decorative. It seemed kind of ridiculous to mail an otherwise perfectly good envelope to all of our guests, but evidently we are expected to include random office supplies with each invitation.

Anyway, I’m sure you can imagine how this story ends. While my ideas were practical, efficient and cost-effective, they simply failed to somehow incorporate vellum into the equation. And so, regrettably, none of our guests had their invitation text-messaged to them on their cell phone.

More to follow…

Fellowship of the Ring

It was about 7 o’clock on Friday night; Pete and I were driving into Seattle to meet my buds for my bachelor party when my cell phone rang. I glanced at my caller ID, and noticed it was Reverend Alexander, the man performing our wedding ceremony two weeks from now.

Reverend Alexander: “Alright dude, I’ve made a few phone calls and I’ve got the numbers of the three hottest strippers in Seattle. You say the word and I’ll have them at your hotel room immediately…”

Hanging up the phone, two things were suddenly clear: One, this would be one helluva weekend. And two, I had definitely picked the right man to perform our wedding ceremony.

Arriving at the hotel, I realized I had no idea which room I’d be staying at. I was anticipating walking up to the front desk and asking for the “Drunken Jackasses, Party of 17,” figuring the staff would immediately know the group I was talking about. Thankfully, Dave was waiting outside, greeting the arriving guests into the hotel.

Gabe was right behind us, and the four of us strolled into the hotel together. This is where I received the first of many nervous glances from the hotel staff. It was kind of comical to watch the three front desk employees look at each other knowing something nefarious was afoot. I suppose whenever 17 dudes check into two hotel rooms with only alcohol for luggage, it tends to raise a few red flags.

Dave had packed the hotel room with a ton of my buds: Booth, Wilner, Keech, Krusty, Rowley, Dyk, Gabe, Jonas, Ryan, Bailes, Barber, Neslund, Pete, Dave and I and all gathered around the makeshift bar he had assembled. The party was just getting started, as Graham and the Sisko Kid would be joining us later in the evening.

As true Zillionaires do, Dave arranged for a limo to transport us up to the next stage of bachelor-themed debauchery. The limo took us to play “Whirlyball,” a sport that proudly synthesizes lacrosse, bumper cars and massive alcohol consumption. (Side note: I really love hybrid sports. I’ve always wanted to combine skydiving and paintballing into some kind of paratrooper game. For any venture capitalists out there, I focus-grouped this idea to some of the dudes and it was met with great enthusiasm.) Anyway, while it may seem simple enough, “Whirlyball” actually had a ton of rules that we all went out of our way to ignore. Since the members of our group were equally reckless and intoxicated, our style of play could best be described as “Whiplashball.”

The games were low scoring, defensive stalemates at first, but once we got the hang of it, the games became hotly contested. I was thankful to be on the court during the greatest moment in Whirlyball history, when Dyk’s last-second heroics secured a come-from-behind win for the yellow team. The moment warranted dumping Gatorade on Dyk’s head in celebration, but since none was available, and since none of us were willing to substitute our beer instead, we simply settled for high fives.

Our next stop was the Owl & Thistle, a bar in downtown Seattle. It was here that I decided to drink like a former child TV star. After countless shots, I completely lost control of my motor skills. It was at this point that Jonas presented me with a cigar so massive that it would have caused Castro to wet his pants in fear. I lit it up, puffed on it while I drank, but I primarily used it to singe the flesh off my hands. You see, when a really drunken individual possesses an object burning at 400 degrees, sometimes they confuse their forearms for ashtrays.

Unfortunately the night was lacking a key ingredient of any successful bachelor party: public humiliation. Seeking to rectify the situation, Dave pulled out a shirt he had designed for the occasion with the words “BONERFACE” flamboyantly written across the front. Without hesitation, I pulled the T-shirt on over my polo shirt, turned the collar up Travolta-style, and was thankful to have my desired look of “Annoying Drunken Jackass” now complete.

We left the bar and headed for a strip club, but decided to stop for a quick snack beforehand. After all, much like swimming, nobody should get a lap dance on an empty stomach. While the other dudes lined up in front of a hotdog stand, I sought a nearby lamppost to lean against.

I hunched over, straining to maintain the contents of my stomach. I could feel sweat proliferating out of every pore in my body and I experienced constant bouts of cold and hot flashes. As near as I could tell, I was either going through menopause or about to puke. Returning from the hotdog stand, Dave tried to help the situation in the worst possible way…

“Do you want sauerkraut or no sauerkraut,” he asked, as he presented me with my choice of two giant, foot-long hotdogs.

The next thing I remember was puking on the sidewalk. Like a team of secret service agents, my buds swooped in, guided me into a cab and we sped off. Dyk took shotgun, and Dave and Bailes piled in the backseat with me. A few blocks down the road, my stomach staged another revolt, and I puked all over Bailes and myself inside the cab. In a single moment of clarity, I looked over at Bailes, my puke covering his lap, and asked, “Dude, how are you not puking? If someone puked in my lap, I’d follow suit instantly…” Even in my drunken state, the fortitude of Bailes’ stomach was amazing.

Up until that point our cab driver had been talkative and friendly. Once I puked, he grew angrily silent. The driver tightened his grip on the wheel, and muttered through clenched teeth, “This is why I hate this job.” Just for good measure, I puked two more times in his cab.

Our driver abruptly steered us into a gas station, which was a blessing, because I honestly thought he was about to intentionally steer us into oncoming traffic. I got out of the cab, and distanced myself from the carnage. He ordered us to clean the cab and buy him a new air freshener. Since those demands seemed reasonable, we complied.

Using only the materials available next to the gas pumps, my companions set forth to clean up a lot of puke. With the possible exception of MacGyver, only my buds could completely sanitize the inside of a cab using only a squeegee and washer fluid. Dave came up to me with two handfuls of paper towels and brushed some of the larger puke chunks off my clothing. As a final touch, Dyk liberally sprayed vanilla air freshener throughout the cab, and we all piled in again.

Once inside, with complete sarcasm, Bailes remarked, “Mmmm, vanilla… this cab smells great!”

Looking back, it was probably fortuitous that I puked on the sidewalk the night before. Had I not, our party would have continued to a strip club, and the puke would have surely showed up during a lap dance. While that would have probably made a better story on Zillionaire, I’ve got to think that puking on a stripper is somehow really bad karma.

Anyway, the next morning I woke up and promptly puked four more times in the toilet in our hotel room. Aside from a John Wayne Bobbit scenario, there’s probably no worse way to wake up in the morning. I bundled up my pukey clothes from the night before and joined the rest of the dudes as we caravanned over to Ellensburg to begin day 2 of the bachelor party.

On the way, I decided to make one quick side trip. It had been several years since the last time I had coated my clothing in puke. In fact, most of my alcohol-induced puking was done in my college days when I lived in dorms and apartments that didn’t have laundry machines. In these situations, I always tried to bring my pukey clothing over to my parents’ house so that they could wash it for me. Naturally, when the opportunity presented itself, I had to deliver my puke-stained clothes to my parents one last time. It’s good to relive old traditions like that every once in awhile.

After that brief interlude, the dudes assembled to play some dunk hoops at Mt. Stuart Elementary School. To explain further, “dunk hoops” entails playing basketball on child-sized rims so that grown (white) men are able to dunk with ease. Next to playing against small children or the elderly, it’s the quickest way to inflate your athletic ego.

Whenever Krusty plays dunk hoops, this game quickly becomes “Head of Steam Ball.” Essentially, the game digresses to giving Krusty the ball and watching him charge into the opposition at full speed. Even as we were casually shooting the ball around Krusty found a way to tackle Bailes violently onto the asphalt.

The next stop was camping up in the wilderness of Reecer creek. Cage, McQuiston and Schneider were able to join this leg of the festivities. Pete and I were in the last car of a six-car motorcade heading to the campsite. Jonas, and his 150 lb dog, Jake, were in the car in front of us. Jake is a huge dog, and he completely occupied the passenger seat of Jonas’ Ranchero. Jake stuck his head out the window for most of the journey, and in doing so, placed his ass mere millimeters from Jonas’ face as he drove. It was quite a spectacle to behold. The funny thing was, Jonas didn’t seem to mind. “That’s gotta be a pleasant way to drive,” Pete remarked.

We set up camp, cracked open some beers and Keech made some witch’s brew in a Styrofoam cooler. His concoction consisted of beer, vodka, ice and more beer. Pete had brought a couple pizzas from Grant’s (The Artist Formerly Known as Frazzini), and with the fire going strong and our folding camp chairs set up, all of our basic needs were fulfilled.

For most of the evening, Jonas and Krusty engaged in a game of one-upmanship over past eating exploits. To put it in perspective, for those of you who don’t know Krusty, simply visit any restaurant in Ellensburg. If there is a picture of a patron over the cash register, chances are it is Krusty. Throughout the night, a real kinship developed between Jonas and Krusty. When they both revealed their pet peeve was “ always being asked to help friends move furniture,” it was almost as if they were separated at birth.

Their newfound brotherhood came in handy throughout the night. If we were ever running low on firewood, I would simply invoke textbook usage of reverse psychology. With the mere suggestion that Krusty might not be able to lift a certain mammoth piece of wood, he’d instantly leap from his seat incensed with rage that we would doubt him for an instant. “Jonas and I will take care of it,” he’d vow, and they’d return moments later with a Guinness-worthy specimen of firewood.

At about 2am, we decided to call it a night. None of us wanted to leave the fire, as it was an extremely cold night. We all made for our tents except for Krusty, who didn’t have a place to sleep. I won’t go into the irony of Krusty (a professional camp counselor) being the only member or our party to forget both a tent and a sleeping bag.

There was plenty of room in my tent, so he curled up in the corner. Unfortunately, without a sleeping bag or blankets, he faced a difficult decision. If he stopped moving for an instant, he would surely freeze to death. However, if he were constantly moving, falling asleep would be impossible. So, I watched him execute several hours of barrel rolls next to me in an effort to maintain constant motion.

At one point in his violent rolling, he crashed into me and we found ourselves in a spooning position. Subconsciously, (I hope), Krusty then nestled into me for warmth. Under any other circumstances I would have punched him in the kidney, but I feared Krusty would literally die of hypothermia in my tent if I didn’t comply. My mind raced, but I ultimately decided if Krusty’s survival depended on spooning with me, I supposed it was ok.

Thankfully it didn’t last long. At some point, Krusty left the warmth of my bosom to find a less homoerotic place to sleep. The next morning Krusty confessed he had thought about killing me in my sleep so he could steal my sleeping bag. Instead, he had simply returned to the campfire, stoked it to near inferno levels, and lied beside it. He told me the wind somehow managed to blow smoke in his face the entire night, but it was worth it.

The next morning, leaving the campsite, Jonas managed to get his Ranchero stuck in the mud. We all gathered around to push him out, and in doing so; Pete got completely covered in a spray of mud. Naturally, our next stop was a gas station, where Pete followed my sterling example and cleaned himself with a squeegee and windshield washer fluid.

Gabe’s sister works at Perkins, and she managed to get a table for our entire group on a busy Sunday morning. It was the first non-pizza meal most of us had consumed in 48 hours. After completing a weekend of malnutrition, dehydration, and sleep deprivation we all found room for a big hearty breakfast. As we bid farewell to one another, I realized it had certainly been one helluva weekend.

There’s a heathen amongst us…

When my fiance moved to Spokane a few months ago she immediately transformed the kitchen from “The Room that the Microwave Is In” into a warm, functioning room of the house. For the first time ever, the freezer contained something other than ice, the cupboards stored food instead of sporting goods, and I began to eat meals that didn’t have the words “pizza” or “pocket” in them.

However, while it has been a welcome change, it hasn’t necessarily been an easy transition. One of the first items introduced into my environment was a “spoon rest.” For all the heathens out there that don’t know what this is, allow me to explain. It is a hand-crafted little piece of ceramic tile, usually with a charming little phrase like “A warm meal makes a happy home,” or some other flamboyantly domestic scripture printed on it. It’s function: After stirring the contents of a pot of food on the stove, the “spoon rest” provides a handy place to set your spoon until ready to stir again. Truthfully, she had to explain to me the use of such an item multiple times.

Now, prior to the spoon rest being presented into our home, I was simply setting the spoon on the counter like a barbarian. To her, I basically had the culture and couth of an unfrozen caveman living in modern times. So, our household is essentially a marathon viewing of the movie “Encino Man.” For instance, when she first showed me a spoon rest, I immediately grabbed it, stuffed it in my mouth, noisily chewed it up and swallowed it mostly whole.

Of course, when my fiance witnessed this display, her mind questioned my savage behavior, and she reasoned (correctly) that I probably wasn’t housebroken, either.

In light of the difficulties I had grasping the concept of a “spoon rest,” my fiance decided to slowly acclimate me to the rest of her kitchen supplies. First, she threw out all the rocks and sticks I had been using to prepare food and replaced them with shiny, metal objects. One by one I would hold them up to the light, each one shinier and more metallic than the last, gazing at them in amazement like a monkey being given a mirror.

My fiance has been patient and is working hard to introduce me into modern society. When I mess up, she gently reminds me that Roger Fouts has got Washoe and the other primates to use spoon rests in the Chimp Lab. So, there’s hope for us all…

Econ 101: Saving Money

After living with my fiance for a few months now, I’ve come to realize that men and women have a vastly different definition of saving money. For instance, my fiance will return from the mall every Sunday afternoon with several armloads of shopping bags, a car trunk full of more merchandise and a delivery truck idling in the driveway. I, being the designated curmudgeon of the household, raise a suspicious eyebrow when she enters the door. Before I say a word, she will instantly begin a defense of her extravagant spending and boast of all the money she saved

Now, unless those shopping bags are full of deposit receipts from our local bank, I fail to see how any saving has occurred. In my miserly book, spending money can ever be considered saving money. I learned quickly that when she’s eager to share the news of her “savings,” she’s not referring to her 401k. To my dismay, she instead held up an endless parade of jeans, sweaters, jewelry, makeup and dozens of other “necessities” that up to this point we had somehow miraculously managed to live without. Some people save for retirement by investing in bonds and stocks, we on the other hand, have our “savings” diversified in GAP clothing, Latte’s and extended warranties.

Tragically, this logic is lost on my fiance. She comes home expecting praise for all the “good buys” and “great sale prices” she found; instead she gets a microeconomics lesson from Professor Scrooge P. Pennypincher (a.k.a. Me). Somehow, in a form of girl-math I’ll never understand, a woman can empty her bank account in a shopping spree, yet still feel she is somehow coming out ahead. In fact, I wonder if women come home from shopping trips and worry about having to claim this new “income” on their tax return.

Sensing my initial frustration, my fiance is convinced that if she shows me all of her purchases and itemizes her spending aloud I’ll suddenly realize what a great deal we got on stuff we didn’t need. During this fashion show, sometimes she will treat me like a contestant on “The Price Is Right” and ask me to guess the “actual retail price” of her items. Since “Plinko” chips or a possible “Showcase Showdown” are not on the line, my enthusiasm is somewhat lacking. Of course, the grand finale comes when she announces the rock-bottom price she paid, and awaits my series of back flips while she reminds the audience to have their pets spayed or neutered…

Of course, this reaction doesn’t come. The saddest part of this struggle is the contrast in lifestyles we lead. My fiance makes Paris Hilton look frugal, while I’m basically living like an Amish street-urchin. I’m not ashamed to admit I still wear Homecoming ’94 T-shirts from high school and have hole-filled underwear on right now. It’s very frustrating, unlike my fiance, I can only dream of indulging in luxurious items like “bottled water” and having clothes “dry cleaned.”

Naturally, the stores and retail chains are complicit in this operation. This is especially maddening, as the stores know a woman will buy something she already has, or worse, doesn’t even need because it is On Sale! In fact, I think women’s clothing boutiques don’t even bother printing the total amount of their purchase, since women aren’t really concerned with that figure anyway. Instead, they boldly display a grand total of their “savings,” and bury the actual money spent somewhere in the fine print or on illegible carbon paper… Using a formula of inflated regular prices, tons of advertising, and fictitious “sales,” the stores have managed to transform shopping into an investment opportunity. Women leave the stores well dressed and penniless, yet somehow feeling shrewd over the dealings. Of course, when I point this out, I’m not being a savvy consumer, but rather, the cheapskatiest man on earth.

So, anyway, sorry if this got a little verbose, I just have a lot of time to think about these issues during my graveyard shifts at the second job I’ve taken to pay off our staggering bills. But fear not, I’ve decided to go on the offensive… This Sunday I plan to set my alarm for 4 am so I can race to the driveway and divulge the paper of its plentiful ads. And, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rip all the cable jacks out of my house, as JC Penney launched a new commercial using the teaser: “The more you spend, the more you save!!!” God help us…