Thursday, July 30, 2009
Here goes ...
Home from New York, I spent a few quiet days in Cranston at the home of Jelly Sears. Funny thing about our plump canine friend: She loves going upstairs but she hates going down them. So she will wait at the top of the steps, make her sad face and wait for someone to come up just to carry her down. She sure lives the life.
Anyway, the main reason I made the trip when I did was to attend the Big Marriage in swanky, foggy and crowded Newport, Rhode Island. A short rehearsal was scheduled early Friday afternoon, just to run through the actual ceremony. Within minutes of my arriving, I was able to chip off a toe nail of the maid of honor. I still got the skillz.
With a giant circus tent for bumper boats in the background, the pastor raced through the readings and we did all the lineups before the women ran off for nail appointments that probably lasted longer than Ken Burns' Civil War documentary.
Then Zach, Jeff and I huddled into my sister's spiffy Honda Accord (with Sirius!) and drove down to back Cranston to pick up Zach's tux. From there we promptly drove back to Narragansett, where I dropped Zach off and then to Newport to drop Jeff off then back to Narragansett to pick up Zach. So by that time I felt as if I had entered and left Newport that day more than I have my entire life. That could really be true, by the way.
Zach took over the driving part and did some nifty maneuvering past packed Newport traffic to get to Pop! Kitchen where the rehearsal dinner was being held. The whole place was reserved just for us for three hours with free booze and appetizers. Pretty sweet. Then the gauntlet of intros to family members and some long-lost Northeastern acquaintances.
For the first time in years I saw Jeff's parents and probably had my first ever conversation with the bride's mother. She immediately brought up the sore subject of me beating her daughter for the English Award in high school. After hearing that, I decided I had to include something about that in my wedding speech the next day. It can be dangerous to make such last minute changes to a speech I had down pat by that point, but I had to do it.
The night culminated in some very tasty Red Sox-Yankees cake and sweet toast by Jeff's mother before the crowd dispersed. But Mike Grimala had just arrived and was not ready to hit the hay just yet. So Zach, Mike and I hauled off to one of Zach's favorite restaurants, the Brick Alley Pub. Grimey and I ordered the same thing. So what? Wanna fight about it??
I woke up that Friday with a sore throat that only got worse throughout the day. My throat burning and drier than a BBC comedy, I slept maybe three or four hours that night.
We got up early because Jeff was treating the groomsman, Grimey and his dad to some golf in Jamestown. However, to Jeff's consternation, a tournament was scheduled and the golf course basically told us to fuck off. The Schaible Face erupted and I was worried. I didn't want Jeff pissed off like this on his wedding day. Thankfully, we found a more secluded golf course close by. It worked out well. No Schiable face.
I don't golf. I suck at it. I swing and miss when teeing off. I can't get any lift on the ball. I can't pull off the golf shirt. I started out well, hitting a 25-yard tee shot that resembled a grounder to shortstop. I just wanted to keep the ball straight and out of the water or woods. This strategy worked for about three holes. Then some ponds came into play and I self-destructed. So paranoid about hitting into the water, I could barely hit the ball 10 yards and when I did, it went straight into the drink or into some tough rough.
To top it off, I did not wear a hat or sunblock, so the sun fried my forehead. So if I look really red in wedding photos, you know why. I ended up shooting a 60 ... on nine holes. And that 60 is a generous score. Nonetheless, we all enjoyed ourselves (when we were not swearing or tossing clubs around).
From there, the men retreated to dress up time and met a few hours later at the groom's hotel. Looking sharp and damn sexy, we passed the time playing the name game while waiting to take our pre-wedding photos. The photographers took us to the beach where the wedding would be held. On our way, we narrowly avoided a bombing of bird poop. And I'm not kidding when I say narrowly. Whew! That would have been a story to tell ... and a disaster.
I can say I had never been on the beach in a full tux until that day. The whole process was bit weird since I'm not used to being photographed quite like that. We were jumping in the air, contorting out bodies in some strange ways, like "lean to the left, put your right hand in your pocket and look out into the ocean!" or "Jump up and down and do something with your arms!" or "make a cool shadow!"
OK, you're the boss, I thought. I'm sure some of these photos will look quite ridiculous, but that's the point.
The hour of reckoning crept up on us. The chairs were set up. The keyboardist practiced. People started showing up. The wedding arbor, after some strenuous manual labor, was set up. The groom, nice and calm for most of the weekend, started to feel the nerves. I could spot the bride staring down at us from the rotunda window. The pastor arrived. The time was at hand.
The weather could not have been better, by the way. A bright, sunny day. A nice beach breeze. About 80 degrees. They couldn't have asked for better conditions, especially considering the Seattle-type weather the previous week.
Six o'clock came and the men lined up on a concrete platform facing the ocean and waited ...
And we'll have to leave it at that right now before this post turns into a Bill Simmons summer NBA column. Would Jeff's true love Vishal make an appearance and ruin everything? How many stupid faces could I make in the ceremony photographs? Would my Schaibleburg Address be a rousing success or would it meet and awkward, silent, British Office-style death? Would Grimey do "The Grimey" on the dance floor?
Tune in for the shocking season finale.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
We drove from Cape Cod to Boston to Cranston and to Hoboken, New Jersey in one night. A lot of driving. On the way we stopped at one of those Connecticut McDonald's rest stops and were approached by a bald, middle-aged man. He told us he wasn't looking for money for booze or anything, but that he desperately needed some cash for gas because his wife was giving birth to twins at a nearby hospital and he couldn't get in touch with anyone. We told him we'd get him back on our way out.
Zach and I debated for a good 10 minutes whether this guy was legit. At first, we sort of believed him. He was very persuasive and hey, there's a chance the guy was telling the truth and if he was, wouldn't it be wrong to not help him out? But as I kept thinking about it, the story seemed too perfect. His wife was pregnant. He just happened to be at a rest stop at the time his wife was giving birth ... not just to one measly baby, but to twins! And why didn't he have a credit card?
Well, Zach decided he'd interrogate the guy a bit and take it from there. So we walked outside and the guy was gone. I had seen another group give him a few bucks. I still think he was full of it. Zach wasn't so sure.
The two of us arrived in Hoboken at 5 in the morning and promptly slept well into the afternoon, waking up just in time to see Tom Watson choke the British Open away. Then we headed into New York City and headed to Rockefeller Plaza. I had never been there before and I made a point to see it.
From there we headed to Central Park and I saw the John Lennon memorial. A Beatles tribute band played to a good crowd nearby on a beautiful, sunny Sunday in the Big Apple. Then it was back to New Jersey for dinner with one of Zach's new gaggle of high-end lawyer friends and a trip to the Hudson River to enjoy the New York City skyline. Quite a site, I must say.
The next day I ventured into New York City alone because Zach had to work that day. The subway system there confuses me greatly. I'm sure it's easy to the regulars, but it's mostly gibberish to me. Eventually, I found my way to Grand Central and walked to the U.N. from there. I've always wanted to see it, and I did.
I didn't take a tour because the wait was too long, but there was an outstanding photo gallery. This photo was taken the day Bear Stearns went under, showing a nameless, faceless man holding his arms up in the middle of the street outside the New York Stock Exchange. There were other great photos, some very disturbing. One showed a pile of rubble from the Chinese earthquakes last year with the face of a dead man sticking out of the gravel.
With the Yankees in town to play the Orioles, the two os us headed over to the the new Yankee Stadium. We did not have tickets, but we figured we could get tickets at the Stadium. I waited in line while Zach searched for scalpers around the stadium. He came up empty and so I asked the guy behind the counter what the cheapest tickets were. $150, he said.
We were all set to find something else to do when we encountered a scalper at the subway station. We paid 30 bucks for tickets way up near the right-field foul pole.
Zach described the new stadium as "Universal Studios at Yankee Stadium." It's huge, lavish, with gigantic television screens and long, unfurled banners displaying Yankee greats across the the altar of smooth concrete that is the Yankee Stadium concourse.
The old Yankee Stadium was a haunted house. It scared me. You can't replicate that. So while the place is nice, I wouldn't go out of my way to go there again.
Anyway, the game was rather boring, even though it ended in a walk-off home run. Maybe that's why the fans did not seem quite as into the game as I thought they would be. You just knew the Yankees were winning that game sooner or later. And they did, of course. Hideki Matsui went deep to right field in the ninth inning and the Yankees win! Thhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win! (Booo!! Hiss!!)
I left New York the next morning on an Amtrak train that was not three hours late, thankfully. While I like visiting New York because it has everything, I don't know if I could live there. Every place you go, there are thousands of people. Everywhere you go, there are horns and bus engines and chatter and bells and construction and on and on ... There's no escape from it.
I love Boston because it's a big city but it has a small town feel. There are some quiet places. It's not a 24-hour assault on all five senses. Just suits my tastes more.
With that said, it was a fine excursion to the NYC. But I had to get to RI to hang out with Jelly, see the parents a little bit, eat some home cooked meals and head to scenic Newport for what Mike Grimala has called the Wedding of the Century. At the very least it was a mish-mash reunion of Cranston East Class of 2001 and Northeastern Class of 2006.
I shall recap the festivites in due time. Did everyone keep their clothes on? Did a bird almost poop on us groomsman as we headed to the ceremony? Who got drunk? Who danced? Who cried? (Hint: He's a hummus-eating model).
Tune in soon to find out.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
It's been a wild and crazy excursion so far. Let's start with last Friday, the day of the craziest bachelor party in recorded history.
I traveled up to Boston from Rhode Island early that afternoon on the commuter rail. I can report that the MBTA still sucks. Really, really sucks. No A/C. No lights. And the nice scent of smoke and burnt rubber the whole way. It grew so strong I got nauseous. I was legitimately worried I would throw up on the train.
I did not. I purchased a Coffee Coolata as soon as the ride ended and walked 20 minutes to the hotel. That did the trick.
I met up with the groom and we walked around Boston a little bit, including a memory stroll through the Northeastern campus. We even came across my old professor Linc McKie and talked a good 45 minutes in the school's spiffy new journalism office.
But let's get to the fun part. We assembled at the Pour House at 8 p.m. Zach arrived at the exact same time I predicted in my blog post. I knew I had secret powers. There are no pictures from this event. They've been confiscated for violating decency standards. I can say there was some alcohol, some nachos, drunken basketball in the rain and in the dark, Grimey slipping and falling twice, bloody socks and aliens on the radio.
Other than that, I cannot comment on what may or may have happened.
The three amigos then drove down to Cape Cod for some Chatham Anglers/Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox action. We reminisced about the old days and even tried to come up with the top stories for each of us. In some later post, perhaps I will expound on mine because there were quite a few humiliating tales.
The three of us don't get to hang out that much anymore, so it was very nice to have a couple days. Some innocent games of catch. Some mean, mean heat from Cuban defector/pitcher El Searso. Some Pour House food. Some indie music and insufferable Morrissey. Exactly what I planned. I wanted one last "free" weekend to do the stuff we used to do for five years in college and that's what we did.
That's not to say I don't think we'll ever hang out like that again, but as the years go by, it does become harder and harder. Geography gets in the way. More and more responsibilities come into play and free time seems harder and harder to come by. Meshing schedules can sometimes be harder than a Rubik's cube. That's just the way life is, so I'm glad we at least got one "just the boys" type trip in before baldness, beer bellies and bunions kick in.
The three-day wedding extravaganza begins tomorrow. I will be sure to report back on that and on my short stay in the New York/New Jersey area. I spend a few days in Hoboken, N.J., and the mayor gets arrested?
Coincidence? I'll report. You'll decide.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Hosseini and Grimala engage in a heated debate on whether Ryan Freel's on-base percentage against left-handers will equal Jeremy Hermida's on-base percentage on Sundays against pitchers born in the '80s.
Sears tries to persuade Schaible to dress up as Super Mario for the wedding. The bride would no doubt be pleasantly surprised, but Schaible is dubious. Schaible changes the subject and asks Sears which team he should build his next 15-minute dynasty around in MLB '09 on the Playstation Wii or whatever the kids have these days. Sears tells him he should be the Reds. Schaible will choose the Nationals instead with plans on a lineup of Carl Crawford, Willie Harris, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Willie McGee, Darren Lewis, Donnie Sadler, Reggie Willits and Willie Mays Hayes.
It's time to bring out the drugs and the whores! And absinthe!
Sears awakes to a horrid scene. Puke all over the walls and floor. Passed out, naked prostitutes. A llama wearing a cowboy hat. John Daly in pajamas. Hosseini sitting on a recliner, snoring, just ten minutes after putting a movie in the DVD player. Mike Grimala is bald. Schaible is no where to be found.
A cursory examination of the premises reveals no sight of Schaible. The only trace of him is a tattered gray hoodie with tomoto sauce stains found in the bathroom.
After arguing for 10 minutes, Hosseini brow beats Sears into calling the bride-to-be with the bad news.
Sears leaves to make the call.
Sears returns, his face a pale white. He reports that the call included 13 death threats and 77 curse words. The phrase "You find him or I'll rip your (bleeping) heart out you f&^%stick sheep*&^#er ass&^$# co&^di*& motherf&^#er" may have come up.
Hosseini takes charge, dispatching Grimala to Chinatown, Sears to Dorchester and himself to Boston Shawarma.
Instead of going to Chinatown, Grimala goes home to do push-ups and listen to U2 B-sides.
Sears finds Hosseini in the Shawarma, which is amazingly open for business. Sears has been shot four times and has been called "Whitey," "Cleetus" and "Neil Goldman" by Dorchester street toughs.
In an effort to cheer up Sears, Hosseini takes out a guitar and sings the chorus to the his best folk hit.
It's a Schaible kind of life / Full of chicken parm and strife / If you ain't ahead of the game / You ain't livin' right / It's a Schaible kind of life
The Pour House calls Sears irate that there are 23 passed out hookers in the bar and Colombian Street Powder all over the floors. Sears hangs up. Hosseini figures they both should flea to the woods of Maine and hope Schaible shows up before the bride's hit squad discovers where they are.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Jack: Have you ever been to Florida? It's basically a criminal population. It's America's Australia.
Never go with a hippy to a second location.
Liz: Why are you wearing a tux?
Jack: It's after six. What am I, a farmer?
The Italians have a saying, Lemon. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. And although they've never won a war or mass-produced a decent car, in this area they are correct.
Liz: What made you think I was gay?
Jack: Your shoes.
Liz: Well, I'm straight.
Jack: Those shoes are definitely bi-curious.
Liz: Mr. Donaghy, I sincerely apologize; I'm so embarrassed.
Jack: Are you familiar with the GE tri-vection oven?
Jack: Let me ask you a question, Kenneth. If Mr. Bright here told you to vote Republican, would you do it?
Jack: Lemon, I'm impressed! You're beginning to think like a businessman. Liz: A businesswoman.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I hide many things from you loyal readers ... for your sake. But sometimes, it's just for my sake. I have a hangup delving into certain facets of my life. There are several reasons. One, I'm guarded by nature. Two, I do not want to sound emo and whiny. I have no problem sounding grumpy or agitated, but emo? Heavens no!
This all leads to a shocking revelation I've shared with only a few people. Don't feel bad if you weren't in the loop. I don't go around sharing failures this painful with a lot of people.
The revelation? I went on a date with a real, live female a few months ago. It went great aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand it went nowhere.
Why didn't I blog about this when it happened? Well, I didn't want to jinx anything and, frankly, I just didn't feel comfortable. But three months later and she's still knocking around my head so I figure a therapeutic outpouring on this webspace could serve as a sort of spring cleaning of my mind.
We met online in a bestiality chat room (kidding) and corresponded for about two weeks. I won't reveal too much information on this mystery woman, except that she lives in Miami and studies psychology. I spent maybe 20-30 minutes constructing every email, pouring over every last word to make sure I did not say something stupid that could ruin the whole thing. Even if the email was 200-300 words, I spent a lot of time on it.
We went back and forth and the exchanges were great. Funny, enlightening. I could tell she was VERY smart, modest, down to earth and from her picture cute as a button. Basically, right down my alley. If you don't know by now, I don't go for women who look like porn stars with bleached blond hair, bronzed skin and tons of makeup. They don't go me, either. For lack of a better term, the cliche' "girl next door" is my type. And she fit it to a tee.
So we met at a outdoor cafe in Coral Gables on the opening day of the NCAA tournament (again, this was a while ago). I got there an hour early just to make sure I wouldn't be late. After walking around Coral Gables - where everyone dressed and looked like extras from CSI: Miami - I arrived at the cafe five minutes before 8 pm and picked a random table. The place wasn't very busy.
It was 8:05 and no sight of her. I was already getting nervous, but she showed up and she looked even better in person. To give you an idea, she's white, petite, about 5-7 with curly brown hair. With a table of four chairs, she took the one closest to me, which I thought was a good sign.
And we talked. For a solid three hours. We had an almost insane amount of things in common, from political beliefs, her long work hours, the fact she works in a field dominated by one gender, her fear of flying to her being raised Catholic. At the time, her younger sister was about to get married. So she mentioned to me that, at 26, she kind of felt like an old maid. Likewise, I have a younger sister who is engaged and another who's been in a serious relationship for a few years. Obviously, we're closer to flying cars and a Muslim homosexual president than I am to getting married.
Another thing I got a kick out of was her affinity for foreign movies. While not a movie snob as some people might like to believe, I do enjoy a foreign film from time to time. She really impressed me by having seen "The Lives of Others," a German movie set in East Germany at the time of the Stasi. It's a really good flick and one I highly recommend.
I think I even impressed her with my passing knowledge of the Milgram Experiment. Thank you, Northeastern! (By the way, she's an alum of a university that, while much more prestigious, gets confused with Northeastern sometimes.)
While at times I had to prod her a bit to continue the conversation, it went pretty smoothly without any awkward silent gaps. We ended at 11 or so, the only people still left at the cafe. She had to to get to bed early because she was part of a wedding party the next day. I escorted her to her car, which was parked only a few feet from mine in a garage, asked for her number, received it and we went our separate ways. No, I didn't try for anything else. Just did not seem like the thing to do. If you try and it's rejected, well, the whole night is ruined, right? Game over. See ya.
Anyway, I did pull up behind her as we paid for our parking stub and accidentally hit the horn and dug in my pocket for my wallet. She didn't turn around or anything so I assumed I caught a break and she hadn't noticed. Or maybe she realized, "He's just a prick northeastern driver. Asshole!" I'll never know for sure.
So I waited the requisite day and called her Saturday morning and left a message. Days passed ... nothing. If you know me, you can assume I read into this in the most pessimistic way possible. I called again, left another message. The next Friday I got an email. Suffice it to say, it had the requisite "Sorry it took so long to respond. I enjoyed our conversation. You seem like an intelligent, honest...blah blah blah But I'm not really looking to date right now."
And I got this email about an hour before I went into work. Devastated is a good word to describe my state of mind. Confounded is another. If I felt like I screwed up, at least I knew what went wrong. If I felt she had not shown any interest, then so be it. But I felt otherwise. I felt like I did as best I possibly could (and there's no harsher critic of me in this field than myself) and that she enjoyed the night.
That following shift, a 7 pm-4am doozy, was one of the hardest I've ever had. If I had my druthers, I would not have said one word the entire time. But my co-workers would have noticed and the questions would have come flying. I didn't want to deal with that.
Despite my best efforts, they still noticed, but I deflected them. I told one of the guys the next day that a "date didn't work out." It took a solid 48 hours to recover enough so I could operate as the good ol' Steve they know and tolerate.
"Why the confession now?" you ask. Three months later and that woman, that night are still knocking around in my head, still bothering me. We exchanged a couple of emails and talked for a few hours. It's not like I got dumped by a longtime girlfriend or anything. It's completely irrational for this to still haunt me the way it does. But we're talking about a guy who loses his temper when a bunch of millionaires lose a big lead in Baltimore. You're talking about a guy who is still pained by the "Immaculate Interception." So sometimes reason does not enter the equation.
Well, there it is. My attempt at self-therapy. Hopefully it works, even just a little. With any luck, these memories will head to the dustbin. Maybe I'll find them if I lift up the carpet, but otherwise they'll stay out of view. I'll let you know three months from now.