Usually when the Sears clan gets together, it's because someone has died. This past weekend, we reconvened for the wedding of my sister Lauren.
I arrived in Rhode Island on Thursday to find the good ol' gloomy weather I knew from my formative years. I always enjoy the ride home from the airport, where I get to soak in the sights of my home state. The Dunkin' Donuts stores on every street corner. The new CVS or Wallgreens that pop up like insects in summer. The sheer lack of fancy sports cars I've grown used to cussing under my breath in Florida.
And of course my reunion with the queen of the Sears family, Jelly herself.
I attended my brother-in-law's bachelor party at Dave's Bar & Grill Thursday night. The music was terrible. Every successive song hurt more than the previous one. There was lots of pool. A typical Rhode Island run in with the mother of fellow Thunderbolt and Husky I knew. In the end, it made the bachelor party of one Jeff A.J. Burnett Schaible look like a scene from the Hangover.
On Friday came the wedding rehearsal. This is where I reunited with the priest officiating my sister's wedding -- Father Joe Upton. Seeing Joe, who used to clown around a ton in high school, decked out in priestly attire and coolly running the rehearsal was something to see. And more proof of how old I am getting.
From there we went to the rehearsal dinner at Pinielli's off Route 2. I ordered the seafood risotto instead of the chicken parm because I'm a risk taker and an adventurous eater. The best part of the night came when the waiters served the plates of chicken parm -- the biggest pieces of chicken I've ever seen.
At first, I mistook them for super chickens, the one Peter Griffin has battled a few times. Take your large dinner plate and imagine a piece of breaded chicken stretching from one end to the other. It was gigantic. If only Jeff Schaible could have seen it. He would have taken it home and framed it.
The day of the actual wedding saw picture perfect weather after non-stop clouds. We in the groom's party did what men usually do one wedding days -- wait. An SUV limo escorted us to the family parish just five minutes from my parents' house and dropped us off in order to pick up the girls. We waited in the church for over an hour.
It did amuse me that before the mass as the church was holding a pet blessing. Parishioners stood in a circle on the church lawn with their oblivious dogs and cats as the priest read prayers. I found it hilarious. I'm sure the dogs are thinking 'What is life?' and 'Is there a God?'
The traditional Catholic ceremony was very nice. Father Upton runs a tight ship in what was his first wedding as a priest. From the church we rode the limo all the way down to Narragansett for the reception at The Towers, a medieval-looking place right off the beach. It's a popular venue and now I see why.
My two sisters gave the maid of honor toast, but erred when calling Lauren the favorite. I'm the favorite. And if I'm not the favorite, then it's Jelly. The best man speech was heart-felt, given by the groom's brother. Of course it wasn't good as mine, but that's a lofty standard.
Now, a wedding reception is always a dicey minefield for singles. Young and old, there were lots of intersexual mingling and forlorn faces on the lonely throughout the night. It was heart-wrenching to see my aunt's face during the anniversary dance. She was having trouble keeping it together because she had lost her husband a couple years ago.
My sisters were urging me to talk to my sister's former boss, an attractive woman who was certainly enjoying herself on the dance floor. First of all, I hate dancing. Hate it. It's just uncomfortable to me. Now, if the wedding party broke into a game of pick-up basketball or 24 trivia, I'd be in my element. And it's weird to have my sisters and mom urging me on like that.
Anyway, by the time I worked up the courage, my cousin Matt stepped in. He was all over her, dancing with a drink in his hand, going all Jersey Shore on her. And when I say all over her, I mean it. He was in her ear for the rest of the night.
I finally found a chance to display the Sears charm toward the end of the reception where we went through the usual pleasantries. It's tough to hold a conversation over blasting music. I don't know how people do it. And in the confusion and hustle and bustle at the end, she went off to her hotel and that was that.
Either way, I was heading back to Florida the next day so it felt useless to meet new people. When would I be seeing this girl again anyway? I felt the same way with the groom's family. Nothing against them, but I float in like a guest star in Friends during sweeps, coming to town during Christmas and sundry other occasions. So the impetus to get to know people wasn't there.
And I'm not know for being a chatty gadfly, am I?
I flew out the next day. Months before I started my new 5 a.m. shift, I scheduled this flight a tad late in the evening. A three hour trip turned into eight, a magic trick airlines perform with great skill. A layover in Philly was delayed an hour, the flight was so bumpy there was screaming on the plane, and a middle-aged mother had to ask me if I was alright as I gripped the armrests with my face an ashen white.
It also took me a half-hour to exit the economy parking lot at the airport and I got home at 12:30. I ended up sleeping just three hours before I had to roll into work. Thanks to a medium iced coffee I made it.
But who cares about my travails. My sister is on her honeymoon. Congrats, Lauren and Derek! Welcome to the family, brother-in-law!