The dining hall turned out way better than expected. If I hadn't known it was a cafeteria, I wouldn't have guessed. I did sort of wonder why the wedding was held there, since both bride and groom are pushing thirty. Turns out the groom works at Rutgers.
My brothers were at the wedding, too. I've known the bride's father, Adrian, since I was ten. He and I met in Cub Scouts, where he was a fun-loving kid who did an amazing Donald Duck impression, which instantly made him the coolest kid ever amongst the Cub Scout set. My brothers met him through me. He didn't live in our neighborhood, or go to the same school, so we didn't see much of him outside of Scouts, but about a year later his mom bought the house behind ours. After that, the four of us became inseparable. His house had the best basement ever for hanging out in. It even had a secret entrance (it was the window through which they used to dump coal into the coal room in the old days). We used to put on neighborhood shows down there. I'd do magic tricks, Adrian would do Donald Duck, and the we'd all do skits. We were even going to do A Christmas Carol one year, but ran out of steam about a week into rehearsals. My mother has always considered him her fourth son, and his mother mentioned at the wedding that she felt the same way about my brothers and I.
As a side note, this is the first wedding I've attended where I was a friend of the parent, rather than the person getting married. Tough to get old.
It was also good to see Ade's mother and sister. I hadn't in about twenty years. His mom in remarkably good shape for someone pushing eighty. She and Adrian's father divorced years before I met them, and she raised three kids alone in an era when there weren't a lot of professional women who were also single moms. She's a remarkable woman, all the more so for the patience she demonstrated time and time again upon coming home from work to discover what her extended set of sons had cooked up down in the basement.
Sometimes the world is very small. My brothers and I knew nothing of the groom prior to the wedding. As we sat in the chapel waiting for the service to start, a woman was standing near the front, and my brother nudged his SO and asked, "Isn't that the cashier from the hardware store on the corner by us." SO looked up and agreed. Turned out it was the groom's mother. Turned out they knew the groom's father, too.
I love my brother's SO to death, but sometimes I wonder about the poor dear. Her camera's battery gave out on her, so I lent her my digital SLR to take some pictures. Showed her how to work it, and off she went to take some pictures. A minute later she was back, saying she couldn't see anything in the viewfinder. I removed the lens cap, and sent her back on her way. She took a couple of pics, then handed the camera back, saying she was done for the night. Later she asked me to take a picture of her and my brother, so I framed the shot and took the picture. As soon as I was done, she said, "Oh, there's an eyepiece? That's why I was having so much trouble. I was trying to take pictures, but the screen was black, so I was just aiming the camera in the general direction."
She's a crane operator by profession. My brother told me the story about how she was operating a cherry picker with a crew working on a brownstone renovation in NYC, when this English guy comes out of the brownstone across the street, and asks if he can take a ride on the cherry picker. She politely said no, that she couldn't do that. Then he asked her if she knew who he was, and she replied, "Sure, you're that Paul McCarthy guy." And with that, Sir Paul McCartney walked away and didn't bother her again.
A paraphrased conversation with my other brother:
Him: So what have you been doing for the summer?
Me: I've been riding my bike a lot.
Him: Cool! Me, too. I did eighteen miles this morning. (Goes on to mention his bike and some of his routes.)
Me: I usually do about eighteen, too, but this morning's was shorter because I had to head down here. I did break my personal best for miles in a season, though.
Him: That's super! I've piled up a lot of miles, too. I even did the Five Boro Bike Tour back in May.
Me: What's that?
Him: It's a 42 mile ride through all five boroughs of New York City.
Me: You rode over the Verrazano Bridge? That must be one heck of a hill.
Him: It's near the end of the ride. You should've seen all the people huffing and puffing. I was worried, but I'd been riding so much that I was in really good shape for it. I was passing people as I went up.
Me: Did I mention I bought a new bike?
Him: Did I mention I've been playing softball?
Me: [Desperately beckons to woman carrying an hors d'oeuvre tray] Are those chicken teriyaki skewers?
Back when she was much younger, I used to call the bride "Sparky," a nickname she never especially cared for. Can't imagine why. She was still complaining about it last time I saw her up at the farm. So I went out of my way to avoid even referring to that name Saturday. I never had to. Everybody else in her family calls her Sparky now.
The counter with the sinks in the dining hall men's room were piled high with all sorts of stuff: Q-tips, flossers, small tubes of toothpaste, peppermint candies, etc. My brother claims there were condoms, but they were gone by the time I needed to use the room. All were individually wrapped, but as the evening went on, and more and more water got spashed all over the counter from folks washing their hands, those candies got a lot less appetizing.
After the party, I headed over to Al's to crash, and also to deliver some pie from Rhode Island, since there is apparently no decent pie to be had in Jersey. Sunday I hung out with Al and Durrah for most of the day, then headed back home.
The trip back was one for doing things I hadn't done in ages. I tried heading for the Tappan Zee by way of the Parkway instead of the Turnpike, something I hadn't done in years. Except that traffic backed up badly in East Orange. Fortunately, it was right at the exit for I-280, so I got on that and cut over to the Turnpike by way of downtown Newark, someplace I thought I'd seen the last of decades ago. I'd shown Al Jon's White Castle ad earlier in the day, so I stopped and had dinner at a White Castle in Nyack. When I got to Connecticut, I took the Merritt for a change, which is a remarkably pretty road. Finally, I stopped at the soft serve ice cream place just down the road from my house for a chocolate cone.