There is something to be said for a long-laid plan that – after well over a decade – goes off without a hitch, especially when those most intimately involved had no idea there was any sort of plan in the first place. Such was the case on Saturday, when two close friends of mine – Jenn and Bill – officially tied the knot.
The term “fairy-tale wedding,” often overused, comes to mind, but that’s neither here nor there.
Before I proceed, however, I’m forced to admit that I’m – beyond a doubt – what some would call a “crier.” You know, one of those people who breaks down and cries during long-distance phone commercials, especially when the holidays roll around. I cry at the end of sappy romantic comedies. In fact, there are three motion pictures – all of which would easily make my top five, all-time-greatest-films-ever-made list – “Dances With Wolves,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Braveheart,” that still, to this day, reduce me to tears.
Actually, to be completely honest, they make me weep like an infant. And no, I’m not ashamed to admit it. Which is why, on Saturday, I was so proud of myself for keeping the flood gates, at least partially, closed.
And yes, weddings, as you can probably guess, typically reduce me to tears as well.
The most amazing thing about Bill and Jenn’s wedding, however, is the fact that sixteen or seventeen years ago, none of us (I’m guessing) ever saw this coming. You see, that’s around the time they first dated. I had just graduated high school and was preparing for my freshman year at Ithaca College, where Bill would be a sophomore. It was, in all honesty, one of the most magical summers of our lives. On a side note, it was also the prelude to the summer of ‘96, which would forever change our little crew, but that’s a story for another day.
I can’t quite remember the first time I met Bill, but I’m fairly certain it had something to do with a group of us, sitting around a table and rolling the dice, all while guzzling Mountain Dew (by the gallon), munching down some Pizza Hut and, all-in-all, having a great time hanging out (and yes, we were playing Dungeons & Dragons, I admit it). My best friend Eric (also at the wedding, of course) didn’t join us until later that year and, eventually, the three of us would go on to form a band, Lunar Stew.
A fourth member – also named Brian – decided to leave the band in August of ‘96 ... to join the Army ... without telling us (that one’s for you Bill).
Bill and I also spent two years together as members of the NHS Jazz Ensemble’s rhythm section – Bill on the keyboard bass, me on guitar. We would spend jazz band rehearsals chugging IBC Root Beer and trying our damnedest to puzzle-out those pesky little black dots which adorned those now-unforgetable charts, song with titles like “Summertime,” “Lover Man,” “Caravan,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Night in Tunisia,” “Satin Doll,” “Georgia on My Mind” and, of course, “Pressure Cooker.” Ironically, Bill would go on to learn the “real” bass guitar just a little over a year after he graduated from NHS, at my urging. It is – along with so many other memories – one of those moments I’ll never forget.
As for Jenn, well, what can I say. Jenn is one-of-a-kind. And while I didn’t really see her all that often following the summers of ‘95 and ‘96, I know I’ll never forget running into her one evening at the Number 5 Restaurant in Binghamton, as the band I was currently in prepared to take to the stage. It was so wonderfully random and I was taken completely by surprise. It wasn’t too long after that that Facebook and Myspace became Internet sensations, allowing friends like Jenn and I to keep in touch. Not to mention Bill, who was now in San Francisco (I will make it there someday, Bill, I promise).
Regardless, nearly twenty years after they first dated, Bill and Jenn got married on Saturday. As I said earlier, I don’t think any of us could have seen it coming, but the event itself was truly moving. Even funnier? Our musician-in-arms Eric – as well as the other Brian (the Army didn’t work out too well) – are both engaged now. In fact, Eric and I will both be members of Brian’s wedding party this fall (sure to be another knock-out celebration). Which will leave me, of course, as the last man standing, figuratively speaking, when it comes to our crew of musical miscreants, but I’m in no hurry for the altar at this point.
Oh, and about that “holding back the flood gates,” I lied. Of course I was crying, I always cry at weddings, especially one as beautiful and inspiring as Bill and Jenn’s. A touch sentimental, I know, but that’s probably why my friends – at least the ones that know me best – call me the fool.
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