Thursday, November 17, 2016

Twas the Night Before...

The day of the wedding, I had lunch by myself.  A few of us had gone go-karting and hung out in the arcade that morning, after plans for zip lining fell through.   I wound up at a little seafood joint two blocks from the beach — just me, my crawfish and my Yuengling.  My last meal as a free man.  And not a bad choice, I might add, though some collard greens and cherry cobbler would have consummated it nicely.

As the crawfish began to disappear, I wondered if I’d be consummating anything anytime soon.  That is, considering the near-disastrous events of the night before.

Rehearsal had gone well enough, highlighted by the scrumptious swine delicacies of Hog Wild BBQ.  I was most excited about our recessional song (the Baja Men wedding classic, “Who Let the Dogs Out”) and my reception “mixtape.”  It was obvious (to me) that the old deejay hadn’t lost his touch.

Sure, one groomsman had been an hour late, and one bridesmaid missed the whole thing after getting lost in Mississippi.  (She looked like the lone survivor at the end of a horror movie as she avowed, “People think Alabama and Mississippi are the same.  They’re not.  Mississippi is way scarier.”)  But I figured if that’s the worst thing that happened, we were in good shape.

It wasn’t.

LJ and his wife invited us out to the Flora-Bama afterwards.  I should interject here that I may have given Fiancee Bone the impression that we would not go out after rehearsal.  I did this by telling her, “We will not go out after rehearsal.”  After all, we still had our vows to write!  (Procrastination being the mother of…. No wait, procrastination being the tie that… Eh, whatever, I’ll finish that line later.)

But we (I) was feeling guilty and trying to fit in as many friends and family as we (I) could.  After all, almost everyone had driven a minimum of five hours to get here.  So we (I) agreed (volunteered us) to go.

We rode with them and left Fiancee Bone’s car in the parking lot of the Gulf State Park Pavilion.  Our only instructions were to be cleared out by midnight because that’s when the gate would be locked.

The Flora-Bama was sprawling and historic, if uneventful.  It seemed the sort of place you really had to be inebriated to enjoy.  We got back to the Pavilion by 11:30. The gate, naturally, was locked.

After a few minutes of hemming, hawing, and investigating the situation, I decided there was space enough between the gate and a nearby utility pole to fit the car.  Perhaps you already have some idea where this is going?

As I navigated the five-speed, front-wheel drive German sedan towards the seemingly ever-shrinking gap, I looked at the three of them — LJ, my best man and friend of twenty-plus years; Mrs. LJ, well-intentioned if uber-panicky; and Fiancee Bone.  The skepticism was palpable.

I pressed on, determined to skillfully maneuver Fiancee Bone’s car through the opening, across a sandy threshold and into our future together.  Hero, thy name is Bone.

(I believe it was Gordon Lightfoot who once sang, “Heroes often fail.”)  My mistake was being too careful.  Not wanting to damage Fiancee Bone’s vehicle, I took it too slow.  The front-wheel drive, rather than working to pull me out of the sand (did I mention I was driving through sand?) only served to dig me in deeper -- literally and figuratively, I was thinking about this time.

I scanned Fiancee Bone’s face, trying to gauge her, um, enthusiasm.  On a scale of “I’m leaving and driving back home tonight” to “I love you forever,” it was a solid “I may not be speaking to you for awhile.”  We’d be fine.  Let’s face it, she’d surely put up with way worse than this in our time together.  I was inexplicably optimistic.

The three of us — LJ, Fiancee Bone and myself — got out to try and push.  Mrs. LJ got back into her own vehicle, presumably to panic some more or hide from the police that we all assumed would be arriving any minute.

Though buoyed by Mrs. LJ’s constant declarations of “This is never going to work,” pushing was a no-go.  The front wheels were nearly half-buried by now, thanks to some excessive gassing it earlier by yours truly.  The thought crossed my mind that no girl should have to be pushing a car from a stuck position the night before her wedding.  But in some way, it made me love her even more.   I looked at her again, and in that moment, I felt pretty confident she was not having similar thoughts about me.

Fiancee Bone began to call family members and friends to see if there was anyone who could pull us out, while Mrs. LJ consoled her with utterances of “I’d be so upset if I were you.”  I separated from the group a bit and walked back to the car.  That’s when I saw it — wedged down in the corner of the driver’s side window — the world’s tiniest post-it note.

I held the absurdly small piece of paper in the light and read it’s once-important but now terribly untimely message:

“Gate is dummy locked.  Please lock up when you leave.”

Why?  Just… why?

First of all, notes on cars go under the windshield wiper, everyone knows that!  I'm pretty sure that's in Deuteronomy, or would have been had post-it notes been invented in 1500 B.C., right between gleanest ye not thy fields after the harvest and something something something thine brother's oxen.

Secondly, who buys the 1/2 inch by 1 3/4 inch post-it notes?  They are very hard to see!  Nothing says "I wanted to leave you a note so technically you couldn't say I hadn't, but I didn't really want you to get the message" more than this.

Now you understand, Fiancee Bone hadn’t wanted to go out in the first place.  Plus there was the little matter of the car getting stuck while it just so happened I was the one driving it.  So I was already skating on the thinnest of ice.  But this bit of news, which meant the entire misadventure could have and should have been avoided, had turned that ice to slush.

I walked back to the group — they had remained preoccupied — and did not say a word, but simply handed the note to Fiancee Bone.  My brain must have suppressed the memory of her reaction in the interest of self-preservation or something, because I cannot recall a thing that she said.

In order to put the finishing touches on my magnum opus, I strolled over to the entrance, easily removed the lock and swung open the gate.  Voila!  Well, at least I’ll know for next time?

Not more than a couple of minutes later, we noticed the headlights of a vehicle begin to slow and pull off the side of the road.  How were we going to explain our situation?  There’s no way the police would believe the truth.  More likely, they would think we’d broken in, went joy riding in the parking lot, probably smoked a few doobies, and got stuck on our way out.  I began to wonder what the Gulf Shores Jail was going to look like.

Would it be like the Andy Griffith Show?  That wouldn’t be so bad.  Or would it be more like Law & Order?  Would I get my own cell or would I be in holding with a bunch of other criminals?  I knew that regardless I would not be able to “go” in that little sink/toilet thingy with no privacy.  I’d just have to wet myself.  Of that, I was certain.

As it turns out, my toilet nightmare would have to wait.  It was not the cops.   Instead a white jacked-up truck had pulled up.  Two boys who looked to be no older than nineteen or twenty got out.  Without saying a word, one hopped into the bed of the truck and began pulling out a chain.  The other offered nothing more than a brief “Ya’ll stuck?” greeting as he began to tie one end of the chain around the front right wheel of Fiancee Bone’s car.  It was as if they had done this a hundred times before.

Displaying a prowess normally reserved for a NASCAR pit crew, they had us unstuck within three minutes.  It would have been sooner but someone didn’t realize he had the car in reverse at first.  We insisted they take twenty bucks for their trouble.

Back on the road, we saw the white truck again on the strip.  It was turning into the Hooters.   A well-deserved reward, I thought.

Meanwhile, Fiancee Bone wasn’t saying much.  Probably thinking about how to convey her undying devotion to me in her vows.

“You know, one day we’ll look back on all this and laugh,” I offered, feebly.  

From her reaction I gathered that today was not that day.

"Tomorrow we can drive around this town, and let the cops chase us around.  The past is gone, but something might be found to take its place..."


  1. What a story! I wish I could add more but I'm still lost in thought and laughter.

    1. I knew someone would look back at this and laugh!

  2. you sure know how to show a gal a good time.

  3. You still have it. Great story.
    Poor fiancee Bone

    1. Thanks. Yes, Fiancee Bone has become a sentimental figure to many.

  4. This is classic Bone. I wish I had been there. As for skating on thin ice, that goes without saying along the Gulf Coast!

    1. So true. It's so easy to get into trouble down there. I just never pictured it quite exactly like this.

  5. Happened upon this hilarious story via my friend Ed, and I'm so glad I did. May you and the now (surely she went through with it!) Mrs. Bone have many years of happiness and laughter together. After reading this, something tells me that's pretty much a given. Congrats.

    1. Thank you so much. She did go through with it.

  6. "I scanned Fiancee Bone’s face, trying to gauge her, um, enthusiasm. On a scale of “I’m leaving and driving back home tonight” to “I love you forever,” it was a solid “I may not be speaking to you for awhile.” We’d be fine. Let’s face it, she’d surely put up with way worse than this in our time together. I was inexplicably optimistic."

    This may be the best paragraph ever.

    Mrs. LJ sounds ... delightful.

    1. Thanks. I try to at least come up with one good paragraph per post.

    2. You have more than one per post - eyeroll.

  7. Hilarious.. by now, I'm sure. ;) Congrats to the two of you. The best adventures are still ahead.

    1. Thanks, Hilary! We do laugh about it now. And I haven't gotten into too much trouble since.... Hmm, perhaps I'm slacking? :)