Wednesday, May 25, 2016

In Which the Infamous "Bad Reputation at Weddings "Curse is Lifted

This is Tim                           This is me.        

This past weekend, Tim and myself had the honor of being groomsmen in our great friends, Jeff Doke and Susan Perry's wedding.  Doke and Susan are two of my closest friends so this was a very special occasion. Not only was this, as the Soaps put it, "A Very Special Wedding" but it was also the first time Kim and myself were both in a wedding party together. It would be an outstanding weekend filled with a celebration of love for my two friends along with reunions of old ones not to mention Kim and the kids getting to meet several important people from my younger and more rampant years.

Unfortunately, there was an elephant in the room, partly of my own doing and partly because stories have a life of their own. As they get retold, these stories sometimes get larger.

You see, Tim and I have a bit of a reputation regarding our attendance in weddings as a :                                          

Guilty as charged....

With that being said, it's pretty obvious that there was just a tad bit of pressure hanging above us. No worries. Doke is a pretty easy going guy and I had rented a golf cart in which I ended up tricking out over the weekend so I knew I could outrun Susan. (Sorry Susan, while you never once acted like a Bridezilla not to mention  a perfect lady as well as hostess, I'm still a little scared of you. I've learned to never cross a Brunswick girl......Love you, Mrs. Doke)

The wedding took place on Driftwood Beach which in my humble opinion is one of Georgia's most gorgeous beaches and also not well known. It is a very special place to Susan and Doke so that only added to the beauty of the "day".

Oddly enough, Driftwood Beach's name is not ironic.....

As the Big Day drew closer, Doke put out an All-call for there to be be as much Anti-Rain Voodoo as possible. I contributed by packing my rain jacket the Big Guy gave me for Christmas one year, Every time I pack that damn jacket, it never rains. I've probably worn the stupid thing less than a few times. Our friend, Courtney, claimed to do to perform a series of elaborate No Rain Dances back in LA where she lives now. Fingers were crossed and everyone quietly hoped Doke had a Plan B as the chances of rain did not seem to subside.....until the very last minute.

Our good friend, John Trotter does a daily sketch and for Saturday, Doke and Susan's Big Day, Trotter drew this:

There was much joking around during lunch about how dusty every one's villas were as they checked their Facebook because it was impossible to look at Trotter's cartoon and not tear up. We could all feel the impact this wedding would have on all of us. It didn't matter whether it rained or not, All that mattered was to watch our friends tie the knot and start their new lives together with their families.

 It's a cheesy thing to write much less say out loud, but as I looked at this sketch, all I could think was that line Steve Martin said in L.A. Story about how he'd stop the polarity of the earth, roll in fog, etc. etc. to keep his love from leaving. I kept thinking of how much Doke would do anything to give Susan the wedding she never had.

And it went off without any huge hitches. A few few people were late. A couple of folks needed last minutes rides to the beach but by 4 o' clock, everyone was at their respective wedding posts:guests and attendants.

Best use of a pallet ever.

I'd also like to mention how Tim and I created nor caused any wedding drama, disaster, discourse, disturbances, divorces, division, damages, destruction, debates, departures, and keeping with the "D" theme:   duets.

Now there were a few close calls. Tim had originally planned to show up at the rehearsal wearing a pair of these

The Tim I knew from 10 years ago would have shown up wearing this with myself alongside wearing a cape as had been bandied around jokingly. But we're older now. We have careers, families, responsibilities, house payments and such. We have matured. So much in fact, we waited until the cookout after rehearsal. It actually went over really well.

Tim wore one and then handed me the other. I honestly am saying I had no idea just how comfortable wearing a pasty would be. Surprisingly comfy and it doesn't hurt when you pull it off (well, except for chest hair but I wouldn't think would be an issue for the intended use.). They are also surprisingly affordable, though to be honest, I've never really considered just what a pasty should cost. Check it out on Amazon.

 Everyone always says how it was a beautiful wedding but this one hit home for myself. Watching Doke and Susan exchange their vows was almost too much. Both of them had been through enough to be in a Meredith Baxter-Birney Lifetime movie so when vows were read, the tears started streaming.

All of us had stood beside both of our friends through some pretty crazy times but somehow these crazy kids made it and everyone recognized the power of what Susan and Doke feel towards each other.

A few Christmases ago when Doke had not reconnected with Susan yet, we had driven together to a friend's dad's funeral. When we came back to my house afterward, The kids were being sweet while Kim greeted me at the door with a kiss followed by one of her patented smart ass quips. Doke looked wistfully and said, "This is what I want for myself someday."

As Doke opened up his moleskin notebook and read his vows to Susan, I kept thinking to myself. "Well Ol' Boy, you certainly got what you wished for and much more. Well done, sir."

 It would be at the reception not only filled with good food, laughter, and flower girls dancing to
catchy little ditties like the Chicken Dances and the Cha Cha Slide. It would be the location where Tim and I would have to go through our final labors to prove we had grown up and were no longer a danger to bachelor parties, wedding ceremonies, and receptions.

Scott Ryfun is one of Doke's buddies down in Brunswick and does a popular radio show down that way. He is neat guy as well as the creator of the podcasts, My Star Wars Story and the notorious Dinner 4 Geeks.  As the reception was winding down, Ryfun sought me out and said with a grin, "We need a criminal. C'mon." Ego stroked, I went along.

Curiously I followed Ryfun outside to meet up with another of the Dinner 4 Geeks commentators, Ryan. It was Ryan who shared how he had gotten a hold of the bridal suite room key and we were minutes away from going and trashing it. The following conversation occurred pretty much like this in a short narrative in which I've entitled:

Scenes From a Wedding Reception

ME:  (without hesitation) Nope. I'm out
RYAN:  Where's your balls? C'mon it will be hilarious.
ME:  My balls are exactly where they've always been. I'm no afraid at all. I'm just staying out of this.           Tim and I have garnered a tad bit of a rep at these things and I am lying low.


TIM:  Hey guys, what's up? Ryfun said to meet out here.
RYAN:  We're about to go and mess up Doke and Susan's room.
TIM:   (without hesitation, part II) Nope. Have fun.


TIM:   Did we just...?
ROBBY:  Yep, We're getting old.
TIM: I don't think it's that so much as you and I are determined to not have anyone cursing when our             names are mentioned this time,


What were the odds that the Groom's cake would be Star Wars related? Hmmmmmm...

Our final test would come when the lucky bride and groom were preparing to leave. There was this idea in which all the guests would line up outside in two rows and much like a royal military procession where swords are crossed, the happy couple would meander their way on out.

This is an adorable idea. My first thought was instead of swords, we'd all hold toy light sabers due to Doke and Susan's love of geek culture. Imagine my shock when Kim explained we'd all hold these mongo-sized sparklers overhead as the Dokes would pass under us.

I love my friends. They are amazing people. Seriously. But I also recognize that once alcohol has been added to the equation the resulting sum using ends in some sort of call to an emergency service. Add to this equation the variable in which I am a fire bug especially after a few libations, then game on.

No wedding parties were harmed in the making of this photo....

Somehow the Dokes were able to do not one but two passes (for photo reasons and not some perverted Red Rover fantasy) without incident. I spent most of my time trying not burn any around me and the other half trying to keep Littleman from putting out my eye.

The rest of the evening went off without a hitch and was quite fun. I got to smoke a Cuban cigar while hanging out with Stu and Kevin, Courtney's husband. Everyones' kids had a blast running around together.  Kim and I spent much time with everyone hanging out in the Villa's pool and passing the bottle around. The Dokes even came by and the evening very slowly turned into an "I love you, Man"-Fest. It was awesome.

Now don't get me wrong. This weekend was certainly all about Susan Perry and Jeff Doke getting married. Frankly, Kim, the kids, and myself had so much fun, it reminded me how special wedding can be. I revisit what I said earlier about that Christmas break back when Doke was single and wanting to find that girl who was just right for him.

There are some couples you meet in life and you know they gel just right. Pardon the Forrest Gump reference but you guys are each other's peas and carrots and I am thrilled that I got to be a part of this very special day. Thank you both.

You did it, Doke Well done, sir.

And I did nothing to fuck it up this time. Curse broken. I'll have that top shelf margarita, please.

These are is probably my favorite non-wedding related pictures of the weekend in which Kim took
About that time the Duke Boys decided it was time to groove......

Also love this one of the Duchess at Tortuga Jack's
"Waiter, I ordered the large...."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Bring it on, 2015!

Contrary to popular opinion, Kepis are not comfortable
Tour guiding has been a bit slow so I’ve taken on a new gig downtown as an historical actor for one of the trolley companies. At times I feel a bit silly but the money is good and will get me through the upcoming winter season. As I begin to stretch and get comfortable in acting again for the first time in twenty something years, I find that I enjoy the job.
            It’s a bit of a kick to play someone and entertain. The longer I do this, the more I am reminded of my theatre days up in Young Harris and the blast I had but I am finding other aspects of my new job that I am enjoying even more.
            During my three hour shifts, I have a lot of down time as I wait for the next trolley to pull up so I can do my Civil War Soldier spiel. Some of the time is spent reading my kindle which I downloaded on to my new windows phone. The view is spectacular for the Savannah downtown. Many of the tourists will come up and we begin to chat which has been a blast. I’ve spoken to people from all around the country and many parts of Canada and even South Korea.

            Because I am camped out at the corner of where the Mansion meets Forsyth Park, the people watching is superb. So far, I’ve gotten to meet a lovely older couple who have two corgis they named Porgy and Bess. There is the crazy electric wheelchair lady who takes her Chihuahua out for a walk and during the last cold snap, she looked like a deranged Yukon Cornelius out searching for his silver and gold. I call this one guy the Griot. He’s an older African American gentleman whom always has a wooden walking stick. While he carries it though, the Griot never lets that stick turn vertical or touch the ground. The stick is laden with beaded bracelets and all sorts of decorative trinkets. I swear the Griot even has an old teething ring on there that looks just like the one my little sis had when she was a toddler.
            Yesterday, I was witness to something that brought back some very happy old memories which affected me in a good way for a change. As I sat, leaning against the Mansion’s wall, a young family approached. Mom and Dad were both young, probably in their early to mid-thirties. The parents were bundled up in some very nice designer wear.
            The Dad was pulling a red wagon which turned out to be a brand new Radio Flyer. The payload was an adorable two year little girl who had the biggest smile in the world. As they walked past me, that little girl acted like she was training to be on a beauty pageant float somewhere down the road. Dad would make deep trunk horn sounds which prompted that little girl to squeal in delight. I could not help but share in that joy.
            Out of the blue, an old memory shot into my skull like an electric charge. I’m about five years old in Savannah at my grandparents’ house. I am being pulled around in my Sears & Roebuck special edition red wagon by my Pop. As we go down the hall way into the living room, Pop bellows in that old Savannah dialect which is an amalgam of a refined Southern drawl with a large dash of Gee Chee.
            “Choo Choo! Dang a lang!!!!”
            I clap my hands as I laugh then shout, “Again, Pop!” to which my grandfather is more than happy to oblige. This goes on as we keep strolling through the five room house my grandparents bought back during the Depression.
            We’re on what will be our third and final lap as the bedroom door to where my parents are sleeping opens and the Big Guy stumbles out with a bit of an exasperated look.
 I forgot to mention that my grandfather was always an early riser, usually around 5am. My favorite part of these visits was always getting up with Pop and hanging out in the kitchen as he’d brew his coffee in one of those old metal percolators that would make the neatest bubbling sounds. We’d walk down and get the morning edition of the Savannah Morning News then go back and read it. Grandma wouldn’t get up until around seven so that gave Pop and I plenty of time to get into trouble together just like we just did with the Big Guy. As I look back, I realize the fun for Pop was twofold. He got to make a few amazing memories with his grandson while at the same time yanking his own son’s chain a bit.
             It’s been way too many years to recall the last time I had thought about being pulled around in that little red wagon but a smile stayed on my face for the rest of the day. By the time, that little family had crossed over Drayton and got into Forsyth Park, I knew I’d want to write about this.
As I was trying to figure out how I was going to lay it all down on paper, it got me to thinking about the New Year. Not going to lie to you, while 2014 had some very special moments, I was happy to see the door hit it in the ass on the way out. It’s been a bumpy road of late which I own up to some of my own doing but I’m ready to start 2015 off right.
            I hate New Year’s Resolutions nor have I ever really been able to keep anything significant. Years ago, I began a series of sarcastic ones like, finally give up heroin, bring back codpieces in men’s wardrobes, all while trying to gain membership into the Daughters of the Confederacy. Nor am I going to start them now.
          For a while, I debated on maybe I should focus on trying to be a better person but it just felt cliché. I kept coming back to that red wagon that both I and that little girl at the park got so much happiness from. So I decided that not only am I going to focus more on finding the joy that is my world around me but I also want to help be a source of that for others. How to go about such a thing, I have no idea but I know that working on my attitude will be a start.
           As I peer into the start of 2015, I am actually a little excited. I’m writing again which always helps me deal with all my crazy. There are some big things on the horizon for this year. My kids are healthy, beautiful, and doing great. My wife just keeps getting more and more gorgeous as she heads down her own career path of writing.
          I guess the trick is to remember that when everything comes crashing down, it’s not that hard to take a second and remember how awesome the world can be just like that little girl did in the back of that wagon and just smile like you are in your own parade.
          Last night before I went to bed, I was reading Facebook because I couldn't sleep. I rarely pay attention to most memes unless they are funny, dark or sarcastic but I came across one that caught my eye and resonated with me. 

           Maybe it's from all the Breaking Bad I've been watching with Kim but as I start out in this New Year, I keep hearing the following phrase said in my best Jesse Pinkman voice....
            "Choo Choo Dang a lang, bitches………"

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Time for Everything.....

            In the previous three years, Kim and I have several firsts. First phone call. First date. First kiss. Today was another first. We looked at our first house.
            Two weeks ago, this would have never happened so what has changed? Simple. Mom has decided to sell the family home and move on to Metter.
            In my last post, I explained in great detail the whole story. At the end I also recognized it was just a place and I’d be happy anywhere I lived so long as Kim and the kids were there along with the occasional visits from Aunt Mary and Aunt Christine not mention Amy, Kim's sister, who always makes the best cocktails. While, on one hand it sucks, on the other it has been quite freeing. I am amazed at how easily I am adjusting to the idea of not having a home at 2619 Salcedo Ave.
            We rent and have been here for several years. I love my house from the swinging bachelor days when I moved in here five years ago to the quiet family life I have here now over cook outs by the pool. Over the past year or so, Kim has often mentioned the money we’d save if moved somewhere smaller or bought. I’d always balk because I knew the family home was in my future and I didn’t want to get stuck with a house payment and the family property.
            That’s all gone now so I am freed up to look around and not feel tied to anything. And we did. It was pretty exciting.
The New Geeky Hut or maybe stately Rich Manor?
            I had never looked at a house to purchase before. The place is a foreclosure out on the marsh. I’d have a deck with palm trees. There’s a huge fireplace to hold my Star Wars Trash Compactor Book ends and room for Xmas stockings. I pictured myself cooking many pancakes over the island in the kitchen. I already could picture Roni and Jude’s room. I also know where I want the shark head to go.
            I flash forwarded to next summer Raising Arizona style to a scene of us hosting a cookout when the Freenors would arrive along with David Westbrook and his magical recorder. We’d pop a few beers as much shit would be given to me about whatever point Steve and Dave could rib me about. Jeff Doke and family would arrive with their obligatory bottle of rum and his guitar for a little strumming on the deck.
            So are we going to buy this place? I have no idea. It’s a HUD home with much to look at. Yet for the first time, I allowed myself to do just that. Look at something I had not already pre-ordained in my head. And somehow I survived. Lol.
            The reason I am writing this is because I now know I am going to be all right with this unexpected change in my life. I had fun walking around with my wife and trying to plan out in my head how to fit all of our stuff into this new place. I want to do it again and I suspect we will now.
   A couple of days ago, I came across this on Facebook. I don’t really go for all those uplifting expressions and usually reserve my meme watching for something more sarcastic. Yet this one got a hold of me and just wouldn’t let go. I guess someone is trying to tell me something and for once, I am going to listen.

            Well there you go, another first…..I’m getting good at this. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Letting it Go.

           It’s been a rough patch of late and I’ve been having a hard time trying to find my smile and I am finally going to explain why. I haven’t been holding back because I wanted to be dramatic. It’s just been a bit difficult to wrap my brain around how life has been going lately and I wanted to figure out how I felt before I said anything because I know questions are going to follow.
            Thursday a week ago, my mom called me after dinner. I assumed it was to check in and see how things are. She was a former teacher so I unloaded all the drama that comes with going back to school. My mother listened but I quickly realized this was not the reason she called.
            My mother said, “We need to discuss some things that are going on. I can’t maintain where I live any longer so I am selling the property and I’ve going to move to Metter and buy a house there.” Mom went on to explain that this is where her life is and she really feels this is where she needs to be. The conversation took a severe nosedive and ended with my mother hanging up on me because I lost my temper and was screaming at her.
  The property in question is four acres with a marsh view, a deck, and a dock. My grandfather purchased the land for $800 during the Depression and had a small farm out there for some time. By the time I was around, Grandma and Pop had retired and made this tiny 5 room house into a home that to me still rivals any mansion or castle.
 Grandma had a small green house on the front porch where she’d tend to her hundreds of plants. Many had overgrown their pots and were spilling over and a few had even grown to touch the porch ceiling. Every spring their yard would explode in a series of reds, pinks, whites, and yellows from all the azaleas and other flowers Grandma babied.
Easter 1979
My Pop would always be tinkering outside the pump house. If he wasn’t fishing or crabbing, Pop would be in the garden. Often with me in tow because I would be in charge of mowing or weeding. Looking back, I hated every minute of it but I also now seem to have that same Richardson Green Thumb because all that time turned out to be a gardening class with Pop as the headmaster.
After they were gone, my dad and mom would spend all their free time fixing up the place. I’d get a phone call once a weekend because while dad was tinkering on the dock and mom would be laying out getting some sun, they’d see a dolphin or maybe some otters playing on the floating dock. It was always a story and I’d love to hear my father spin them even if it was over a phone cord. Not every bit of my storytelling skill come s from my grandfather, the Big Guy gets some credit too.

After Dad was gone, my friends stepped in to help which was a blessing because all the technical skills jumped a generation from Pop and Dad and all went to Mary, my sister. I stuck to mowing, weeding, and any chainsaw related work. But eventually I got sick, Mary moved away, and life went on as all of us began to start our own lives.
Ten years ago Mom moved in and has pretty much been keeping the place up, remodeling, and trying to make it a home again. She splits her time between the family property and Metter with her boyfriend.

It just got to be too much for her and I want to be very clear here. I understand that. Mom is getting older and living on a very fixed income. That property takes a lot of work and even more money. I get that. I’m not mad at my mom for having to sell our family place. I’m upset at how she went about making the decision but that is something else for me to work out and understand as I go on. 
So that’s where I am at right now. I’ve spent the past week talking with Mary and a few others so I can wrap my head around this. This is what I’ve figured out and pretty much the actual process.
It suxs.                                                                                                    
It suxs much animal genitalia.
It suxs but I am also and adult and so therefore I am just going to have to pull up the ol’ big boy pants and trudge along.
For a few days, I lost much sleep worrying about how Mary and I would come up with the $300,000 to save the property. I scoured the internet reading over rent by owners and even looked at how bed and breakfasts work. Deep down I understood I was clutching at straws even though I refused to acknowledge it.
The few friends I discussed this matter with showed enormous amounts of great support. Gideon helped me look at the business side of it and I actually began to think that maybe, just maybe, I could pull this whole thing off.
Gideon hanging Xmas lights before the Oyster Roast
It wasn’t until my old frat buddy, Jeff Ragsdale talked to me that even clicked and I finally got myself into a place where I could think realistically. For very wacky story I can share about Rags and his past like the time, I can also share how he’s grown into quite the responsible adult and very shrewd businessman.
It was Rags who pointed out the very obvious. “How can you afford to live in that place? All your money will go into maintaining the place and Kim and the kids will end up being miserable because it’s so small.”
Rags & his wife, Maria
I shook my head in a not so willing agreement as I knew my friend was right.  I don’t even hit fifty grand a year and I’m the big bread winner of the family. How could I keep the house and land up without investing not only all my time but also any income that trickles in? This is not even taking into account any of my medical bills; living car payment, regular living expenses and the fact that I have a teen age daughter who seems to believe that anything by Hollister clothes are “an investment.”
Then Rags said it, “Robby, if your dad was still alive, he wouldn’t want you to do this. You are going to put your family at risk and that’s not worth it.”
Ding went a bell.  Rags had just said the words I needed to hear that finally rang inside of my head and I knew where I had to go with this. I have to let this piece of property that has been in Richardson hands for over seventy-seven years go.

And I felt ok.
Actually even though I cried a little bit, I felt relief.
The property has been in my way for years and to be a bit poetic, hanging around my neck like an albatross. Yes, I’ve had a dream for years of living there with Kim, Roni, and Jude. I even pictured Roni and Jude learning how to throw a cast net and catching shrimp like we used to do when I was a kid. I pictured Kim and me sitting on the deck, watching the sunset with drinks in hand. She’d snuggle up to me and maybe nuzzle my ear and say something like, “I love our life here.” I pictured Christmases where Aunt Mary and Christine come to visit and we’d open presents in the living room like Mary and I did when we were younger.
1994 Our last Xmas with Grandma
            Those things already exist just in a different form. Roni and Jude love it when Kim and I pack up the van and hit Tybee for the day lounging on the beach. I get to stare at the surf while the kids attack the beach with their boogie boards. We eat cold fried chicken and everyone always laughs at me as I try to fly my kites very badly.
ROni and Kim's first time at the Dock
We don’t have a deck but Kim and I spend many of evenings sitting on the front porch staring out at our cul de sac. Kim has her glass of wine and I drink my bourbon over ice as we peer through the porch ledge which is laden with all our plants and herbs because I have my grandparents’ green thumb.
Every Christmas morning, we open our presents in our own home in Coffee Bluff in the living room. Even though Aunt Mary and Christine live in Hartford, CT, they join us through the magic of my Xbox’s video Kinect.
Xmas 1985
Someday when the wind is blowing the right way, I smell the march around me and I can hear the boats as they come up the channel. It’s not the same thing as way I grew up over at the family property but it is good enough for now because it’s my life and with my family.

After Rags and I hung up, Kim came in to check on me. She and the kids have been really supportive during this past week. As she asked if I was ok, I smiled and nodded. Everything fell into place for me.
As I started to write this blog, I kept thinking of the scene towards the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy has the Grail in reach while his father is holding them over the ledge. Indy can almost touch the Grail and it’s so close when he hears his father say calmly, “Indiana, let it go.”
You know the rest, Indiana Jones realizes his dad is right and is pulled to safety by Sean Connery. Indy never needs the Grail because in their search, he reconnected with his dad and Indy had his family again.
I have my Holy Grail too but it’s not a gold cup but rather a beautiful wife who can set the word afire when she sits behind her keyboard to write her stories, a daughter who’s beauty and smarts only rivals that of her mom’s, and a son who is as talented with his music as he is quick witted and clever. My love for them and the love they give back are worth more to me than any piece of land.
I know that good days and bad days are ahead of me as I deal with all of this. Been there, done that before. It is going to suck a little but I can’t help but feeling like the rest of my life is now ready to unfold. This is just something I have to go through to get to the next step and I am more than a little bit excited about that. I’ve got my family and that’s all I really need when it comes down to it.
“Let it go and not in the Frozen sort of way”
Thanks for reminding me of that, Indy.

 As I went through my pics to find some to use in the blog, there were just too many to fit in the actual story but I still wanted to use them because there was just so many stories that happened there. 

Hagan & Stu after removing the unplugged freezer 
Mary & me 1987 with Grandma's dog, Dutch
Dad and oysters
Hagan, Stu, Gid, and Robyn at at Low Country Boil

My dog, Belle, loved when everyone was over because there was always somewhere to get comfy

Fire Marshall Rags

This is what happens when liquor stores throw out their Xmas displays...

Sammy and his daughter Ashley

Ms. Oysterroast 2004

The Fabulous Cerveza Brothers, Doke & Casper

Gravy Smoothie?
Fishing with their Aunt

My sister can talk me into anything....

Shrimp 'stache....

Pop and Dad 1987

Ron Bebe

Pop's Piddlin' Place