Five weeks and counting. Yep, March Madness and the Final Four are right around the corner (and coincide with my wedding date…poor planning by the NCAA). Well, for those of you who have yet to take the grand leap (actually, I don’t think I know any single people), weddings require an awful lot of planning. Apparently, I will no longer be dining on Chinet paper plates with plastic UT sports cups, because we’re now registered for both everyday and fine china. (Did you know that bowls with rims are easier to carry than their rimless counterparts when filled with piping hot soup?)
Invitations can’t simply be ordered from OfficeMax and printed using a very professional italicized Times New Roman or Arial, but must be selected from countless binders filled with samples of assorted colors, shapes, designs, textures and fancy fonts. They are to be accompanied by a matching envelope on the inside (that seems to serve no purpose), RSVP cards (which must be numbered in case invitees forget to write their names…from her list, of course), and thank you notes (or rather “informals”). Yarmulkas (skull caps for my non-Jewish friends) also come in assorted colors and must be personalized so everyone will always remember our special day (the next time they are looking for something to read in services).
And then there are the countless interactions with bridal consultants, jewelers, photographers, videographers (is that even a profession?), florists, bands, rabbis, cantors, caterers, hospitality (hotel and restaurant) professionals, travel agents, etc., etc., etc. And the list goes on (as do the expenses). By the way, apparently people are supposed to bring gifts to showers, but not to engagement parties (and unfortunately we agreed to have “parties” before learning that fact).
A WEEKEND WITH THE GUYS
While my lovely bride-to-be relished every moment of the planning (except my lack of interest in choosing crystal, etc.), I looked forward to that time-honored tradition that grooms have welcomed for years…the bachelor party. And since my friends are spread out across the country, we decided to spend a full weekend partying in Austin, re-living those wild decadent times known as our college years. (What happens in Austin, stays in Austin.) Unfortunately, a few key participants found lame excuses to stay home. One had a daughter celebrating her sweet 16; another chose that weekend to move; a third felt that attending his wife’s 40th birthday celebration was more important. (Frankly, excuses like that may move them right off that groomsman list.)
A weekend at Valentines, Uncle Nasty’s, Jorges on Sixth Street, Club 606, Mad Dogs, GM Steakhouse, all of the old UT stomping grounds. (I have since learned that none of the above are still in business, but, at least, one staple remains…Katz’s Never Kloses). I felt the enthusiasm of the die-hards of the bunch on a phone call I made on the car ride up. I checked in with a buddy who wanted to start the weekend early and took off for Austinthat afternoon. He informed me that he was just settling in and fixing himself “a nice, tall glass of…” I listened closely to see how this massive partier would begin his trip. Would he start with his traditional gin and tonic, perhaps a tequila shot, a scotch, a martini, or just a beer? Would he be hammered before the rest of the gang even arrived? He continued…“I just poured myself a nice tall glass of coffee. I am so beat from the week, I was afraid I may fall asleep before you guys even make it up.” Huh…somehow, 10+ years of marriage and three kids have begun to take their toll.
Luckily, he stayed awake long enough to experience an evening that took us back to a wild time a mere 25 years before (that can’t be right?). The strawberry margaritas, light beers (and even a few diet cokes) were flowing at the hot new Tex-Mex establishment, whose bouncer chose not to waste his time carding us. Though the average age of the place rose by about 15 years once we entered, I think we blended in quite nicely. Sure we had to tell the “kids” at the table next to ours to keep it down a few times and had a bit of trouble talking business and politics over the “hip-hop” blasting in the background, but I think we held our own against the new generation (at least, in the eating department). A stroll downSixth Street(and memory lane) followed where we opted for a nightcap (as the clock struck10:30 p.m.) and one final beer (or decaf). The place was mobbed with giggling coeds who mistook us for grad students on more than one occasion. We were lucky to get out of there without lipstick on our collars (though I did have some hot sauce on my shirt) and could report back to our respective “ball and chains” that we merely had some harmless fun. (Barb…I have no idea what that means, but am just repeating what others said.)
THE PARTY CONTINUES
Saturday morning came sooner than expected as we all took the opportunity to sleep late just like in the old college days. By7:30 a.m., I could be lazy no longer. We started the day with another time-honored guys’ tradition…we went shopping. Of course, we all needed to load up on the UT National Championship garb and trinkets at the University Co-op (at least that’s still in business). While some of us choose between XL and XXL, others called home to check on kids’ sizes (and make sure their wives approved of the purchases). Burgers, fries, and rings at Huts followed as we all breathed a collective sign of relief that one of our favorite restaurants was still around. (Did they serve veggie and turkey burgers in 1984?) We then embarked on a self-directed campus tour where we had trouble finding the library, but not the old intramural gym. Actually, the new and improved workout facility was far more appealing than the old “universals” on which we pumped iron (or, at least, some of you did). We then proceeded with our whirlwind day by watching the UT basketball team trounce an overmatchedNebraskasquad. Our elite Longhorn Foundation member showed off his clout by purchasing a block of “awesome” tickets right behind the basket in the upper level (in the obstructed view section).
After the game, a short “power nap” ensued for many as we prepared for round two of our night of non-stop partying. And nothing says “bachelor party” like a big juicy NY Strip at a traditional Austin steakhouse and a single malt scotch (though a few of the fellows are watching their cholesterol and opted instead for the sea bass special and a Chablis). We ate and drank well into the night (emphasis on the “ate”). We toasted our college days, our wives (fiancées) and kids, our UT Championship football season. We predicted Vince Young’s professional successes and questioned Mack Brown’s coaching ability without a “legend” in the backfield. We talked about past business ventures and upcoming vacations. We swapped stories about “flames” long forgotten (and often made up) and exploits on the intramural fields (before our backs and knees went out). Mainly, we toasted friendship, long-lasting friendships that have stood the test of time and distance. Tonight, there would be no tequila shots or late night ventures to bars onSixth Street(or elsewhere). While our wild party days are well behind us, I will long cherish my weekend with my dear friends who came from near and far to toast the last bachelor of the bunch and share good wishes and advice for married life and the future. Here’s to a fun weekend inAustin. Here’s to good friends. Now, can any of you guys recommend a nice set of stemware?