Have you ever had a great experience or adventure and you want to share it with every one you know, but you just don't know where to begin? Well, that seems to be my particular problem right now. I've been staring at my laptop for at least an hour and I still can't seem to figure out where to start. I guess the story starts with me driving 10 hours and pouring cold water on top of my head to stay awake.
Andrea had to work the day we left for New York. So we decided to leave that night. I was going to take a nap before we left, but she left me a list of things to do, like go to her bank, pay her car payment, and so forth. By the time we got on the road it was 9 o'clock at night. I waved goodbye to Detroit as we left and put the car on cruise control. By the time we hit Ohio, Andrea was asleep. Initially, to stay awake, I mentally took stock of the car. I made sure I had my suit, her dress, my underwear, her bras and panties, my toothbrush, her … etc. Somewhere in Pennsylvania right after I poured cold water on my head for the first time, Andrea woke up to ask where we were. Once she was informed of our location and an explanation of why my shirt was so wet, she squeezed my hand and said, "We're getting married." And then she fell back asleep.
For the next 100 miles I thought about my upcoming marriage. I'm not sure whose idea it was to get married in New York. Probably Andrea's, she had planned everything and I was just along for the ride. I did, however, arrange the witnesses to our marriage. Alex, my best friend, who lives in upstate New York, would be driving into the city the same day we arrive. Zack, my roommate and good friend (like a brother, you know - the friend you love and hate at the same time), was already in New York. He flew out of Detroit a few hours before Andrea and I left. I was thrilled that my two closest friends were going to attend my wedding, and I was thrilled that Andrea was letting them attend. I poured more cold water on top of my head.
Once we got to New Jersey I stopped at a rest area and woke Andrea up. I told her that we would be in New York soon and that I needed her to help me navigate. When she got out of the car to go to the restroom she noticed brown stains on her pants. Back in Pennsylvania I had stopped for a Snickers bar and a Mountain Dew. The brown stains were from little pieces of chocolate that fell into her seat and melted during the drive. Needless to say this is not how one should begin a marriage. She was so mad at me I thought she was going to call the whole thing off. Once we were back on the road I squeezed her hand and said, "We're getting married." She looked at the chocolate stains on her pants and grimaced. For five or six miles the car had an unsettling tension in it until Andrea and I both started talking about New Jersey. I said I was surprised at how beautiful the state was and I don't know why it had such a bad reputation. She agreed and the way she agreed reassured me that our wedding was still on, chocolate stains and all.
Driving into New York City for the first time has got to be one of the most thrilling experiences a human being could possibly have. The city is massive and the skyline, well, the skyline is simply breathtaking. It was midmorning by the time we reached the city, so traffic was light. We took the Lincoln tunnel into Manhattan. Andrea had booked us a room at The Wyman House which is located in the Upper West Side of the city. I was totally prepared to pay 60 bucks a day for parking, but as chance would have it we found street parking only a couple blocks from where we were staying. Because we were driving Andrea's Honda we squeezed it in between a car and a fire hydrant on 76th street. I turned the ignition off and sighed. Andrea looked over at me and said "Don't get too comfortable, our day is just beginning."
Andie changed her cloths in the car, as she didn't want to walk around New York with brown stains on her pants. Check in at The Wyman House wasn't until 2 pm. Once we left the car we decided to get breakfast. We walked a couple of blocks and found a cozy little diner. The diner wasn't exceptional or nasty. It was typical, except for the bathroom. It was located in the basement and the stairs were very, very steep. Andrea was wearing heels and couldn't manage the stairs. So after an egg and bacon breakfast we embarked on a quest for a more suitable toilet. I suggested we walk back to the car so she could change her shoes, but she scoffed at the idea.
I hate Starbucks' coffee, but in New York my hate turned into a warm fuzzy kind of love. A couple blocks from the diner, Andie and I walked into a Starbucks. While she waited for the bathroom, I got myself a latte. The café was filled with people doing what people do at a café. They were studying and working and talking and ... I wanted to know where the bulletproof glass was. OK - I've never been to either of the Starbucks in Detroit, but somehow I picture them like most of the pizza joints - complete with bulletproof glass. In fact during our entire stay in New York, no matter how seedy some of the streets looked, I never saw any bulletproof glass. Andie came out of the bathroom and asked me what was wrong. I said, "I'm thinking about robbing the place."
To get married in New York we had to go to the City Clerk's office downtown and get a marriage license and then wait twenty-four hours before having a ceremony. After we left Starbucks we began looking for a cab to drive us downtown. It must have been the time or something, because flagging down a cab was not exactly easy. So we kept walking aimlessly. We could have tried to use the subway, but the last big city (Chicago) we visited - we were less than successful in using it. Finally out of nowhere an old towncar pulled up while I was attempting to flag down a different cab. We got in the back and told him "City Hall". The driver didn't really speak the English language too well, so Andrea went into a detailed explanation on where we were headed. By some small miracle he finally understood (I think it was Andie's ability to talk "stupid"). The driver took an outside highway downtown, which we really enjoyed. It was like getting an overview of the city with out looking at the map. When we passed Canal Street, Andrea said, "Oh my God! We have to go." I was exhausted and really just wanted to go get our license and go check in at our hotel. But I knew better than to stand between a woman and a Louis Vuitton knockoff, so I kept my mouth shut. Around this time Andie started complaining about her shoes. Her feet hurt. I told her we could find her cheap shoes as soon as we were downtown. And wouldn't you know it, on Chambers Street there must have been ten cheap shoe stores. I sighed and drifted off into thought.
City Hall was really nice. I mean really nice. As we walked towards the front of the building Andrea and I noticed the steps to the court house down the block. I said, "Hey, the steps to the court house, where we see McCoy standing all the time." By making a "Law and Order" reference, I pointed out that I was a tourist. A couple of "suits" (probably lawyers) looked back at me and laughed. Though I didn't care, I thought Andie might have. But she only squeezed my hand and said, "That is so cool."
Once we showed our identification and went through the metal detectors to get into the building, we went up to the third floor to the marriage office. I was surprised that there was a line of people getting married, but Andie said it wasn't as bad as she had expected. We walked up to the window and they processed our application and gave us a copy of our license to give to our officiant. That was it.
A couple at a different window wanted to get their picture taken. But there was a sign that said "No pictures." I don't know why, but there are a lot of weird signs in New York like "$350 penalty for honking." Once we got outside, I gave Andie a storybook kiss. I was excited to marry her and I couldn't help myself. I took a quick look around right after the kiss to make sure there wasn't a "No kissing sign."
A block down the street from City Hall was a nice little shoe store. It was so tiny there was only room for the shoes on display. I wanted to know where they kept all the rest of the shoes. So I was really excited when Andrea picked a couple of styles to try on. The sales clerk asked her young stock boy for the sizes. I watched carefully as he went behind the register and then disappeared. A few minutes later he reappeared. As Andie was trying on her shoes I looked behind the register and saw a little hole in the floor. The shoes were stored in the basement. I said "How cool!"
Andie was in better sorts after she got some decent shoes to wear. I was exhausted, but we still had time before we could check in. So we went shopping. You want every knockoff watch, purse, or pirated movie in the world available to you - go to Canal Street. I won't bore you with the details of what "we" bought. But I will tell you about the cute Asian girl selling purses, but not on the street. She had us follow her to a rundown looking building a block a way and then go up an elevator. On the third floor she walked us through a "massage" parlor of sorts and then opened a door to a little 10 by 12 foot room filled with purses. Once inside she locked the door. I was creeped out. All Andie saw was a huge selection. Ten minutes later Andie still hadn't chosen a purse and I was sweating bullets. The girl had left the room, but locked us in. Five minutes later an Asian guy came in and started stocking purses. Finally Andie chose a purse and the guy said some ridiculous price, I started to argue, but thought better of it. As we walked out the door of the closet I said to the guy, "This place is like a sweat shop!" I was referring to the heat, and Andrea and I were a block away before I understood the faux pas.
The Wyman House is an old but very classic home. It has six rooms to stay in, all of which have a kitchen. Andie did good. Real good. We were on the third floor. Our room was clean and classic in style and even had a small library of books. When we go back to New York we will stay there again I hope. Once we checked out our room we headed to the car and carried our stuff back. It took a couple of trips. By the time we got settled and my head hit the pillow it was 5 o'clock.»
After a short nap I really wanted a coffee and I wanted to take a walk. Andie and I strolled down to Broadway and found a nice market with great produce and a few nice breakfast cafes. My new favorite place Starbucks was just around the corner as well. Once we got back to the room I wanted to take a bath and OH WHAT A BATH IT WAS! Andie fiddled with her wedding dress while she listened to me moan from warm water soothing my aching body. I think the feeling I had was exactly what they meant when they say, "Rode hard and put up wet." As soon as I was done with my bath, I drew Andie a fresh one. As she soaked and moaned I watched "Law and Order" on TNT. We both fell asleep shortly after she came to bed.
I would give you a more detailed account of our second day in New York, but it was basically the same as the first. It was still just as exciting for us. We visited different locales. We went to the sex museum in Midtown and made out on the steps. We bought an umbrella on the sidewalk that fit both of us underneath it. We successfully used the subway twice. I waited outside of Forever 21, forever, while "we" shopped. We bought books at Barnes and Noble. And as we walked in the rain we saw a woman come out of her apartment on 76th and smile. I looked across the street to see what she was smiling at. But there was nothing. I asked Andie what she thought the woman was smiling at. Andie smiled and said "at the rain."
Originally Andie and I were going to meet up with Zack and Alex our second night to have our bachelor/bachelorette parties together. But she wanted to rest up and get things ready for our wedding the following day. So I went it alone. I met up with the guys at 10 o'clock at the Pussycat Lounge on Greenwich. I had to take the subway all the way from uptown to downtown. I really enjoyed the ride. I guess because I like people, which is a weird thing for me to say. Anyway, the Pussy Cat ended up being worse than the Booby Trap on 8 Mile, back home in Detroit. I got there a little early so I talked to the bartender, who used to be a stripper, about classic Russian authors and Hemingway.
By midnight I was trashed. By 1 am Zack put me in a cab and told the driver where to take me. I loved Zack for doing that. It showed a lot of class. Let me not forget that Alex made sure to cut me off at the bar earlier that night. It's just I expect Alex to do stuff like that. Zack seemed a little out of character. But maybe it's when you're at your worst Zack is at his best. Thanks to my friends, I got home early enough to sleep off the binge.
Our Wedding Day
I woke up sick. Andie was already up. She was looking out the window and becoming very agitated that it was raining outside. I went to the toilet and threw up. While I was hugging the toilet and Andie was bitching about the rain I called out to her "Hey, we're getting married today!" I think she replied "that's not funny." I thought it was.
By 12 o'clock the rain had stopped and the sun came out. Andie and I did a little last minute shopping on Broadway at Lord of the Fleas. She also got her hair styled at a local hair salon. I was getting nervous. Back at the Wyman House I got dressed and noticed Andrea was a little anxious. I teased her about being nervous. She denied it, but she was. After getting dressed I went downstairs and waited for her. I called a cab at 2:15 at 2:20 Andie came down looking … WOW! She had a Vera Wang dress on that her friends had helped her purchase off of EBAY and her hair was done up with a silk sash. She looked like a woman right out of the 1920's. And all you gentlemen out there you should know that the 1920's were a great era for good women (Gertrude Stein, Dorothy Parker, etc).
We headed for Central Park in the cab right on time. Everything was perfect except for the smell in the car. I asked Andie, "What is that?" She answered "I don't know," making a face. I whispered to her, "It's the driver." She giggled.
Andrea and I planned on getting married in Shakespeare Gardens in Central Park. And we did, but finding it was a pain in the ass. Andie took off her glasses for the wedding, so she held onto my arm while we walked into the park off of 81st Street. She kept commenting that the park looked like a Monet painting. I wondered if that's why Monet painted the way he did, because he had horrible eyesight. Everyone we passed in the park either congratulated us or told Andie how beautiful she looked. I think this is a good time to mention that New York was not what I expected. Everyone there was so nice and helpful either with directions or holding the door for you wherever you went. Andrea and I were both pleasantly surprised. We were having problems finding Shakespeare Gardens so I called our officiant Diane for help. She was already there waiting and gave us great directions over the phone. Five minutes later we were shaking her hand. Alex was already there as well. I love this about Alex. He'll hate that I said this, but he reminds me of me. Zack was nowhere to be found. But we waited. The officiant filled out our marriage license and I picked a spot in the gardens to have the ceremony. I found a spot on the stone overlook with some of the city skyline behind us. It was perfect. The day was perfect, except no Zack. The officiant said we could marry with only one witness. But a few minutes later Zack showed up. I gave him a big hug. Only Zack could pull off being fashionably late and still look like everything is cool. Then the license was signed by me and Andie and our witnesses.
We got married at 3:00 pm on May 1st, 2005.
During the ceremony everyone that passed by made sure to walk around us. After Andrea and I said our "I Do's" and sealed our marriage with a kiss did I realize that we had drawn a crowd. We got a round of applause from twenty or thirty onlookers. I thought it's moments like these that God created Man.
While walking out of the park, there were crowds of people demonstrating against the war in Iraq. Andie had heard them announce it on the news earlier and was convinced it was meant to be that there would be demonstrations going on during our wedding day. We walked past a group who congratulated us on our marriage and Andie asked if she could join in the demonstration because, "I just got married and I can't stand George W." She grabbed a sign, raised it high, and everyone took pictures.
Our wedding brunch was less than exceptional. Andie wanted to eat at the Boathouse at 72nd. But we didn't find it in time. The restaurant stopped serving lunch at 4pm and didn't open for dinner till 6pm. So we had to walk out of the park and into the city and find a place. Zack and I had a hot dog while we looked. We both noticed that there was no substance to the hot dog and thought it felt like air. We finally found a place called "3 Guys." It was like twenty bucks a plate, but still there was ketchup on the table. Go figure.
I laughed out loud when Zack ordered the Ultimate Burger. Andie had mentioned that she got my ring engraved. While we ate I took it off and read it. It says "POUR TOUJOURS" and it also had my initials. I asked Andie what it meant. She said "Forever, for all days."
After dinner I paid the check and then Alex and Zack reprimanded me for doing so. So I made them give me cash and that seemed to shut 'em up. Outside we said our goodbyes to each other and then while I was taking their picture a fireman walked into the restaurant. We laughed and found it fitting.
On our wedding night I walked down to the Fairway market on Broadway and bought fresh fruit, gourmet cheeses, crackers, and chocolate mousse cake. Back at The Wyman House in our room we shared an exceptional plate of food in bed. It was the best Wedding dinner ever. We enjoyed every crumb.
DAY 4 and 5 and 6
Jesus. I've written seven pages and Andie and I are just now leaving New York. Well, we packed up and left. It really wasn't that simple and we had a little fun before we left. While we were leaving the city, I said, "I really don't want to go." Andie smiled and said, "I know." She squeezed my hand and then said, "I love you." We drove the rest of the day towards our honeymoon house in Florida. Delaware was more like DeleWHY? Maryland kind of sucked and so did the drivers. In Virginia we decided to give it a new state slogan "F&@# VIRGINIA!" But in North Carolina we started to have fun again. It looked bleak at first. I needed to stop so I pulled off the freeway because I saw a billboard for a vineyard/winery. I figured the next day we could go. But the room I chose was less then exceptional. OK. It sucked. Andie refused to let her feet touch the floor. I guess this is married life.
Luckily Chris Rock was on Comedy Central and we were able to forget about how horrible the room was. The next day we were trying to figure out where to have dinner when we saw a sign for Savannah. Andie and I both have always wanted to go to Savannah. Now there are two different Savannahs. The art college in the downtown district and the touristy waterfront. Luckily we started with the downtown artsy side. In one of the parks we saw a crazy old woman talking to herself just like in the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," then we had dinner in a strange Moroccan restaurant. It had a hot belly dancer and the food was exceptional, but our waiter had a twin brother working there and that was kind of freaky. Then we went down to the waterfront on a whim and walked for a while.
I drove the rest of the way to Florida non-stop. I didn't even have to use cold water to stay awake. I guess I was buzzed. Around 3 am we pulled into the driveway of my boss's house (thanks Captain Bob) in Stuart, Florida. We went in and got settled around 5 am we went to bed and then woke up at 9 am and went for supplies for the house. All in all, it's not a bad place to spend your honeymoon.
Fortunately, there's a Starbucks down the street . . .