Aka: My Midwestern adventure.
Aka: The prodigious son returns.
Aka: What I did on my summer vacation.
Our tale begins last Wednesday. I was at work a bit, there was loads of gnashing of teeth, tearing of clothes and "WTF, you're leaving again!?! OMG do this NOW!! HURRY!" I left at 1 pm and got my hairs cut. Got my lift on, and jumped on an airplane to Chicago.
Southwest Air is like a bad girlfriend, The cattle-call boarding procedure, and the "funny" staff, and the tiny, tiny seats are horrible, but baby you give the best fares. I just can't quit you.
We land at Midway at 2 am. Drive to Milwaukee, and sleep for 6 hours.
Get up Thursday morning and head to Miller park. We stop by the local 'Bucks and the lady behind the counter makes the sour milk face when we order 9 shots for 2 people, straight up. She asked use three times if we were sure, if we wanted some steamed milk or syrup in our beverages. Don't worry Ma'am, we're professionals. Toto we ain't in Seattle any more.
We get to Miller park early, and the Parking lot costs 10 bucks, and we haven't got that much cash. We go looking for an ATM and find some free parking. Woo hoo.
We meet up with my brother and some of his friends, we tailgate. Wisconsinites will tailgate for anything: baseball, football, Hockey, school plays, a trip to the dentist.. it was amazing.
Miller Park is great. Good sight lines, fans who want their team to win, but aren't too upset to see your team win, and a lot of brand new brewers gear on display, and the fans didn't know how to deal with their team sitting in first. It wouldn't last. Strangely enough there was a lot of random "other team" gear on display as well. If you're going to See the Redbirds play the Brewers, don't wear White Sox gear. It's a bad move. Trust me. The Redbirds completed the sweep. Yadi Molina hit 2 bombs (he's only hit 3 on the year) and the crowd cleared out by the bottom of the 9th. There was some bonding time with the wife and brother. It was great. I haven't seen the Cards play in person in 4 years.. and now I have.
From there we drove to Mad-town, and had dinner with the parents. My mom was driving my brother crazy because she wasn't seated where she wanted to be for dinner at the wedding. This would be a running theme for the weekend.
My brother was gracious enough to loan us his condo for Thursday night, and we pretty promptly passed out.
Friday, We get up fairly early, and hit the gym. It's dinky and full of machines, but its also clean and empty. I do legs and the wife does some intervals. We both get strange looks. We stop for coffee. Once again, shock, disgust and confusion at our beverage requests. Yes we want all of those shots in one cup. I want the same. the barista is glacially slow. The coffee is good. We get a a parking ticket.
I shower and meet my brother. We pick up our tuxes, and I meet all of the other groomsmen. Most of them I haven't seen since they were in highschool.
We pick up the rings and Chico drops me off at state street to meet the wife and Dr. 1% for lunch. We have to hurry a bit, because I have to be changed and ready to rehearse in an hour. It was good to see you Doc. Sorry I had to run.
The wife bought me some pirate coffee mugs that are super sweet.
I show up at our hotel early, my parents are late. They're going to drop my aunt off at "the other hotel" so she can watch my cousin's kid while we all rehearse. We get there, and realize we don't have directions from this hotel to the church. I am pouring over the map, my mom is bitching at my step-dad, who is yelling at my mom, and somewhere in there they're franticly calling my brother. My bro gives us directions. I write them on the map, and proceed to navigate. Every intersection, my step-father yells "DO I TURN HERE!??" and slams on the breaks and starts to turn. I Tell him.. again: "no you turn at Highway X. " Rinse repeat, we get there.. 15 minutes late. I have an intrinsic desire to strangle my folks and claim to be hatched from an egg.
Rehearsal is typical church rehearsal. The groomsmen are all cutting up, the bridesmaids are chatting and the Priest is maintaining some semblance of order. We talk through it once, we walk through it once.
The wife is happily at our hotel, reading.
I hop in with my folks and we repeat the same pattern of navigation, screaming, and bitching on the way back.
We go to Peppino's for dinner. It's amazing. If you're ever in Madison, go there.
We hang out, and talk and enjoy some great food. The wife and I head to the hotel around 11 and go to bed.
Saturday, the big day. The wife and I get up and go to the gym. The time change is really starting to kick my butt, and I debate sleeping, but I decided that the exercising will leave me more alert than sleeping in. I do a complex: 5 bent rows, 5 shoulder presses, 5 zercher lunges each leg, and 10 pushups, 90 sec rest repeat 5x. I am toast. I do some abs and we head to the place we had coffee the day before. There is a line out the door, so much for that.
We go back to the hotel. I shower, the wife orders room service. 4 shots, 1 cup of drip, one yogurt, one granola, one oatmeal, two eggs. I eat the oatmeal, eggs, and drink 2 shots. The wife dumps two shots into the drip coffee, and the granola on the yogurt, and consumes them. We shower and change. I am looking dapper in my tux, the wife a vision in a seersucker dress. We meet up with my folks, they are later than us, but earlier than late.
We pile in, there is lots of yelling and bitching, but we get to the church. I help with some of the last minute minutiae and with keeping things dry (it's raining pretty well). We take some pictures, then we take some more. Casual shots, serious shots, "funny" shots. Whatever, it's a wedding. The ceremony is nice. My cousin who is singing is late, but performs like a trooper. My brother makes a couple funnies during the ceremony, but is still reverent and serious enough. It's a happy wedding. We pile on to "the party bus." I am not known for my partying. In fact it makes me wince to use the word "party" as a verb. There is lots of beer and a some wine, and Journey cranked up for the 20 odd minutes it takes us to get from the church to the capitol building.
We listen to "Wheel in the Sky" about 54 times. I'm good spirited though, I chat with a few folks, make a few jokes. We get in the Capitol building, and they take a solid hour to an hour and a half's worth of pictures. My wife manages to get me a sandwich for which I am truly greatful. Damn thing saved my life.
More party bus. We get to the reception, my feet are killing me. I trade in my rent-a-shoes for my chucks.
I am sitting at the "head table." I look down, my mom has changed the seating arrangement to suit her own desires. I shake my head, and pretend not to notice.
There is dinner that is fair, some dancing. I talk to some folks I haven't seen in a while. I have a good time, and leave before anyone gets too sloppy drunk. My bro stops us on the way out to have everyone sing happy birthday to my wife, and some drunk girl runs over and babbles something about how her birthday was friday, and my folks gave her a bottle of wine and I don't really remember what else, because the D.J. fired up "Wheel in the sky" again and it was time to go. I drop off a change of clothes (my clothes) to my brother's room (he didn't bring any). I head for home. I get out of the monkey suit, turn on survivorman and listen to the quiet of our hotel room.
Sunday, I headed to the honeymoon suite to grab my brother's tux so I can turn it in on my way to breakfast with my cousin, on my way out of town. I am informed that my folks are loaning him their car so he can get dressed, and that my folks are accompanying us to breakfast (not that anyone checked with me) We went to the Continental, and had an incredible meal, and good coffee. My folks made up for their interloping by buying. We dropped the tuxes off and headed to Chicago.
The drive to Chicago pretty well sucked. There was loads of traffic, and the toll booths are killers. What should have been a 2 hour drive to Midway took 3.5. We dropped off the rental, and took a cab to our hotel. The hotel was really cool. We got a great deal on priceline, and went up to our room which had someone else's stuff in it. So we got a free upgrade. We headed down the miracle mile and did some shopping for the wife's birthday. She got some clothes, and I got to wander around and shake my head at today's "fashion." We walked all the way down the Mile and then cut across the financial district to Greektown. We had dinner at Pegasus, which may be the greatest Greek restaurant in the western hemisphere. The food was insanely good. We walked all the way back to our hotel in the rain. It was warm and we were happy. We changed clothes and had birthday sundaes at Ghirardelli chocolates. It was one of the best evenings I can remember. The next day we got up and swung by Panera bread for breakfast. Once again the person behind the counter could not believe we didn't want milk or syrup in our espresso. We had to assure her, "No, we just want espresso, no milk in there, no nothing." She was appalled, but gave it to us any way. From there we had one of the best cab rides ever. The cabbie was a Psychology Grad student from somewhere in eastern Europe. Good smart guy. He took us to the Field Museum. We saw lots of cool stuff there. From there we had lunch at Giardano's (my favorite stuffed pizza). We stopped by a bookstore and picked up some books for the ride home ( I got Tom Robbins Jitterbug Perfume) and a Chocolate Malt from Ghirardelli. We took a long and rather frantic cab ride through the South Side to get to Midway, and flew home. I almost had a minor melt down at baggage claim. Here's my problem: if everyone stood 2 feet back from the carousel there would be enough room for everyone to see, and then step forward and grab their bag. Why am I the only person who realizes this? What is wrong with people?
We got home and the cat was needy and the litter box was disgusting. We petted the cat and dumped the box, and went to bed. Now, I'm back at work. I missed you all.. except those whom I saw. Hope your lives weren't too incomplete without me.