The day before TopGun's wedding, Cap'n Shack-Fu, his fiance, and I got up around 5:30 AM so we could get on the road and make it to CO in time to check into our hotel and get freshened up before the rehearsal that evening. None of us had slept all that well, but we plodded zed-word-like to Shack's mom's Suburban, loaded up our stuff, and hit the road with Shack behind the wheel, me riding shotgun, and Future Mrs. Shack-Fu stretched out in the back seat trying to catch up on sleep -- which turned out to be a bit of a futile effort as Shack and I started coming to life and visiting, getting progressively louder as the miles wore on. I noticed her occasionally rising up to give us groggy withering glances, but I did not notice the time that a sudden burst of noise from the front prompted her to attempt to slap Shack-Fu upside the head to quiet him down -- "attempt"' being the operative word, as her sleepy strike missed him so completely that we weren't even aware of her foiled attack until she told on herself later.
Not too far into the drive I got a text from TopGun wanting to see if we had hit the road yet. My response; "why, is there somewhere we're supposed to be today?" He replied "Only if you value your life." After I gave him our estimate of when we would be hitting town that afternoon, he realized that we weren't too far ahead of him on the road, so we made plans to meet up at Clines Corners and caravan from there with TopGun leading the way, since he also informed us that the route we had planned to take was plagued with enough road construction to add a couple of hours onto our drive.
Before heading on to CO, however, we had to make a stop in Albuquerque* so TopGun could pick up his sister and niece at the airport, after which we stopped for lunch at a local Cracker Barrel which seemed like it might put us behind schedule, but Shack-Fu and I decided if we wound up getting to the rehearsal late we would show solidarity , and blame it all on TopGun. "We were just going to grab a quick bite to eat while driving, but noooooooo, TopGun had to have his Double Meat Breakfast!" Secure in the knowledge that we now had a convenient scapegoat, we soon hit the road yet again.
Several hours later we arrived in CO; since TopGun still had to go pick up Li'l Champ for the rehearsal, Shack, his honey, and I were able to go check into the hotel, get freshened up, and still beat TopGun to the church. Thankfully, I had met the bride-to-be a couple of times before so there was at least one familiar face who could introduce us around. But once TopGun showed up with The Coolest Kid in the World in tow, we were able to get started.
Before starting the rehearsal in earnest, they played a slide show for us since none of the wedding party would be in the sanctuary when it played before the wedding the next day. The slide show consisted first of pictures of TopGun, then of his fiance, and then of the both of them together. Combined with the little speech TopGun gave before starting it about how thankful they were to have all of us there it was actually pretty touching, and so I responded to getting a little emotional as you might expect: by mocking TopGun as an exhibitionist for having multiple pictures of himself running around shirtless at various ages.
Hey, you express emotions your way and I'll express them in mine, okay?
For the most part the actual rehearsal was uneventful, although there were a few interesting moments; the most interesting for me involved my interactions with Li'l Champ. To start off, Li'l Champ's role in the ceremony wasn't to be ring bearer, or anything as pedestrian as that. No, while I may have been Best Man, Li'l Champ was The Best Best Man, and therefore stood up front next to his dad while the rest of the wedding party entered.
my last post, having Li'l Champ and I in such close proximity to each other for extended periods of time while decisions well above our pay grade were being discussed in depth was a recipe for, if not disaster, than at least some minor physical altercations. To be honest, I'm not sure which of us started picking on the other first; all I am sure of is that it was quickly apparent that in the many months since I had last seen him, Li'l Champ had upgraded me from "grappling partner" to "striking partner."
Translation: I was the recipient of multiple punches to the gut from Li'l Champ's tiny little fists. Once the hands were restrained, then I was treated to mini-head butts to the gut and some mule kicks to the shins. Surprisingly, our little struggles didn't appear to draw any attention from most of the wedding party who were too busy discussing the order of the vows or how best to light the Unity candle. Afterwards, when I told TopGun his son was picking on me, his response was to tell Li'l Champ, "Now, no beating up Todd during the wedding tomorrow," to which Li'l Champ replied "I know," in that resigned tone which comes so naturally to the little ones.
Not too long after that as we were heading towards the rehearsal dinner, Li'l Champ got over his initial shyness towards Shack-Fu and decided to initiate him into the gut-punching club, only to fall victim to Shack's patented tickle attack which had Li'l Champ flat on his back, giggling hysterically and begging his dad for help. TopGun, being a good dad, declined, using it as a teaching moment. The lesson? "Actions have consequences."
One other rehearsal tidbit: when the first groomsman, TopGun's uncle, practiced walking in, he and high-fived TopGun and Li'l Champ. Shack-Fu in turn did one of those finger-wiggling things, and I decided to go with the tried and true fist-bump
For the rehearsal dinner we just had some pizza from a local pizza place. TopGun and I both had six slices apiece, but the difference is that for him that was the first pizza he'd had in 6 months -- for me it was just another Friday night.
After the rehearsal everyone was invited over to the bride's place to hang out, but unfortunately the part of me that wanted to hang out and get to know the bride and her family more was shouted down by the part of me that was suffering from next to no sleep and elevation changes -- a part that manifested as a blinding headache by the time we reached the hotel**. So I made my apologies to TopGun, handed over his and Li'l Champ's tuxedos which I'd carted from Texas, and headed back to the hotel to collapse so I could be well rested for the big day.
*I kept asking TopGun if we could stop by a nice pawn shop while we were there so I could sell off these two really nice rings some dope had entrusted me with, but for some reason he wasn't too helpful. . .
**Although to be honest, that might have had something to do with the fact that I indulged in one last pestering of Li'l Champ before we left, and then sprinted away as he chased, I fact I regretted instatly -- think I was still winded the next day.