The Time: September 25, 2008
The Place: On the road in central eastern Virginia
Believe it or not it was a dark and stormy night as I drove the starship (the family CR-V) up I-95 trying to find our way to some place called Sandbridge Beach, Virginia for my brother-in-law's wedding. Past military training for me has that when driving the guy or gal riding in the front passenger seat not only is the navigator but carries the job of making sure the driver, that was me, stays alert. Much to my dissatisfaction as I was driving I would repeatedly find Dragonwife reading some culinary magazine using a small book light. Normally keeping my wife preoccupied on long trips is a good thing but since this area was terra incognito for me I would have greatly appreciated her attention due to the severe rain, blasting winds, and heavy traffic I was driving through was seriously freaking me out. Instead I was periodically getting shown glossy pictures of various entrees that strangely reminded me of what the occupants of automobiles looked like in the aftermath of terrible car crashes. At least the kids were quiet with my son, Darth Spoilboy, and daughter, Miss Wiggles, being entertained. The former with his iPod and the latter watching a "Bratzs" movie on the portable DVD player. This was a good thing since I started to see in the rain this looming concrete octopus of several highway overpasses stacked on top of each over with the arms being roads moving off if different directions. In a rush Dragonwife dropped the magazine she was reading and began trying to tell me which of the many series of exits I would soon have to take. I in turn was careening across lanes while praying that we all didn't end up a sticky paste on the wet road because my brother-in-law had to be married in some out of the way romantic place. The MapQuest directions were saying something on the order of five separate exits all less than a mile apart. As usual for the Beach Bum/Dragonwife navigation team we missed one of the exits which I thought would soon have us replaying the old Bugs Bunny cartoon of him tunneling through the ground on a trip, coming up to the surface realizing he was very off course, in some sort of cartoon adventure, and that he should have taken a left turn at Abuquerque. At this point we tried to loop back around but due to rain, unfamiliar territory, and general grumpiness of both pilot and navigator we ended up on some county road which at least had the benefit of being out of traffic. Now I know guys are suppose to be the ones that don't want to ask for directions but I did stopping at several convenience stores hoping that someone would actually know where their store was in relation to the rest of the world. After hitting one in which the store clerk actually admitted to being a local and knowing something about the area we wandered around until we figured he was back at the store snickering about the tourists he sent on a wild goose chase. But since God looks after children and fools we came to a stop at an intersection and accidentally noticed a landmark that matched one on the poorly printed map we got from MapQuest. Back on track we made our way finally to the Sandbridge Beach area stopping at a fantastic seaside restaurant. It was still raining heavily as we tried to enter the restaurant with the hostess telling us that the area all the way toward Virginia Beach was experiencing a tropical storm that suddenly formed that day.
The restaurant was awesome, it was locally owned and operated and not some crappy national chain with mass produced pop culture stuff hanging from every space inside. Surfboards of various styles and lengths hug from the walls, a sign on the door assured us the seafood was locally caught, and the waitress was wearing a tight t-shirt. I don't know who was happier, Darth Spoilboy or myself, since he actually removed his iPod and talked to the young lady serving us along with openly staring at her nicely shaped assets. Anyone who reads me even a little will easily understand I was doing the same thing.
While our travels had been hard the delay its caused was beginning to be welcomed since had we arrive earlier we would have been drawn into Dragonwife's sister cooking dinner for the entire clan. Past history has Dragonwife's sister, Lady Trump, being large and in charge of the kitchen and freely drafting anyone into her service. Past history in such events have Dragonwife and me doing kitchen cleanup with Dragonwife going AWOL soon into the assignment. She would explain that her family doesn't get together all that often and she wanted some time to catch up with them. But since we ended up so late getting in having to stop for dinner we arrived at the house with dinner and cleanup done. I never asked who got saddled with cleanup but several disgruntled looks from the extended family sitting in the living room gave me a undue satisfaction and a general idea of who it was as we came in.
The rental house we were in for the weekend was beyond huge bordering on enormous. It has TWELVE bedrooms with four of them having two sets of bunk beds. Two fully furnished living rooms on the second and third floors, five bathrooms, and two decks again on the second and third floors with a deck area on ground level around the small swimming pool. Since the house was on stilts beside the pool area was a relatively sheltered space for parties that was going to be put to use Friday night. Now some might think we would have most in not the entire Dragonwife clan staying in such a place but it was only my immediate family, Dragonwife's parents, and Dragonwife's sister Lady Trump and her daughter. Mrs. Sunshine, my mother-in-law had some of her family (about six people) in another rental. Warren Beatty Sunshine, my brother-in-law had one for him and his fiancee. His fiancee, the soon to be Beautiful Gorgeous-Sunshine had her family in another house nearby as well. Mr. Sunshine, my father-in-law, couldn't get any of his people to break away from their jobs in Hell or from causing world-wide chaos but had they came I'm sure they would rented another beach house as well. All told I'm sure the wedding was a boost to the local economy.
Early Friday morning Wiggles came and got me out of bed wanting to walk on the beach and watch the sun rise. Since I had about nothing to say in the matter as far as my daughter was concerned I did whatever good dad did in such situations. I put on my shoes and went walking on the cold beach. After everyone finally went to bed the night before leaving the house quiet I swear I could feel the house swaying in the wind and hear more than the usual noise of creaks and groans. The truth to the matter was that as I strolled the beach with my daughter I started talking with another couple also walking around who were old time locals to the area near Sandbridge Beach. What they told me was that when the rental houses were built certain corners were cut in their construction. In a conspiratorial tone I was told that since the rental houses were never built to be family homes the roof trusses and rafters along with the floor joists were spaced farther apart to lessen construction costs. The husband of the couple also floated the idea that if a hurricane ever tore the place up he figured the rental agencies would clean up nicely having the federal government help pay for rebuilding the area . Of course as our conversation moved on to different subjects this couple began expressing their belief in UFO's and how Christ was going to return to Earth in one.
After our walk Wiggles and I returned to the house for breakfast. Lady Trump was once again cooking which brought me a sudden desire to go and find a McDonald's but once I found out it was simply scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes and not some sort of exotic breakfast recipe like the cauliflower spaghetti aglio olio, grilled lamb shoulder chop or salmon mango bango she made for breakfast at my house on several of her past Christmas visits. All I'm sure are fine meals for the most discriminating connoisseur but just don't figure in my menu.
Of course everyone should know Miss Wiggles in the picture and the other pretty little girl is Lady Trump's daughter the delightful Miss Giggles. Giggles gave me a new nickname on this visit and as far as she is concerned I'm not, or ever have been Uncle Beach, I am "Big Tummy." Sadly you can't fight the truth.
I figured I would get saddled with clean up since I was able to avoid it the night before but Darth Spoilboy, never a morning person, really ticked off Dragonwife that morning and ended up having kitchen cleanup much to my satisfaction.
As Friday progressed the various actors and actress in this drama began getting ready for the party that would take place that evening on the pool deck and the space under the beach house we were staying at. One time I described my in-laws as structured, controlled, and deliberate people taking nothing for granted or doing anything without a plan. The one thing I left out was that in such a situation as a wedding my in-laws each want to have the others to follow their plan.
As tables were erected, sound systems installed and checked, and the pool areas cleaned everything was going okay. When it came time for decorating Dragonwife, Warren Beatty Sunshine, Lady Trump, and Mrs. Sunshine each had their own ideas of what to be done. Mrs. Sunshine started out decorating the party area with beach/jungle style garland that looked like jungle vines, seashells and starfish made out of tissue paper hanging from the garland, admittedly obtrusive looking fake palm trees, and my favorite colorful parrots also made out of tissue paper. For my taste I thought it was perfectly fitting for a wedding in which the sounds of the ocean surf was clearly heard, plus I admit I thought it was cool stuff. Once Lady Trump, Dragonwife, Warren, and Beautiful Gorgeous' uncle arrived on the scene a shriek of such decorative distaste erupted I thought someone had died. They each sprung into action ripping all the stuff down giving Mrs. Sunshine such a case of the "vapors" that a normally very socially accepting lady couldn't help but point out in a very sarcastic way that she admitted she was out of her league in decorating since Beautiful Gorgeous' uncle was not only a professional designer but gay. In short, my mother-in-law was rather crabby the rest of the night and beyond which is the reason behind the picture I chose for this segment.
My initial concern on this whole matter was how Miss Wiggles would act at a very structured event on a beach in which her usual behavior at such a place was to run absolutely wild. Happily, her behavior was excellent except for the fact that the one duty she and Miss Giggles were assigned was to hand out small sea shells to all the beautiful people assembled so they in turn could drop them in some seriously expensive large crystal vase signifying the joining of two people and unity of marriage or some other symbolic verbal crap that I tuned out after about a minute wishing there was a tiki bar somewhere nearby. While the very long winded pastor rambled on who was in turned replaced by Warren and Beautiful Gorgeous who wrote long poetic vows for each other Wiggles and Giggles at some point decided to bury all the shells they had in their baskets. About ten minutes away from having the girls hand out the shells Dragonwife and Lady Trump had to quickly dig up or find more so the girls could hand them out. At this point I tried to slip away but my wife caught me (Spoilboy snitched) and dragged me back by the ear. Yes, Wiggles is annoyed in this picture because she was blowing bubbles with her bubble gum during the vows and had just had it taken away.
A small sampling of the "beautiful people" at the wedding right before the ceremony started which was done Saturday afternoon. I could point out many of the people I have written about but to prevent my life from becoming endangered I will leave it to y'alls imagination which person goes with the names I have created.
After the ceremony was over my father-in-law wanted to quickly retreat back to the house so he could watch some golfing tournament but Mrs. Sunshine, still irked about her choice in decorating being rejected from the day before, was not in the mood and kept his leash very short.
The newly married couple Warren Beatty Sunshine and Beautiful Gorgeous-Sunshine. I wish them all the best for a happy future. After the ceremony both rushed off and reappeared thirty minutes later having changed clothes with an airy rosy glow emanating from Beautiful Gorgeous and a telling shit eating smile coming from Warren. At that point I was at the beer table draining a third or fourth glass from the keg hearing some of the older guys making snarky comments about the couple "sealing the deal". I don't know whether Warren heard this stuff, I actually doubt it, but he yelled something out about never needing Viagra which shut several of the older farts up very quickly.
All told, I still hold to my belief that when the urge to marry comes up between two people regardless of any factor both should go lay down, take a nap and let the urge pass like bad gas.
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