The reception was held at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. The Ringling reminds one of the Louvre, but smaller and pink. When I hear “Ringling” I think of clowns. I find clowns frightening, which is called coulrophobia. However, there were no clowns. The museum has lots of art, which they rightly kept us away from.
People – probably 300 of them – were very well dressed and drank especially good champagne. Be advised: Despite all the efforts of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, there are no good evening dresses for the obese. They really stick out in black tie situations.
A 50-piece orchestra played the classics you’d expect at such a reception, taking a break to perform the orchestral version of the B-52s song Love Shack, conducted by B-52s front man Fred Schneider. People pointed and took photographs, as will happen when you get Fred Schneider to conduct an orchestra at your wedding.
The wait staff was superb and wore white gloves. White gloves make anyone look classy. They distributed canapés and the aforementioned very good champagne before eventually ushering folks to their assigned tables where we met our table-mates – always an awkward and fearful occasion as all your insecurities surface. Did they seat us at the loser table? Are we in a reception no-man’s land?
Luckily we had diverse and interesting life at our table.
On one side were two females who we found to be quite lovely – despite their being in real estate. Across from us was Bill the Economist (don’t call him an accountant) and his new wife. Next to me, some guy from The Apprentice and his date. I live a Trumpless existence and am not familiar with the show. He assumed I knew who he was, forcing me to ask his name when we were introduced. My brother, who knows the show, later described him as a chronic doublespeaker who never shut up. He was the talk of the table, not because he was on Apprentice, but because his date appeared to be on drugs. My guess: ecstasy. She carved a dinner roll with a fork and knife before ultimately closing her eyes and resting her head on Apprentice Guy‘s shoulder. He said, “Too much wine,” and escorted her away for the remainder of the dinner. That gave us a lot to talk about.
Seldom does someone tell me “I disagree with perhaps everything you’re saying,” so I immediately liked Bill the Economist a great deal. Agreeing to disagree, we got along swimmingly. He reminded me very much of the good alien from the TV series “V”. By the end of the night my wife and I had him doing a nervous tic from a character on Brit-Com “Nighty Night.” He’d never seen the show but he indulged us and we laughed and laughed. He did not seem to be a big fan of Representative Katherine Harris (R-FL) who was seated at another table.
From the venue to the lobster starter to the music, it was obvious that they spared no expense in any way, shape or form.
They hired Beatlemania.
They were incredible, not only sounding like the Beatles but looking like them. They changed costumes depending on the song – one moment in mustaches and bowl cuts, the next bedecked in Sergeant Pepper finery. At one point the John had long hair and specs. This painstaking attention to detail meant that the George Harrison sang George Harrison songs when appropriate, as my brother pointed out. The only way it could have been more convincing is if they had an untalented, freakish Asian lady come onstage and break up the band.
And, there were fireworks. More fireworks than I can remember ever seeing on any 4th of July. They seemed endless. A helicopter hovered overhead with photographers in it, a la Madonna/Penn. Between the Beatles playing, the fireworks exploding and the rotors chopping the air it was an aural assault that made us realize this was the loudest, most expensive wedding we’d ever attend.
After dinner the cover band which was flown in from DC took to the stage and the well-dressed white-folk dancing began. We bid our table-mates adieu and went to the bar, and went to the bar, and went to the bar. Then we danced – where I learned that it’s all in the hips, and jumping makes me look spastic.
Rumors circulated in waves. Some folks thought there was a secret after-wedding cruise on somebody’s yacht. Then there was supposedly a secret party somewhere. There was talk that Aerosmith was coming. When the cover band struck up Walk This Way everyone stopped to see if Steve Perry was making his way to the stage. And by Steve Perry I mean Steven Tyler.
At some point Fred Schneider joined the band and sang Love Shack and Planet Claire. The thirty and forty-somethings reminisced and danced while the older folks looked on, not really knowing who he was. I suppose we’ll be like them some day, furrowing our brows and asking who Marilyn Manson and Young Jeezy are.
The outstanding cover band was game for anything. One of the groomsmen took the microphone and performed It’s The End Of The World As We Know It. Though his voice lacks promise, he had the lyrics completely down – an impressive feat for a song full of gibberish. He did this while Michael Stipe sat at a nearby table. No idea what Stipe thought of the performance. He gets to wear a leather cap at black tie functions because he’s famous, and I envy him for that.
We spoke with Congresswoman Harris before she was hauled off to talk to someone else. She’s really pretty. Very pretty. I find that odd, because in 2000 when she ended the recount in Florida the newspapers had her looking like a demon. But she’s hot. In fact, were I not married I’d be into her – although uncomfortable with the knowledge that half the American population, including Bill the Economist, doesn’t like her much. We’d probably stay home a lot. Order in.
At some point the wine we drank kicked in. Bill the Economist and I had some kind of chat about lawyers ruining the country (I think we agreed on this) and my wife expressed her adoration of her table neighbor, Real Estate Lady. Apprentice Guy eventually showed up with his date, refreshed and presumably hungry. A gentleman with Steven Wright hair joined the table to speak with Other Real Estate Lady. He was a doctor – but the fun kind of doctor, like Timothy Leary. I was mistakenly told he’d invented MDMA, which isn’t the case. He’s merely trying to pass legislation making certain drugs legal in the treatment of some diseases. We both agreed that the War on Drugs wasn’t working. We both subscribe to Reason magazine.
Empowered by free wine, my wife approached Michael Stipe to tell him we had a mutual friend. “Oh, okay,” he said. The conversation then died and was unceremoniously buried.
At some point we had a conversation with Fred Schneider and his friend. I believe we established that we’d met years before, which means nothing to him because he meets thousands of people. He suffered us very pleasantly.
I asked Katherine Harris’s husband, a Swede, if there were any perks to dealing with U.S. Immigration when your wife is a Congresswoman. “Nope,” he said. Good to know it sucks for everyone.
Naturally we were the very last people to leave. At the exit we found the groom fretting over the $25,000 in flowers which would be left behind. We told him we’d handle it and begged him to take his new bride and go. He’d spent way too much on this shindig to be dealing with flora. We shoved several hundred dollars worth of flowers in the trunk of a car and I promptly passed out, leaving the rest of the partying up to others with more stamina.
I would highly recommend this wedding.