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Saris and Tangos and Bagpipes and Mosquitos! That's what I call a wedding!

The flight into Seattle was relatively smooth, with the exception of Steve's, who was seated next to an interesting traveling companion. Apparently she jabbered the whole time. She was pretty taken by Steve, and if he played his cards right he could have been the male heir to an extensive falling frozen chicken fortune. I won't share all the details, but Steve virtually sprinted off that plane like it was full of crocodiles.

At the airport, we met up with Derek Wilson (just back from an extensive stay in London and still washing off the smell of bangers and mash). We grabbed our rental car, and zipped off to downtown Seattle to rendezvous with Andreas and Mandy at our night's chosen accommodations at the King's Inn. If I had to give the King's Inn a grade, I would have to give it an "A" (as in "A Dump"). But it certainly tried for the plague-ridden dark ages feel. The only thing that would have made the image more complete is if the housekeeping staff pushed their carts around, handing out fresh towels and crying "bring out yer dead!"

Fortunately, we didn't spend too much time at the hotel. That night we met up with Kyle and we went out to a nifty Argentine restaurant where we consumed a small ranch's worth of livestock and watched couples tango in the aisles. Better than the food or the ambiance was the company. It's probably been about a decade since Steve, Dave, Andreas, Kyle, Derek, and I have all been in the same place together.

The next morning, we visited the public market. We saw lots of fish-throwing, flower arrangements, arts and crafts, and some old seaman with a trained parrot. For the record, I consumed a small bag of donuts, a white nectarine, a large iced mocha, and a rice krispie treat roughly the size of my head, and promptly got a stomach ache for my trouble. I also paid 25 cents to see the world's largest shoe (it was pretty big, although it did leave me wondering where I could see the world's largest toenail clipper). We left the market, where oddly enough, I missed my good friend and co-worker Charlie Smith (who was also in Seattle that weekend) by about a half hour. Oh well...ships that pass in the night.

Later that evening we all got together as a "batchelor/batchelorette" group where we met the many players of Kyle and Dolly's wedding. Everyone got along famously and behaved themselves as well. Most importantly, I got to talk with Dolly for quite a while, beating my previous record of two minutes back in 1997. Hopefully, I helped allay Dolly's fears about all these bozos that Kyle invited to the wedding. At any rate, I don't think I made them any worse. Kyle's little sister Ashley arrived (the one who I last saw doing her third grade homework at our apartment) and reminded me how long in the tooth we're all getting. One of the best moments of the evening came when we were walking through the city back to our hotel, when some unwitting taxi passenger chose to ask Steve for directions. Poking his head out the cab window, he shouted "Hey! What's the best way to Union Lake?" to which Steve, dashing through the crosswalk, quickly shouted back "Take a taxi!"

Bright and early the next day we packed our belongings and escaped the King's Inn, and took the ferry (the good ship Yakima) from Anacortes to San Juan Island. Once on the island in Friday Harbor (populated by salty bearded old guys in Hawaiian shirts) we went hunting for lunch. The first place we ventured into quickly closed the kitchen at the sight of us, so a hungry-looking local pointed us toward another eatery and muttered "good luck." To this day, I have no clue what that whole episode meant. After lunch we continued on to Roche Harbor, where we found our accommodations to be extremely nice. A wooden deck afforded a view over the harbor, where I stole a few quiet moments watching the boats and seaplanes push to and fro, and a lone patient pelican snatch a fish from the shallows. Later, Derek, Karla, Brenda and I shared some laughs on the hotel veranda at the expense of a distant bagpiper, before we were off to the wedding rehearsal!

The rehearsal went smoothly. I'm getting to be pretty good at this kind of thing because I get lots of practice (always a bridesmaid never a bride...sob!). After a brisk run-through with the minister, who had an uncanny resemblance to Bill Clinton, we dashed to the pavilion for some arts and crafts. We stuffed chocolates in boxes (who got the turtle?), I braved black widow spiders in the fireplace, while the others hung the lanterns. Also fun was the MENSA candle swapping game which I think everybody took a stab at. The tour de force however was Steve and my expert problem-solving skills of hanging two banners along the wall that refused to stay up. I'm pretty sure everybody at the wedding was awed by our feat of engineering.

Anyway, we had enough of that and zipped off to the beach on the other side of the island to have fun with fire and meat.

And so the big day finally arrived! Andreas, Dave, Steve and I donned our tuxedos, and sauntered down to the Sunken Garden for photos. But wouldn't you know it, the ladies aren't ready yet, so we meandered about the harbor, instigated a fight between the kayaking crew, convinced some lady we were doing a mosquito repellant commercial, and had to fend off the advances of a Dutch woman and her friends. Finally, the bride and bridesmaids arrived (and it was worth the wait). Beautifully arrayed in traditonal Indian saris and finery, they made the whole affair a lot classier than we bums ever could.

As for the actual wedding, frankly I couldn't see a whole lot of it. Someone's (Steve's) big head was in the way. During the whole ceremony he kept dabbing at his face, and I couldn't tell if we was crying or wiping his brow. I whispered to him "Stop fidgeting" but he muttered that he was hot, and kept on. Eventually, I started to perspire heavily, too, and began to revisit my brilliant idea of short-sleeve tuxedos. I started to get real nervous as I realized how unpleasant it would be for Karla to have me escort her down the aisle while I was dripping like a rainforest. But before I could worry too much about it, Karla slipped her arm in mine and whispered to me "I'm sweating like a pig!" putting me at ease. It's the sweetest thing a woman ever said to me.

And thus the reception began! We all had a good laugh/cry at Andreas's wedding toast. If anyone has a recording of that, we would love a copy (DVD with commentary track would be preferred). The music began and I danced (a few minutes of) the night away. I'm getting far too old to do anything like I did at Andreas's wedding. I have to be careful not to break a hip. We snuck away to appropriately bedeck Kyle and Dolly's car with shaving cream and driftwood that we gathered from the beach the night before (the driftwood, not the shaving cream). And it seemed that just as the fun began, it too quickly came to a close. We called it a night and arose early the next morning to catch the ferry home.

As we drove, we passed through a curtain of gentle rain that glimmered in the rays of the rising sun. It was the first rain we had come across since our arrival in Washington. I like to think that it was holding itself back for our sakes', letting us enjoy every moment that our brief time there offered, until, saddened at our departure, it could contain itself no longer, and shed a few bitter-sweet tears as it watched us go. And thus, charting a course to the world we so recently left, we boarded the waiting ferry, richly laden with treasures of friendship and memories.

Thanks, everybody, for being a part of it!



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