DANA POINT, Calif. – Bon voyage! But first, Smartacus and I make a pit stop in south Orange County, at the Monarch Beach Resort, one of those grand hotels that remind you of the days when America could still build things – solid doors, heavy lock sets, marble baths – reminiscent of Gatsby’s mansion.
The occasion? Brittany is marrying Joel. Brittany is the best midfielder I ever coached (tenacious and unyielding). I don’t really know Joel’s soccer resume, but let’s assume it’s pretty solid. Otherwise why would she marry him?
Lovely celebration. Beautiful young people everywhere, like croutons on a casserole.
Sitting in front of me: Jenny Garth. A bunch of Jenny Garths, actually. They are a California archetype, the strappy dresses, the button noses. When the late-afternoon sun lights up the Jenny Garths — all at once, like a strobe — it’s as if we’ve discovered El Dorado.
Dana Point: Secret City of Golden Tresses.
There is also a stunning Maria Shriver look-a-like in front of us, the pre-Arnold version, lightly worn. Looks very expensive. Probably arrived on a chariot pulled by sweaty cabana boys. Nothing ostentatious. You know Orange County.
So you can imagine this ceremony, on a generous and sweeping lawn, overlooking that jewel-box ocean and a golf course that I could never afford.
In south Orange County, even the grandmas are gorgeous.
Our hosts, Gary and Rhonda, really knocked this wedding outta the park. Such a grand and classy gift. A daughter, I mean. Weddings are good too, of course. Seems you trade one for the other.
At the reception, I sit next to Bittner, who’s here with Barb, the woman he’s been seeing since they were at UCLA, some 400 years ago. On the other side, Jim and Susy…Karen and Greg. They clump us according to age, obviously. Like grammar school.
We’re at that stage where all our kids are marrying — each weekend a wedding. It’s a long board game – Chutes & Ladders comes to mind, combined with the financial components of Monopoly.
2021. The Year of the Wedding.
Again, the band is sensational. We’re 2 for 2 on wedding bands. There are also crab claws and raw oysters. The salmon entrée tastes like it jumped straight from the sea.
You know, I like weddings – big and small, opulent and simple. The vows. The guests gawping at the bride. The toasts. The hear-hears. I like the wobbly smiles … the moments so meaningful that they make everyone a little nervous.
I like the stiff white shirts. The heels in the grass. When else do you see heels anymore?
In addition to the obvious legal ramifications, a wedding damps our cynicism, lights some inner circuit, the kind we had as kids and then lost. The circuit of hope and celebration.
The moms score such occasions like baseball games – the flowers, the bridal train, the food — base hit, solid double, home run…
Dads watch the dollar signs dance by – the live band, the open bar – then shrug and conclude: Worth every penny, this El Dorado. All 20 million of them. For this day of wine and roses.
Favorite moment? When the father of the bride gives the toast. So much there…the culmination of every single parenting effort.
My buddy Gary gave the best wedding toast ever. Due to the gin, I can’t remember the whole thing, but Gary’s toast was essentially a tribute to the splendid modern relationships between dads and daughters now that soccer and softball binds them like never before.
“She’s always been my best friend,” he says of Britt. “I was devastated when she went off to college…”
Oh, yikes. That again? Ooooooof.
Next: Warm the chowder, chill the beer. College, here we come.
Dear readers. So Smartacus and I are on the road to Oregon. If I miss a rotation, please understand. I’m not the Kershaw I used to be. But I will try to keep you posted as the week unfolds. Rapunzel will fly in too, as well as her sturdy boyfriend, the rugby-playing rocket scientist. He’s like a character out of a John Irving novel. Wow, this family — growing, going, gone, then growing some more. Life’s a grand ride, isn’t it? Talk soon. Cheers.