It was a good wedding, perhaps even a great one. Some used the word magnificent. OK, that was me, the father of the bride and a primary sponsor.
But I meant it. Magnificent. Especially if you measure it by the laughter and the awful dancing, which is how you should always measure anything.
“God had a very good day on the day you were born…” I told my daughter in the wedding toast. And I didn’t even much cry.
It was a day they’d sought for two years. A day for smiles, not tears.
I warned Finn that, in a sense, he’d married into the mob — that all my friends and family were now his friends and family, even the ne-er-do-wells. Like Miller, for instance.
Finn barely flinched. Just a facial tic or two. Most men would’ve bolted for the door. I took that as a good sign. He’s in it for the long haul.
After all, he’s been through this before. This was their encore wedding.
Seventeen months ago, the lovely and patient older daughter got fed up with all the Covid delays and married Finn in a ceremony so small you could’ve folded it three times and slipped it in your shirt pocket.
Now, they were doing it again, with friends and family and a new baby in attendance.
And way too many Irish, the kind who can be surgical with their words.
They came from New York, they came from Jersey and Chicago, America’s bastions of Irish enlightenment.
Monsignor Torgerson was back at the pulpit, and he didn’t miss a beat. He was loosey-goosey in a way you seldom see with priests. Sly and wry, wistful and warm.
Religion is like anything else, I suppose. First, you have to entertain.
Remember how I said that when guests visit, you just hope your city will be at its best, that it delivers, even dazzles?
Well, LA sure did, even as LAX continues to be our hottest hot mess, and Uber service has become a colossal disservice (I really recommend Lyft. Or walking).
But the Easterners and Midwesterners soaked up the sunshine along the beach and at our own Coney Island – Santa Monica Pier, where the Ferris wheel pretends to hurl you into the sea like a playful uncle.
That’s the best word for Santa Monica this past weekend: playful. Almost magnificent.
We’ll reserve magnificent for the bride. The groom was dashing, in that way all grooms used to be. And they had that baby I may have mentioned. Pretty cute.
Rapunzel rocked her maid-of-honor speech – “We all can’t wait for your next wedding! — and the band roared – 10 pieces. We could’ve danced all night.
“The sweaty guy with the flippy hair, who was that?”
No one really knows.
My brother-in-law John, a keen observer of the human condition, explained good wedding bands this way: You need a chick singer, plus at least one guy who sounds like a chick.
“And you need a horn section,” he explained. “Gotta have a horn section.”
By the way, every inner-thought I have is accompanied by a horn section. Three pieces: sax, strumpet, trombone. There, I finally admitted it.
Anyway, it was a very good weekend, starting with the rehearsal dinner hosted by the groom’s dad, Tom Finn, the paterfamilias of the New York wing of this Irish mob.
Phyllis, Jimmy, Margaret, Tom, Kathleen, Erin, Andy, Magee, Henry, Suzanne, Martin…they were all there and more.
Smartacus stood up to speak, and when Smartacus speaks people listen, worrying a little he might accidentally drop an f-bomb, as college boys will. But he didn’t; he charmed, he lit up the room. So proud. Not an easy thing, a speech. Most folks would rather chip a tooth.
Then Saturday was the re-wedding at the glorious St. Monica Church. As per tradition, the groomsmen were on time and the bride and her maids ran a little late.
Nice touch: As we left the church a New Orleans jazz band met us on the steps and second-lined us to the reception four blocks away, a nod to the bride’s New Orleans roots.
Now, as I always like to point out, the problem with sex is that there always has to be a witness.
But romance? Romance I’ll take for days. Candlelight through wine glasses. Brown booze with the big clunky ice cubes. Puff pastries. Cigars. Live music.
To me, those are the key components of romance.
With romance, it’s as if the universe is watching and you don’t even care. You shrug. You carry on a little too much. You get second winds, third winds.
All that goes into a worthy wedding too. A good one lasts four quarters, then there’s overtime. The next day you’re replaying all the sound bites and vignettes in your head, re-living it while it’s still fresh, refusing to give up the buzz.
“Love is like a friendship caught on fire,” said cleric Jeremy Taylor.
“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart,” said Judy Garland.
“It’s amazing how one day someone walks into your life, and suddenly you can’t remember how you lived without them,” warned Anurag Prakash Ray.
Fortunately (or not), all these situations can lead to marriage. Trust me, I’ve seen it.
On Sunday, the after-party at the beach lasted 10 hours. Wedding rehab, I called it. Verge’s little beach shack glowed, and so did the guests after the record-setting heat.
Among the defining moments: Miller, Eugene and Verge by the bar, smiling like small boys and saying nothing I could ever repeat here. Ulf and Jeff were there too. No one works a room like those two.
Obviously, I’m about as deep as a golf divot. But I measure my blessings in family, friends and silly asides…ice cubes…re-fills…touchdowns on TV, like background music.
Sunday was also the day that my grandbaby, now 6 months, decided to crawl for the first time.
Again, the world didn’t watch or even much care. But we did. A milestone/miracle begins with a single step. Or in this case, a belly wiggle, a squirm, a smile.
As do all of us, Catty Cakes now moves along in life one sweet inch at a time.
So, thank you LA. Sometimes you really come through. Sometimes your sheet-metal soul melts a little, and you start acting all human for a change. Your nose sunburns and your freckles start to come out.
And you dazzle visitors, you really do. And the visitors dazzle us in return.
Life’s a loop that way — a silly, soulful, magnificent loop.
You know, God still has some good days left.
Mazel tov to my beautiful buddy Bittner and his beautiful daughter Melanie, on her marriage Saturday to the beautiful Eric. Bittner and I are like brothers, so it figures our daughters would double-book the same date. As I told him, at least we’ll be able to remind each other of our oldest daughters’ anniversary each year. If you’d like to send a wedding gift, I prefer gin over vodka and silver over gold. But please don’t go to any trouble. You can, however, support this silly web venture, and cover some of the costs of the TWO wedding bands, by buying a book or t-shirt at ChrisErskineLA.com. Meanwhile, congrats to all the couples who have wed this summer and fall, after all the Covid hassles and postponements. Love finds a way, as they say. Cheers and thanks.