CHICAGO — My suitcase looks like a Jimmy Buffett song – so much sand, all my t-shirts scented with airport sweat and rum. When I’m done unpacking, the plan is to just burn everything.
LAX was agony going out, and a dream coming back. The shuttle driver (Randy S.) greeted us with a smile and a hearty “Welcome home, folks!” Tipped him 15 bucks just for his basic decency.
OK, here’s a list of what I did on my summer vacation:
–Unloaded another sassy daughter.
–Gained a son-in-law they call Truck.
–Took a lap around the Great Lakes to check out the ancient lighthouses.
–Sang old whaling songs to Suzanne, my chaperone and navigator.
–Devoured 27 Chicago-style dogs in maybe three desperate, gasping-for-air bites.
–Jumped into the gurgling ice bath that is Lake Michigan.
–Tasted Lake Huron (redolent of oily shipwrecks).
–Got Suzanne forever hooked on deep-dish pizza.
–Visited Mackinac Island, where we stayed at the grandest hotel I’ve ever seen and pretty much drained the little village of all its gin (sorry!).
–Chit-chatted the locals, including a Harvard dude named Dennis who is now the island’s Bilbo Baggins.
–Filed a request for an inquest into Rapunzel’s reception, including that incident where a bridesmaid bit a cousin while battling for the bridal bouquet.
I mean, I’m all in favor of over-the-top passion – it’s the only passion I practice. Yet who wants to get married quite that much?
To recap, it was like a mosh pit out there on the dance floor to begin with, my buddy Gino riling up the guests while dirty dancing with my other buddy Pete.
Even the band was impressed.
Then, with the trademark insouciance of a brand-new bride, Rapunzel steps out on the dance floor and tosses her wedding bouquet over her shoulder – like Gibson, like Maddox — to a screaming scrum of beautiful young women, their arms flailing like winter wheat.
It’s no wonder someone got hurt.
Trust me, these were not the Bronte sisters out there. Young women today are raised to be very physical in ways we now regret. It’s scary, their fire … their fury … their drive to catch a floaty bouquet of tiny white roses mixed with wisps of baby’s breath.
Here are the latest eye-witness details: One niece, who’s 11 feet tall and has arms like linguini, snatches the flowers in mid-air, then accidentally rakes her arm across the face of the groom’s twin sister, a hard-charging surgical intern who – let’s be frank – probably sees a lot of blood in her line of work.
The case will probably settle out of court, as these things mostly do. But it will remain a special moment in Rapunzel’s wedding lore. We’re hoping someone caught it on video, so we can Zapruder it at the inquest, one spinning pixel at a time.
“Your honor, may I direct your attention to how good everyone’s hair looked during the incident…”
“Live within your harvest,” the Persians like to say. And for one day at least, we didn’t.
Gawd, I love the Middle West — every day a Super Bowl. The bar tab alone was in the mid-trillions.
Meanwhile, more things I did on my summer vacation:
–Dragged Suzanne to up to the piney woods of Door County, Wisconsin, a quick screen pass from the cheesehead capital of the world, Green Bay.
–Paid 2 bucks less per gallon than I do in LA.
–Seduced my chaperone with Leinenkugel’s beer.
–Re-seduced her with cheese curds and smoked white fish.
–Visited a bunch of lighthouses.
–Ate Jamaican food in Michigan.
–Immediately regretted eating Jamaican food in Michigan.
–Drove through a spectacular settlement known as Charlevoix, a painterly isthmus that – from what I hear — is the gateway to Beaver Island.
Sense a theme here? Yes. Courage. Adventure. Hedonism. Wiseguyness.
On the fourth day, Suzanne asks if my fingers are quivery from not writing. She knows that after a few days away, my fingers start to flutter … a sax player without a horn.
It’s evident every time I pick up another bar tab.
“No,” I explained. “Basically, I’m just sort of broke.”
Did I mention that on my daughter’s wedding day, I cannonballed (semi-naked) into Lake Michigan a few hours before the ceremony?
Thought I was gonna die.
But I didn’t.
Bashed my heart on some rocks, that’s all.
You know. Weddings.
Looking for ways to support this broke father-of-the bride? Please consider buying a copy of “What the Bears Know,” a new wilderness memoir I helped write with “Bear Whisperer” Steve Searles. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’ll change everything you believed about that wild bear in your backyard pool. Also, we’ll be at Vroman’s bookstore Oct. 3 at 7 p.m., to song-and-dance our new book. Please join us. The book hits stores Oct. 3. For advance copies, please click here. Thanks!