February 26, 2004

Grooming. Get it? Grooming.

Once again we're off to Chicago this afternoon for a weekend which will include two - yes, two - engagement parties/showers. I'm grateful for the generosity of L's family's friends, but I'm also feeling a bit of pressure. With so many people for me to meet, I better look good.

For years I had gone to Astor Place Hairstylist, the Greenwich Village institution where a guy can walk out with a fresh cut for less than fifteen dollars. I had a couple of favorite barbers there, but was never really aware of their schedules and often found myself inadvertently showing up on their days off and walking out with a buzz cut when all I wanted was a trim.


Not wanting to take that chance this time and with a somewhat unruly and neglected mop, I booked an appointment at John Allan's, a club-style salon with a midtown location. (There's also one in the downtown Financial District) The cut would be a tad more than fifteen bucks, but was part of what the club calls a "Full Service" package. At less reputable establishments, "Full Service" would connote a back-alley entrance and an hourly rate, but at John Allan's that meant I'd get a scalp-massaging shampoo, hot towel, manicure, shoeshine, and beverage in addition to my haircut. I suspect the club lists "shoeshine" and "beverage" right after "manicure" in their marketing materials to help most men recover from the idea of having their nails done. "Manicure? Well at least I'm also getting some old school man stuff, like a shine and a beer. That makes it cool, right?" Then again, there aren't too many places where a guy can go and have his hand held for more than a few minutes by a woman who isn't his fiancée and not get in trouble, so having your hands massaged by a woman named Adrianna probably eases most men's discomfort.

You see, John Allan's might be for men only but it's staffed by some beautiful women. All the employees - save the shoe shine guys and coat check staff - are female. L knew this when I booked my appointment and was fine with it. If going to a place staffed by good looking women would tame my unruly do, L didn't mind at all. At the end of the evening, me and my newly-shorn keppe would be coming home to her.

After a short wait where I read the paper and enjoyed a drink, I had my shampoo and hot towel. Both were very relaxing, as advertised. Sufficiently sedated, I sat in an overstuffed leather club chair - no pump-up-and-down salon chairs here - and was tended to by Kaci and the aforementioned Adrianna. Kaci worked delicately, eschewing the rough electric razor that I was used to at Astor Place in favor of a nice pair of scissors. I felt a little weird when Adrianna complimented me on my cuticles, but upon futher inspection I realized she was right. I do have nice cuticles. Anyway, the two ladies were friendly, not overly chatty and very attentive, and even gave me a few breaks to take a sip of my drink and check the work in progress.

The entire appointment didn't take that long. In less than an hour I left with one of the best haircuts I've ever had - even L gave it her seal of approval later that evening - and a nice experience. Sure, it was a lot more expensive than Astor Place, but with less of the assembly-line feel of the downtown establishement and other NYC haircutters, I left looking good and feeling relaxed.

So, guys, treat yourself to something nice. After all, there's a reason you're called a groom.

Hey, if you go to John Allan's, tell 'em PlanetGordon sent you.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Posted by The Groom at 08:01 AM | Comments (4)

February 25, 2004

Hey DJ, Stop Playing That Song

Now that the issue of whether or not to make CD mixes has been settled, L and I have moved on to actually picking the songs that will go on the mix. L's tastes run more to the singer-songwriter, person-with-a-guitar style of music (she was practically raised at a summer camp, after all) while my tastes range more towards, well, everything. As long as it's good, I'll listen to it.

As a friend pointed out, I Will Always Love You might sound romantic, but it is in fact about a break up. (If I should stay/I would only be in your way/So I'll go but I know/I'll think of you/Every step of the way.) Similarly romantic, and no less cheesy, chest-thumping Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On is an ode from a woman to her dead lover. I certainly wouldn't choose such Adult Contemporary schlock, but even in much more tolerable genres, isn't it true that the most heartfelt songs are typically about heartbreak?


In the 1985 movie Better Off Dead a young John Cusack, distraught over his recent break up, drives in a beat-up station wagon, trying to find a song on the radio. As he surfs the dial, song after song cruelly reminds him of his lost love: "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover," "Hurts So Bad," and my personal favorite, Daryl Hall and John Oates's "She's Gone." Frustrated, Cusack throws the radio out the car window.

So, in the tradition of another great John Cusack movie, High Fidelity, how do you make the perfect mix for your guests? I can think of plenty of inappropriate songs - "Jesse's Girl," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Tainted Love," "You Oughta Know," anything by Ben Folds Five - but what about songs that people will like? The trick is to make a meaningful mix of music without also having to include a couple of Alka-Seltzer tablets in each CD's case.

In the comments section, post your suggestions for the best and worst possible wedding songs. I'll compile the list and perhaps make a mix of them all for myself.

Posted by The Groom at 11:15 AM | Comments (24)

Amend This

As one half of a happily committed straight couple, I am not threatened by gay marriage. Far from it, L and I only see good things coming as a result of full marriage benefits. Not civil unions, mind you, but marriage. (I seem to remember something from grade school about the doctrine of "separate but equal" being, by definition, unequal.)

Mr. Bush, if you're reading, I'd like to offer what I think should be the only compromise we reach on gay marriage: if you don't like it, don't marry a gay person.

L and I are going to make a donation to the Human Rights Campaign to help them meet their goal of raising $500,000 this week. I hope that more straight couples will stand on the side of human decency and drown out the rising chorus of hate coming from the right.

After that we'll get back to wedding planning - and I'll limit my future politcal rants. All those weddings out in San Francisco haven't threatened our plans in the slightest. Food tasting and wedding showers stop for no man - or no two men.

Read the Onion artcile Massachusetts Supreme Court Orders All Citizens to Gay Marry.

Posted by The Groom at 12:49 AM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2004

Helpful Hints

As part of my ongoing effort to inform as well as entertain, today's post is a response to a request from someone who emailed me a long time ago looking for information on airline travel discounts for guests.

One hundred percent of my friends and family and easily eighty percent of L's will have to fly into Milwaukee for our wedding, so the first thing I did was look into discounts for airlines. Midwest Airlines can set up a plan for your wedding guests to give them 10% off fares with a sixty day advance purchase or 6% when purchasing within sixty days. All our guests have to do when making their reservations is mention a specific code - which we included in the save the date - to receive the discount. Continental Airlines has a similar program, although we chose Midwest because they had more flights at better times than any other airline flying to Milwaukee. The details were very simple to arrage: we simply filled out an online form and within one or two days received an email with our details and a contract. I was even given the direct number of a Midwest employee who returned my phone call quickly and answered my questions graciously.

The lesson I learned is that even if they don't have a specific wedding-related discount program, most companies are happy to help. You are calling them and saying, "We can guarantee that a large number of people will need your services and spend thousands of dollars on a very specific date." And don't be concerend if you aren't having a large wedding. Some airline deals are good whether you invite ten people or ten thousand. Of course, if you are inviting ten thousand people to your wedding, then saving a few bucks probably isn't one of your concerns.

Posted by The Groom at 09:03 AM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2004

Battle of the Bulge


I was recently accepted into the 2004 New York City Marathon and have to start thinking of my training soon. I've read a lot of training guides and none of them factor in wedding planning when budgeting per-week mileage.

L and I are off to Chicago again on Thursday for two parties and lots of eating. So much in fact, that I view this week's trips to the gym not as training for general fitness, but as a means of protection agains the many calories to be had this weekend. My friend, newly married this fall, offered this helpful advice in fighting the fat:

"Chug 1 and 1/2 liters of water in the morning, again in the afternoon, and again at night.  You'll feel so full, you won't be able to eat as much during the day.  You will, however, be in need of a toilet every hour but that's the price for less poundage."

Posted by The Groom at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)

February 22, 2004

Mass Mailing Madness

Was I really so naive to think we'd be able to send out the Save The Date cards in one weekend? Did I really think stuffing over two hundred envelopes, affixing postage and mailing labels and dropping them off at the post office would only take a few days?


Apparently I was.

Our goal was to get the cards out no later than mid-February and in that we succeeded, but only because we started on the first of February. Kinko's quoted us a price of over four hundred dollars for a double-sided, brochure-style announcement on glossy paper. That's more than some people spend on the actual invitations, so we - and by we I of course mean L - took the proof to a copy place near NYU. Their quote? One hundred ninety dollars. They even surprised us and printed the front photograph with a sepia tone without charging us extra.

Once we had the copies and mailing labels I thought it would be as simple as printing out our mailing list and dropping everything out at the post office. If only.

As anyone who has planned a wedding can tell you, we didn't have just one list. Sure, we had our "master list," the names of everyone who's invited to the wedding, but then we had to break down the list into smaller parts. Out of town guests? They got an insert inviting them to the rehearsal dinner. International guests? We had to separate their envelopes so they didn't get posted with a normal thirty-seven-cent stamp. Then there was the list of people whose addresses we still don't have. There's also the gift list, which helps us keep track of who gave us what and who is still owed a thank-you note. Have you ever played Tetris for hours on end and then gone to sleep with visions of falling blocks running through your head? Well, my dreams for the last week have featured a visual parade of Excel spreadsheets.

With the exception of the international envelopes which are still awaiting postage, the save the dates made it out early last week. I've already fielded a number of emails and phone calls from friends and relatives either confirming their receipt of the mailing or asking a few things we didn't cover. Our moms have phoned in similar reports.

Not that things haven't been fun before, but now it feels like we are really on our way to our wedding. It's still six months away, but sending out the Save the Date was like throwing open a giant switch to light a neon billboard. The wedding of L and D is open for business.

Posted by The Groom at 03:01 PM | Comments (4)

February 21, 2004

Burn Baby Burn


The Great CD Mix Debate seems to be settled, for now. L feels a little better about the ethical implications of it all and her mom's only request was that we remember the "older generation." We'll - really me'll - make the mixes and put them in the gift bags waiting for people in their hotel rooms. The only problem? Yesterday I made a mix to send to my sister and burning the disk took about three minutes. I've never been great with math, but three minutes multiplied by 250 guests, is um, a lot of time. I better get started...now.

Posted by The Groom at 03:31 PM | Comments (3)

February 20, 2004

Say it With Flowers


As you probaby are aware, the city of San Francisco is granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Over 3,000 couples have had their unions sanctioned by the city since Mayor Gavin Newsom gave the go-ahead about two weeks ago. While I'm not sure how effective this will be in moving the country closer to full rights for gays and lesbians - it might serve mostly to galvanize conservative activists - there is something heartening about seeing people lined up for hours and hours through notoriously fickle San Francisco weather in order to affirm their commitments.

Apparently, people are calling flower shops in the Bay Area and having them deliver flowers to couples standing in line at City Hall. You'll find a little more info here and here. I don't know much about flowers - that's my bride's domain - but L and I think this is a great idea. All you have to do is call a local flower shop, pay for an arrangement, write a nice message and ask them to deliver it to anyone standing in line. It seems that most flower shops are willing to comply.

I called Mariner Flowers in San Francisco and was told that their phone hasn't stopped ringing since yesterday afternoon. They worked late last night and even have extra people on hand to keep up with the orders, although the demand has still yet to keep up with the number of people flocking to City Hall. You can contact Mariner at 1-800-797-7744 or do a Google search for other shops in the area.

I usually think donating money to legal organizations is the best way to fight for change, but have to admit that with all the news coverage of this event, sending flowers is a great way to show the country that, yes, even a lot of straight people in committed relationships support gay marriage.

Thanks, Alison, for pointing this out.

Posted by The Groom at 01:28 PM | Comments (3)

February 18, 2004

Pre-Nup Poetry

My Uncle K is a funny guy. He posted this poem somewhere else on this site, but I thought it was hilarious and wanted to give it a place in the spotlight. So without further ado, I present for your reading enjoyment...

by K. Gordon

He thought, "When I propose, under moonlight with rose
That his greatest anxiety t'was shedding.

Felt all safe and secured, parent's blessing procured
Why's the gent still all pent up and dreading?

He and his bride-to-be, writing lists A to Z
Can't resist, gist is, lists keep on spreading.

Is the honeymoon done even 'fore it's begun
When it comes down to planning the wedding?

How many people can your folks invite?
How can we find the right venue?
Modern chic or antique, the gown ivory or white?
Chicken or beef on the menu?
Or a fish dish with knish could be simply delish
But should it be salmon or snapper?
A combo for mambo? Dixieland? Jazz Band?
Rock and Roll? Maybe Soul with a rapper?

Saturday evening in formal attire?
Sunday, an afternoon lunch?
A carriage that's horse-drawn or limo for hire?
White wine spritzers or pink champagne punch?

Three tiers of chocolate mousse and ganache?
A sheet cake with frosting vanilla?
It appears all this chasing the goose, well by gosh
For Pete's sake, it's exhausting the fella!

The best of advice
When the shoes and the rice
The love birds disturb and get down?
Remember that wedding is truly a verb
Wedding party's no more than a noun!

Posted by The Groom at 04:26 PM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2004

You Know You Want It


The reviews are in and the first "TAKEN" mugs are a hit. Emily M., who sent me the above picture, says, "Your groom will love drinking out of his new mug!" That's right, Emily. He may not have a ring but he'll think of his beautiful bride every time he takes a sip of his morning coffee.

If you're wondering why anyone would need anything with the word "TAKEN" stamped across it, then you clearly missed the original discussion and the follow-up post that resulted in the infamous "TAKEN" T-Shirt which, um, by the way, you can buy here if you aren't mad at me now for this terribly long run-on sentence.

Coming up next: "The Littlest Groom" takes over PlanetGordon.com and the results of the Great CD Mix Debate.

Posted by The Groom at 10:02 PM | Comments (4)

February 16, 2004

Serving Suggestion

After yet another trip to a store to add things to our registry, I've realized there are certain things that will make the experience more enjoyable. If we have to go back again, I'll be sure to bring the following supplies:

Chewing gum: after a few hours in a dry store my mouth felt like it was on fire. There was one plus side to my bad breath: pushy salespeople stayed far, far away.

Bottled water: Bloomingdale's in the dead of winter just might be the driest place on Earth. And while there are water glasses everywhere, there is not a drop to drink, at least not for less than four dollars. Some of the heating ducts in the store were strong enough to fill ninety hot air balloons and I was so thoroughly dried out that I woke up later that night with a bloody nose. Seriously.

Food: Towards the end of our registry mission, I bonked harder than a carbo-deficient marathoner hitting the wall at mile twenty. I'm partial to Clif Bars, but a Snickers, box of raisins or any other small snack can help you keep up your energy. Better yet, build in a lunch break at the store's cafe.

Actually, come to think of it, it might be even better to order in, grab a few beers and set the whole registry up online.

Posted by The Groom at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

Between Friends

L and I have been having a disagreement recently - in the Socratic sense and not in the throwing dishes at each other sense - over CD mixes. In an age where twelve-year-olds are prosecuted for file sharing and a person can buy burned CDs on any New York City corner for five bucks, is it ethical to distribute a mix of your favorite music as a wedding favor?

People like CDs and, as recent research tells us, people like gifts. Factor in a wedding and which would you rather receive: candles shaped to look like fruit or a mix of good tunes?

As a loyal iTunes user, I've assured L that the mix would consist of songs I've either downloaded legally or bought and paid for on CD. For the record, I am wholeheartedly against the use of file-sharing networks such as LimeWire or Kazaa to download music that is otherwise available commerically.

Napster was shut down because most of the songs traded through its network were digital copies of copies with no deterioration in sound quaility that weren't paid for except perhaps by the first person who posted an album online. The granddaddy of all file-sharing services claimed that it was merely allowing friends to trade to other friends, but it's hard for people to call each other friends when they are known only as SmpsnsFan8192 or kewl_guy193.

But L and I know everyone coming to our wedding. Most of them have been our friends for ten years or more. Heck, I've known my parents for at least twenty-nine years. Where the issue doesn't sit right with L is that we'll be inviting over two hundred people to the wedding. That's a lot of CDs.

L is willing to bend, pending a successful investigation of the ethical and legal factors that divide making a mix for friends from getting busted by the RIAA. I don't think FBI agents will be spying on our wedding, waiting for the first CD to be withdrawn from a gift bag but I decided to do some homework. I'm no lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I was able to get some good answers.

After posting a question on a message board, one person pointed me to the fair use doctrine which was cited in the Napster case. Judges consider the following four factors when hearing copyright disputes:

  1. the purpose and character of your use
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work
  3. the amount and subtantiality of the portion taken, and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

The first factor has to do with things such as parody and scholarship. If the purpose is to change the material and make fun of it - Chris Kattan dressing like Gollum on SNL, for example - then the courts say it's okay. Additionally, an author could write a book about Gollum's impact on European banking systems, if he were so inclined, and throw in a few quotes from The Lord of the Rings without fear of prosecution. He could not, however, photocopy Tolkien's book, call it "Frodo and Sam's Excellent Adventure," and sell it in front of an NYU dorm.

It is hard for us to meet this criteria, since we aren't changing the material by, say, writing our own lyrics. Score one for L.

Factor two, the nature of the work, gives some exception to borrowing from copyrighted material that is already widely available, as opposed to stealing a copy of Spider-Man 2 before it hits theaters. Artists, it is argued, have the right to control where and when their material shows up first. Since we are using music that has already been released, we're mostly in the clear. After two rounds, the score is tied.

Amount and substantiality is harder to qualify. Fair use says you can copy a little, so long as you don't take a lot. Clear, right? Trading "Toxic" online arguably hurts Britney Spears because as a popular single it represents a substantial part of her album. (The words "substantial" and "Britney Spears" never before appearing in the same sentence, of course.) We're not copying entire albums or even, necessarily, number one hit singles. For lack of a clear solution, let's call this one a draw.

Where I think I have the most support is with the last factor, the effect upon the potential market. With file-sharing services, the effect is clear. Why pay fourteen bucks for the new Norah Jones album when you can get it for free in four minutes online? But few, if any of our guests would otherwise purchase the music we will give them as a gift. Sorry, L, but I doubt my grandmother or or my great aunt and uncle have even heard of Nellie McKay. Independent of the deteriorating quality of modern popular music, SoundScan will not notice a significant dip in music sales in the months following our wedding.

Final score: L, one. Me, two. Admittedly, I'm biased in favor of making the mixes, so L might call for an independent interpretation of my analysis. (I'm sorry if that phrasing is confusing, but I just saw President Bush's interview on Meet the Press.)

So the floor is open. Present to me and L, in true high school debate style, your best arguments for or against CD favors at a wedding. It might be tipping the scales in my favor, but the best articulated argument will get a copy of our mix.

Posted by The Groom at 07:00 PM | Comments (22)

February 11, 2004

All This Time

I logged onto Wedding Channel to update some registry stuff and noticed we are exactly 200 days away from August 29th. While 200 days might seem like a lot of time, measured in "wedding time" it is actually much shorter. "Wedding time" is a relative and somewhat imprecise measurement, similar to dog years. If one year of a dog's life equals seven years of a human's life, then the amount of details a couple plans in one week probably equals the amount of details most people have to deal with in a month. (If you've ever had to plan a huge event with only a few weeks' advance notice, you'll understand.)

At least no matter what happens I know neither L nor I will get as worked up as this woman.

Still, 200 is a nice round number and I like round numbers. I don't know how much L and I will like round numbers such as 30 or 10 when we still have a million things to do within a month of IDD - I Do Day - but we'll jump off that bridge when we get to it.

Posted by The Groom at 04:56 PM | Comments (5)

February 09, 2004

The Cupboard Was Bare

I've been mostly ambivalent about registering, grateful for the fact that people want to buy us things for getting married, but not really getting the whole concept of picking out the things for people to buy. But that was before last week, when our last remaining glass broke, leaving us with a hodgepodge of drinking vessels. Containing my mom's old coffee mugs and a purple Nalgene bottle, the cabinet above our sink now looks more like it belongs in my old off-campus apartment at college than in the home of two responsible adults.

To our recent guests who had to drink orange juice from a beer stein and iced tea from wine glasses, thanks for your patience. We'll have this whole registry thing figured out before your next visit.


Posted by The Groom at 05:13 PM | Comments (1)

February 05, 2004

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Although I don't know exactly who is reading this site at any one time, it is possible - through the miracle of technology available to everyone with a website - to find out how people get here. My control panel gives me a list of the top search strings, which are words and phrases typed into search engines like Google that result in PlanetGordon.com being listed as a match. Although the most common searches were quite basic - "grooms," "wedding blogs" or "groom sites," for example - there were a few that I found curious.

  1. planetgordon.com. If I were looking for planetgordon.com, wouldn't I just type "planetgordon.com" into my web browser? Typing a web address into a search engine to look for a web address seems so meta.
  2. what hand do you wear an engagement ring. Before I was engaged I don't know if I would have been confident of the answer to this one. I imagine a young man, planning out every step of the proposal, suddenly nervous that he won't remember where to put the ring once his girlfried says yes. A quick query to the Google gods would surely assuage his fear. It's a nice scenario and I hope that's what really happened.
  3. cut guest list high school friends wedding. It's too bad whoever typed this in was under pressure to trim his or her list. Then again, I don't imagine I'd ever type "cut guest list parents wedding" into Google.
  4. men are idiots. Even as a guy, I have to say it. You need the Internet to tell you this?

  5. debeers right hand diamond Looks like someone drank the Kool-Aid. It's a little disappointing that people are buying into the whole right-hand ring thing, but perhaps my rant on the subject persuaded the person who typed this in to think twice.
  6. is a man gay if he wears jewelry. Did someone think they'd get a definitive answer to this question on the Internet? Besides, using jewelry as a measure of a man's sexuality seems about as reliable as looking to a groundhog for a weather report.

If you are here as a result of one the above search strings, or even because you typed plata-ma-pus somewhere hoping to find more on Jessica Simpson, welcome! I'm glad to have you no matter what your question.

Posted by The Groom at 04:40 PM | Comments (6)

February 04, 2004

No, seriously. It means "Ring of Light"

Last week L found a business card from Aureole Las Vegas on my desk and asked "Is this the club you guys are going to?" I was initially confused by her question. Aureole is an expensive French restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, started by the same person who owns the restaurant's Upper East Side location. I'm headed to Vegas next month for an early bachelor party and have been collecting info on good restaurants. Then I put it together. Vegas. Club. Eight guys. Word often associated with a woman's breast. From L's perspective, it wasn't a sillly question at all. I explained it to L and we shared a laugh.

She still thought the name was a little dumb, but I think it's mostly because the word has been corrupted by high school sex ed classes and letters to Penthouse magazine. But the dictionary definition is totally on the up and up, suitable for all ages, unlike a different aureole that's been in the news lately.


Posted by The Groom at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2004

The Littlest Groom

I don't watch a lot of reality TV, but I have to admit getting a certain guilty pleasure in watching Fox's My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance. I'm neither big, nor fat and few people would describe me as obnoxious (although they might use some other insult behind my back) but I still enjoy the show. I'm not sure how I feel about a woman deceiving her family and closest friends in order to score some cash, but what could I expect? It's Fox.


Perhaps no one will be surpirsed that the next water-cooler-discussed reality show, The Littlest Groom, will air on Fox this month. Twelve female "little people" - or dwarfs, which I believe is the preferred term - will compete for the affections of a four-foot-five man. Allegedly, the twist of this show will be the introduction of "average" sized women into the competition. Like it has been on other reality shows, cash is likely to be a major compenent of the procedings.

Is this exploitative? Is Fox making fun of dwarfs? Every reality show involves a few jokes at the participants' expenses, so the answer to both questions is probably yes. Although the words "big" and "fat" are part of the title, it's the "obnoxious" part that makes the first show enjoyable. Steve's table manners, his sense of humor and his general personality create the humor and conflict in the show, not his size. (Although that is obviously a part of it, considering Randi's "all-American" looks.) But all we get from the title of "The Littlest Groom" is that we'll be watching a show about little people, dwarfs, midgets, or whatever ignorant people choose to call them. A spokesman from the advocacy group Little People of America thinks the show might actually help the perception of little people in this country, but I don't buy it. The show isn't about personality, it's about size. Do you think the promos for the show will feature the lead man burping, being funny or being romantic and acting suave? According to Fox, little people don't have to be fat or obnoxious to make for good TV. They just have to be little.

Your thoughts?

SUPPORT PLANETGORDON.COM! Buy the famous "TAKEN" T-Shirt and other cool stuff.

Posted by The Groom at 11:28 AM | Comments (14)

February 02, 2004

Midwest Gluttonfest

We hit the ground running after touching down in Chicago on Thursday night, stopping for a quick dinner at L's parents' before leaving to make L's appointment at a salon called Mario Tricoci. I bought some coffee while L was preened by the stylist. When I came back, L looked fantastic, but we shared a laugh as her salon-done do simply didn't groove with the army-green pants and "Brooklyn" t-shirt she had worn that night in anticipation of hanging out with her friends in the city.

On Friday we attended a wine tasting and sale. If you can, picture the Barney's warehouse sale, only in a room not much bigger than a high school classroom, with shopping carts snaking around the middle and cases of wine stacked impossibly high, and you'll have an idea of how crowded it was. The floor was wet, a combination of the winter slush and spilled wine that probably wouldn't smell too good at the end of the day. There were so many people tasting and carting away so many bottles of wine that the term "fire sale" would have been appropriate had it not been fourteen degrees outside.

We drank from small medicine cups and selected one red and one white for the wedding. L's dad bought a number of cases which the store's staffed loaded into his car. I can only imagine how many people drove home drunk from that sale because, like in most suburban towns, walking home was not an option. Had the police set up a checkpoint down the street and administered breathalizer tests to every other driver who left the store's lot, they could have ticketed enough people to fund the town for decades.

Friday night we drove to Milwaukee. It was a cold and gray outside, and most of the cars on the road were covered with salt. By the side of the highway the Mars Cheese Castle, along with a some fireworks warehouses and a few adult bookstores,heralded our arrival in Wisconsin. We passed a sign showing the time and temperature: five degrees below zero at five o'clock. I suddenly understood the appeal of destination weddings in Florida or Hawaii.

That night we ate a delicious home-cooked meal and had a lot of fun playing with the two cutest kids on earth at L's sister's and brother-in-law's home before going to sleep. But with a three-year old in the house excited to play with her Aunt L, we didn't need an alarm clock to wake us up and after a few jumps on the bed we were downstairs getting ready to go. I foolishly ate breakfast before L, her parents and I left for our first cake-tasting appointment. Barely fifteen minutes after finishing my bagel and banana we were sat down at bakery number one for our first few slices of cake. We liked what we tasted but knew that with two more tastings to go it was not time to make a decision.

As we drove through Milwaukee and its environs to our next appointment signs reminded us of the nation's newest obsession: low carbs. From Subway and Wendy's to Burger King and A&W, each restaurant advertised new Atkins-friendly menu options. But we were on the opposite of the Atkins diet: eat as many carbs as possible. (Can we call that the Snikta diet?) Although 2004 will find me training for the New York City marathon, I don't know too many runners who carbo-load ten months in advance of the big race.

By ten o'clock we were at Simma's Bakery, which even a few readers of my site had recommended. We were not disappointed. Free coffee accompanied some of the most delicious cake I've ever had. Irina, the bakery's owner, told us we could come back if we needed to narrow down our choices. I joked with her and asked if we could come back after dinner.

Other couples were there for tastings. No one asked them for proof of engagement and it hit me: with so much free cake being offered with no questions asked, our nation's hunger problems could be solved if everyone simply paired up and walked into bakeries pretending to be engaged.

We then drove further out to a salon where L had a test run of her makeup. There wasn't much for anyone else to do for the hour, so the rest of us sat around reading magazines. I happened to pick up a copy of People magazine with a cover story on American Idol judge Randy Jackson's recent gastric bypass surgery. With more food in store for the afternoon, I wondered how long it would be before I was a candidate for the surgery.

L looked beautiful when the makeup artist was done with her but once again we had to laugh at how made up she was for an afternoon of running around Wisconsin. Talk about contradicitons. With bags under my eyes and wind-dried skin, L and I must have looked like quite the odd couple.

Amazingly, we were all a little hungry after L's makeup appointment. Our stomachs were getting used to eating and probably started to wonder why it had been so long since our last meal. We stopped for a light lunch.

Our next appointment was with a woman who ran her own cake baking business from home. As much as we enjoyed her cakes, I think we had alread decided on Simma's before we got there. We thanked the woman, complimented her on her cakes and left.

Our last real stop of the day was with the florist and it was by far the longest. I knew about centerpieces and bridal bouquets and even flowers on the chupah but never really thought about everything else we'd need. Flowers for L's bridesmaids. Boutonnieres for my groomsmen. Stuff for our moms, dads and my grandmother. Thankfully, the woman who helped us was very patient as we discussed this all in front of her, going down a checklist item by item to see what we needed. She was very accommodating, getting up to bring us samples and answering every question we had. We might have been there for two hours, but then again I was under the influence of so much sugar that it could have been any amount of time.

After dinner that night with the entire family, we drove back to Milwaukee. I drove back with L's brother-in-law who told me the fight against weight gain was impossible while planning a wedding, what with all the travelling, parties and meals with family. I'm doing my best, but one weekend in Wisconsin undid months of running and yoga.

Thankfully Sunday was a low-cal kind of day. We met with Barb, the caterer, but only talked about the menu and didn't taste anything. For any of you who have planned a wedding, you'll know how great it is when you meet with someone who, for lack of a better term, simply gets it. Barb gets it and she left with us feeling like the weekend had wrapped up successfully.

We packed up our things and loaded up the car for the trip O'Hare Airport. Of course, there's one thing you can't leave Wisconsin without having: frozen custard. We made a stop at Oscar's, sailed through the drive-through and enjoyed our chocolate-caramel-pecan custard as we headed back, catching an early plane and making it home in time for the last few minutes of the Super Bowl.

Today I woke up very hungry. I'm doing my best to tell my stomach to slow down, but I think it's a little confused, like an addict who suffers from withdrawl after going cold-turkey. I'll hit the gym tomorrow to work off the calories, but I know it's only a Sisyphean task. There are only three weeks before we head back to Chicago for two wedding showers.

Posted by The Groom at 06:24 PM | Comments (6)

My Two Left Feet

We're back from Chicago and Milwaukee, happy to see that the mercury has finally climbed above 30 degrees in New York. I'll have a post up soon about the weeked, but in the meantime check out the newly relaunched Grooms Online. I wrote an article for them about taking dancing lessons - something L and I have talked about doing this spring - and it's up on the site right now. The piece has been edited and differs somewhat from what I originally sent them, but I think you'll enjoy the site anyway.

Posted by The Groom at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)