Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Best Valentine's Day Ever

This is a true story that involves ex-people. So to save the trouble of writing "ex-wife's brother's ex-wife's sister's cat," I'll give them names.

Knucklehead -- Me, I, Me, My
My ex-wife -- uh, how about Jon Benet
My ex-wife's brother or my ex-brother-in-law -- let's go with Jefferson
Jefferson's fiancee -- we'll call her Savannah

When I first met Jon Benet, her brother Jefferson was one the the first people in her circle that I was introduced to. We hit it off right away, and always got along famously. Jefferson was quite the ladies' man, a devout bachelor, a rogue a scamp and a scalliwag. (If I'm going to use a name like Jefferson, I'm going to use words like scamp and scalliwag.)

So it was with great surprise after a couple of years that Jefferson called Jon Benet and announced his impending marriage. He was marrying a girl named Savannah, who was someone I had never met. While he was popular with the fairer sex, there was always a short list of the long-timers who I would have put up for matrimony before some chick named Savannah that I had never met. He called to tell us that he was getting married on Valkentine's Day in Vegas, and that we were the only people he wanted to have there. Jon Benent and I discussed it for all of five seconds and booked our flight.

In order to save money, we booked rooms at Circus Circus, a theme hotel which was the height of Vegas luxury in 1975. They've built nicer hotels since. We went all over town looking at chapels, looking into getting married by Elvis, looking into skydiving weddings, and, once again, to save money, they booked a slot at the Circus Circus chapel.

Valentine's day is the second most popular day to get married in Las Vegas right behind New Year's Eve (damn that IRS). What you may not realize is that, despite the reputation in Nevada for quickie weddings, it is still a government contract which means you still have to go to the courthouse and get a wedding license. So the line at the courthouse on Feb. 13th was out the door, down the street and around the block. It took about three hours. Some quickie wedding.

I should probably point out that Savannah was four months pregnant. They're from Alabama. That's where the marriage out of the blue came from.

So on the day of the blessed event, we arrive at the Circus Circus chapel twenty minutes before their appointed time, Jefferson in khakis, Savannah in a lovely dress with the as-yet-unborn Raul providing a nice shelf on which Savannah could rest her bouquet. Jon Benet and I had two jobs: be witnesses and take pictures.

We get called for their 5 minutes slot and enter the sanctuary. Jon Benet and I sit in the front row. There is no one else other than the preacher and the spare witness you have to pay for whether you use her or not. The preacher couldn't have been more of a sterotype with his high grey pompadour and booming voice.

He begins: "We are gathered here today to join you, Steven and you, Savannah in holy matrimony . . ."

I looked at Jon Benet and start cracking up. He has the wrong license, I thought. He called him Steven. I'm laughing louder and louder everytime he says "Steven." Jon Benet is giving me cross looks and messing with the camera, whispering to me that she can't get it to work. So we have the preacher booming out the wrong name, me laughing louder and louder about it and Jon Benet cussing the camera that won't work, trying to get me to shut up and fix it.

Suddenly it was all over, and we were shuffled out.

We went back to the room. As it turns out, Jefferson was his middle name, his legal first name was Steven, which is why Jon Benet didn't find it funny. She thought I knew. We never got any pictures. But the day wasn't a total waste. Technically, it was their honeymoon, but Savannah was pregnant anyway so Jefferson and I went downstairs and drank beer all afternoon and played blackjack and craps.

Viva Las Vegas.


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