I have to be honest with you, if you told me five years ago that I would be writing the Mike Friedlander Wedding Blog now, I would have told you 'no way'.
That's nothing against Mike (or "Coach" as we fondly called him), it just would've been hard to picture him leaving behind the heavy-bass dance music, the black t-shirts and the glowsticks that exemplified single life on the Jersey Shore and even in Syracuse, New York. Why did we call him Coach? Was it a reference to an Arena Football coach who bore a resemblance? Did it have to do with intramural sports? For me, I called him Coach because well, everyone has a friend named Mike, not everyone has a friend named Coach.
As others were starting to join the institution of marriage, Coach and I were steadfastly single. We refused to leave the bars a minute before they closed. Not even necessarily because we were trying to hook up with girls. It was just fun knowing that we could, while our married friends couldn't, even if we didn't; which happened most of the time.
But when Coach introduced me to Stacey Katz, I knew single Coach and Coach in general wasn't going to be the same for much longer. Stacey also went to Syracuse and she was a familiar face because she was often drunk at the same bars that me and my friends were drunk at. She's pretty, warm, bright, and a die-hard Orange sports fan (which is tough to be nowadays, our football team isn't even good at hitting on girls anymore). I just realized I could've described a light bulb the same way I described Stacey but the point is Stacey was a keeper and Coach was smart enough to keep her. Four years later, I got my invitation to the Katz-Friedlander wedding.
I managed to fit this wedding in the middle of my vacation
, which meant driving up with my hosts, Josh and Erin (I paid for gas). It was a four hour drive which consisted of seeing Josh's friend Horse and his wife on the highway and wondering if Horse was getting roadhead, and some invigorating conversation about how much Rock Cartwright was going to contribute to the Redskins this season (love you Erin!).
After checking into the hotel we decided to meet everyone at Chili's for some baby-back baby-back baby-back. Your cast for the weekend is the usual suspects: Myself (with myself), Josh (with wife Erin), Beers (with wife Kristen), Paul (with wife Kate), Horse (with wife Meg), Vabilla (with new fiancee Alison), Greco (with new girlfriend Kristen, who did not have big curly hair, three inch finger nails or a Prada bag like I predicted but definitely brought something to the table, good work buddy), and Pete Mason, who managed to fit this wedding in between Phish cover band shows.
As you can imagine, this many people invading the bar area of a Chili's on the 3rd of July, it was a complete fiasco. If one person got a drink within five minutes of when they asked, I'd be shocked. I think Beers is still waiting for his Cajun Chicken Sandwich. After two hours of less than stellar service we went back to the Ramada to play what else...poker!
I had a straight, and got beat by a flush, or two pair and got beat by a flush or something, I dunno. I don't remember. Anyway, I was nowhere near the final table and far inferior to Alison and even Greco's Kristen who had never played before in her life. The night ended late, around 3am specifically, as everyone forgot how early the wedding was the next day.
The Katz-Friedlander Wedding is my second and a half Jewish wedding. The first where they actually gave out yarmulkes. Now if you've read my blogs on Catholic weddings I never know what to do at religious cermonies but I figured when in Rome (or in this case Jerusalem) do as the Romans (in this case, the Jews) do. The service was beautiful but uneventful. It wouldn't have been so boring if the photographer (who Beers rightly pointed out looked like Data from The Goonies) actually landed on his ass as almost almost happened when he attempted to walk down the steps backwards. Break Glass...Mazel Tov! Time to Eat!
No one likes to eat like Coach (and Paul) so I had high expectations for the cocktail hour just as I did for Paul's. This one met all of them. Peking duck, grilled shrimp and roast beef. There were no mashed potatoes in a Martini glass but everyone left satisfied, anyway. How much you're going to enjoy a cocktail hour is directly proportional to how much your friend getting married likes to eat. That much I have figured out.
The reception is in the beautiful Crystal Palace in Springfield, New Jersey. This place is elegant almost pristine and unsuspecting of what lies ahead from the fine alumni of Syracuse University. It may be a little far into the blog but if you're looking for the "Tucker Max"
part of this wedding blog...there is none.
1) The reception was from 1-5pm and its much easier to get bridesmaids horny after the sun goes down
2) I didn't notice much of a single female population
3) we had already agreed to drive back to Virginia following the reception and I wasn't the one driving. My libido could not hold back a friend and his pregnant wife.
That's not to say I didn't have fun. I drank plenty and Jewish wedding traditions are so much cooler than any other kind. My favorite is whenever the bride is put up in the chair for the Hora. The look on her face even though she knew for months that this was going to happen is really something to see.
After the cake was cut and served. I had the following conversation with Horse.
Horse: How's the Cake?
Horse: Are you choking? Can I give you the Heimlich Manuever?
He did not get to give me the Heimlich as I averted my early demise at the Katz-Friedlander wedding. I survived in time to see one of the most stunning upsets of all-time...
Ice Ice Baby...
Vabilla's song and a wedding tradition. He gets the floor to himself to show off his dance moves as we weren't getting anything from the suddenly shy "Dangerous Matt" (Mike's friend who stole the dance floor at the bachelor party, almost taking out half the boat in the process). Shockingly, Vabilla gives a game yet perfunctory effort, not bad, but certainly not his best. He is followed by Horse doing a remarkable set of interpretive dances that brings down the place and sends all grandparents home. It was the upset of a lifetime. Vabilla, I'm sorry. You got served! If this was "Beyond the Glory: Bill Procopio" this would be around the 45 minute mark and Bill would be questioning if he still has what it takes.
Of course this only sets up Vabilla's triumphant comeback at his own wedding next August 11th, followed by an emotional retirement speech until we will drag him out of a wheelchair at the age of 55 to dance again at my wedding.
That dance-off will be what I remember most from the wedding. A fantastic event where everyone went without need for a solid six hours. A day I didn't think would come so soon turned into a night I didn't want to end. Unfortunately it had to as people had to get home.
I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate Stacey and Mike. Because while everyone may have a friend named Mike, not everyone has a friend like Coach and not everyone is lucky enough to have friends like Mike and Stacey. Congratulations!