Kentucky Wedding

I tore out of here Thursday bound for Squeel-like-a-pig-ville. At the airport I saw Don Knotts and regretted not thinking of grabbing the camera. Then later while on the plane Ernest T. Bass (forget his real name) made his way from first class to the cheap-seats bathroom. I assume there must have been some Andy Griffith soiree in Nashville.
As are most trips to Kentucky this one was filled with high highs and low lows. Perhaps the most stressful of any trip I’ve had going back but some details really aren’t meant for public consumption.
Thursday night Arinne and I hooked up and made the rounds together.
She’s Aarek’s twin and has turned out wonderfully considering she grew up surrounded by the utterly stubborn Farmer men. She married a preacher man going on two years ago and I couldn’t be more proud of her. The family seems to consider her naive but as far as I’m concerned she’s the smartest of the bunch.
Friday I spent some time with Granddad.
Wonderful man. WWII medic who found the beginning of “Saving Private Ryan” disturbing. I remember him telling me years ago that one of his main medic tools was a saw. Today’s men, including myself, are wimps compared those guys.
From there I ended up meeting up with my uncle Larry and Aunt Marlene.
We hit the local Wal-Mart where we filled two carts with food and drink for the rehearsal dinner that night. I recall there being a long debate over which frozen burgers to buy. We ended up going with 60 Bubba Burgers and not without much debate and hesitation. It may sound superficial but these are weighty issues in Kentucky.
Marlene’s a ball-buster. This is not a bad thing. Melanie is much the same. Sweet as can be but cross either of them and they will bury you. Larry is my dad’s younger brother…we had an odd love/hate relationship when I was growing up. I suppose he was more a brother to me than my own siblings which is odd considering the ten or so years difference in our ages. The same age difference exists with my siblings yet I was never as close to them as I was to him. Obviously due to my own failings as a big brother.
But Larry and I are close. We both worked for my father for years and I suppose we develped a bond not unlike war vets who survived the trenches together and lived to tell the tale. He is a devout, respectable man of God. I am a self-proclaimed sinner and plummeter from grace. You’d think that guf would hurt our relationship but it has not.
Once we’d returned with the food, Rikki showed up at their house.
Rikki is the closest to my age at a ten year difference. And it is he whose wedding brought us all back together. Rikki and I have barely spoken over the years. We had our reasons but within the last few weeks we have learned that those reasons weren’t exactly based in truth. It’s a shame really. I blamed him for evils he was not entirely responsible. It’s a long, Shakespearian tragedy of a story and nothing much we can do about it but accept that we were fooled and try to mend…which I’ve little doubt we will fully accomplish in time.
That night we ended up at the Mike Miller Park. Pretty chunk of land. New to me. Benton with it’s oddly small 5000 population has grown into lovely commercialized community. Mickey D’s, Waffle House and 911 all within that last ten years. And I learned more gossip in the first hour of being there than I have in the last ten Los Angeles years. Oh it may look pretty and polished but make no mistake, it is a small town complete with small town idiosyncrasies.
The rehearsal dinner prep was overseen by Larry, Marlene as well as Brent and Donna (Larry and my father’s sister). Brent was a true farmer when I grew up…corn, tobacco and all things agricultural. But like many American farmers, big business farming did him in and years ago he made the move to one of the many manufacturing plants in the area. I spoke with Brent back when I was working on “Scarecrow”. His history in farming was invaluable. Shame the morons in charge didn’t see the brilliance in that little movie. :)
Donna is the family cook. Near as I can figure I’ve been eating food since back in 1968 and I can say without a shadow of doubt that Donna Edwards is the best cook, chef, preparer of food on the planet. Wolfgang Puck. Emeril Legossi, Pappa John? Morons. Her food alone is worth any trip back. I doubt my daddy can beat up your daddy but I know for a fact that my aunt can demolish anyone you wish to put up against her when it comes to cuisine preparation.
Brother Aarek showed up at the park for the dinner festivities.
Aarek is the book smarts in the Farmer family. He was the Valedictorian, the one with the full ride to college. He changed his path from one of medicine to that of teaching and most recently to one of college admissions. He’ll make a good teacher when he goes back to it. And where my hobby is games and all things morally questionable his is missionary work. Don’t suppose you can criticize a man for feeding the poor. He heads to Africa in a few weeks.
Finally everyone from the rehearsal showed up and it was then that the Bubba Burgers were proven to be a resounding success..perhaps due to Palmer’s backyard built grill that Sears would consider itself lucky where they to aquire the paten…a monstrous creation that one might expect to find spewing lava in the pits of Mordor. But as the meal ended the rain clouds rolled in complete with spider web lightning and splendid cracks of thunder that sent the bride’s family running for the hills.
Aarek and I met back at Dad’s then ran over to Granddad’s house where my mother’s sister, Pam, and her two sons (Trey and Greg) had just arrived from Baton Rouge. Josh and Jessica, my mother’s brother’s son and daughter were there as well and it took only five minutes for me to realize that we made up the outcasts of the family. Poor Aarek was accosted by the second hand smoke of six cigarettes. Aarek and I stayed for about an hour then it was back to Dad’s where we slept on the couches and chatted to the wee hours of morning.
Funny thing about Aarek and Arinne…they were todlers through my high school years and sadly they were just becoming interesting when I up and ran away from home. I enjoyed my time with Aarek that night and early morning and overall I enjoyed my time with the both of them.
Saturday Aarek and I hit Wal-Mart again and filled a cart with groceries to fill Dad’s bare kitchen. One may note that Wal-Mart is the center of all Benton Kentucky activity. Then it was off to visit with Granny. Larry, Donna and Dad’s mother. She’s also the quilt maker and semstress of the family. She started years ago and has since made all nine grandkids and most of their kids a quilt. Mel and I sleep under ours nearly every night. It is perhaps one of my favorite possessions…even better than the Alienware. When we showed up, Granny was in the shower. Since she has a touch of the Alzheimer’s Aarek and I felt it would perahps be prudent to not be there when she stumbled scantily clad from the bathroom…so we tooled over the Larry’s for an hour or so to chat with he, Marlene and their daughters Kayla and Adrienne. Then it was back to Granny’s.
Now, one must understand that the Farmers are shrinkers. We start out tall and by eighty we’re considered short even by hobbit standards. Granny is no exception. She knew Aarek but eyed me suspiciously for about ten minutes. Aarek brought up quilts and when I mentioned that I use mine every night, she stared at her eldest grandchild with a look of, “Who are you and why do you have one of my quilts?!” But eventually she caught on and all was well. At the end of the day her memory wasn’t nearly as bad as the entire family had made out. I found her to be extremely witty and in the now. “Now” being the keyword of course because by the time she hit the number three…as in number of times she’d asked the same question…Aarek and I figured it was time to go back to Dad’s and dress for the wedding.
Arinne met us at the house and the four of us donned our Sundee-go-to-meetin’ best. On the drive out, pop and I snuck a quick smoke, attempted to cover it with a half pound of gum each and failed miserably I’m certain.
Arinne was the wedding’s official photographer and I supplied my little Sony for the video magic as Larry’s camera was having a struggle with battery life. I filmed about ten minutes of the preshow then Larry took over for the true Director of Photography needs.
Arinne did a great job with the photos as near as my untrained eye could tell and considering she had to suffer through the bride’s friend/wedding planner who I lovingly referred to as “Hitler”.
And of course Tim, Arinne’s hubby, was there by her side the whole time.
I did think it was peculiar that knowing what he now knows he hadn’t pulled Rikki’s bride-to-be to the side and screamed, “Run woman! Run for your life!!” But Tim would never do such a thing. I may be one of Satan’s minions but I’m not so dark that I can’t recognize a good man when he crosses my path. Better than most I’d say he is. Of course, I give him a hard time but that’s because we play for different teams. At the rehearsal dinner I was sitting next to Aarek and across from Arinne and Tim when cousin Robin approached and inquired what I would be doing the following day. There was a note of melodramatic concern in her voice and of course that sent me to a dark place to which I replied, “I’ll probably download porn and shoot some heroin. At which point Tim said, “He does know I’m a preacher, right?”
Of course, poking fun at Tim’s expense is just my psychologically screwed up way of saying, “I love you.” I reckon if he can put up with me then there’s little sin within his flock that he won’t be able to handle. Thus, I may give him a hard time but I couldn’t be more happy for Arinne. Since their wedding I have never worried about my sister or her future. I’m am completely proud of both of them.
As for the wedding…it was sweet and all that weddings should be. It was also short which never provokes complaint.
As for Kendra, Rikki’s bride and the newest member of the Farmer cult…well bless her heart. She was warned. She knows our dirty laundry and stuck around anyway. Too late to do anything about it now. Adultery is her only way out at this point. Is she a ball-buster? Dunno. Don’t know her well enough yet but I know she stood by Rikki’s side during his little brain tumor incident and I’m pretty sure she’s taken over his finances for the best. They have a chunk of debt due to the surgery, college and some assorted Machiavellian dealings that were beyond their control, but it sounds like they’ve got a handle on it. I think they’re gonna be just fine.
The reception was teeming with excellent food but due to my overwhelming stress I had little hunger. Rikki’s groom cake was a thing of beauty. I forgot to mention the song they walked out on having been pronounced husband and wife. The Star Wars Imperial march. Excellent choice. It would figure that my being from the dark side and all that it would be Lord Vader’s song that finally brought the wedding tear to my eye. And at the top of the groom’s cake stood Han and Princess Leia. I believe I heard that Kendra came up with that and kept it from Rikki. Brilliant choice. You go, girl.
It was nice seeing old friends and family but going back is always an odd experience. It was always odd, even before the move to Hollywood but now it borders on surreal at times. For the most part it has to do with small town fame. “Jason X” is a dinky little movie…something by which I’m not exactly proud of. It’s not that it’s a horror or that there are boobs and F-words. It’s simply that it’s not the movie I wanted it to be.
For instance I walked up to introduce myself to some of Kendra’s family and they suddenly stare at me with odd looks then proclaim that I look familiar…oh yeah didn’t we just see you in a movie? Hahaha, everyone then laughs a little too hard. Oh yes and you lost your head…hahaha. I would prefer they ignore me and bestow all their interest on Earl Brown. And the most unbearable part is when people say that the movie is good. Perhaps they are being nice. Perhaps they are bias. But I think it is no real secret that the movie is far from good. It is what it is…and was what it was…paycheck. I didn’t go into it with paycheck in mind. I wanted it to be the best of the ten but alas it is not. I guess I’m just ready for a new flick on which to hang my name. Of course had I written “LOTR” or “Harry Potter” I doubt I’d feel this way. Those are flicks you can retire on and I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about sense of accomplishment. It’s hard to explain so I’ll move on.
One of the highlights of the trip was the girls. To be clear, my mom’s best friends. Phyllis, Donna, Donita and Susan. I’m the bald one in the middle.
Phyllis, Donna and Susan were teachers so eventually I had to learn to call them by Mrs. and their last names. Donita was my best friend’s mom…still is of course but Brad and I haven’t seen each other in ten years. These girls and their hubby’s grew up with my parents. Best friends. They golfed together, vacationed together and because mom and dad had me so early I was always around them. They went through good times and bad times together. They knew of one another’s demons and skeletons and loved one another anyway. Whether up or down they were always there for one another. I know they suffered when my mother passed away. I assume they still do. The survivors are the true victims of suicide.
So seeing them is a love/hate thing. I remember the good times but am reminded of a mother who will never meet my wife, never know her grandkids. For years I looked for a place to put the blame as most everyone in the small town of Benton did. And my father got the brunt of it. Their rocky relationship and his bozoic handling of money was all the reason anyone needed. But I no longer lean that direction. My father has suffered like no other. As a result his loss has compounded his shortcomings to epic proportions. And although I needed to blame him…to blame someone…there’s really no one to blame but mom. She wanted to leave my father. She left me instead. She left my brothers and sister. She left her friends and family. And we have all paid the price. Perhaps none more than my pop. In the end it was the perfect revenge. Well done. Golf clap. Good show old girl.
Wow did this entry suddenly turn dark and foreboding. Welcome to the world of me. Keep your trays and chairs in the upright position because we expect some turbulence until we pull above the clouds.
Moving on…the wedding wrapped and it was a pretty good gig. Like I say, ups and downs. Laughter and frustration. Good cheer and helplessness. One day I’ll write the story without the edited for television disclaimer. A movie will be made. Benton and family will disown me for airing the dirty laundry but I’ll make bank and buy another Audi.
Rikki drove off without saying goodbye to his dear old brother, a moment which didn’t occur to me until he called later to say he was sorry for not saying goodbye. But bad feelings never crossed my mind. Our hatchets are buried, our ills mended. Go on little brother. Get out there and build a life. Look the homeless dude in the eye when you cross paths. Always laugh when you break wind…even when you are alone. Work hard, play hard. Go out of your way for others more than they go out of their way for you. Pay your bills on time. Never borrow money from a friend. Live below your means. Date your wife and know that touching yourself isn’t a sin…especially if your wife is watching. Be the man of steel and velvet. Never throw the fist punch but be prepare to duck and return fire with no remorse. A glass of Merlot is good for the heart. Pay Uncle Sam on time…his interest rates would be illegal on credit cards. Unemployment is for the needy, not the struggling actor. They aren’t black, Jewish, Hispanic, gay or white…they’re he’s and she’s. Progresso makes a much better soup than Campbell’s. Cats are low maintenance, dogs are much more fun. Never log onto the net without a firewall. Download Windows Update once a month and stop using Internet Explorer…Mozilla Firefox is free, open source and has no security holes. Invest in TiVo. Carpool when you can and don’t eat carbs after 8pm. And know that bottled water cost more than gas and comes from the same reservoir as the tap. Smoking causes cancer but second hand smoke is unproven propaganda. Tattoos hurt but not nearly as much as a Brazilian wax. Don’t be stupid unless you are getting paid for it. And never go to bed angry.
I hugged my sister. I hugged Aarek. And I hugged my father as he fought back tears. Then I hit the road and drove to Nashville where I spent the night with Mel’s mom and dad. It was good to see them. They just bought a house and were happy and supportive. For the first time in four days I slept like a rock.
On the plane ride back I chatted with Barney.
And I had the camera this time…following a hunch. Like I’ve said before, my gut has rarely been wrong.
So, as I prepare for my trip to Texas I say good night Kentucky, may your gossip flourish and your tummies be filled with Bubba Burgers.