Back: Wedding, Reception, and Reminders

I got back late last night from a very fun and enjoyable weekend back in Western New York for a wedding, the cousin of my wife who got married in a fairly lavish ceremony and reception Saturday. For Catholics such as Jimmy, I’d highly recommend going at some point to Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, NY, where the marriage took place. It is an exquisite, architecturally beautiful, almost garish Basilica with tremendous acoustics, art work, and a Wurlitzer pipe organ that can carry sound into the stratosphere–or the Heavens if you prefer. It was a long ceremony, about 80 minutes long, with offerings at side chapels, a couple prayers and songs in Latin, and echoing the strong Polish Catholic roots of both bride and groom, but especially the bride. Thankfully, my years of catechism helped carry my wife and me through the prayers and methods of worship, with my wife showing particular rust, and some in the audience displaying relative indifference. Interestingly, the ceremony took place with many wandering onlookers hovering nearby. From my understanding, this is not uncommon since the Basilica is a well-known Catholic shrine. Yet to see a couple wander behind the altar, coming very close to the lectors’ podium during the vows, was bizarre. More so, the son of one of my wife’s cousins brought a can of Monster into church, and one of the visitors walking the church had a T-shirt that read “DAMN” in big bold white print on a black shirt. I’m not religious in an organized religion way and not a practicing Catholic, but still found it bizarre that two people who apparently are practicing Catholics would adorn themselves and carry things in as such in church. I can speak with certainty about what would have happened to me had I, as a child, worn such a shirt or carried a soda can into church, and it wouldn’t have been good.

The reception was five-star, a great feast the food from which I’m surely still digesting. It was about 8 courses, with finger foods beforehand–cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruit, crackers, home-made salsa, all very good and fresh, especially the smoked cheddar and Gouda. The hors d’oeuvres were terrific–shrimp, stuff mushrooms, whipped red cheese wrapped in salami and more–excellent. The tortellini soup was pedestrian, but that was it; everything else was magnificent. The salad that followed was ample, the sorbet was peach mango with raspberry on a mint leaf, the fish I had, but also the chicken and fillet I mooched, were all outstanding, as was the cake, light ice cream, and the chocolate fondue fountain–yes, a chocolate fondue fountain–in which to dunk fruit, peanut butter balls and spoons, and pretzels.  I half-jokingly threatened to empty my water glass and fill it with fondue sauce.  After several glasses of very good Chardonnay, my wife and I assaulted the fondue fountain, larding down strawberries and peanut butter with as much chocolate as we could.  I stood and buried a huge strawberry in the fountain for a good ten seconds, and the attendant didn’t say a word but instead smiled in what I could only interpret as approval. The food was great, the music wasn’t, but enough glasses of Chardonnay atoned, as did dancing with my beautiful wife on our anniversary. Banner day.

I watched almost none of the Yankees-Reds series, but only saw a couple innings Friday night, when the Yanks cut it to 4-2 but got no closer. I did have the good fortune to run into a few old acquaintances at Castaways, a nice little bar and grill by Lake Erie. One friend John was all fired up, reminiscing with me about when we were on strike for nearly a year at New Era C(r)ap Company from 2001-2002, and exceedingly complimentary about my oratorical work on the bull horn when I addressed and insulted scabs and the company’s scab security force alike (comprised of local police who often ignored safety and traffic concerns to trump up charges and arrest strikers while off duty, to bring them down to their home police station, with some drinking on the job–real winners), and in general holding a hard line. It was great talking with him. I ended the brief jaunt to the watering hole by chatting with two big Yanks fans, one of whom I was also on strike with and her husband, Danny, who is a huge Yanks and Mattingly fan. No ordinary fan, Danny would literally, whenever I saw him at Castaways, get into Mattingly’s batting stance and work the air bat in the same way Mattingly would manipulate his real one–priceless. We had a brew and discussed the end of the Yanks’ seven-game winning streak, neither of us in any sort of panic but feeling good about where they were and are, given the rough start. I said the loss still made 12 of the last 16 won, and they were in better shape than last year. “About five games better,” Dan quickly remarked. It was four better at that point, but who cares? The point isn’t the technicality or accuracy but the rapidity with which he, and so many good Yankees fans, could reference the past, immediate or otherwise.  Dan was clearly noting that this team’s position vis-a-vis last year’s first-half debacle gave reason for optimism, but then added the key: “It’s early. They’re not even at the halfway point. There’s plenty of time to catch Boston, and I’m convinced Tampa will fall back a bit.” I liked Dan’s confidence, but also the importance of perspective. It’s not halfway through the season and, while not too early to start setting up things and thoughts for the second half, there’s a long way to go. Patience is important, and much easier to attain when the team is winning.  Despite some first-half travails and lots of injuries, this team’s markedly improved play and pitching has fans thinking another second-half comeback, and more.

The last time I was in Western New York, late last Fall, I left my Yankees shirt at my in-laws house, and despite my repeated and increasingly concerned entreaties, they never mailed it nor brought it to The Outer Banks vacation this past May. But when I got home from the wedding late Saturday night, there it sat on my mother-in-law’s kitchen counter. Immediately snatching it up, I gently draped it across the suitcase to wear for the return trip home, patting it after checking the scores via cell phone in Indiana yesterday evening to see the Yanks, behind Pettite’s third-straight excellent start, won 4-1. Great to see Giambi go 3-3 raising his average to .271, justifying the power of the mustache. I’d argue that the return of the shirt, the gray Yanks shirt with the interlocking NY on the heart, had a little something to do with it as well, which is why I’m wearing it today.

Pride and patience.  More and more, I feel both.

Published in: on June 23, 2008 at 11:04 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. that Damn Tortellini!

    welcome back- we missed you over the weekend.
    andy has been amazing- the bats have been a bit absent, but we’ve still won 8 out of 10. can’t complain there.

  2. Glad your trip back to good ‘ol WNY went well. You should have given me a holler. We could have jammed some Low and poured backa few Labatt’s. And of course talked Yanks.

    they’re in good shape even with the 2 losses. They’ve been pitching outstanding lately. Giese pitched a gem and it would have stayed that way if not for his bad throw.

    Plenty of time to catch the Sox. They don’t impress me.


  3. Thanks, guys. Hopefully the Yanks can return to the more successful stretch before losing three of the last four. The next time I’m in town and have a chance and some time, J-Boogie, I’d definitely like to get together for some beer, Low, and Yanks. It was too quick a trip, though a very good one. It was basically one day with family, one day wedding and reception, and home the next. If only the Yanks could take advantage of some of the Sox losses.

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