To paraphrase a line from Mac Davis, “Happiness is Kansas in the rear view.”
I had a wedding this weekend in Manhattan, KS for my old college roommate. I lived in a house of four on Euclid Avenue junior and senior years and now all the roommates are married save me. We used to have late night drunken debates back then about who’d be the last to wed. For some reason, 21-year-old boys hold it as a badge of honor to claim they will “never” marry. Thus, every one of the four roommates thought he would be the last to wed–if AT ALL. I probably argued the least on the subject, but I knew 100% I’d be the last to marry–if AT ALL. That’s just the way I am, hating to be tied down. Nothing to be proud of I suppose but my prediction was indeed correct.
Everyone says weddings suck and between ages 20 to 25 I wondered what the hell these people were talking about. Tons of free booze, and usually better than what I normally drank. Tons of free food, and usually better than what I normally ate. And tons of “free” woman, who, if not better than what I usually got, at least easier and more done up.
But, as Friedman said, “There are no free lunches.” And you pay in plenty of other ways: wasting an entire weekend in some crappy burg, air travel, gifts, wearing stuffy clothes, listening to bloviating clergypeople, speaking with old folks, exhibiting decorum, etc.
My wedding libation is The Manhattan. I don’t drink beer at weddings because the kinds they have inevitably blow, plus, I ain’t paying for the booze so I might as well get the priciest thing. A Manhattan will set you back $12-15 in Manhattan, NYC where I live. In Manhattan, KS it’ll set you back just a confused 19-year-old vested bartender who doesn’t know how to make the drink so you have to go behind the bar and explain it to her.
Then again, the Manhattan is an old school cocktail and thus no one knows how to make it any more, seeming to rather focus their “mixology” knowledge on crap such as Jaegar Bombs and pomegranate martinis. Fuck, it seems no one even knows what bourbon is these days. My friend Derek and I get a kick out of assembling a list of the funniest answers we’ve gotten to the question, “So, what kinda bourbon you got?
The most typical answer to that question is “Jack Daniels” which we all know is not a bourbon but, rather, a Tennessee Whiskey. I’ve gotten such other ludicrous responses as Crown Royal (Canadian whiskey), Jameson (Irish whisky), and Johnny Walker (Scotch). I think Derek claims someone once said Captain Morgan’s (rum), but I don’t exactly believe him. Then again, that is a brown liquor and it seems that some of these geniuses behind the bar are perfectly capable of not knowing the difference.
The only bourbon available at this wedding was something called Old Charter 8 Year. And it was heinous. Everything a bad bourbon can be, flavorless, astringent, no sweetness, bitter finish. It made for a terrible cocktail as it couldn’t even blend with the sweet vermouth and bitters. Yes, I was drinking a subpar Manhattan in subpar Manhattan, the joke writes itself.
As I walked through the reception, wincing at my crummy Manhattans, now nearing my thirties, I realized why weddings fucking suck..every single person is married or taken there except me, and no one drinks hard any more except me. Thus, I gotta find the one 65-year-old Scotch-drinking lush and hang out with him all night talking golf. Pray there’s some sexy divorcee or freakish widow if i want any chance of hooking up. Or just camp out at the finger foods table gorging myself on prosciutto-wrapped scallops.
Back in my early-twenties when I was actually having fun at weddings, I was always alone. Had to be alone. Had to have the chance to get involved in some potential craziness with no one holding me back from my pursuit. And craziness did usually follow and hookups were aplenty. Then, I got older, got a girlfriend, and began attending weddings with her. She was cool and the weddings were even more fun. I miss her immensely and this would be my first wedding flying solo in a year or two. I had to revert back to being a child.
But, I am no longer a child. I’m a 29-year-old man. After a while it gets depressing, drinking Manhattans while you stare off at happy couples schmoozing, canoodling, kissing, and dancing. My best friend, happily married, a beautiful baby at home. Another set of buddies, proudly discussing their new home purchase. Yet another set of pals waiting for the correct time to reveal they are pregnant without stealing the new bride’s thunder. I had a moment of envy.
But envy quickly became yawning boredom. And then, I realized why everyone hates weddings. Cause they aren’t allowed to have fun! Cause their significant other crushes their dreams! No way was that happening to me.
I walked through the reception hall, looking at all the couples, the husbands ordered by their wives to NOT have “one more,” the fiancees told by their fiances to quit dancing so crazily and flirting with other men, the men all but emasculated by their women, and the women kept in chains by their men. A smile came to my face and I looked down at myself. I may have been wasted but I was completely unfettered. The night was mine. Then, the strangest children’s song came into my head, one that had never made so much sense to me before, but now, singing Pinocchio’s theme as I crossed the dance floor, it seemed more apropos than ever.
I’ve got no strings
To hold me down
To make me fret, or make me frown
I had strings
But now I’m free
There are no strings on me
Hi-ho the me-ri-o
That’s the only way to go
I want the world to know
Nothing ever worries me
I’ve got no strings
So I have fun
I’m not tied up to anyone
They’ve got strings
But you can see
There are no strings on me
When I was finished, I sidled up to a young single bridesmaid. I asked her if she wanted to hear me tell a lie.
THE VICE BLOG’S RECIPE
Throw into a metal shaker:
*2.5 parts preferred bourbon or rye
*1 part sweet vermouth
*several dashes of bitters
*a fistful of ice
Shake vigorously and put down in a rocks glass (I prefer sans ice) so as you are not walking around the reception hall sloshing your ruby red drink around. Quite possibly garnish with a cherry if you’re in the mood and secure in your manhood. You can also use the cherry stem later in the evening to demonstrate the dexterity of your tongue.