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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cool Things Happen (and Matt is Very Late)

2009 is damn near a month old and I haven't even talked about one of the coolest things to happen in 2008: Jim Hartzel and Cecilia Baldino went to Marriage Camp, and came back Jim and Cecilia Hartzel.

The event was December 20, and in the words of many, "it was awesome." An unexpected delay in Jim's friends from Minnesota resulted in me being able to actually join them all down in Atlantic City for Jim's pseudo-bachelor party. With the term at Del Tech over and a little scheduling kung fu, I found myself scrambling to put Jim and C’s gift together and get on the road before I missed the debauchery.

Of course, I use debauchery loosely and "pseudo" freely, because Jim’s too much of a good guy to do that tragically generic bachelor-party-and-strippers thing. Not that there weren’t strippers—on the contrary, there were, Atlantic City’s finest and/or most conveniently located—just that Jim was off losing money in the casino, being what I’ve heard people say is a “good person.” It was his drunken celebratory-cigar-chomping friends, humble narrator included, that did the mental jujitsu of justifying the obligatory bachelor party trip to the strip club, sans bachelor.

But before the casino and before dinner at Hooters and before the gambling and the late-night decadence, we met in our hotel rooms, sipping Fitz’s Homemade Margaritas. You can make them at home, too: all you need is green Hawaiian Punch, whatever alcohol is handy, and a very loose definition of the word “margarita.”

Fitz and Billy get the night started right.

The secret ingredient is alcohol.

Good to not-be-in-China for this!

Barkeep! Give me your finest in ghetto margaritas!

Fitz pours a classy beer.

This is as bad as it got. Honestly.

Oh yes.

I found myself stumbling into my hotel room and collapsing in a bed, I think it was mine, around five in the morning; and through some power that I'm almost (but not quite) ready to attribute to some supremely powerful deity, I woke up to my 8:30 wake-up call and got Twan, Minnesota Buddy #1 (Bubba, he said was his name, but you and I know that that’s a lie), and myself off on the road before nine. Twan had to get up to the hotel in King of Prussia, PA early; he had to get there in time to meet up with Jim, go back to Jersey to get Assorted Wedding Stuff (AWS); and I was just the man to get him there. I was really into Wilco at the time and remember playing the hell out of I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. Twan did not care for it.

So it was a slow night of talking and reminiscing, sipping slow drinks in the lobby bar while spending some good quality time with my old college buddies. It sounds weird and something a guy in his forties would say, but I hadn’t much of these guys since college, what with China and all, and it was good to reconnect. The next morning, the weather frozen and bleakly cold, we made our way over to Villanova for the wedding.

Fitz and his girlfriend Sara Beth. She takes good care of him, and you can barely notice the Downs.

My pictures from the ceremony are crap. This'll have to do. Can't say I've seen too many brides in my day, but damn if Cecilia didn't look absolutely stunning.

At the reception ... something tells me we're going to, yes, here it comes, wedding montage, GO!

What lovely ladies you have there Jim!

Look who kinda cleans up nice!

Don't know why, it was a total accident ... but I love this shot.

Mac and Steph, me and Keiff ... practically a double date.


So ... so not suave.

Ladies and gentlemen, the class of 2006.

Ladies and gentlemen, a bunch of bums from Minnesota or Montana or something.

More dancin'!

Mr. and Mrs. Hartzel, newly minted and gettin' down.

The wedding, in short, was great. Awesome. Amazing. All those words that you hear used to describe things like nachos or a movie you liked a lot, but their true meaning is really reserved for moments like this: when friends come together, strike up old conversations, hang out for the first time in months or years and act and feel like they never missed a beat, all in the name of seeing two friends come together in this marriage that just felt so right, so predetermined, a story ending the only way it could. It was great to see my old friends, great to laugh with them and talk with them, and it was great to see Jim and Cecilia become Mr. and Mrs. Hartzel surrounded by them. I felt the ripples of this wedding begin all the way in China, from when Jim and I drove up to Boston on a rainy summer weekend in '07 and he told me he was buying the ring and planning the question ... and to see it done at last ...

... the end.