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They say the true test of a man is how many vodka-sodas he can drink once the band gets back on the stage to close out their second and final set of the night. You know the set I’m talking about – it’s when they really start playing the hits. Your Sweet Carolines and your Shouts. The songs that separate the horn sections from the DJs.
Make no mistake, Wedding Season is a trying time. In May, you were a spry young man. Pale, sure, but your diet leading up to the summer months ensured your money tailoring your discount rack suit was well spent.
But now, you’re through the dog days of summer and into the final stretch. You’re icing your knees between innings, getting Lance Armstrong-esque injections while lying on your death bed in a Marriott with the bow tie you don’t remember taking off crumpled on the ground next to you.
It’s time to separate yourself from the herd. To set yourself apart.
A great man once said, “Nothing seems as strange as when the leaves begin to change.” Kid Rock. August is summer’s third period. Once September hits, most weddings are replaced with tailgates and regretful trips to your alma mater. That is, unless your friend’s wife really wants to stick it to him by scheduling the wedding over a home game. They won’t last.
As the cycle continues, it’s Christmas before you know it. Unless you’ve got a New Year’s Eve wedding in the mix, it’s all engagements, dark beers, fireplaces. The offseason, really. But thinking about that treasured time is a fruitless effort at this juncture. We’ve got work to do.
I remember getting my first wedding invitation. Sure, I had been to some weddings, but they were family friends and I was merely there out of guilt. Hell, I couldn’t even legally drink. That one invitation, though, it changed everything. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I imagined the possibilities. I had Spotify playlists that I’d listen to while imagining how my feet would move across the dance floor. I had my drink orders – and drink schedule – planned to a tee.
Now, though, I’m old. My feet are calloused from one too many pairs of rented patent leather dress shoes. I’ve had to get a pair of suit pants taken out, and back in, and back out again. They’re hanging on by a literal thread, begging to get retired and hung from the rafters. I don’t even entertain glasses of wine at cocktail hour anymore. Hard stuff only. I want to feel it running through my veins as I wait in the beef tenderloin line trying to time it perfectly so I get a fresh bowl of bearnaise.
I see these young guns out there. I used to be one. Slick hair, clean shaven, still lining up to catch the garter. It’s cute, but that’s not who I am anymore. A wily veteran refusing to let go. Grabbing the hand-rolled cigars before they close up shop, ordering straight liquor on ice so the bartender doesn’t get in trouble, calling an Uber before everyone shuffles outside to send off the happy couple. Just doing what needs to get done.
But now it’s time to dig deep. To set myself apart. As I look off into the sunset, I’ve got one wedding left on the horizon this year. Charleston, South Carolina. September 16th. Michigan versus Air Force, noon kickoff. Six o’clock reception. The perfect storm. The main event. The coup de grâce.
It’s important to look back on appreciate the work you’ve done this season. As you fasten your suspenders and wipe the sweat from your brow that began setting in while tying that double windsor, take a brief moment to reflect. You’ve made it this far and it would be a travesty to give up now.
Legends never die. They order a double and work the room. .