After saying goodbye to Kacie and her family, we threw Firecrotch in the backseat and our two cars set out for Grove City, Penn., for another wedding. We’d come to visit the groom’s younger brother, Evan, who had been in our class in high school and whom we hadn’t seen since 2010. The wedding was to take place at a campground, so we had decided to come a few days early to camp, see Evan and help out with wedding preparations as needed.
However, on the way, we ran into a little “hiccup,” if you will. Julia, Elin and I were following Bean and the boys in his car down the road, which was going about 90. We were just cruising along, jamming out to something awesome I’m sure, when we saw these blinking lights behind us. “Guys, am I getting pulled over?!” Julia exclaimed.
“Uh, I dunno,” Elin and I mumbled, trying to peek out the back window over the piles of stuff we had squeezed into Julia’s miniscule Mini Cooper. But instead, the policeman passed us and signaled for Bean to pull over. We thought we were in the clear and all breathed a collective sigh of relief when we saw the cop drift back toward us.
He pointed at us, mouthed, “You,” and motioned to the side of the road. And that was how that cop pulled two cars over at once. I must admit that we were more in awe of him than intimidated. He turned out to be a really nice guy, and didn’t even give us a speeding ticket, but rather a smaller traffic violation.
We finally arrived at the hippy campground that was to be the wedding venue. We had a happy reunion with Evan and soon we were pitching our tents like pros--except we weren’t pros. It so happened that we had packed my dad’s thirty-year-old, two-person tent because Julia’s little car had been incapable of holding anything bigger.
We took the tent out of its bag and realized that perhaps we had made a mistake. It had the most complicated assembly process ever. The poles weren’t connected by elastic, so they kept falling apart. Not only that, but two of the poles came up from the ground and in at an angle into this plastic tube at the top, which was supposed to support the tent. Then a third pole was supposed to support the top of the tent and go into the plastic tube at yet another angle. It didn’t. It took the boys about half an hour to put it together because the poles wouldn't go into the plastic correctly.
And since it had not been used in many-a decade, it smelled like vomit. Because of this, everyone called it the “poop tent” and wouldn’t go near it. “Guys, it’s not that bad!” I exclaimed, feeling personally offended by their avoidance of my family heirloom. I bought a can of Febreeze when we went into town for groceries and I sprayed that tent twice over in an attempt to air out 30 year’s worth of uncirculated odors. “I am not sleeping in that thing,” Elin declared. But she did anyways. And you know what? In about a day and a half, you couldn’t smell crap at all.
June 16 was wedding day. Elin, Julia and I got up early to pick wildflowers for the ceremony, and then drove to a nearby hotel where some people in the wedding party were staying so we could shower. It was a glorious thing, I tell you. I’d been brushing my teeth out of a water bottle for the last three days, so that hot shower on my back was like heaven itself.
I cannot tell you the extents to which this wedding was bohemian, but I will try. It was outdoors. There were wildflowers tied to poles that had bits of cloth strewn between them—this fashioned the aisle.
There were mason jars with candles in them. There were kebabs and veggie burgers. There were no paper plates, but instead donated plastic and ceramic ones from various thrift stores. The groom, Ben, was Anglican, so the service was a traditional one. The Anglican priests who were to perform the ceremony mingled in their robes with the gauged and tattooed masses. It was an ironic juxtaposition, but I liked it.
And then the festivities began. There were barefoot hipsters everywhere and two different folk bands: a local one—friends of the bride and groom—and a Canadian one, named Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk. We talked with them beforehand, and they were really nice. But seriously, check them out, because they’re really talented.
Every night while we were camping, we would build a fire at our campsite and discuss everything from sex to theology until about 4 in the morning. I loved these conversations. Then every morning Ezy and Bean would make us breakfast. Bean had the ability to crack open an egg with one hand. Thus, I began to call him “The Egg Man.”
It was the morning after one of these late nights that someone exclaimed, “Guys, let’s drive up to Niagara Falls!” And so we did. We packed up our stuff, took down our tents, threw our food in a garbage bag to take with us, and after a three-hour drive, we were there. As we were walking around the grounds, Elin and I spotted a man with a shirt that read: “Powder is as good as sex,” which depicted a man surfing on it. I took three pictures of his back, none of which came out.
We then decided to ride the Maid of the Mist, and were given the most formless, obese-person ponchos we had ever seen. As soon as we put the ponchos on and stepped onto the boat, we all exclaimed how we felt like we were on Pam and Jim’s honeymoon on The Office.
We waved to the Canadian boats crossing on the other side, and Canada waved back. Elin and I stood at the bow of the ship and recreated “Titanic.” Julia had a bonding moment with an Asian man, who exchanged thumbs-ups with her through the waterfall spray. It was a glorious experience. There was water pounding on you from every direction, and all you wanted to do was close your eyes and recite a poem or something deep like that.
“Let’s camp along Lake Erie,” we somehow decided at about 9 p.m. that night. So we proceeded to drive for the next two hours, looking for a campsite that someone claimed was “close-by.” I rode with the boys in the techno car, and was consequently plagued by an endless thumping beat. Everyone was grumpy. Contrary to popular belief, the music did not make me lose control.
After trying two other campsites, which were closed, we finally pulled into an open site. As soon as we did so, it started raining like a monsoon. Elin and Julia put on their Maid of the Mist ponchos and we pitched Ezy’s four-person tent, since we didn’t want to put ours up in the rain, too. Bean and Raube decided to sleep in his car, but that still left five people in the tent.
We sat in the dark and ate PB+Js by flashlight, and then we all settled in for “sleep.” And so began the night from hell. The tent dripped at the seams, so the people on the ends were soaking. There I was, crammed between Julia and Ezy, with a width of about two feet in which to wedge my body.
Firecrotch started the night in the tent, but we threw him out after about an hour because he was biting everyone. In fact, Julia took to sticking her fingers down his throat when he meowed, and so all that came out was this muffled kitten rumble. I tossed and turned for a few hours, feeling so claustrophobic that I finally curled up in a ball at everyone’s feet. I then heard this scratching sound, and I looked up at the roof to see a cat’s silhouette clutching the fabric and crying.
After about an hour of this nerve-grating commotion, I ripped open the tent flap, grabbed Firecrotch, smacked him twice, screamed, “NO!” and threw him onto the ground outside. Elin told me the next morning that she thought it was so hilarious that I had actually spanked a kitten. She said she had just sat there in her sleeping bag trying to laugh, but was so cold that she just kind of whimpered.
Somehow, morning came. Everyone admitted that they had literally wanted to kill the cat. After eating more squished PB+J sandwiches for breakfast, we went to look at Lake Erie, which was big and flat and smelled like fish.
It was then time to part ways. We said goodbye to the guys, who were heading back home. Julia, Elin and I then went into the bathroom and washed our faces for the first time since the wedding.