Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

Here’s the deal. I got married yesterday. It’s a pretty good story if you’ve got a few minutes (actually, it’s a pretty good story regardless of how much time you have…how busy you are right now has absolutely no bearing on the quality of this yarn). I’m going to start where most of my favorite stories start – at the beginning.

I met Heather in high school. I could try and be really romantic and pretend like I remember the very first moment our eyes met, but I haven’t a clue. I can rarely remember where I left my keys, how can I be expected to remember something that happened in the late eighties? But we did meet there. Probably on the school bus as she lived less than a mile down the road from me. This was rural Virginia, so the bus ride to school each day was almost an hour – which left us plenty of time to date and fall in love.

But we didn’t do that. Instead, I focused on growing a mustache and writing my blog (unfortunately, blogs hadn’t been invented yet and this turned out to be a huge waste of time), and she focused on using Aqua Net to try to set the record for biggest hair in Nelson County. It was a simpler time. We were merely friends in high school who were in a few school plays together and then lost touch after graduation.

Twenty years passed.

I experimented with goatees, mutton chops and some McBee facial hair originals.

Her hair was reduced to a normal volume.


We reconnected via social media. She did some light stalking and I, having not been pursued by a member of the opposite sex since the Carter administration, remained completely oblivious to the fact that she was flirting with me. But I eventually caught on and we became a couple. One of our first romantic outings was a trip to Disneyland in 2012 on a rare day of Southern Californian drizzle. Southern Californians get frightened when water falls from the sky, so they mostly stay indoors until the meteorologist reassures them that the sun is back and will remain so for the next 207 days. Which meant that we had the run of the park. Splash Mountain had no line at all at one point and we rode it again and again without ever exiting our buoyant log. It was a fantastic day.

Other stuff happened.

We briefly tried living on the East coast (the water that falls from the sky there is sometimes frozen! Terrifying!). I asked her if she might like to get married. We ate lots of pizza.

So. We actually got engaged in February of 2014 (I planned a scavenger hunt that culminated in her digging a cylinder out of the snow between two pine trees in the moonlight – it seemed romantic at the time, but it ended up being fairly labor intensive for her…not sure that proposals should include manual labor, but it worked out in the end). We entertained various ways and times we’d get married, but little life things kept popping up and we put an actual ceremony on the back burner.

This past year, work became more stable for me and it was feeling like the right time to have the government officially recognize the fact that Heather and I were committed to getting the tax breaks that every heterosexual deserves.

We decided to just do a small wedding for ourselves. (We love our families, but they insist on living in the wilderness of Virginia despite the fact that it’s on the entire other side of the country and has really spotty wi-fi). Besides, neither one of us cared for the pomp and circumstance that often accompanies a ceremony. All too often the bride and groom end up overstressed and lose focus of why they’re having a wedding in the first place (to get the tax breaks every heterosexual deserves, duh…I’ve repeated this joke, just to make it abundantly clear that I find it absurd that any person should get any additional rights based on who they prefer to make out with). Above all, we wanted it to be fun.

We thought about Vegas. Have Elvis marry us. This sounded cool until someone informed me of the fact that Elvis Presley had died many, many years ago and the guy who would marry us was nothing but (and this is 100% true) an impostor! I don’t know how he gets away with it legally, but whatever.

Will Atkinson, an Elvis impersonator, in Oxford, Miss. on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

                 But it looks just like him…

Then I remembered our trip to Disneyland. Why not get married in the happiest place on Earth? Well, I’ll give you one reason. You can only get married in Disneyland if you purchase one of their wedding packages that start at Way-More-Money-Than-I-Would-Ever-Spend-On-A-Wedding and go all the way up to Way-More-Money-Than-I-Have-Ever-Seen-In-One-Place-Except-For-In-Movies-About-Bank-Robberies-Gone-Wrong.

But then I thought…what about a covert Disney wedding? What about a covert Disney wedding while actually on the Splash Mountain ride? What about a covert Disney wedding while actually on the Splash Mountain ride with an eight-tier, vanilla hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache, pistachio mousse and butter cream frosting? Then I thought – it totally won’t work with the cake, but other than that – yeah. This could be epic.

Just one problem. Who would we get to officiate this wacky sneak wedding? So, back to the past for a moment. From 2001-2007, I worked in LAUSD classrooms. This was a great job because (a) I made a lot of awesome eight-year old friends and (b) working in an elementary school made me feel like a genius because I knew so many more of the answers than the students. I was lucky, because the school I worked at just happened to be full of mostly super cool kids. I’ve roughly stayed in touch with some of them through social media. One of these kids, let’s call him…Danny (because that’s his name), had posted a lot of photos of himself and his gal pal at Disneyland over the past year. So I ran it by Heather and we thought, what the heck – let’s call him up and say, “Hey, remember the tall guy sitting in the back of your grade school classroom that kept shouting out all of the answers with astounding accuracy? How would you like to get ordained online and marry that guy to his former high school cast member and stalker on a log flume ride in a super secret wedding in two weeks?” And the craziest part? He said sure.

So Heather and I got the marriage license. Danny got ordained. Alex (Danny’s girlfriend) probably said, “Okay, who is this again? And what are we doing? And…oh, we’re going to Disneyland? I’m on board.” Heather created some signs to hold for our wedding pictures courtesy of the Splash Mountain photo booth. I wrote the ten second vows for Danny to read on the thirty seconds of the ride that we could videotape before descending into the splash portion of the mountain. And we all giggled to ourselves – this is really fun.

And yesterday we did it. Alex hid the signs in her backpack. We got into a log with two other random people who are probably still saying to themselves, “Nah, they didn’t really just get married on that ride. Did they?” We went up the first hill and as our log eased into the water, Danny said, “We’re gathered here today in this log to celebrate one of life’s great rides – marriage.” Then he asked us if we took each other. And darned if we didn’t. Then we smooched. Then Alex said, “Wait, which button do I push to record?” Then Heather told Alex which button to push to record. Then Danny said his stuff again. Then Heather and I said our stuff again. Then we smooched again (bonus smooch!). Then the guy behind us thought, “What the hell is going on in the front of this log?” Then Alex grabbed the signs from her backpack and handed them back to us. Then we went down the first drop and we got unbelievably soaked – I thought our log was going to sink we were taking on so much water. Then I fumbled with my cell phone and managed to take three pictures of Heather’s shoulder, the back of my hand, and a dark blur which could be anything. Then we went up the hill for the big drop, readied our signs and this is what we got –


Sure, we could have walked down an aisle and had a bouquet and all those other things you see in the movies about beautiful weddings that take place before a bank robbery gone wrong…but I really like our story. It’s fun and quirky and unique. Yes, we all got drenched – but it’s certainly better to have cold feet after a wedding than before. Yes, our wedding photo includes a couple from Iowa (or so I tell myself) who have no idea why the rest of the people in their log seem to be operating with military precision – but I love the idea that our unconventional tale will spawn others. And, yes, we didn’t get a chance to register – but that doesn’t mean you still can’t send us a gift. Seriously. We’re accepting gifts.

So that’s the story of what I did yesterday. Feel free to share it with others. We are living in a world that could stand a few more stories of love and fun and generosity. All of which we experienced yesterday. Because when we take the plunge…we really take the plunge.


Here’s the deal.  For months, my friends and family have been pestering me to include vanity plate statistics on my blog.  Every time I talk to my mom, she brings it up, “Don’t you want to get married some day?  Women love DMV facts and figures.  You can catch more flies with vehicular registration information than you can with tirades against minutia.”  My aunt has, from the beginning, argued that my entire blog should be devoted to personalized license plate statistics.  My cousins won’t speak to me until I tell them how many people in the U.S. have vanity plates.  I can’t hold out any longer. 

Latvian personalized license plate

That's a good vanity plate.

There are nearly 9.7 million personalized license plates in America (just under 4% of all drivers go with this option).  The state with the least number of personalized plates?  Texas.  Only .5% of their drivers choose their own plates.  Who has the most?  Virginia, where 16.2% of drivers have vanity plates and 100% of my DMV-obsessed immediate family members live.


Well, I’m not.  Because I can’t stand it when I see a personalized plate and I can’t figure out what the driver is trying to say.  Due to the limited number of characters, we can’t always spell out our mobile messages.  Specifically, last week I found myself cruising behind the following plate – ANIRTAP.  True story.  I spent many a minute trying to figure out what this said…and came up with nothing.  Well, I came up with nothing that made sense.  I came up, however, with quite a few options…

(1)   Is this driver, simply, a woman named Annie R. Tapp?

(2)   Is this driver a college professor lamenting the fact that he or she has to share their private bathroom with their teaching assistants?  (A near TA pee)

(3)   Is this driver an adhesive specialist, only willing to purchase products made in Romania or Russia? (Any R tape)

(4)   Is this driver the creator of mobile device software that explains a method of wax removal with chamomile? (An ear tea app)

Ice Road Truckers

Ice, ice, baby.

(5)   Is this driver someone who received the highest grade in his class studying an art form that closely resembles percussive dancing? (A, Near Tap)

(6)   Is this driver a woman who works in the shipping department at a frozen vegetable factory? (Annie, route a pea)

(7)   Is this driver a high school student looking for a creative college-prep course? (Any arty AP)

(8)   Is this driver a monkey who works on the hit TV show, Ice Road Truckers? (An IRT ape)

Probably not.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I figure out what ANIRTAP and all of the other cryptic vanity plates out there are trying to say?  I’ve already given it my best effort.  I just need to avoid exposure to these plates.  I suppose I could drive with my eyes closed.  But, call me old fashioned, that just sounds unsafe.  I could move back to Texas, where I’d rarely run across a personalize plate.  But then I’d have to live in Texas.  (Just joking, I’m born and bred Texas-proud, baby.  Longhorns, oil, J.R.Ewing, etc.)  I suppose I’ll just have to stop driving.  I guess, instead, I could make my family proud by staying inside, collecting and publishing DMV statistics.  Sounds pretty boring.  Maybe I’ll invite over the IRT ape.

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Here’s the deal.  If you’ve never had a toilet overflow on you, consider yourself one of the fortunate few.  I don’t know why, but there is nothing more terrifying than those few seconds as the water slowly rises towards the rim of the bowl. 

And you can’t stop it.  No amount of pleading and gentle coaxing will do the trick.  Your cries will fall on deaf, porcelain ears.  Your wild gestures and frantic hopping about will be ignored.  Like Luke Skywalker hanging in the Wampa’s cave, you’ll try to will it…but the force is not strong with this one, your energy is wasted.  For the water…will rise.

And it is truly frightening.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve seen – there is no more intimidating sight.  Firemen balk at the very idea.  Lumberjacks quake if you even mention it.  Navy Seals run in fear.   

You know what Chuck Norris does when his toilet overflows?  He freaks out.

Because we’re not frontier folk anymore.  We don’t chop down trees and build our own houses.  We don’t plow the fields to grow our own food.  And the majority of us don’t even know how most of the stuff we own works.

We take it for granted that the fridge will keep our groceries cool, that our heaters will keep our feet warm, and that our toilets will smoothly transport away our unmentionables.

And when any part of that system breaks down, we realize how vulnerable we are.  Most of us are just one virus away from a computer meltdown, one bad sparkplug away from sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck, and one overflow away from the type of mess that one can’t mention in mixed company.

My friend recently had a pipe burst in his house, flooding his garage.  And a few weeks later, discovered he had termites.  You’d hope that maybe the flood would have drowned the insects, but no such luck.  The termites were laughing and water sliding towards their next meal.  For them, a broken pipe in the floorboards just meant dinner and a drink.

It’s at times like these that we realize how crazy modern life is.  We have water running through our floors, electricity flows through the walls, machines whir and click about us, cooking our food, storing our data, protecting us.  Imagine trying to describe all of this to our Neanderthal ancestors – they’d be terrified, and yet we just expect it all to work out.  And when that toilet does overflow, we know that what little control we thought we had was (forgive the pun) a pipe dream.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I quell the rushing waters?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how a freaking toilet works.  What do I look like…a guy who knows how a toilet works?  What would that guy even look like?  What the heck are you talking about?

Sorry, this whole topic makes me uneasy.

I suppose I could try to live like my family.  My immediate kin folk are nomads that roam the woods of Central Virginia, foraging for food, bathing in babbling brooks and sleeping in crudely-fashioned huts.  (Maybe this is an exaggeration, but they do tend to live on dirt roads, they can often be found hiking and my dad does bear a suspicious, striking resemblance to Grizzly Adams).  And, while I admire their ability to live off the land, I like knowing that if I want a Pop-Tart at three in the morning, I can go buy one, put it in my toaster, and consume it.  I like television.  Carpet.  Indoor plumbing.  And we’re back to the problem.

Who am I kidding?  I’m not equipped to deal with this.  I’m adding a plumber to my speed dial.  I need someone who’s number one when it comes to number two.  If this ever happens again, I’m bringing in a professional.  And he better hurry.  Because Chuck Norris and I are freaking out.