radiating joy: 48ish hours in Buffalo, NY

Nick & Nadine (blow-up from Mike’s toast, for those of y’all who want something suitable for framing)
Originally uploaded by missjasmine.

Thursday (7/14): Take the Damen bus to the Orange line to Midway to Buffalo. The trip to the airport is longer than the flight to Buffalo. Flight was full. Southwest is truly the airline of the chubby and not entirely smooth folks of the US. The open seating is not the riot I expected. I get a window seat. I chat with my seatmates. I read the in-flight magazine and am pleasantly to discover that its editor is super-cute. I skim the SkyMall catalogue for birthday present candidates. And I’m sorry, but you know that Elf pendant replica, the one that looks like the one worn in “Lord of The Rings” by Steven Tyler’s daughter? It kinda looks like a pussy. Sorry.

Flight lands at BUF. Terminal A smells like wings — does the whole city smell like its signature foodstuff? I hope so. Nick & Nadine pick me up in Zippy, their cute little shiny car, and off we go to Amherst to Nick’s dad’s house. Before we stop there, we buy a bottle of gin at the saddest liquor store in the world (no a/c, anxious proprietor, near-empty shelves with dusty bottles). Al & PJ’s house is so lovely, with a sunporch and creaky steps to the second floor. Two cats, one surly and one friendly, slink about. We rest briefly so Nadine can have a quick drink before we drive her downtown so she can have dinner with her parents, who have just come into town that afternoon. Nick and I park on Elmwood, near the coming-soon food co-op and lingerie store. We talk about freelancing over a light dinner at Caffe Aroma, wait out the rain at the indie bookstore next door. I sneak looks at Nick’s cigarettes. I really want one. We return to Zippy, get Nadine, and drive home so Nadine and I can figure out her wedding hair and Nick and Nadine’s friend Jesse can go out drinking with Nick’s high school friends. Nadine and I eat jumbo shrimp, put up her hair (like Gwyneth in that party scene in “Sliding Doors”, all twists and red roses), and talk to Libby (another bridesmaid) as she negotiates checking into the hotel we’ll be checking into the next day.

Friday (7/15): While Nick and Nadine are brunching with her family, I mooch about the house. Eat a popsicle. Make myself a sandwich. Talk about Chernobyl with Jesse and Wade, who is the long-time boyfriend of Nick’s sister Sonia. Go upstairs to use a neighbor’s Wi-Fi connection so I can read my blogs and look up places in Buffalo where I might buy a strapless bra. Around 1:30 we get a convoy going to the park where the ceremony takes place. It’s so hot. I don’t remember much more than getting gravel in my sandals and cracking jokes with Libby. Oh, and that there isn’t much instruction beyond Father Pat’s telling us to “radiate joy”. We process, we read, we recess, that’s it. Free afternoon until the rehearsal dinner. All the groomsmen smoke and I really want a cigarette, too. But I do not indulge. Not just yet, anyway.

We check into the hotel. BTW, the Comfort Suites Downtown? They do not run the a/c in the hallways. You can actually see the air move as you crawl down the hall to the soda machine. The hotel is somehow topped by the nail salon two blocks away. It wasn’t so much a salon as an abandoned jewelry store c. 1970 that just happened to have a single container of Barbicide in it. And the mani/pedi was exactly what I would expect for $32 in Buffalo. Eh. While in the salon, the same shirtless man came in a few times begging for money to buy a sandwich. The owner’s son shrieked when his ball got stuck in a recessed decorative molding that ran around the ceiling. I was happy to get out and walk back to the hotel along Main Street, a deserted street which features tracks for Buffalo’s barely-used light rail system. It was like the trolley in SLC, but without the Mormons. I happened to run into Damien back at the hotel, so I brought him as my date to the rehearsal dinner in Al and PJ’s backyard:

a. Wings — mmm.

b. The labels on bottles of Molson’s Canadian may, in fact, be cleverer
than you.

c. Nick’s cousin’s baby has been taught to say “Ghetto booty!” when

d. beef on weck — mmm.

e. Talk to Libby about the strange calls she gets at work.

Post-rehearsal, Laughlin’s for drinks with the younger folks. I get tipsy and split a burger with Michelle. Take silly pictures of Jacinda’s bust and make plans for our Hall & Oates tribute band. I stumbled home with folks, along Buffalo’s version of Rush & Division which featured bars with names like ‘McMonkeez’ and ‘Three Fat Guys and a Shot Glass’. Damien and Jesse hit Buffalo’s best (read: only) gay club, where they do a striptease, throw dollar bills at the drag performers, then go for breakfast for the performers. Damien got back to our suite at around 6:00 am — what a rock star.

Saturday (7/16): I caught the free continental breakfast before it ended. The fact that I could make my own WAFFLE almost made up for the fact that the hallway on the fifth floor was oppressively hot. Nadine came down and we had a breakfast. I wish I remembered what we talked about. She didn’t seem nervous. I wasn’t. At least, not about the wedding. I was nervous that I still hadn’t found a strapless bra, but I had a couple of hours to take care of that.

So downtown Buffalo has no department stores, malls, or boutiques. I spent twenty minutes walking to a place on Elmwood that Nadine found in the phonebook. The store was, of course, long closed. Idiot that I am, I should have called. But at least I got some exercise out of it. So it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I got back in time to get a quick lunch at Spot Coffee with Nick, Nadine, and Damien. I was pleased to learn that Buffalo residents patronize Spot, a chain of local coffee bars, instead of going to Starbucks. Spot was hopping with customers while the Starbucks sat almost empty.

The hours between 12:00 and 3:30 were spent as follows: hair makeup dress makeup fixing hair boobs shoes keeping Nadine’s mom out of the way dresses dresses dresses. “To Sir, with Love” played on cable while Libby curled my hair and I applied Nadine’s makeup. Nadine was ravishing. I looked like queen of a “South Pacific”-themed prom.

Into cars about 30 minutes behind schedule for picture in the park. I wanted to feel nervous in the car on the way over, but all I could feel was that feeling you have when you go to bed Christmas Eve and it’s like two minutes pass and all of a sudden it’s Christmas morning and yes you can open your presents and yes you can eat all the cookies you want and you can go outside in your pajamas and make snow angels and you can have one big marshmallow in your hot chocolate instead of a bunch of little ones. This wasn’t my wedding, but as Nick and Nadine’s biggest fan and as a witness to the start of their relationship (well, as much as a friend can be, anyway) but I was giddy and excited.

Or maybe it was just the heat. I sweat profusely, almost entirely out of my forehead. I think I managed through the ceremony — the procession, the oration, the recession — alright though I fear how I end up looking in everybody’s pictures. Just as we had to make the sign of peace the skies opened up and everybody — priest, party, guests, bride, groom — huddled under the gazebo-type thingie and crowded around as Nick and Nadine kissed, Sylvan read Shakespeare, and then Nick and Nadine kissed again. It was cozy and sweet and nobody seemed to notice too much when I cried just a little.

The day after this was a bit of a blur. There was a reception nearby
. Friends and family were kissed, fed, given drink and commemorative bottles of bubbles. Some dancing, but not before toasts. I, as ever, won the secret toast competition that happens at every wedding. You know that it’s supposed to be the best man’s job or the dad’s job to give the sappiest or funniest speech. But I think that everyone knows that I always win with the most heartfelt, the most amusing, the truest words that come out of my mouth even before I know what I’m saying. I always feel like I reveal more than I mean to, more than I’d ever admit to feeling. I think it’s enough that I love you, but I know for sure that it’s always worth saying so, especially when the person saying it is someone fairly closed up like me.

There was no bouquet toss, as there was no bouquet. The bride wore a wrist corsage, as did I. Cake was cut and consumed. Pictures. More dancing. Drinking and more eating (*loved* the mini crab cakes).

I didn’t smoke at the reception, but I did have a single cigarette later that night at the Rendezvous over another order of wings split with Rozi and Jacinda. There was also fried okra around. The Rendezvous was where we went after changing out of our party clothes, getting folks together in my suite (where we had an impromptu sing-a-long of Hall & Oates’s “Private Eyes”), and convinced the hotel airport shuttle driver to drive us to the bar instead of seven of us hailing a cab. We sat at the patio, talked about national politics, and drank funny drinks. I had a gin rickey — heaven. I would have liked a sloe gin fizz, but you can’t win all the time. Nick’s Buffalo pals showed up, but we didn’t really mix too much. Mainly I licked sauce off my fingers and pondered filching a Parliament Light from Justin. I filched. I smoked. I buzzed, and then I pretty much forgot about it. I took a cab home with the others and went to bed reading “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”.

Sunday (7/17):

11:00 am: Check out.

11:08 am: Get into rental car driven by Andrew and Rozi. Make fun of Andrew, imitate Apu in that episode of “The Simpsons” where Homer drives to Canada for cheap prescription drugs. Laugh at Damien do an impression of Kelly Clarkson’s “Behind These Hazel Eyes” in a high screechy voice.

11:40ish am: Reach American side of Niagara Falls.

11:42 am to 3:30 pm: Appreciate falls and its natural splendor. Notice sad concessions opportunities. Squint at glare created by the motels, arcades, and gift shops winking from Canadian side.

3:40 pm: Drive to BUF.

4:00 pm: Arrive BUF. Say goodbye to Andrew and Rozi.

4:30 pm: Wait at gate. Damien and I realize we should have printed our boarding passes that morning so we could be in the first seating group. I noticed that the guy sitting across from me is kinda cute, so I make sure to lean over and look around in my bag a lot so he can look down my shirt and check out my rack. What the hell, I’m feeling generous.

5:00 pm: We were seated separately, me in a window next to a man with a mechanical leg. Read “Harry Poofter and the Half-Nude Prince”. Drink coke. Eat peanuts. Go to sleep. Go home.


“If at times she felt a vague restlessness within herself, she told herself sharply that this was *not* sex, but perhaps a touch of indigestion.” (Grace Metalious, “Peyton Place”)



~ by Jasmine on July 21, 2005.

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