Yvonne wants me to cross over and get into the express lanes. I, of course, decline because I have read a sign a few minutes before indicating they are closed.
‘Everybody’s doing it,’ she says admonishingly.
‘I’m not everybody. They are criminals. I am not. The express lanes are closed,’ I respond in a quite indignant voice – how can she try to entice me to break the law? She should know better.
And apparently she does, because we sit nearly ninety-minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic trying to get home as we are traveling northbound on Miami’s 95.
It’s all good.
We’ve just left what might be counted as one of those rare evenings where the mix of company, food, spirits, love and family joins together to create a near-perfect event (Why not totally perfect? – because I didn’t win the Powerball drawing).
We’ve just attended our Flower Girl’s wedding (children tend to grow up after almost twenty-four years) on the North Beach of Crandon Park followed by a phenomenal reception dinner at Dolores (but you can call me) Lolita in Miami’s Brickell area.
Early in the day, I was dreading the wedding because I know what sun, heat and outdoorsy type functions do to my wife’s mood. Luckily, she’s recently discovered a concoction of Milk of Magnesia, Cornstarch and (I believe) diluted Preparation-H which she spreads on her face, under her makeup, to keep her beautiful mug matte (I do not know what that means but it tempers her mood and I just go with it). So with Yvonne looking like a daylight Elvira Mistress of the Dark and my Mom in tow, we head toward the beach.
It is not hot. It is let-me-fry-an-egg-on-your-bald-head-caliente. If matte means ‘not shiny’ then my little Compound Pharmacist has not achieved her goal, because as we wait in a beach pavilion for the wedding party to arrive, she now looks like Minga in a sticky dress with a very white face and dark curls that are not happy meeting cousin frizz. Yvonne’s face is telling me a story that clearly will not have a happy ending for me. I resort to the only thing I know I can do.
The Wedding Party arrives and it all begins. My prayers seem to work because a tiny cloud covers the sun, still letting beautiful light through but containing the thermostat’s fire, and an ocean breeze engulfs our entire group as Flower Girl and Muscle Boy (my new name for the groom) become one. Our Miami sky and the distant, invisible stars are capturing the beautiful light emanating from this ceremony and 2013’s September fourteenth has never seen a more handsome couple grace the shores of Florida. It is a heart-tugging, tear-producing moment for there is palpable love felt throughout our group.
My emotions don’t waver as Minga, now in full Muñoz Photography Studio mode, pushes me to the side and does her handy work with the camera (she truly does not mean to push me to the ground). She has become one with the professional photographer hired to document the event and she is so close to his back that she has become his shadow. As she is now channeling her inner Annie Leibovitz, Minga has lost all concern for the matte look she was seeking and is gliding through the sand like a crab on a good day. Kneeling, bending, hunching forward to capture the best shot (and not trip the ‘real’ photographer), she is doing more cardio today than she has done since 1992. She is in full picture mode and she is beaming with joy (Thank you God!). I pick myself up off the sand and we head to our next destination. Prying Minga away from the beach takes some coaxing, but I hide her camera and we are off.
Later, after a nasty argument on the way to Lolita because Ansel Adams can’t read a map, we make it to the bar where a long overdue Martini revitalizes my bruised buttock (from my beach
push‘fall’) and my mood. Elvira-Minga-Muñoz-Annie-Ansel is now back to just regular Yvonne as she’s romancing her Vodka-Cranberry, thinking to herself how she is going to take my GPS and fill one of my nether orifices with it. She has a haunting, scary smile on her face, but my Martini assuages my fear as we head toward the private room where dinner is being served.
From premium liquor, fine wine, croquettes reminiscent of my early childhood in New Jersey, grilled artichokes that reaffirm my love for this veggie and a Chicken entree partnered with the best Short Ribs I’ve had in a long while, the cocktail and dinner service is incredible. My Mom, working her senior citizen sultry ways on our server Javier, has practically secured that not a glass or plate is ever empty at our table. The consumption of spirits and wares has led me to apologize to Yvonne for my poor behavior: ‘I’m sorry you pushed me at the beach, I’m sorry you can’t read a map, I’m sorry for all of
your my shortcomings…’
Our table, a makeshift family collection of the bride’s, consisting of her parents, a cousin more than thrice removed, his bountiful mate (with two gifts that deserve their own til-tit-lating post), my group and an empty chair reserved for cousin Alma (affectionately nicknamed Soul, missing from the event because of The Housewives of Miami marathon on Bravo) was sheer perfection of synergy and chemistry. Infectious laughter, smiles and a series of unmentionable shenanigans led many other guests to visit our table, my favorite being Florence NightenPat who saved me from going hypoglycemic at the beach, truly she’s a diamond in a pile of Rocks.
It was a non-stop jovial-remember-forever moment, captured for posterity in our hearts and minds, for my words and Yvonne’s pictures will never do it justice. Sandie and Mario – thank you for a wonderful night, may it reflect the joy you shall experience in your life together.
So sitting in traffic, waiting to make it home proves to be a non-event. It’s okay to move a little slower as we head home, for as night’s go, without ever hitting a dance floor, I could have danced all night and still have begged for more.