The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yet another interesting weekend.

Friday night, after finding out some co-workers and I didn't win the Mega Millions lottery, I headed to a bar to celebrate HM's birthday. (You remember her, don't you?) That night, I ended up getting the number of a neighbor of her's, a 5-foot-3 rawk chick who was surprisingly good at salsa dancing.

Saturday, after hearing about God at a young adult's gathering, I went to a wedding reception for my friends who got married in Vegas two weeks ago. Being seated at the head table, I noticed the name on the placecard to my left.

"I told you I'm gonna fix you up with his cousin," the bride told me. "I've been trying for four months. She's such a sweet girl."

As dinner was served, I began my usual small talk. She's a 34-year-old who works with setting up schools and government agencies with computers. She'd been working all day at one district that begins classes tomorrow. She seemed nice enough. Even better, she's brown.

As the evening went on, the bride, V and C (who were invited guests) all egged me on to ask her to dance.

"No, she's too busy with her friend," I'd say, noticing her catching up with another woman.

"No, she's all about her nephew," I'd say, seeing her teaching a dance move to a three-year-old.

After a couple of beers and gin and tonics, I finally worked up the nerve. We ended up dancing to a couple of songs, one salsa, and a cha-cha song. (Don't ask how, but I've learned both dances.) Her family was cheering her on, she seemed a bit embarrassed. The music ended and she returned to her table. I went back to the table where my friends were sitting.

"Ohmigod, you guys! I just asked a girl to dance with me!"

"Go get her a drink," V exhorted.

I went outside to the cash bar. Water for her(she was already buzzed at that point, so I guess I had a little help in her accepting my offer), another gin and tonic for me. Her uncle (whom I met earlier in the night) was standing there enjoying the humidity of an August night in South Texas.

"Get this man a drink," he told the bartender. Apparently, my dance made him a fan.

"She's such a great girl. She's so sweet." I was starting to wonder how deep this all went.

After getting the drinks, I went back inside, delivering my new dance partner her water. She then introduced me to the friend I'd seen her talk to earlier, who ended up being her cousin. (Part of me wonders why I didn't make that connection, Mexican families are usually made up of at least 319 cousins.) As I stood there, talking to the two of them, her uncle came and brought me a chair. At that point, I was wondering what I could do to get other stuff.

A couple of other dances and a few pictures of family (taken by me) finished up the night. Originally, I was going to head to another club for my cousin's girlfriend's 30th birthday party. ("They'll be in the VIP section," my mom told me.) But I ended up meeting up with my new friend and a few family members at another bar.

Some decent conversation was had between me and other people at the bar. (The groom's brother, as well as GBG were there, so at least two familiar faces were around.) During the night, something groundbreaking happened between me and my new friend.

We held hands.

Mind you, I haven't done that since I was hanging around the microbiologist last year, so the fact that a woman would let a stranger hold her hand and run his hand down her back (not too far, V implored me to be a gentleman) is a big thing.

After the bar, she went with me to a Mexican restaurant for the type of food that's only good after midnight. We met up with her sister and brother-in-law, and we talked a bit more. About what, I'm not sure, but I do remember getting a few laughs at my jokes. As we walked out, I hugged her and kissed her on the cheek.

"You have my number, give me a call" was the last thing I heard from her.

Today involved Mass, recruiting for our church's young adults group, and lunch with V and C, along with a gal who I'll call "Little C," C's 13-month-old daughter. Strategy on how I should handle things dominated the conversation.

"You should wait until your third date to kiss her," V suggested.

"I haven't even had a FIRST date; now I have to think about date #3?"

That, and talking with the bride earlier, has started to make me wonder if I can actually pull this off. No pressure, of course; I only have my friend and a lot of family members looking on. I'm starting to think being watched on the dance floor was easier.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I've read what everyone says, but I'd LOVE to hear what your comments sound like. So, send me a VoiceComment. It's FREE! (Use of the service is free, long distance may not be, depending on your location...)

Just call 1(641)715-0101 and enter *2579719. And, if you have a VoicePlayer too, I'll reply.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007


I wasn't able to catch any shows on the Strip. Unless you happen to count a mini-recital before Mass.

Since my flight wasn't until late in the afternoon, I figured my only shot to attend church was in the morning. Calling the front desk, I learned about Guardian Angel Cathedral's Mass times. I checked out of my room, had my bags held at the bell desk, and took a cab over to the Cathedral, arriving there just as 10 a.m. Mass was letting out. After doing some people watching (and wondering why the Cathedral doesn't put a cab stand out front), I headed inside for some quiet time.

The quiet time totalled only a few minutes, as a small chorus of singers and a group of musicians played a few selections for the gathering crowd. The music wasn't necessarily over-the-top, but it definitely fit the Vegas mood. (Timpani drums and an organ always help that feeling.) Sadly, I don't remember much about the Gospel or the homily. I do remember the priest giving those that stayed after Communion an extra blessing for luck. (For you non-Catholics out there, the big thing now is to leave after you've partaken of the bread and wine.)

I ended up walking back to my hotel, past the myriad of ads for girls, as well as a homeless person who set up shop between the church and the Strip. (Location, location, location, I always say.)

One last try at Three Card Poker and some slot play was how I ended my vacation before heading back to the airport. Unfortunately, the TSA ruined my last memories of Vegas, as they confiscated my toothpaste. Yeah, my fault for not checking it, I suppose, but the SA folks let me bring it on.

The familiar humidity of Texas greeted me as I stepped off the plane, my folks giving me a ride back to my condo half past 11 p.m.

So now, I think back to what I learned on this trip:
  • Save more money before embarking on a trip involving gambling.
  • I'm tired of being an odd man out.
  • Dressing up is fun.
  • If you're staying on the Strip, there are worse places to stay than Treasure Island.

My next time in Vegas? May 2008, as part of my 30th birthday celebration. Get your tickets now...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I woke up the next morning at 9:00 am, refreshed and ready for some wedding action.

Actually, it was more like 9:00 am Central (7:00 am Vegas time), and pooped. One bad thing about having a room with a view of the Strip, it also has a view of the sunrise. (It was a pretty good room, though, I gotta say.) After puttering around for a couple of hours, I decided to head downstairs for some buffet action, and some more gambling. After turning $40 into over $100 playing Three Card Poker (not a hard game to learn, and one that some good money can be made), I decided to make my way over to the Wynn for the wedding. The bride asked that I be there at 11 to help her out. I met up with her and the groom's brother's girlfriend (let's refer to her as "GBG,"for short), who was doing the bride's hair, since she works at a salon. I actually got to sit in the chair for a bit as GBG did some work on my unibrow. After working on me for a few minutes with some tweezers and a brow brush (which was not a mascara applicator, she convinced me), I had to admire myself in the mirror for a bit. (As much as one with not the highest self-image can do, anyway...)

After admiring the view in my friend's room and getting dressed, the three of us headed down to the chapel. The bride was nervously texting the groom's brother, making sure he was getting ready, as well as making sure the coast was clear so he wouldn't see him. I decided to send a message of my own to help calm her:

"Love ya, babe. You're gonna do great."

She turned around after reading the message on her PDA and smiled, I offered one in return.

Walking down the hall heading toward the hotel's wedding salons (their term, not mine), I started humming the synth riff to Europe's "The Final Countdown." Why not set some mood music, right?

After getting there, we saw everyone but the groom in their Sunday best. We talked for a bit, then the bride was shown to her dressing room. About two minutes later, I heard, "Greg? The bride is calling for you. Says you're the only one that can help calm her nerves." I walked in, figuring that this was going to be the only time I'd ever be inside a room such as this.

Inside, she was a bit nervous, more about the finality of it all more than anything else.

"Do you love him?" I asked.

I've asked this question only twice before. The first time was during college, when trying to figure out whether a friend's relationship with her boyfriend was the real deal (and hopefully to try and get an in myself in the process). She said yes, but it ended up not working out to a variety of factors. The second time was to my ex. She said yes, and we all remember how that turned out.

"Yes," my friend answered. Happy that she gave me the right answer, I kissed her forehead, and she sat in a chair, trying not to cry. I took some pictures with my old Pentax 35mm camera when the photographer knocked on the door, and began taking pictures of the happy bride, as well as shots of her and I. The photographer referred to me as the "man of honor." I'd never heard my role described like that before, and it was a cool title to have. After some pics, and some notes on the logistics from the preacher, a coordinator told us it was showtime.

I walked her to the door, and it opened to reveal a beautiful peach-colored room containing family, friends, and the groom. After walking her halfway down the short aisle, the preacher stopped us.

"Who gives this woman to be married?"

"Her friend, Greg."

I kissed her on the cheek, said "Love you," and handed her off to her man in exchange for her bouquet of purple roses.

The ceremony went quick, the real emotional part coming during the vows. He memorized his, she had hers typed down. When the time came for her to say her words, I reached into my coat pocket, and pulled out a sheet of paper containing the following:

I, the bride, choose you, the groom, as my best friend, my love for life. I promise you my deepest love, my fullest devotion, I promise to be faithful to you. I promise to love you, to commit to you, support you, and to always stand by your side.

You have shown me what love feels like, and for that, I thank you. You are everything I have ever prayed for and everything I have dreamt of.

I thank God for you, for all your love and friendship. I know that our love is heaven sent and I promise to be here for ever and always. From this moment on, you will never be alone. My heart will be your shelter and my arms will be your home. As I have given you my hand to hold, I give you my life to keep forever.

At that moment, the groom's mother really started tearing up, and so did I. I found myself happy that my friend found someone worthy of those words, as well as wondering who I would say those words to, as well as when I would say them.

After the groom kissed the bride, they headed out the door, followed by myself and the best man. He and I shared a champagne toast, the happy couple opting for sparkling cider. After some more pictures, including some of me that may end up here, we left the chapel for lunch.

(A quick aside: there's nothing like the feeling you get when you're walking through a casino in a suit accompanied by other well-dressed people. People just seem to notice you, like you're important or something. More than a couple of women looked upon our group with smiles on their faces, either having us remind them of their special day, or wondering about their once upon a time.)

Rather than brave the midday Nevada sun, we boarded two cabs for the Venetian to head to one of Emeril's places, Delmonico. This would end up being the nicest meal I had there, as well as the last meal the seven of us would share in Vegas, as everyone else had separate plans for the rest of the weekend. The real downer came about 30-45 minutes into the meal, when I realized I left my camera on the floor of the taxi. (If any Las Vegas cab drivers happen to read this, and you found an old-school camera with a frayed black strap in your cab at around 1:30 this past Saturday, could you please drop a comment?)

After heading back to the couple's room, and admiring the scattered rose petals left behind as a surprise for them, I trudged back to my hotel room in my suit. I passed out for a bit before heading down for more action. I ended up walking the strip, taking in the sights of the people carrying margaritas by the yard, and the sounds of people flicking cards for live models in their hands. I met the happy couple in front of the MGM Grand, and we ended up going back to the Venetian, this time for a romantic gondola ride. Well, as romantic as it can get with a bride, groom and a man of honor, and when the bride complains of swollen feet. 15 minutes and two or three songs later, it was over. They headed back to the Wynn to enjoy their wedding night, I went back for another nap and more gambling. This time, I added craps to my gaming. And after making a good run for a few throws, I ended up just below breakeven status.

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"So how was your Vegas trip?"

Allow me to answer that question in multiple parts...

My usual procrastination routine hurt me yet again. Even though my flight wasn't leaving till 3:30, I was still rushing at the last minute to get stuff done before my friend took me to the airport. Even then, I wasn't able to cross everything off my list. But, when my ride came, my thoughts turned to only one thing, getting on a plane.

I don't know about you, but I still get a thrill everytime I'm on a plane that takes off. (This time, the thrill was whether or not I'd get sick from the rough movements during take-off, but no matter.) The whole notion of a piece of machinery sending 150 people or so 37,000 feet into the air is pretty remarkable to me.

Something else I've learned: traveling is all about standing in line. Lines to check in, lines to go through security, lines to get on the plane, lines to get off the plane, lines to get your bags, and (in my case) lines to get a cab. My bags and I were whisked away along I-15 to Treasure Island. After checking in and getting settled in, I headed across the street to the Fashion Show Mall, where a rehearsal dinner of sorts was happening.

There, I met up with the entire wedding party: the bride and groom, his parents, his brother, and his brother's girlfriend. As we walked in, I told my friend, the bride, that it was a good sign that we were eating here since the last wedding I went to had the reception at this same restaurant. After we all sat down and gave our drink orders, I whispered to her my thrill of acheiving the rare feat of becoming a 7th wheel. We talked about the flights in (okay), where everyone was staying (four groups, four different hotels), and the plan for tomorrow. After dinner, we decided to check out the chapel where it was going down. (I will say this, the Wynn is a very beautiful resort. One of these days, I'll actually be able to afford staying there.)

I took off back to my hotel, and ended up walking all the way to Caesar's Palace and back before turning in. I had a beginning stretch where I turned $5 into around $40 at a nickel slot (with help from a $5 contribution from a neighbor who I helped with a bonus round on his machine). By the end of the night, I think I ended up down about $60 or so. However, I couldn't concentrate on that, at least not right then; I had more important life events to deal with...

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Friday, August 10, 2007


Enjoying a breakfast of Krispy Kreme and water while getting my oil changed. I tell you, it's the breakfast of champions...

I have a choice of blogging here, or watching "Maury" with a roomfull of strangers. I'm guessing I made the right choice.

Okay, so people want to know what happened last weekend. Here goes. Last Friday, on the spur of the moment, I called up my friend Maria on my way home from work. I'd been meaning to head to Austin to hang out with some friends of mine, as well as to see if I really had any sort of shot with her. She said she wasn't doing anything, and would love to hang out with me that night. After some quick ironing and packing, I headed up I-35. I ended up getting to her place at around 10. I changed into my party clothes, and we headed downtown.

The night started out well enough. I convinced her to salsa dance for a song or two at a Latin club we went to. (Note to self: find a place for lessons here in town.) We headed to semi-hipster bar known for its mojitos. Continuing my streak from a couple of weeks before, I started talking with a woman. (Okay, so she started it by asking what it was I was drinking, but I'll take it anyway I can get it.) She and a friend were in town from Corpus Christi; she said they went to SA for a concert, but decided to keep on driving. One wonders if, by that logic, they ended up in Dallas...

Maria and I stayed at the bar for a little while before making our way to another hipster bar (this is Austin, after all). While waiting in line to get in, my two new friends from Corpus passed by, and I invited them to join us. A few minutes later, we headed in. And that's when things started to go downhill.

We started dancing after getting our first round from the bar, and I started off with my new friend. That is, until she saw some taller dudes nearby and started freak dancing with them. I tried to console myself with Maria, but saw she was occupied by another tall dude at the back of the bar. I believe the kids would say that he was trying to "holla."Atfer what seemed like an eternity in bar time (one round), she came back towards where I was. Maria's new friend left, and I was watching my new friend dry hump some dude. That's when Maria came up with an idea.

"Why don't I dance with you to make her jealous?" she asked.

"Great, a charity grind," I thought to myself, as she began to scrub the ground. She seemed to think it worked, as my new friend gave me a peck on the cheek as I left. I, on the other hand, was reminded of that song I hear on the radio a lot, the one about the pally being knocked down. (EDIT: Turns out that should be spelled "Palais"; the song in question is The Kinks' "Come Dancing.")

On the way home, I quizzed Maria a bit about her ex. Turns out they're still good friends. Good enough to share the same bed sometimes. (Thankfully, not that night.) After the Q&A, it became clear to me that my odds with her are worse than those of Powerball.

The next morning, I left her place and paid a visit to an old friend of mine. She's about four or five months pregnant, and I wanted to see how she was. I dropped by her house to share in the glow of her growing belly, as well as check out the already stocked nursery. She's an only child, so her folks were ready to supply blankets, clothes, cribs, and everything else a parent would want their kid seen with.

As I left her house, I started to ponder, which, for those that know me, is never a good thing. At that point, I had five friends, family members or co-workers who were expecting. (It dropped to four yesterday, as my cousin gave birth to a baby girl.) Not that any paternal instincts are starting to make themselves known, far from it. But sometimes I get the feeling that I'm still playing catch-up in this game of life. Okay, so I have a paying job and a mortgage, so I contribute somewhat to society. But as I get to the age where getting married or having kids is no longer a shock but a welcome development, I still feel as if adulthood is still at arm's length or further from me.

So that, in a big nutshell, was my weekend. This afternoon, I'm getting on a jet plane, heading for Las Vegas to see another of my pregnant friends get married. It should be fun for me, if for nothing else than the fact that I get to walk the bride down the aisle. Part of me will be trying to deal with that, the other part will try to remember whether to hit a 13. Wish me luck...

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

I went to Austin on Friday night. What happened there is eventually going to be posted here, but just not now, due to my being exhausted from going into work today at 7 a.m.

As a teaser, here's a short review of what happened, as shared with a friend of mine on Yahoo IM....

Friend: whats up w/ you?
Me: Not too much. went to austin last night to see a couple of friends.
Friend: have fun?
Friend: you've been traveling a bunch it seems
Me: Not really.
Me: To Austin, anyway.
Friend: no fun? por que no?
Friend: well thats what i meant
Me: Stupid stuff, really.
Friend: no?!?
Me: 1 part jealousy, 3 parts sadness and 1 part blue balls. Mix well, and that about explains it.

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