Thursday, April 15, 1999

Why Do April Fools Fall In Love?


Just got back from Apalachicola where I attended the wedding of Dave Todd and Shellie Williams -- an event that proves that no matter how cynical and jaded we've become, and despite recent reports in the New York Times and on NPR that romance is dead and true love merely a delusional state caused by sleep deprivation and high-density lipoproteins, we are still drawn by unseen forces to travel great distances, overcoming barriers of time and logic, to dress up in our nicest clothes, drink large amounts of alcohol, eat cheese balls and behave like moonstruck chimps at a high-school prom, all to celebrate the union of a man and a woman. And possibly to score with a bridesmaid. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Spring arrived here in the LA basin with its cold, cloudy, rainy and windy weather that makes one yearn for the beautiful warm sunny days of February. Along with the Spring, my fellow Mariner Rob Sherman arrived with his recently enlarged family. When I last saw them it was his wife, Rifka, who was recently enlarged, but since then Rifka has returned to human size and baby Jona has joined the team along with his big sis, Clio. Rob is working on the music for a surfer flick called 'A Shark Ate Larry' and was out here meeting with the film-maker and visiting left coast relatives. Brian and I met them for dinner and then took Rob on a night-time tour of Mullholland drive so he look down on the famous glittering lights of la-la-land.

April Fools Day came and went and yet I still haven't sold a screenplay. I figured that since my latest script is titled 'April Fool' that someone out here would pick up on the hint and snap it up in time to create some clever P.R. buzz. I guess they're going to need a little more prodding. I did get in touch with another contact, a guy I worked with in NYC who now works out here at Kopelson Ent. (they did The Fugitive, Seven, A Perfect Murder). I sent him The Gray Man as it seems to fit in with their 'smart thriller' type of theme. Still trying to arrange a meeting with him though.

Easter Sunday I went back over to Norma and Clay's for a wonderful dinner that featured Clay's deep fried turkey - which tastes much better than it sounds. The Bird is boiled in peanut oil for about 30 mins. and comes out tasty and juicy. However, it seems that Clay decided to 'recycle' the peanut oil from the last time he cooked a turkey and apparently that element of the preparation did not agree too well with my rather delicate constitution. I spent the next four days reeling and gasping in gut-wrenching agony, getting very little sleep, eating small amounts of boiled potato and chicken broth and missing work, hoping like hell I wouldn't suffer any gastric attacks at 35,000 feet on my way to Florida. Fortunately, by the time I got on the plane early Friday morning, I was on the flight path to recovery.

When I arrived in Atlanta I met up with Kevin Osborn and we flew down to Tallahassee together where Kevin had rented a car to take us to Apalachicola. It's always great to see Kev and we had a good time driving through rural Florida and making fun of Dave's Faulknerian travel directions. When we arrived, exactly on time, at the restaurant where the friday night dinner was held, we discovered that we were the only ones there. Could we have made a mistake? Dolores the owner just shook her head and said, 'Oh no, they're usually late.' Clearly she had prior experience with Dave.

We sat and waited while folks drifted in and it was a great treat to see so many familiar faces from all through the years: Jane Halliday and Whit Stodghill showed up -- Jane is one of the original Louisville girls that have held a special place in my heart since I was first old enough to fantasize. Jane is an accomplished violinist and played at the wedding, and Whit is an Episcopal priest who took part in the ceremony as well. Dave got everyone in on the act.

Dave's family came in, his mom Joan, brothers Sam and Jimmy and father Boz, along with Boz's third wife. Boz cracked the same joke on seeing me that he made everytime I used to visit Dave's house: 'Richard, I hope we have enough food for you.' Boz also got off the best line of the evening when he said: 'And you got to meet two of my three wives!' Jimmy was nearly unrecognizeable being about twice the size since I last saw him and sporting a beard. An observant lad, he immediately pointed out my distinguished gray temples. As Jimmy was a bit oversubscribed with best man duties, I became his lieutenant for the weekend.

Finally Dave and Shellie arrived and having thought I wasn't going to make it, Dave was nearly floored to find me there. Shellie is as sweet as a magnolia blossom and twice as lovely. And her family was cool, too. I mainly hung out with her nephew, Tanner - age 5, who served as ring bearer as well as zombie killer.

Vance Hancock came in with pregnant wife and two young sons. He had just driven them all down from CT and had to leave early to turn around and drive them back. It was particularly moving to see Vance after all these years, as he was one of my closest pals from the old days and, despite the fact that he is now a lawyer for the phone company, just as genuine and fine a guy as ever.

Several college buddies also made the scene: Dan Haar who I see now more than when I lived two hours from his house and who put me up for the weekend. Ted Parker who I haven't seen in way long but fell right back into the groove. Tony Marx, who I mainly knew through Dave but very much enjoyed hanging out with. And last but not least -- he didn't make it in til the next day, Joel Kreisberg, who is now in Berkeley and perhaps I will get up there sometime soon.

Met a couple of Dave's friends from Charleston SC and Tallahassee as well, Bob and Robert and Paula among them. The story goes, Dave somehow ended up in Charlottesville VA and fell in love with a woman named Sage. She moved to Charleston and Dave followed here there, getting a job in the same college where she worked. Then they broke up. Later Dave met Shellie. In fact when I was on a road trip to Florida a few years back with my sister Sue and her son, we stopped in at Dave's on the day of his first date with Shellie. Anyway -- they got serious, got engaged, sent out wedding info, and then they broke up. Shellie moved to Tallahassee -- and Dave followed her. Dave moved in with her and then he moved out again. Dave got his own apartment, joined a men's group, learned african drumming, got a REAL JOB -- and eventually wore Shellie down. And the rest is a matter of public record.

Saturday was like many a wedding day, there was a lot of schedule arranging to try and get a completely disparate group of people to coordinate various seemingly simple tasks, yet each of which carried with it the urgency of open heart surgery. One complicating factor was that out of all of us Wesleyan graduates, the so-called groomsmen, grown-up reliable professional men, some of whom even bear the responsibility of fatherhood, only one (Tony Marx) was actually wearing a watch. Tony is a fully tenured professor of political science at Columbia University as well as the father of two and can surely be counted on to remain calm in a crisis situation. And sure enough when the rest of us were running around looking for ice or shaving cream or boutonnieres (or running down to the beach) Tony was completely unfazed and unruffled -- and sound asleep in his room. But he was wearing his watch. That fact came in handy when he finally awoke and realized he was already ten minutes late for the ceremony.

The wedding went off without a hitch, unless you count the fact the professional newsman and wedding photographer Dan Haar's camera equipment crapped out about the time the priest said "dearly beloved" Fortunately Dan had a backup -- one of those disposable jobs you get at the drug store. Joel did a very nice and completely unrehearsed reading from the pulpit. Dave, looking like James Bond in his tux, recited his vows with deep conviction. Jane's playing was beautiful.

The reception was a hoot, three of the four Todd men: Jimmy, Dave and Boz showed us all what is means to cut a rug. The band kept things going for several hours while Dave danced everyone else into a coma. Jimmy and I tied several oversized metal canisters that each hold a twelve pack of Heinekens to the back of Dave's car but we had no shaving cream (all we could find was gel) so Jimmy slopped some mayonnaise into a frosting squeezer and wrote all over the car in mayo. If you think that's gross, you should have seen it the next day after Dave had left it out in the sun all afternoon.

The party carried on back at the hotel where a couple members of the band tried to put the moves on some of the members of Shellie's women's group. Apparently, not even musicians are a match for these new-age babes. Dan Haar demonstrated his dedication to duty by giving the bride's younger sister some instruction in the art of frisbee throwing out in front of the hotel at about two a.m. Most of the boys ended up watching Star Trek 2 (The Wrath of Khan) in Joel and Kevin's room. Kevin, who also had no watch, ended up staying up all night so that he wouldn't miss his flight back to Newark and possibly end his own marriage.

Most everyone left the next morning, except for a few of us who went back to the beach one last time. Ted and Danny and Irma (who is the widow of Joel's older brother) gave me a ride back to Tallahassee and I stayed at Shellie's place -- now Shellie and Dave's place -- for the night. Paula and Bob came and picked me up and gave me a tour of the city and fed me some tasty grouper for dinner. It was a genuine display of southern hospitality.

When I got back to LA it was cold wet and rainy, but that felt good on my sunburn. My car was right where I left it and started right up. It's good to be home. Tomorrow at work I will either find out that the case has been settled or they will want to fly me down to San Diego to bring back more documents. I'm hoping for the latter, I need the documents.

Talk to you next month.

"Louisville" Rich

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