Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Missing all the Signs

Believe it or not, I have done some pretty stupid things in my life. Feel free to take a moment if you need to, as I am sure the shock of that statement is resonating through each of you. On the grand scale of things, though, most of my "incidents" are minor, but I do have a couple Humdinger-Wow-Did-He-Really-Just-Do-That-Decisions. The one I have in mind today involves my best friend, a ton of money, friends, family, legal proceedings, and unfortunately, death.
I got married. To my best friend. To a woman. Again, take another moment if you need. First of all, let me just say that getting married to your best friend is the biggest mistake you can ever make. Why ruin a great friendship with something as fleeting and petty as marriage?!
Donna and I have been friends literally all of our lives. We grew up with the same baby-sitter, and spent most all of our first 18 years hanging out, mostly playing tennis. She was born only three months before me, a fact that I, even now as an adult, revel in. I always say that the period of time from July until October is my favorite time of the year because during these months, on paper Donna is older than I am. This fact did not go unnoticed during the planning of our ill-fated marriage, as Donna insisted that the wedding take place after October 10, so that our announcement in the newspaper would read that we were both the same age.
The reasons how and why we ended up deciding to marry each other are irrelevant. However, the Universe tried not only to give us signs not get married, but also manifested huge barriers to cancel the entire show.
Sign #1: Just a mere six months before the wedding, we received a call from the wife of the professional photographer who had been scheduled a year in advance. She informed us that he needed to cancel. Donna, being a fiery red-head and an attorney, a deadly combination, went into full rage mode. "What do you mean you are cancelling?! You can't cancel! We have a signed, legal contract." Then what seemed to me as a long list of legal terms flowed from her mouth as she paced the floor. The wife of the photographer then explained that her photographer husband had been diagnosed with some incurable disease and had only two months to live. He would not be able to photograph our wedding because he would be dead. "Well, that certainly puts things in a different light," Donna said, before giving her sympathies and adding that she expected her full deposit back.
Sign #2: Three months before the big day a small thunderstorm in the Caribbean Sea transformed itself into a monstrously huge hurricane. It headed straight for the island of St. Lucia, where the resort sat that I had just paid for a week-long honeymoon. I wasn't worried at all, though. Our visit was three months away. In three months, whatever leaves and debris that had been tossed around by the wind would be swept up by the natives and they would again be serving poolside tropical drinks with those little umbrellas in them. My travel agent left several messages on my phone, and finally, I returned the call. She said that, apparently, the devastation of St. Lucia rivaled that of Pompeii after the volcano erupted. Destruction everywhere, lives lost, chaos of every sort. "Yes, yes, yes," I said then asking the only question that I really want answered in any situation, "How is this going to affect me personally?" She explained that the resort I had reserved was no longer there. It was somewhere under water in the Caribbean, probably stretched from the Caymans to Cuba. Sigh, this was not good. However, the resort company had property in Jamaica so we could go there with an upgrade and Mother Nature's apology. All was well, signs-schmigns!
The wedding went off without a hitch, other than it snowing on our October fall wedding day, and it being one of the coldest days of the year. Looking back, I now chalk that up to Hell in fact actually freezing over. Donna and I then found ourselves, two best friends, hanging out in Jamaica. Donna would have been happy to just chill out on the beach and sip her tropical drink, but I insisted that we go on a tour to climb Dunn's River Falls, a beautiful waterfall that you could actually climb from bottom to top. Donna probably remembered our ill-fated best friend vacation to Cancun a few years earlier. I had insisted on going to see the Mayan temples in Chichen Itza. Once there, I just had to climb them, but Donna stayed on solid ground. After scaling the 78 feet-tall temple, which is very easy going up, I toured the top of the pyramid, saw the stone urn where a human heart was probably sacrificed (that is what they do in the Indiana Jones movies, at least), then I tried to get down. Fear and panic spread through my body when I realized how steep the steps were and how high up I was. Donna waved and took a couple of pictures of me, but then looked at me. I could tell it was an "OK, come on down" look. I froze. There was no way I could get off here. I didn't have the balance or coordination to do this. I then saw the thin rope that people were using to scale themselves down the pyramid. I am all for preserving historical landmarks, but at that time, I really did not see anything wrong with a nice metal handrail bolted to the 1,000 year old pyramid, perhaps even an elevator or escalator. I mean, if you are going to have people climbing up they should be able to safely get down! I then wondered how hard it would be to have the U.S. embassy send in a helicopter to pick me up from atop the pyramid. Most of the tour group had come down and were making their way back to the bus. Donna had a worried look on her face. I think she may have been looking through her backpack for the embassy phone number, but more than likely, she was just making sure she had all her belongings before heading back to the bus. Finally, I saw a lady no less than 80-years old on her butt scooting down step at a time. What a brilliant idea! With age DOES come wisdom! So I followed granny's lead and scooted down the pyramid on my butt. After that, I was no longer allowed to plan any excursions for the rest of our trip, and we spent our days on the beach sipping margaritas.
I promised Donna that nothing like that would happen this time, and she reluctantly agreed to climb the Dunn's River Falls with me. It was amazing! Beautiful and natural, other than the local people wading out at each landing offering to braid your hair or sell you a rope bracelet. At the top was the hardest part of the climb. The Falls were at full force at this point, and the guide asked us to line up boy, girl, boy, girl and to hold hands. This chain would somehow make us stronger than the water plummeting to the surface. I had always heard the saying "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link" and I began to be really frightened for our group. We started up and we were actually under the waterfall, which was so cool! Donna was in front of me, and a German lady was in back of me. I decided to take a long look around at the view, and in so doing inadvertently pushed my body back from the rock just a bit. I must have pushed back a little too far because I accidentally got in the way of the waterfall. With the full force of a tsunami, the water rushed down my back and into my swimming trunks, pulling the brightly colored, tropical print shorts all the way down to my ankles. At first, I didn't notice it, but then I felt something odd about what was touching the rock in front of me, and as the lady behind me said something in German I looked down at her. What I saw was my very untanned butt right in her face. I was actually mooning her! At this very moment, the line started moving up again. I was stuck, if I lifted my leg, my shorts would come all the way off and be waiting for me at the bottom of the falls, or found and sold by one of the locals trying to earn a buck. I tried to pull my hand away from Donna's. This being the last big push, she was not about to let go of my hand, probably thinking I would need her help in getting to the finish line. Over the rush of the water I finally yelled "Let GO!!" and jerked my arm away, breaking the human chain, but allowing me to pull my pants up.
After making it to the top and explaining to Donna why I had to break the chain, I tried to walk over to the German lady to apologize. When she saw me coming, she said something that I couldn't understand and turned and briskly walked away with her group. I am sure it had something to do with me being an American, and not that I had given her a moon shot, and perhaps a full monty, I am not sure.
Overall, my best friend and I only stayed married a year or so. We are still best friends, and we now just laugh about it, and wonder how we missed all the signs. She has recovered from her year of living under the Dark Cloud and has married a great guy, who is one of my besties, and has a wonderful child, who I like to think of as my own (though, not in a creepy, Lifetime movie way). I have also moved into my own true self, and am now inflicting the Dark Cloud on Andy, and my two innocent dogs, Duke and Dudley.
The moral of this story is to watch for signs. The Universe will provide them to you. Oh, and never, ever marry your best friend.


  1. The Universe tried its best! Glad it all worked out. Well, except for the German woman.

  2. Keith,
    I enjoyed reading this.
    Very good! It brings back memories.

  3. Imagine, the German lady is telling this somewhere in German. ;)

  4. I gotta say it, 1. I love it that Donna, although sympathetic to the grieving photographer insisted she get her money back. LOL that is priceless, God love her. 2. I can't believe you actually thought you wouldn't get killed climbing to the top of anything (remember my monkey bars and you running down the path you made in my yard and fell into them at least 20 times). 3. That, the narcissist that I am, was no where in this story, especially the part of how you met. 4. That if all the people at Dairy Queen were right, you'd be blogging about never marrying your cousin...yeah, that's creepy. 5. I love you both and you both will be eternally meant to be best friends.