Bygone Bluegrass Weekend

Posted: June 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Drink, Extended Family, Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Sisters, Travel | 2 Comments »

We’re fresh back from Mark’s cousin’s wedding in Kentucky.

And I’d just like to say, as an Italian gal who grew up a calzone’s throw from Providence, RI, some of the Southern icons are lost on me.

The whole horse thing, for one. I mean, in any other state the racetrack’s a haven for deadbeats, grifters, and rent-money gamblers, right? But in Kentucky, having your wedding reception in the track’s club house is akin to attaining social nirvana. And, whether it’s the bluegrass or the blue bloods, the scene there is quite different. Especially since, when we were la-di-da-ing around Keeneland this weekend, the ponies weren’t racing or anything. It wasn’t like they were cutting the cake in between the betting windows opening.

And here’s another thing. A lovely family friend who I’ve come to know on my visits down yonder, works at a schmancy gift store. And there, amidst swoon-worthy crystal, dinnerware, and heirloom-grade drink coasters, many locals register for fine china with—get this—horse heads painted on it. All I’m saying is, to my people, the horse head has a very different connotation.

But all that said, despite our cultural differences, there’s so much I just love about the south. I mean, even aside from the bourbon. The wedding’s fabuosity topping the list on this visit.

And as you know since you’re no doubt an avid and addicted reader of this-here blog, I’d had a bit of the weeps in the couple days preceding the festivities. But, per my prediction, they dried up as soon as I was swept up into happy busy nuptial mayhem.

And at the wedding itself, it was, as I’d guessed, Mark who set me off in a bit of eye-dabbing. But not for the lovesick reasons I’d expected. Instead, as all the groomsmen took their places at the front of the chuch, Mark turned to me and whispered, “Dan’s not up there. He’s got to be walking Mags down the aisle.”

And, in that way that news travels fast when you’re packed into pews with family members who you cotton to talking to, we all got filled up at the thought of the bride’s brother so gallantly stepping in where their out-of-the-picture dad should have been. So, we were bawling before the bride even set foot in the church.

This brother, being the same one who brought the house down the night before with a rehearsal dinner toast he was nearly too choked up to spit out.

I’m the last person who could serve as an authority on brotherly love. And frankly, never felt I’d missed out on much that my three sisters couldn’t provide. But that bride and her bro have a kinship that’s downright picture perfect. Got me thinking a brother wouldn’t've been half bad to have around after all.

Later at the part-ay, as I was making my way bar-ward, I stopped to chat with Mark’s amazing Grandpa. We got to talking about his days as a working man, and how it was with his wife home with the four kids and him often away on business. A bit of family history it was nice to reflect upon—the thought of Mark’s Grandma as a young wife, wrangling Mark’s mom and sibs, and no doubt doing it with her exceptional blend of style and grace. Sometimes it takes a three minute chat to make all those old photos seem to spring to life in your mind.

In line at the photo booth, after we’d picked out props and talked through blocking on the four pictures we’d get, Mark relayed part of a chat he’d had with his Grandpa too. Essentially, how he told Mark how proud he was of him. The kind of wanted-you-to-know comment that seems to be shared so it’s sure to be passed along while it can be. Heart-wrenching for sure, but so very special too.

And reason alone for, heck, another trip to the bar. Another bourbon and Coke.

From the drink-sippin’ edge of the dance floor, I was drawn in to watching an older chap, dapper in a dark suit and colorful striped tie. Hair slicked back and beaming, he just oozed entitlement, confidence, and mad dancing skills. He was the poster boy for good Southern living. And even though one political chat would have me likely, well, repulsed by the guy, from my distant perch I couldn’t help but marvel at him. And wonder what kind of person I’d be if I’d grown up here, if these skinny-ass blonde women and traditional old school men were my people. A brief bourbon-induced daydream…

Back at the hotel, the after party included more beer and bourbon, plus a karaoke machine. My brother-in-law John rocked the house with a white boy version of “Humpty Dance,” throwing first rate rapper-style arm and hand moves, and capping it off with two splits that’d do a cheerleading squad captain proud.

John should rent himself out as a wedding guest. He could make some serious bank.

The weekend was packed with pretty blonde fillies, preening, prancing, and vying for attention in their cocktail frock finery. And the bride was truly and honestly the most beautiful joyful one whose glow I’ve had the honor to bask in. (I mean, if women spend a lifetime trying to return to the weight, dress size, or skin tone they had on their wedding day, Miss Maggie has set the bar very high for herself indeed.) Oh, the women, they did themselves proud alright. But Saturday night at Keeneland, it was the men who stole the show. Coming in ahead of the pack by a mile.


2 Comments on “Bygone Bluegrass Weekend”

  1. 1 Drea said at 12:08 pm on June 1st, 2009:

    The humpty dance.
    Is your chance.
    To do the hump!

  2. 2 Dick said at 8:33 pm on June 1st, 2009:

    For a Brit there’s always a sense in any description of American domestic or cultural events of the similarities and the differences between us. Pretty much across the world, I guess, weddings are going to pan out in the same sort of way, as does this one. But here it’s the strong atmosphere of place – the South, and specifically Kentucky. Another great read.

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