East Meets West

Over the weekend, my cousin got married for the second time in as many months.

Check that – what I mean to say is that he celebrated his recent nuptials for the second time in as many months. In early August, my cousin and good buddy Jason married his paramour of four years, Karen, in a beautiful ceremony held out West in her home state of California – technically, Southern California, which really should be a state all its own – even if it is ‘of mind’.

Andi and I were originally hell-bent to make the trek West (Hell, from my house in the Western sticks it’s practically 3 exits away). Then, as is often the case, real life intruded and a number of unforeseen circumstances conspired to rid us of any extra scratch we had laying around the house. You know how it goes in those early days of child rearing where one income keeps the whole boat afloat. Usually, you’re kept at status quo. A strange bill arrives. An unexpected bonus is received at work to fill that hole. And conversely – if you come into a little extra dough, some random twist of happenstance will arrive on cue ready to heist those extra coins before they can rest comfortably in your coffer. That’s just the way the world works for the Middle Class.

So, it was with deep regrets that we had to decline the invite to join the wagon train westward bound and had to await dispatches from the front. From the assorted pics and Blog posts that I spied upon the ceremony’s conclusion, it appears Karen and Jason were granted with a picture perfect Summer’s Day as backdrop to the blessed event. The sun shines brightest for the best of us and these two were handsomely rewarded.

Knowing that one ceremony for friends and relatives on both coasts would prove to be a logistical impossibility – Jason’s parents (my favorite Uncle and Aunt duo – Ron and Sharon) staged a second reception Back East to allow Jason’s Yankee posse to fete he and his new bride properly. Thus the stage was set for the event affectionately dubbed, “The Shindig”, which was held this past Saturday at the Monponsett Inn in Halifax, MA.

I’m serious when I say that Jason and Karen have officially celebrated two weddings as “The Shindig” was exactly what you would expect from a wedding reception. The setting was beautiful, the food fantastic and the hall crowded with a full gaggle of well-dressed well-wishers looking to send the newly-crowned couple on their way towards a lifetime of wedded bliss. The only thing missing was the arduous wait for the happy couple to emerge from a marathon session with the paparazzi (you know that typical 1-2 hour stretch of time between the ceremony and the official reception kick-off where everyone downs cocktail after cocktail while somewhere, on a remote gazebo, a photographer does his/her best Annie Liebowitz impression).

Well, we didn’t have to endure the delay as the first person greeting me on my way through the door was the Man of the Hour himself, Jason, who grabbed hold of my mitt, gave me a warm handshake and then sealed the deal with a friendly hug. Being able to mix and mingle with the happy couple alongside their assorted friends and family – and clink a cocktail or two in their general direction – was one of the highlights of a truly special night.

I was especially honored to be able to play a small role in the festivities through the reading of “Karen and Jason’s Love Story”. Let’s call it Chapter 1 as this tale is far from finished. My fondest wish for the two of them is that they use this life and love together to rewrite “The Neverending Story”.

Anyway, as part of the West Coast Wedding, their DJ had previously interviewed Jason and Karen independently to get the in-depth story of their courtship – basically how they met, when they “knew” and what they found in each other that they knew they couldn’t live another moment without. He then tethered the strands in their individual accounts and wove a grand tapestry that laid bare the indisputable facts that drove these two souls on a collision course with their destiny.

To kick-start that wedding reception and give the new Mr. and Mrs. Clarke a proper introduction to the world, the DJ offered up a spoken-word performance of the tale he cobbled together. Word is the crowd loved it.

For the East Coast “Shindig”, my Uncle Ron and Aunt Sharon (yes – the infamous Aunt Sharon who haunts these halls and remains one my favorite frequent contributors to the site) – anyway, they approached and asked if I would do the honors of reciting “Karen and Jason’s Love Story” for the benefit of those who missed its initial telling. “Of course”, I exclaimed. Jason’s been my lifelong cousin (natch) and more importantly, a great friend who shares so many interests in common. To be able to play some part in Part II of their Big Day was an opportunity I wasn’t missing. It would be an honor.

Aunt Sharon shot the script to me and I took a read-through. I was told that I could append my own thoughts as well. In reading through, I found the DJ did a masterful job in telling Jason and Karen’s story with great heart and humor. As the printed document stretched to six pages, I had to reign in my usual instincts. The last thing these party guests needed was a trademark Ed Humphries soliloquy to further distance them from the buffet. Still, I wanted to plant my stamp and put a little personal touch to show Jason and Karen how much they mean in my life and (as his older cousin) add a little playful ribbing in there as well.

I’m not going to reprint the entire script here as it belongs to them and they should be able to make the call on what gets shared when but I did want to post the excerpts from their own directly-quoted observations about each other. As these have now been delivered to two packed rooms of friends, family and food service employees, I feel I’m safely within public record guidelines (and this stuff is too good not to share).

(Note – Before I forget, in a night of a thousand highlights, this next pic looms largest. This was the centerpiece at my table. My cousin Jason is a huge collector of action figures with an extensive collection that is worth a whole lotta’ coin. To pay tribute to his passion, Karen gave the greenlight to allow action figures to find their way onto the centerpieces (on both coasts). For the East Coast Shindig, my sister Jenna did the honors and really did a bang up job crafting some unique, decorative works of art – none better than my Lost-themed piece. That’s Kate Austin embedded in the thicket and if you look closely, you’ll see Flight 815 perched in the foliage above (no doubt with a freshly munched pilot in the cockpit). I’ve gotta’ be the only self-respecting dude on the planet with a floral centerpiece on display in his Man Cave.)

Karen (on Jason):
“There’s no big reason that I love Jason, but there are lots of little ones.

He’s nice to me. He’s good with family. He’s funny. He’s a good kisser.

Our interests are close enough that we can enjoy things together, but far enough apart that we can teach each other new things and never get bored.

He always takes out the trash. He drives when we’re both in the car, because I don’t like to. He doesn’t nag me about the mess my knitting makes in the living room. He’s good to the guinea pigs.

His romantic side balances my practicality.

Through four years I’ve never doubted that I am happy being with him, and I look forward to many, many more happy years.”

Jason (on Karen):
“As Karen can tell you, I’m as sappy as they come. I spent years searching for “the One,” but when I found her, it wasn’t like being hit with a lightning bolt or making eye contact across a room while orchestral music swelled in the background.

It was a subtle thing. I almost wasn’t aware of how happy and comfortable I was right away, it was so natural.

It was meeting someone who I was instantly comfortable with. Someone who always understands where I’m coming from (even when I don’t).

Someone who’s smart, funny, and has legs that go on forever.

I can say it was, with no hyperbole (and this is coming from a Harvard English major), being with Karen is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”

Ahhhh, young love!!!

I can honestly say that I have never been happier or more proud for my cousin Jason. As I mentioned earlier, Jason and I go way back. One could argue that his love of Godzilla, which helped him gain entrance into Harvard University through his application essay, ties directly back to yours truly who at an early age developed an insatiable appetite for the questionable entertainment value gleaned from two dudes in giant rubber suits ripping cardboard Tokyo a new one.

I was a HUGE Godzilla fan back in the day and at some point came into possession of the Shogun Warriors foot-and-a-half tall replica of that gorgeous thunder lizard, complete with real firing fist and flickering fire tongue (the likes of which Gene Simmons trembled in jealousy). When I grew tired of grappling with Gojira, I shipped him off to Jason so that he could grab the torch and continue the campaign of toy terror. The Big Guy must have been gifted at that precise moment in a young boy’s development where our lifelong obsessions form, as Big Monsters and Collectible Action Figures melded with Jason’s DNA and have helped to inform the great guy he is today. It’s nice to know that in my own small way, I made a difference.

Jason repaid the favor in kind. Five years ago – as Andi and I set on the precipice of parenthood – we tore through a tower of baby shower gifts, OOOOO-ing and AAAAHHH-ing at every fluffy Teddy Bear or teeny-tiny onesie. There was one box that somehow stood out. My Aunt Sharon pushed it in my direction, said it was from Jason and that I should be the one to open it.

As I tore the wrapping, a tear blossomed and paved a meandering path across my cheek. Godzilla had come home – after 20+ years – looking like he hadn’t aged a day. And now, as Colin has just crested five and is starting to turn his attention to Big Boy Toys (the kind Daddy has been aching to play with) – Godzilla stands sentinel in his room, ready to fire that rocket fist (which amazingly still works after two decades) at whatever shoddy LEGO construction he and I can assemble.

We live these lives paying it forward. Jason returned the Big Guy to the roost in hopes that whatever magic contained within that plastic shell that some Japanese day laborer melded together oh-those-many years ago, is potent enough to spur the creativity of my beloved first born son. It’s a ‘circle of life’ kinda’ thing.

And I sit here – reminiscing over holidays spent playing with my cousin, tossing random Simpsons quotes at each other, speculating over upcoming genre pics – and I see the man he has become. And I see that his bride – the smart, funny, beautiful Karen Daugherty – has found the perfect half with which to compliment her life. And I wish for them to enjoy a universe of infinite possibilities to live a life less ordinary, together as one.

I’ve found that as I get older, it’s incredibly nourishing to lay bare my defenses and just share my deeper thoughts – no matter how sappy or sentimental they may seem. Life’s too short, right? Well, Karen and Jason deserve every word. They’re that special. They’re worth celebrating.

If I have any advice for them, it’s to take that road less traveled. I’ll be awaiting the postcards from the journey and am dying to see where it takes you. I guarantee we meander down different paths but in the long run we’ll meet at the same destination. That sweet spot where we realize our lives are lived best when surrounded by good friends and family – and most importantly – each other.

Before closing, I do have one final piece of business.

Now that the festivities have ended on both coasts, with nary a gunshot fired by either member of the East Coast and West Coast posse’s, the big questions surface.

1.   Are they going back to Cali or are they sticking with the four seasons of New England?

2.   When are they going to give us some grandchildren?

3.   … and where did my sweet little cousin pick up the phrase “legs that go on forever”?

Comments now closed (27)

  • Awwwww…ya big softie.

    That was a wonderful post, Ed. Karen and I were very happy to have you read the love story. You did a great job, and made the Shindig all the more memorable.

    Our only regret is that Andi and the brood couldn’t make it–hope they’re feeling better!

    Also, glad you scored the Lost centerpiece. Definitely one of the best of the bunch!

    As for where I picked up that phrase…where else? From Homer Simpson (“Kill Gill”).

  • @Jason – Marital lessons from Homie can only lead to one thing. A drunken postcard along these lines…

    “…maybe it’s the beer talking but you have a butt that won’t quit. They’ve got these pretzels that… FIVE DOLLARS… get outta’ here.”

  • What a wonderful post! Beautifully written with that signature Ed-Man style that I truly love and appreciate (except when you are writing about video games…when I am still trying to beat the original Zelda).

    Seeing my son walk downhill to the lighthouse and find his soulmate, and then marry her in a ceremony and celebration that was truly their own, has been a very emotional experience for me. Not the “”Where is the little boy I carried?” kind of emotion, but the overwhelming happiness that comes from the certainty that they are truly blessed in their lives, they have each other, wonderful families, excellent friends ( many,like Ed,fall into both categories),and the ability to face anything that comes down their path. This Mumma really didn’t want a whole lot more than that for her son. We wanted The Shindig to continue the celebration when so many family and friends were not able to travel to Cali. To have our new friends,Karen’s parents, Betsy and Larry, bridge the gap back this way was just another example of how special Karen is and what she has brought to this family. My own parents, up from Fla. for their first grandchild’s shindig, have been married 55 years. Ron’s parents were there ( Ed’s grandparents’ as well as Jason’s), married 63 years! Ed’s reading was perfect, and I thank him for overcoming his terrible shyness at the microphone! We wanted to try and include the East Coast guests in the West Coast wedding and Ed’s contribution was a big part of it. I guess it’s perfect balance, Ed ( as Little Eddie) helped out in our wedding 31 years ago by not dropping the rings off the pillow, and now helps out with our son’s! You were always special to us,partly in that you could keep Jason occupied when I couldn’t play with him anymore, but then you met that pesky Sean kid…

    Again, beautiful post…and I guess I better start trolling ebay for a Shogun Godzilla, if those grandchildren are going to start showing up!

  • I think “pesky” is a new one for me, but I’ll take it! 😉

    The Shindig was great fun. I thought the slideshow DVD was a great way for everyone to see the events from California and to see the happy couple — very obvious from the photos — on their big day. Other unique highlights that Eddie didn’t touch on were the boys coming out to do their best Cinco Ocho dances to “Shipping Up To Boston” or the indoctrination… err, induction… of Karen’s parents into Red Sox Nation.

    As for the Lost centerpiece… is that the best photo you could do? Heard of a flash!? I should have taken it just to provide a better photo, however, that knife fight for it wasn’t one I was willing to wage. I still haven’t done the maths on it, but I am pretty sure I did win it on birthday, but again, the guy with the Lost blog should take home that prize. I think this one was my favorite of Jenna’s excellent work, but the one with the Hulk was a good second and Homer rounded it out with third. That said, it was more like “Hulk Sparkle” rather than “Hulk Smash”! I wonder what the community members over at Jason’s site would say about that one…

  • @Sean – I took one with a flash as well but it came out too bright so I went with this one – it’s dark but more atmospheric – like the show.

    @Aunt Sharon – Thanks for the kind words and it was all my pleasure – both the reading and the retelling here.

    One question though – terrible shyness at the microphone? Is that tongue-in-cheek or did I really come off as stilted and shy up there? Knowing I’ve got to take the stage in a little over 30 days, that one’s got me buggered. : )

  • @Ed-DO NOT FEAR – my tongue was planted firmly in cheek!! You actually look pretty comfortable in the MC role! Not something everyone can do, in fact, most people would rather choke on their own tongues than try to say something in front of a crowd – even a friendly one full of family!

  • I think anyone reading that here that knows you would know it was meant tongue-in-cheek! You know?

  • @Sean – I had assumed so…but our future star of the footlights seemed to need some reassurance THAT I WAS KIDDING!!

    ( at this moment, I could mess with Ed”s-Head and say cryptically ” Or was I?”, but I wouldn’t do that!!)

    Or would I??

  • Does anyone not remember how painfully shy I once was? It wasn’t that long ago – a grim specter that dogged me most of the way through high school. It wasn’t until my Senior Year that I started to kick from the cocoon.

    Wait – that was almost 20 years ago.

    Oh my God – I’m an old bastard!!!

  • Would those be the kicks I saw you do in the Rockland High School production of “Annie”?

    And your Uncle Ron is at his 35th High School Reunion on Friday night. Feel better now??

    And I will behave myself, just don’t ban me!I am hoping to someday to really be a part of this little community and get myself a gravatar!

  • Good luck banning your site admin… now, I could ban you.

    Or would I?

    I don’t know what that means in this context…

    Anyway, outside of family, who know you as Little Eddie etc., there are only two people, that you know of, that read this site that knew you in high school: me and Rich. Now, I’d include Jay Bain in this list, but he just had that one drive-by (yes, that was chosen intentionally), so he hardly counts…

    And, to actually answer the question, yes, I remember, but then, as you state, it has been a very long time and you are no longer thought of as being like that. Not with so many events where drawers are dropped and we see your animal print boxers…

    Oh, wait, that’s me. Elephants today.

  • @The Both of Ya – Don’t worry – I wouldn’t know how to ban even if I wanted to. I live the Admin stuff up to Sean. So play nice with him and we should all be good.

    Aunt Sharon – He can show you how to set up that Gravatar.

  • Oh, I told Jason months and months ago to set her up with her Mumma Ghostal portrait as her Gravatar, so we see what happened with that. Of course, maybe she’d like to pick a photo of something else, but I should think her son should take care of this sort of thing, no? (Yes, I am calling him out here.)

  • Oh yeah… and you’d never ban us even if you knew how and I weren’t the admin. We are the only two people who leave comments on a regular basis! If you did, you’d have none! (Yes, I am calling out all your other readers here.)

  • You can’t call out a guy in his wedding post!!!

    And when is someone going to get around and write one of these touching love-fests about me? What’s it going to take?

    Do I have to get married again?

    (I wonder if Priceline has any deals to Utah)?

  • Sure I can… I know he’s going to come back and read this one for the comments! Plus, I’m not speaking ill of him… less calling out than calling his attention? I dunno…

    You want I should write of our bromance? [shudders]

  • Uh…I don’t even remember the whole Gravatar thing…which probably means I did indeed drop the ball at some point. I’ll take care of it soon…

  • @Ed- I printed off this post for Nana and Grampa to read ( as I do with many of his wonderful family related entries) and Grampa said ( and I quote) ” I always thought I was a good writer, but Eddie just puts me to shame”. He was quoting bits of it that he thought were particularly well-worded, but I did have to try and explain the whole “Lost” part. And, of course, he said it must have been a wonderful affair, and I show him the pictures of him there…again, and assure him he had a great time! Grampa seems happy that he did!

    And I can live without the gravatar, I am probably way too old to do anything cool like that…

  • @Aunt Sharon – Thanks for passing that on – definitely made my night (and this comes on the heels of just returning from Cuckoo’s Nest Rehearsal where we practiced a fist fight between McMurphy and I over and over – meaning I got to punch the star at least 20 times!!!)

    My one true regret in life (and this is serious) is that I never pursued that Journalism career – or more to the point – some career in writing – opting to follow a job that actually, you know, paid – which is what I needed so dearly back in those early post-college days. Anyway, the reason I have always harbored some bit of regret is I always wanted to do it for Grandpa as he was always there looking to read my latest UMASS Daily Collegian articles when I returned for break. He was always my biggest fan.

    Anyway, this little bit made me smile and I’m very happy he enjoyed it.

  • Hi Jason,

    Don’t mind me, I’m just being all stalkerish and reading your “real” blog. My cousin Nichole was married just this last weekend at Holy Family church in Rockland and the reception was held at Monponsett Inn. Small world!


  • @PrfktTear – I grew up in Rockland and know that Holy Family Church very well. I’m Protestant so I didn’t attend the church but I coould safely hazard a guess that 99.9% of my town’s population did. Then they would grab their pitchforks and hunt down the infidel in their midst. Good times. : )

  • I made my first communion there… after that, I was done with church when they wanted me to confess my sins. Apparently at whatever age I was at then, I was too evil to allow that to happen.