This is how Nicole and I got engaged: we were both drunk in a bar and she dared me to do it. I ripped the stems from two cocktail cherries and tied them into a loop, placing the sticky cherry stem “ring” on Nicole’s ring finger. Looking back on how it began, it makes sense now how the wedding turned out.
We were living in Chicago—shortly to move to LA–when we decided to get married in Vegas. However, this was not to be a shotgun wedding. The plan was this: if we got married in either of our hometown’s we’d have to invite a bunch of people we didn’t much care about. Adding the travel factor could weed the list down just to close friends and family (if you were not invited, I didn’t know where you were…Spencer Ferrier.) Also, we figured attending a wedding is such a drag of an obligation we’d pick someplace fun so everybody would have a good time. And a good time was indeed had. Too much so. Nicole and I got there a week early and proceeded to drink our way through to the wedding day. If only that was the problem.
Nicole invited an old friend, Joy, to be in her wedding party. Nicole warned me, “Just to let you know, Joy said she’s is going to do some recreational coke while she here.” I had no problem with it. Who doesn’t like recreation? When we met up with Joy it was clear she’d left recreation to join the big leagues. She was leathery, hyper and strung out. Also, in place of a dress she wore a negligee—a flimsy piece of lingerie. Yet again, I didn’t care. If it isn’t hurting me, right?
Now let me stop down for a quick moment to give a brief, auspicious history between me and Joy. Joy was one of Nicole’s oldest friends and in ’98 we met up with her in New York. This being only my second time in New York, I wanted to get out and see stuff, do stuff. But Joy refused to leave our shitty hotel room and instead spent the lion’s share of our vacation time telling jokes about poop. She insisted that the town I grew up in was named not Spokane but “Poop Can.” She rhapsodized at length about how I liked poop and smelled like poop. Nicole laughed right along. This is Nicole’s way; she becomes whatever friend she is hanging out with. It can be a terrible, terrible trait.
The one time we got out in New York, Nicole got blitzed and fell prey to the meat market of a club where we were drinking. She couldn’t get out the door, whether it was drunk vacationers propositioning her right in front of me or her plain inability to stay on two feet, preferring to lie on the dance floor. On an attempt to extricate her from the club, I grabbed her by the hand and weaved and pushed my way through the crowd. Once I reached the cold night air outside I found my hand empty and my fiancée gone. I started to head back for her but Joy stopped me.
“What’s your problem, man?”
“What do you mean? I got to get Nicole out of there. She can barely stand.”
“You’re too controlling dude. You got to let her be free.”
“She’s trapped and nearly unconscious.”
“You’re a control freak.”
“I’m trying to get her to safety.”
“Your relationship isn’t gonna last.” With that, believing she had won the debate, Joy nodded her head and promptly barfed at my feet.
Jump back to Vegas and my birthday, which was just two nights before the wedding. Joy made a point of sitting next to me and was a little devil in my ear all night.
“Man, don’t you want to go to a strip club? They’ve got so many strip clubs here. You really should go.”
“I don’t want to go to a strip club. I want to stay here with Nicole and my friends.”
“Are you gay?”
“I don’t know, man. You don’t want to go to a strip club and you’re clearly not into Nicole.”
“The hell I’m not.”
“Marriage is stupid dude. Nicole doesn’t need to get married. Just go to a strip club and call it off.”
A this point I was pretty drunk. I stormed out of the casino. Nicole followed me
“Tell you fucking friend Joy to stay the hell away from me.”
At the very moment Joy popped outside, heard my angry words, began to cry and ran to the bathroom to console herself with cocaine. Nicole was furious with me; not knowing what had lead up to this. We parted ways and I went back to the hotel room. The next morning Nicole left early to do wedding stuff with her mom. I settled back into bed in the hopes of getting more than two hours sleep. A knock came at the door. It was Joy. She had lost her car. The night before, after we parted, she went out to try and score more coke. Somehow she did from a couple of strange men. Once she was back on the road she got super paranoid and pulled over immediately into a casino parking lot. She hoofed it back to our hotel and that’s what led her to my door.
“You gotta find my car.”
She lay in the bed and writhed around. I picked up a phone book.
“Where is it?”
“I parked it at a casino.”
She had been too coked up to remember. “I don’t know. It starts with an ‘M’.” Of all the millions of casinos, there was no “M” casino in Vegas.
“It must start with something else.”
“It starts with M!” she snapped. Then she began to giggle and continued to lie there as I spent the next hour calling casinos looking for her car. It wasn’t to be found.
That night we had our rehearsal dinner. Joy showed up in the same negligee; the rest of her clothes were in the lost car. She proceeded to hit on Nicole’s married cousin, tell Nicole’s 13-year-old cousin he looked like he was 50 and when my dad asked her if she was okay, she replied, “you don’t control me. You need to be cool. Where’s your wife?”
The next day, as I slipped into my tux and Nicole went off with her wedding party to get made up, Joy sprung up again.
“I need to borrow your car to find my car.” Though the idea of giving her my car to find a car she lost seemed dangerous, I gave her the keys just so we wouldn’t have to fight again.
Six hours later it was clear Joy wasn’t coming back. It was around this time I realized our wedding license was in the car with her. The wedding itself, although not legal, went off without a hitch. After Nicole and I finished with the photographer, we made our way to the reception. On the way we found Joy standing at a pay phone crying, still wearing the negligee but now adding a Seattle Seahawks jersey over the top and finishing the look off with a pair of Ugg boots. That night I got very drunk, had a great time at the reception and did a good job of avoiding Joy. I’m told she hit on my 16-year-old brother and all his friends. When that failed she hit them up for money.
Early the next morning, as Nicole and I lay in our dehydrated stupor, the phone rang.
“I need to borrow your car again.” Nicole told her that this was the day after our wedding, it was 7 in the morning and could it wait until later?
“I guess if you don’t want to help me then fine. I kind of figured our friendship was over anyway. See you later.”
We received one more phone call from Joy before we left Vegas.
“Hey, I’m leaving town and I just thought you should know I got you a wedding present. I left it at the front desk of the Circus Circus. So, whatever.” That was the last we heard from Joy. Curious, we went to the Circus Circus and waiting for us behind the counter was an electric wok. Not a bad gift. Nicole felt bad, mainly because of the dissolved friendship, but also because she is the type of person who can see good in almost anyone. Even if Joy had problems, this gift proved she still had redeeming qualities.
A month later we got a call from Nicole’s friend Sydney who’d also been in the wedding.
“Did you ever get the wedding present from me?”
“Um, I don’t know,” Nicole said, “what was it?”
“An electric wok. I had to leave town early and so I gave it to Joy and asked her to make sure you got it.”