“We can get as messed up as we want to tomorrow night, but tonight we have to get Ray home safely.”
Those were the words of Alex Delgado, Ray Garcia’s best man and, as is the custom, the organizer of his bachelor party.
The evening began at the Heartland Brewery in the Empire State Building. I had forgotten that there was a Heartland in the Empire State Building, but once I was there I vaguely remembered possibly going to the opening (or maybe it was the Times Square location) with my old friend Yishane Lee, whom Ray was about to marry.
Offering debauchery at the wedding in exchange for temperance during what was supposed to be Ray’s last hurrah might seem counterintuitive, but it made sense. The bachelor party was last Saturday, the day before the wedding, which was yesterday, and Ray needed to stand up straight during his wedding and look good for pictures. Afterward he could do whatever he wanted; his flight for his honeymoon in Greece doesn’t leave until 4 p.m. today, giving him plenty of time to recover.
A couple members of the evening’s entourage wanted to kidnap Ray and drag him across the Hudson to places of ill repute in New Jersey, but Ray wasn’t having it.
“Tomorrow it’s an open bar,” he pointed out, supporting Alex’s assessment of the situation.
So we had wings and calamari and burgers and ribs and stuff at Heartland, and I sampled their Alpha Male Ale, which has ginseng and horny goat weed and other things in it that go with the name and seemed appropriate for a bachelor party. I then switched to their Indie 500 IPA.
From there we went to 230 5th, an event space that seems pretty much suited for bachelor parties, with large overstuffed sofas for lounging and pretty, flirtatious waitresses.
Okay, actually, our first waitress was kind of a jerk (and dare I say not that pretty). She was condescending and questioned our ability to party hearty when we weren’t ordering drinks fast enough for her tastes.
So it was just as well that we were rudely and unceremoniously moved to another set of sofas after we went upstairs to check out the roof. Our previous space had been reserved, they said. Well, yes, Alex had in fact reserved space two months in advance, and called a week ahead of time to reconfirm, and they called him a couple of days before the party to reconfirm.
But our new waitress was great — very gracious and accommodating as she poured the Champagne that Alex sprang for.
We were out of there by 11:30, so I woke up the next morning with plenty of time to veg out and go over my lines for the ceremony.
As you may recall, Yishane and Ray had asked me to co-officiate, which as it turns out meant that I would be doing most of the English content of the ceremony, while the actual legitimate officiant, Raquel Algarin, would do the Spanish. I also had to welcome everyone in Chinese.
The wedding was at a Cuban restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen called Guantanamera, which it turns out means “a woman from Guantanamo,” and the ceremony went mostly like clockwork. Raquel and I each were missing a page from our scripts for some reason, but we shared and no one noticed. Yishane’s nephew, who’s about a year-and-a-half old, had a minor meltdown at the beginning of the ceremony but he calmed down when he was placed in the hands of his mother, the matron of honor.
The only religious content was a brief Buddhist ceremony by Yishane’s mother, who chanted as she held an image of Tara — Buddha’s female manifestation — first over the head of Yishane, and then over Ray’s head.
We had no planned recessional, so Yishane just said “Okay, we're going to take pictures now,” and we all went downstairs to sign documents, take pictures, chat and drink mojitos.
The food was Cuban food that you might expect — tostones, ropa vieja, arroz con pescado — plus some appropriate vegetarian content for Yishane’s mom and perhaps others.
Yishane was, in fact, a vegetarian when we worked in Thailand together. Then someone fed her beef and she recovered, returning to the ways of the carnivore. But life can be cruel: Back in the States, her past three boyfriends before Ray had at least some restrictions regarding how and why they’d eat meat. It was really annoying. Thank goodness Ray is not thus afflicted.
Ray has many good qualities, in fact. He’s like the coolest computer geek you ever met. He’s an IT guy and makes references to Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars in everyday conversation, but he’s also articulate, socially adept, a samba dancer and a nice guy. I like his friends, too.
Anyway, it was a great wedding, a good time seemed to be had by all, but the debauchery suggested by Alex never happened.