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Archive for May, 2003

Column 4 – Part 2

Number Five: Chip’s tribute to me

I am talking with some people hovering around the carrot cake when I hear the DJ announce “And now we have a request from Chip Cullen going out to the best man and the Ann Arbor crew.” I was like, “Ok, this should be good,” and headed back out to the dance floor. I was intrigued at the possibility of what our song could be. I thought that only girls could have “songs” but that is Chip, always breaking down those barriers so men can be more like women.

On comes Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a prayer”. I love Chip, and honestly, I think at one point during the night, he was more excited than I was about the whole ball and chain thang. But, I still don’t have a flipping clue what that song had to do with anything. You can’t dance to it. You know what I’m talking about Donnie Osmond.

I barely even knew the lyrics. But all the crew from AA got out there and looked like idiots so Chip didn’t have to alone. That is why it was so fitting. Bizarre and random, but that has kind of been our expression throughout college. I don’t think there was ever a joke that either of us got, told by the other one. But if he had requested a song that had some meaning, I probably wouldn’t have even remembered it so vividly and quizzically. So here’s to you Chip, Mr. Random-wedding-song-requester and your punch colored vodka.

Number Six: Mr. Kittleman likes ‘em young.

We had some awesome pairings for the wedding party. All of my best dudes paired up with a gorgeous young Chapman girl. Thomas and Tony might be about as little as the girls, but you know, all the matches looked natural. Then there was Josh Kittleman, our sole usher. Both Sarah and I went to private school with Josh while Josh was still wearing Moon boots and tucking his shirt into his pants every time he took a wiz. Josh Kittleman entered the reception with our flower girl Anna Gagnon.

Now mind you, Josh isn’t a football player, but I am sure he felt a frickin ogre. He has this bashful beard and big round jovial eyes and as he stooped over Anna as he opened the door, she took off on a mad dash to her mom.

Josh told me some crazy story that she was mad at him for telling her the truth about the Easter Bunny. This seems to be a typical reaction all ages for Josh, but you will be happy to know that they reconciled their differences by the end of the night. Just remember Josh, her favorite color is blue, and she has to be home by 8:30.

Number Seven: “Yeah I called you fat, look’it me I’m skinny”

My best man and I have had some great memories reaching way back before our sixth grade year. In senior year of high school we took an exotic camping trip up to his grandparent’s backyard. We biked, ate greasy pancakes and even greasier hamburgers and washed it all down with something we called sludge. (Justin’s sinful concoction of a half s pitcher of water and powered Kool-Aid, mixed with two cups of sugar)

We biked around, talked about female body parts, and claimed a little ditty by the name of the “Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground as our anthem. In the middle of senior year I had gotten the bug to find this song after I heard it on the radio. I loved the nostalgia so much that I tracked down the album online and bought it, just for that one song. We learned all the lyrics and thought we were cool. We even figured out “I’ll drink up all the Hennessey you got on the shelf…” Good times.

At the reception, Justin dedicated that song for me and for a short time we remember what it was like to not have student loans and thoughts of lifelong matrimony. We recited every single lyric to that eighties rap about a guy with a huge nose, and it was beautiful.

Number Eight: And we can always count on Amanda Chapman for snappy banter.

It is nearly 12:00 and I was in serious need of some nookie. Sarah and I had “started” to leave around 11:00 after we had sat through our eighteenth polka and said, “My Amish Aunt Paulina could have been a better DJ than Senor expiration date!”

So we started saying our final goodbyes, multiple times, and I finally got permission to completely get out of my monkey suit.

I told Sarah, “I don’t care if you need help or not, I am helping you out of that dress.” “Oh yeah, it’s naked time,” I thought. She didn’t think she needed any help but gave in knowing it would shut me the hell up.

Her little freshman sister was around for this conversational exchange and when Sarah said “Why is it so important for you to help me change?” Amanda chimed in, declaring her sexual awareness like a foghorn, “Because he wants to see you naaa-ked.”

I looked at her; she shrugged and giggled like Rudy Huxtable, turned around and left. I just laughed.

I laughed even more later when Sarah and I were sitting around and I got the rest of the story.

Not only did Amanda give my naïve new wife some very helpful insight, she also reminded her again later. Sarah was running around trying to find her civilian outfit and Amanda very politely, with her hands behind her back, a lean and a devilish smile said, “Come on Sarah, Jeff is waiting to see you naa-ked.” Not all that shocked, I surmised that Amanda just liked to say naa-ked like a potty mouthed sheep.

Number Nine: Booze vs. the horizontal mumbo

It is the end of the night at Terra Verde and the reception is coming to an end. I know my friends are all staying at one hotel in Coopersville, a tiny nearby town that has one streetlight and 4,000 cows.

My friends smuggled copious amounts of vodka into the reception, which I knew would surface later that night at the hotel. But to top it off, my friends all left together to go into Grand Haven. The one time that my friends from all over the eastern US are in my little home town, I am leaving for the one time I will ever get to go to the southern US.

About the time they were going down to the beach, laughing, and dipping their toes in the cool refreshing lake, I had bloodshot eyes. I am trying to concentrate on the road and taking deep breaths, upset that I let Sarah change out of her wedding dress. I had the option of making love to a woman in a car sized handkerchief, but let her change into jeans and a tee-shirt.

When they went out barhopping in Grand Haven, laughing and drinking, I was making a short stop, in the pouring rain at my apartment in Grand Rapids. I had to pick up my cosmetics and directions that I had left in my mad rush to leave on Friday.

When two of my friends were meeting up with another friend and to hang and drink at his house in Grand Haven until three in the morning, I was blinking, trying to stay awake, frustrated, tired, and lost in Lansing.

Boozing with your pals, or sex. From the dawn of time it has been the hardest choice any man has had to make. But I got the better end of the schtick, I got the week off work. How old AM I, that I held my breath for that?

Oh, and I also….

Number Ten: Had lots ‘o…..

SEX! An average guy thinks about it every seven seconds. Like I said, we had a week with no where to go and nothing to do.

~final


Column 4 – Part 1

It’s finally said and done.

The wedding has come and gone and I wholly agree with the popular opinion that it was an amazing day. I can’t truly how enamored I am and now that it is a memory, I only want it back.

I am sorry for those of you who missed it. But you are in luck. I am going to chronologically walk you through the most timeless moments of the day as well as the honeymoon. So sit back as I give you some G rated visuals. You can fill in any holes I leave with the usuals. The “I do’s”, white dresses, black tuxes, and hordes of crying people.

Warning: If you are reading this and are under the age of 13, the following article uses strong words such as naa-ked, nookie, and sex. Parents, these would be fun terms to try to explain to the little goobers, so lets not. Now is your chance to usher your little ones to the primary colored play room to watch those Christian vegetables that talk and wear mustaches. Silly greens.

I know I promised last week that I would give some insight into why people don’t like me, that one is still coming my friends.

Number One: Crying Men

That is right. Not once but twice. I bawled until my collar was damp at both the rehearsal and the big day.

When I needed to calm down I scanned the first pew looking for the strength, the pillar, the stronghold in our family, my father. Holy crap! He had that snot-down-the-upper-lip-thang going on and it was about that time that I wished I would have bought stock in Kleenex. I couldn’t see his eyes his glasses were so fogged up. Seriously, get that man a face squeegee.

I looked at both of the mothers and then my fiancée and they are the ONLY ones in the whole stinkin’ church not crying. What the heck! Might as well have taken Sarah, slapped a dog in one hand and a beer in the other, put some grease on her cheeks and programmed her to say a couple of catchy phrases such as “Did the Wanhh bus arrive?” or “My little sister cried less during her tongue tumor removal!” Once and for all I knew who wore the pink Victoria’s in this relationship. I spent most of Friday night debating if a size six meant I could only fit one enormous butt cheek or two into the wedding dress.

Number Two: High pressure water never go out of style

I envisioned, on this very website, a flurry of wet greetings to relatives I had never met. Hordes of screaming women in fancy dresses reenacting mad cow disease as Sarah and I just laughed and sprayed them all with increasing amounts of water.

Alas, I was too caught up in what the good Lutherans would think to see it through. It took a five year old friend of mine to realize, “Hey, I’m a jerk. This is totally something I would do.”

Shout out to my tiny brother Joel, a young, thirty inch tall scallion that I babysat this past summer was kind enough to provide the proper tools to live out my dream.

It innocently started outside the church, with our photographer recreating the image that I made on the website. I playfully sprayed light mist at my bride’s wedding dress, tilting my head with my evil smirk, but no real preconceived intentions. My playful volley of water was returned with a giggle and a crisp stream to my face.

Sometimes Sarah doesn’t think before she acts. She forgot that she was inside of the largest human handkerchief and I have freakishly long legs. Long quick strides, dash and roll will always fool even the best woman. I returned her timid mist with directs blows to the upper face, chest, veil and dress. “Yes!” I pumped my first triumphantly, once I was out of sight of course. Although a moment to cherish, this would have warranted a week on the couch, and since my legs start at my nose, that would have made for some long uncomfortable nights.

Number Three: Hey, Jeff, try some of Jerry’s “water”

If you have known anything about me in the last six to nine months, it is that I have been stricken with a longing for my seemingly lost college life. I have had short reminders of it at home. However, drinking a 24 oz. Smirnoff and watching 40 days and 40 nights on the couch in my parent’s basement is hardly equal to sorority girls, keg stealing, and three o’clock pizza runs. Hell, everything closes down in Grand Haven at 10 pm on a Friday night.

I slipped away from my new bride to go and sit with my old friends for a minute with my new friends, Mr. Cheesecake, and Mr. Nameless brand beer in a clear plastic cup. I apologized to all of my Ann Arbor friends, “I just wanted to say, sorry for being the first A-hole to go down the nuptials road.”

Immediately Chip Cullen, my art school friend that I met way back in orientation, said in his dirty Mexican voice, “Eh! Try some of my punch.”
I knew Chip, and I knew in his opinion that anything he drinks, from milk to Canada dry, is miles better with Vodka. I was hardly surprised when the red liquid in his glass was sixty percent Absolute.

Then my other friend Jerry Davidson, who I met mid freshman year, said, “Eh! Wanna try some of my water?” I had also forgotten that Jerry’s drink of choice were glasses of Vodka, topped off with an eighth an inch of sweet and sour. I took a healthy scorching mouthful, downed my beer, and jammed my whole slice of soft, moist cheesecake in my piehole, and smiled. It was good to remember. I felt like Dustin Hoffman’s Peter Pan when he remembered his past via a thimble. My thimble was booze and my lost boys were my friends. Pictures ensued, and that was the 5 minute making of a colorful memory.

Number Four: Beer Butt

Since I only heard about this story, I am taking the creative responsibility of retelling it with the maximum amount of embellishment. The dance floor at Terra Verde was like any typical college party dance floor. It was an off-white linoleum floor and beer was being served, so the ground had a certain slickness to it.

I was doing my share of running and coasting, and I was not the only one. My surprisingly social sister got the same idea. She ran, slid, and hip checked my best man precisely at the same time he returned the favor. Our sweet and innocent maid of honor, young Brenda Chapman saw this and thought “Hey, if the big kids are bumping butts, so can I.” So she attempted the same. But Justin was drinking like a fish, and he didn’t remember doing this to my sister less than five minutes ago. He said, “I saw her coming, and I wasn’t sure what to do, she seemed like she was slipping so I just stood firm and put out my chest.”

Brenda hit him like a wall and fell on her arse. Remembering the floor was wet with all kinds of fun stuff, Brenda said, “Yeah! Let’s make beer
angels as she flailed her arms and legs about.” Everyone on the dance floor spread out and made a circle around her and threw their hands in the air, “Go Brenda, it’s yo birthday, were gonna sip Bacardi…” Ok, so maybe it didn’t happen just like that. But she did fall like a brick, and girls in dresses falling down sure is funny. My sister said it wasn’t the only time, that throughout the night she would spontaneously fall over, sometimes in mid conversation. That silly Brenda, she’s always good for a laugh.

Continue to Part 2…..


Column 3 – Part 2

Same old song and dance

I now assume this story is pretty common. Two kids who think their feelings are above reality go off to school and try to survive a long distance relationship. But what they don’t understand that people grow in college, most of the time into different people.

I had to break up with a girl one time, but it was two and half year shorter relationship.

No, in fact, the girl that was broken up with in this story, well, it was me. I just told the story from the other point of view to really show you what I went through.

The after effects

My world was torn apart after that day. I said all those nasty things. I begged to be taken back. In the end, I didn’t know where to go or who to turn to.

I still had all of my friends, I hadn’t made the mistake of pushing them aside during for my relationship. But I found that they could not help me, and neither could their words.

The pain grew, exponentially, with no end in sight.

I felt alone. I wanted to talk to someone who had the exact same thing happen to them and see to what the future held. I wanted to see where this nightmare would end and, more importantly, when. I had nothing. I had built all my interests around this girl. Everything I did was to be with her, and for her. I became even more bitter and started to think of ending my own life.

I had loved her and had pictured being with her forever. That is how serious I thought I was with her.

Much later on

You will be happy to know that things got better. I started to date six months later. In retrospect that seems really soon, but at the time, it felt like the most excruciating six months of my life.

For some people, being in a long term relationship with someone feels weird. For me, not having someone felt wrong. I came to realize that I depended on her too much, and now I had to do something about it.

I made a ton of plans. I leaned on my friends heavily. I tried new things, things I never had the desire to do before. But, stupidly, it was all so I could meet someone else, and put off finding out who I was without her.

That first relationship I had after the first six months, ended in three weeks. It couldn’t have lasted, all I did was compare the new girl to the old one. I had another relationship that lasted about three real months and then summer came and it became another long distance relationship. I had not the balls to inflict the same wounds on another person, but eventually, I did.

Getting my bearings back

It was a year later, I was still very angry, but my self confidence was almost back. It also was the summer from hell. I was living in Grand Haven and working over 70 hours a week. I was exhausted, but I was feeling free. I was experimenting. I went for a new look. I got a tattoo, and an earring. Anything to forget who I used to be. I got a job downtown at the ice cream shop to meet more girls.

All the while looking for something that I couldn’t grasp. I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted a long term relationship again. I just had this feeling that I would never be able to totally forget the old girlfriend. I couldn’t do that when every where I looked I saw memories of her. I thought I needed to get back to school. But what it turned out to be was someone a million times more wonderful to help me the final distance out of my dark tunnel.

Enter Sarah Chapman.

Sarah is the most amazing person you will ever meet. There are two people I can tell you that I am still friends with from seventh grade, and she’s one of them. When I met her in seventh grade, I immediately was a little taken with her because I was still relatively new to Grand Haven, and I knew what it felt like to move to a new place. Plus, she was a cutie.

We stayed friends through high school. I was in that long term relationship but Sarah never really dated anyone seriously. She had a couple of short relationships that didn’t fit. She was kind of weird, and never seemed interested in boys to begin with.

Back to the summertime. We started to talk about what might happen if we went out on a date. I had always liked Sarah, but felt we were too
extremely opposite to ever work. But I thought I’d take my chances, and we kissed for the first time.

Sarah is the most giving and patient person you will ever meet. She is intoxicating. If you talk to her for five minutes, you will want to take her home to Mom, bake her some cookies, and braid her hair.

She was there for me

Sarah was the girl that listened to all my struggles that I was still having a couple years later with this breakup. She knows every painful detail. I am sure she didn’t want to know so much, it probably hurt her at times, but she supported me through it all.

Slowly, the wound began to heal, and the pain subsided. It took a year being in a relationship with her to totally forget that I was ever in another long term relationship.

Our history together allowed us to skip the awkward stages. I found that her passive attitude did not translate to our relationship, or to me. She made me aware of her strong feelings very early on and gave me love when I had none to return. She made me feel needed, and wanted. I had found that thing I was looking for and in 9 months I knew that we would be going the long haul.

What I learned

I became a different person in some ways, but I am still the same in a lot of ways. I am more aware of my shortcomings. I prayed during that time for someone, for someone who would look past my imperfections and see me for my strong qualities. I was convinced the other girl rejected my qualities for what they were. Not that she rejected them because she was mature enough to know that in the long run our differences would cause some serious problems.

God gave me Sarah, and fulfilled my prayers beyond my wildest dreams. She loved me for all my faults. Her take charge attitude about her feelings for me was what made our relationship work.

She poured her love into me, hoping eventually that she would get it back. I thought I took a risk. But it was really her taking a chance. There were no guarantees I would ever see past my pain,and fully return her love.

I was right, we are really different. We are so different that it causes a lot of problems in how we invest our respective time. But she is the one.

She gave me the opportunity to fall in love again, and remember that it was worth something. Her belief in love and what it can be saved me. I think she might know this, but not to the extent that I feel it.

I owe you everything and if I didn’t tell you before, or if I didn’t tell you enough, I am telling you now. I love you, and can’t wait for May 10th. You are truly a dream come true.

~final


Column 3 – Part 1

A completely different place.

Almost three years ago I was on a completely different path in my life. I was in a serious relationship, but not with Sarah Chapman. It was one of those high school things that went into college.

She was such a great gal in so many ways, and I thought she was my first love, but when times were bad, they were the worst. In these times, there were some evident differences that I started to realize were insurmountable. I always had that nagging feeling that we weren’t right for each other, but I often forgot, because it was easier to forget than to actually do something about it. Finally, I did make the heart wrenching decision to break things off instead of starting another year of college with that feeling.

There is never a good time

We were getting together the first weekend after she moved into her new apartment. Overjoyed to see me, she showered me with a flurry of kisses and hugs as soon as I arrived. Our excitement of her first year off campus and not having been together for over a week overwhelmed the day, and then it was gone.

Day two, she woke me up with a kiss and a smile. We had breakfast together, and later went out to the pool during a warm stretch of the day. We got out later on, opened the door to her apartment, and her roommates immediately rushed us off on a hunt for sweets. The consensus was ice cream, on a distant part of campus. The great fun we were having laughing and talking made the long walk seemed like a stroll to the mailbox. Before I had known it the second day had come and went, and I grew more uneasy.

We need to talk

The third day I woke up to her making me a farmers breakfast and that was an indicator that only I was in control of the day. I made up my mind to do something about it the next moment I got her alone.

We sat in front of the TV playing Nintendo 64. We were playing Mario Cart, if that is what she was doing. I was beating the hell out of her. I finished, put down my controller and waited for her to catch up. She kept going off the path because Bowser and friends were abnormally brutal.

I watched her throw a small smirk at me as I struggled to hide my nerves. I was sick to my stomach, I had a headache and I knew, she wouldn’t understand.

As I got caught up in my thoughts, she had finished and jumped up to the kitchen to make some popcorn. I sat there and waited, turned off the 64 and watched some TV. She came back in, plopped down on the thatch couch next to me, and planted a “I love being here with you” peck on my cheek. I turned to her and asked, “Can we go talk in private?”

You dropped the bomb on me, baby.

We went back to her room and we sat opposite each other. I used all my strength to not break down, and as I thought of the first thing to speak, I nervously rubbed my perspiring hands. She picked up on my wayward glances, popped a couple of kernels into her mouth, threw her hair back and with a small giggle said “What? Are you going to break up with me or something?”

Her next giggling mouthful of popcorn was cut short when I said, “yes”.

She looked at me in disbelief, her cheek bulged mid chew.

She kind of giggled uncomfortably, swallowed and asked. “Are you serious?”

My eyes started to tear up. I lifted my eyes separate of my head as I mustered a nod, and a faint breath, “Yes,” and quickly looked away.

“No… you’re not…no, no you can’t.” The bag of popcorn sounded like a dropped textbook as the kernels rolled under the bed.

“You’re not breaking up with me, your not.” Her voice choked on her tears. I knew what she was feeling, suffocation, your throat dries right up and swallowing feels like cement.

She started to cry more heavily.

“You’re not serious?” “Is it something I did?

I shook my head no.

“Then what? We have always worked things out, if something’s wrong, we’ll just work it out. We have to.”

Her longing eyes stared into mine looking for hope. “I love you”, she said. I felt helpless as I started to watch her drown in her own shock.

Little did I know it would only get worse.

The three stages of the breakup

No one had ever broken up with me before but after the night was over I realized there are three stages.

Stage one is intense denial. Questions. Trying to find the verbal bandage to hem the near fatal wound that has just been dealt to you.

The second is anger and lashing out. You start to blame the instigator. Blame them for all the things they didn’t do. How it isn’t fair. How could you? After all that I have done? What about that thing I did for you on that one date? How could you do this to me? You are such an (expletive). How can you do this to me so suddenly? Who is going to want to date you? I hate you. I hate you.

The final stage is apologies, one after another. Apologies for all the nasty things you just said ten minutes previous about the other person, now realizing why they might want to break up with you. All the while your brain is in search for the real reason.

Can’t see the obvious

It can’t be the reason given. It must be something else they’re not telling you. It’s a test, that’s all it is. If I figure out what is wrong and apologize, things will be fine. You apologize for everything. You beg. You plead. Just give me one more chance. I can change. I want to fix things. I don’t want to lose you.

I cried through most of the night, more than I thought physically possible. My ride came to pick me up and just when I thought I couldn’t feel any worse, I had to leave her a mess there at school. I didn’t feel relieved, not for a long time.

She wanted to see me a couple of times after that, looking for some hope to get back together. That it still was just a dream. She was a mess, trying to convince me how she has changed, and if we would just get back together, things would be different. All she did was re-assert our differences and after a couple of months I didn’t have anything left to talk to her about. Things became weird, and then this girl that was always around, was gone.

Continue to Part 2…..