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Published: October 31st 2010
The Cake Smash
You can see a little frosting on Mashay's nose, but a lot more on Ian's Face
High Above The White Sandy Beaches
I flew down to Pensacola, Florida for my cousin Ian's wedding. Ian picked me up from the airport and took me to the rented high-rise condos overlooking the white sandy beaches of the Florida panhandle. I had feared that the beautiful coral sand would be stained with black, sticky oil from the BP spill, but no blemish was to be on the wedding or the beach.
Ian is the youngest son of my mother's youngest sister Kathy, so Ian is over a decade younger than I. He is also my godchild, but I had lived away most of his formative years in California, England, Taiwan and Colorado. When he was a teenager, his family moved down to Pensacola, so by the time I moved back to Kansas City, he had escaped to the tropics of the Gulf.
I had kept in touch with Ian over the years - mainly at holidays and then at a couple of meetings that I had in New Orleans. At the first meeting, Ian drove over alone and showed me around the Big Easy. He had done construction work to rebuild the city that Hurricane Katrina
had temporarily destroyed. The second time I had a meeting in Nawlins, I brought Grace and Ian brought his first, true love, Mashay. Mashay was an escapee of the Midwest like Ian, and they made a very comfortable pair that knew how to have fun. They came on a Saturday and brought Ian's sister Alisha as well since neither Mashay nor Alisha had been to the Big Easy before. The five of us tore down Bourbon Street until the wee hours of the morning. I nor anyone else had ever seen Ian smitten, and the writing was already on the wall for these two love birds.
Back to the beach. On the first night, I stayed in Mashay's mother and grandmother's condo. They'd rented out a sweet 4-bedroom condo with stunning views of dolphins from wrap-around balconies and beautiful, granite floors and countertops. I knew Mashay’s mother Cindy and her husband Tom from their visit to Kansas City the previous summer. They came down from my new home state of South Dakota and welcomed me in. We enjoyed some cold beers, alcohol-loaded slushees and the cool gulf breeze over pleasant conversation. We were living the high life in the
Ian is running in front of the high rise condos that we stayed in.
high-rise condo’s over the clear blue gulf.
The first morning, Ian took me to the beach and the water was warm and inviting in contrast to the cold California waters that I always avoid. We body surfed and enjoyed the warm sun. Then Ian busted out his skim board and I took some great photographs of him riding the waves. Check out the videos that shows how fast Ian runs to catch the waves and ride the surf. It’s a tough workout and Ian knows how to skim with the best of them.
The Bachelor Party
On Thursday night, we gave Ian the traditional sendoff before the wedding - the Bachelor Party. If you’ve been to Pensacola or other spring break towns, you know that these plays know how to put on a party. On top of the spring breakers, this beach community has a large military population from Eglin Air Force Base where the Blue Angels reside. The beaches are well known for their parties and we had plenty of watering holes to visit.
The first place we gathered was at Hooters. Our busty waitress showed us a good time and had plenty of cold beer
and hot wings. Hooters gets a lot of these types of parties and had their own little cheer that couldn’t lure Ian away from tying the knot - check out the video. They made Ian get on his knees to hear the cheer and get a face full of lettuce and mustard from our waitress.
Next stop was Flounder’s Chowder house where they serve up a mean tropical drink known as Diesel Fuel. Diesel fuel is served in a large plastic Mason Jar and you can light it on fire or pour it in your gas tank if you like. Ian got ahead of himself and drank a couple of the blue variety of this drink while the rest of us drank one.
Ian was on a mission and we made our way to a dueling piano bar in Pensacola proper. Girls kept coming up to him and kissing him good luck and giving him pre-nuptial hugs to send him off on his one way trip to Mashay. He got called up onto stage for the first time that night and you might be able to hear the singer insult him about his squirrel nuts and 3” tool
The Before Shot
From right to left, Richard - the best man, Mashay's cousin's husband, Jesse - Mashay's brother, Ian, Mashay's father Kendall.
in the video. The bar maids danced on the bar and everyone had a great time. The pictures at the dueling piano bar were the last I could take that night before we went into stealth mode. He got on stage a few more times, but the bouncers wouldn’t let me take pictures in those places. A pretty standard bachelor party I thought with the scandalous parts left out of this blog.
The Beach Wedding
Ian and Mashay had worked on weekends for 6 months to pay for the wedding. Besides their day jobs, they cleaned beach condos on the weekends to save money for the wedding. I was impressed with their planning and determination. Ian set up a bamboo alter for the ceremony right on the beach. The reception was in the pool area by the condo, but the wedding was right in the sand. Most people - including Mashay - let sand get between their toes without the hindrance of shoes.
I picked up my niece Audrey who is a ravishing freshman in High School. She told me of her 70 year old teacher that keeps her entertained by telling lots of funny stories. Aunt
Jimmy with Hotty
Jim goes by Jimmy down south
Marilyn had made her way down from KC and loved visiting the beach and catching some sun. Uncles Jim and Ken had driven over from Florida and Jim is retired from teaching now. We’d been swimming earlier in the day in the ocean and then in the swimming pool. Jim took me back to my childhood by splashing torrents of water in my face. Even though I had goggles on, he somehow managed to nearly drown me just like in the old days.
The ceremony was quick and low key and administered by Captain Bill. Captain Bill wore three hats that night - he married the bride and groom, set up the sound system, and played in the two-man band with my Uncle Jimmy. My Aunt Kathy’s husband is known as Jimmy down south now and that helps distinguish him from my other Uncle Jim. I’d spent a good part of the afternoon with Jimmy while the ladies got their hair done and he gave me a great book called Ronnie, about the Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood. It was a great page turner that I could barely set down.
My Aunt Kathy had her hair done with the
rest of the brides maids - one of them being my other cousin Alisha. Kathy was pretty relaxed throughout the weekend and Alisha was a bridesmaid with Mashay's brother Jesse. Alisha looked great and has been getting in good shape.
The ceremony had a few unique aspects to it:
First, it was in the beautiful white sands of Pensacola Beach at sunset.
Second, they let balloons blow away as a tribute to those who were no longer with us.
Third, they had each of the parents pour a bottle of sand into an hour glass to symbolize the mixing of the families that could never be redone.
The weather was perfect with a nice breeze blowing right off the Gulf. Ian and Mashay had written their vows and you can see the video of their recitation. Mashay started out and gave a short and sweet set of vows that brought tears to her eyes. When Ian brought out his list, Mashay and Captain Bill had a good chuckle at the length of his commitments. I didn’t have a microphone to catch either of the vows very well, but they definitely heard each other - and that’s what matters.
After the ceremony, we ate some excellent shrimp for dinner while Jimmy and Captain Bill played their musical set. I had to drive my niece home and kept away from the Cappuccino Martinis. After the musical performance, T-Time layed down some tracks. He’s Ian's good friend and a DJ that got the crowd dancing and grooving.
Everything went as planned and Mashay was glowing the whole night. I got to spend some quality time with my niece Audrey and everyone had a great time. The new couple spent their honeymoon on a cruise in the Carribean and let’s hope they live happily ever after.
Best of Luck,
PS. Some have asked if I stopped writing the blog. I’ll have to admit that it’s been hard to find the time to write the blog while Grace was away. Grace usually takes care of my daily chores and gives me time to do things like write this blog. Grace came back today after two months in Taiwan, so maybe I’ll find time to write more, but maybe I won’t.
I’ve had plenty of other things to write about, but it’s hard to catch up now that
I’m a month behind. I might just have to scrap some of my great experiences in the Gold Country, Morgan Hill, San Francisco, Seattle and Nuremburg, Germany. Otherwise I might never catch up.
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