Sunday, July 26, 2015

Still Family

It's been a really long time coming...a little lunch date with young Miss Skylar.  She first messaged me on Instagram after seeing me post a lot of pictures from Europe back in April and we first made tentative plans to see each other way back then.  After a couple of conflicting dates, we finally found time to make a date for today.

Skylar Rose is the niece of my ex, Joe, and I've known her since the day she was born.  In fact, her little corner of Joe's great big family was the one in which accepted me into the fold first, and they all hold a special place in my heart. I have to admit, I was a teensy bit nervous right before our date this afternoon...I mean, Skylar's a young adult now at 16 years old and I haven't really had much contact with her since she was about 8.  All was for naught, though, as I now feel as if I've got a brand new young adult in my life...still my niece...and still Skylar Rose.



Lunch with Skylar was pretty comfortable and wonderful at the same time.  Like the very cool and mature little girl that she was as a tyke, she is equally mature as a mid to late teenager.  She'd told me earlier how she'd discovered my blog through my page on Facebook and there were a couple of posts that she found particularly moving. There was one I had written right after Joe's dad's funeral about me lamenting that I only got to see this whole family, of which I was once a part of, at funerals (see Funerals and Sentimentality, but No Weddings), but never on happy occasions, and another reflective piece written last year on the anniversary of mine and Joe's breakup (see Seven Years).  Of course these were some of the things that came up during our conversation, but there was a lot more.

We spent the two-plus hours catching up, doing a lot of reminiscing, and getting to know one another again.  The whole thing just felt good.  Sitting there and hearing her recall some of the things she remembers about me that I had forgotten gave me such a warm feeling inside...my little rendition of the "peanut butter jelly" song I sang endlessly one Thanksgiving, making the kids wiggle their butts whilst batting in a backyard baseball game, and me taking a page off my nana's book pretending to push their car out of the driveway whenever they'd leave after a visit.  Knowing that those little things made an impact kinda make me feel like I do as a teacher...I'm pretty lucky to have had her and her sisters and her cousins to do those things with.

I learned all about the latest goings on in the family that I'd once been a part of, and as we spoke about each individual, memories came rushing through my brain and I was instantly missing them all. I guess I'm still feeling the same way as I was when I wrote that piece on funerals.  These days, though, another person has taken my place, but little Miss Skylar reminded me that I am not ex-family...I am still family.  Love you!  


  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

An Amaaaazing Bachelor Party!

Last year, I told you how the gays have raised the bar on grand weddings when I attended the lavish Gatsby-styled shindig that was my friends Daved and Tom's wedding (An Affair to Remember). Well, after a wonderful day yesterday, I can attest to the fact that we've also now cornered the market on innovative and awesomely fun bachelor parties, too!



This September, two very good friends of mine, Eric and Rick, will be saying their vows to one another in front of many friends and family members, including me, and to celebrate their upcoming nuptials, Eric's sister Kristen, and two of the couple's very best friends, Jim and Steve, threw them a bachelor party none of us will soon forget...  


Hi everyone! Looking forward to next Saturday! We will be meting at noon to take the 12:25 Ferry from Sayville to Cherry Grove. As soon as we hit the Grove your Amazing Race Style Scavenger Hunt will begin. (So maybe leave the high heels at home.) As part of the prep for Race we need for each of you who is coming to this part, to give us your cell phone number. Please write that here ASAP. PS - This is ALL a SURPRISE to Eric and Rick!!! SHHHHHHHH...  

This was a message sent out to the participants of the Amazing Race Scavenger Hunt, the first of two parts of this great celebratory party.  None of us really had a clue, lol, as to what exactly to expect, but Kristen filled us all in once we were on the boat headed towards the Grove.  


The rules were simple.  The members of the group were put into teams of two and given a nylon bag to match the color of the team name.  My buddy Eric and I were Team Orange,  The bag was filled with water and other items we would need for our approximately hour-long scavenger hunt through Cherry Grove.  The theme was The Amazing Race and the game mirrored all of the things found on the hit game show, with clues, road blocks, detours and even one U-turn somewhere in the middle. Our hunt would begin as soon as we got to the dock, and soon enough, it was on!



Our first task was to find a house somewhere in this small community full of crisscrossing boardwalks and dozens upon dozens of homes. There was a marker to this one, though, a sign above the entrance way showing a Good n Plenty box.  Upon exiting the boat, the frantic search was on as about ten teams ran, chased and asked people for help in finding the home.  Within seconds we were all out of breath as we followed those who'd found out the location of the famous, candy coated icon, and once we were there, we were faced with our first task, called Suck It Up.  

Use the straws provided in this clue to transfer 10 Good n Plenty candies from a bowl to a cup.  You must use suction to get the candy to stick to the end of the straw.  You may not hold the candy in your hand.

One teammate must suck up a candy from the bowl with their straw and walk it over to their waiting teammate and drop it into the cup.  If it drops, you must come back to the bowl and get another candy.  After one teammate had transferred five candies, switch places.  Once your team has transferred 10 candies, give the cup to Jim to receive your next clue.
Pretty good, huh?  You would think that with all of these gay guys and women, sucking it up would be easy, but hell no!  The race to transfer 10 candies was on and it was fierce.  I went first for our team and oh my God, was it difficult!  I actually realized about midway through that my glasses were causing me to miss the cup that Eric was holding, dropping it just short a few times.  After removing them, I soon got the hang of it and after Eric quickly got his five candies, we were on our way to our next task in no time...




The rest of the next hour was filled with all sorts of cool and fun tasks, like counting the number of cherries in a picture of a drink, solving a puzzle of the 50 states, taking a picture in the Ice Palace's famous red chair wearing a 'costume' (we got Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears and mustaches!), drinking a strawberry margarita with curly straws in a task called Brain Freeze, pulling out bones in the game Operation, and my personal favorite, proposing to a stranger in the Ice Palace using a candy wedding ring.  









As you can see from these pictures, every single person involved had a great time, and as a testament to Eric and Rick, all of the people were genuinely fun to be with. Once the race's last task, Cracking the Code, was over, it was time for a little R&R, some food and drink, at the Tiki Bar overlooking the bay.  It was a nice way to ending that one grueling, frantic, and exhilarating hour.  The party continued on throughout the evening as more guests arrived at the Grove and we all danced, laughed, and had the time of our lives.

So, as for any of you out there who may be planning a bachelor party, or any other kind of shindig, perhaps you might want to take a hint from the gays, lol.  Like the spectacular wedding almost a year ago at the Suffolk Theater, this was one party to remember for a long, long time to come.  A very special shout out goes to Kristen, Jim and Steve, who masterminded this entire unique funfest.  I can't wait till the wedding!

Here are a few more pics from this fun-filled day, taken by some of my fellow guests...Enjoy!











  



smile

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pride Parade NYC...In Pictures

Once the graduation ceremony had finished and the photo ops taken, I rushed off to meet my pals Manny and Ozzie for a weekend trip to the city and the Gay Pride Parade.  Now I'd been to the parade several times in my life, and the last time I went I swore I'd never go again.  But it was Ozzie and Manny and they'd never asked me before...besides, it was an opportunity to stay overnight in the city, which is always fun.


The weather over the weekend was decidedly gray...and rainy.  The ride into the city invariably was a long one, but we finally made it in and settled into our new surroundings on 23rd St.  Food was first on the agenda, and since Dallas BBQ was right down the block, that was the destination...


  

Now for those of you who never heard of Dallas BBQ, well, it's an awesome place!  Not only is the food deliciously barbecue, the prices affordable and the atmosphere positively festive, they have these drinks...oh those drinks!  They come in all sorts of different flavors, all delish, and a lil bubbly and a shot come with the giant concoctions.  


As it would turn out, the best part of our evening would be spent at Dallas.  Dinner was great, especially the vegetables tempura, the drinks were, well, intoxicating, and our waiter was a blast.  His name was Ozzie, oddly enough, and he was a big dude with an even bigger personality.  Before the night was over, we were all snapping pictures and exchanging numbers. 

Next up was G Lounge, a small trendy bar just four blocks away on 19th St.  The place wasn't too crowded at first, but soon enough, the place became quite full, with apparent regulars and visitors alike filling up all the space in this small lounge.  We spent the next few hours there, and it was fun, but it had been a long day and this tired teacher needed sleep.  So we left around 2 a.m. and headed back to the hotel and to sleep.  Sunday was going to be a long day...

Me at G Lounge

Sunday's weather began much like Saturday's.  The skies were overcast and rain drizzled down from up above.  We headed over to a diner on 23rd for breakfast and then took our spots on 5th Avenue to watch the parade, which had already begun.  Now I had expected massive crowds, like the ones during the parade of 2011, when New York State passed the Marriage Equality Act, but probably because of the weather it wasn't too bad.


Even though I don't really love parades, I have to admit it is fun and a little bit exciting to see just how many of us P.L.U.'s (People Like Us) there are.  Politicians, television stars, police officers, firemen and many big corporations all come out and show their support, too.  Rather than tell you all about it, I'm going to just show you some of what went on from my vantage point...




Senator Chuck Schumer


Are we having fun yet?







Let's do the time warp!







As you can see, there was plenty of reveling to be had at this year's parade, even though it wasn't the huge turnout I had expected.  Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm going to be attending again...you've seen one parade...