Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Eleventh Morgan Wedding

Greg and Ellen: Highlights of the Eleventh Morgan Wedding - July 5, 2003

Six kids in the Morgan Family from Lakewod, Ohio. On July 5th 2003, the wedding of Ellen Azar Yoho to Gregory Lawton Morgan brings the number of marriages in this generation to Eleven. (Still, I think under the national average for success of the institution I believe).

 Even though I have demonstrated a level somewhere between indifference and contempt for the celebration and family gathering for the purpose of witnessing the exchange of wedding vows… And in spite of the fact tha I routinely show up with an inappropriate apparel choice (red sneakers with a tux, no tux etc etc)… Or I arrive too late for timely photos or maybe even too late for the wedding service itself (as the reception is really the part I like best). ..

A long time ago – nearly 23 years ago – I married Lynn with the agreement that getting married was easy and no cause for celebration. Rather, staying married – that is cause for celebration.

Nevertheless, Greg and Ellen were determined to make a significant production of their merger. Both married once before – both with children from those previous marriages. Greg – son’s Wesley and Matt and Ellen – Michael and Lauren. A beautiful portrait of Greg and Ellen, Wes, Matt, Michael and Lauren was on display in the pre-convene area at the wedding. Lovely shot of the group in front of a beautiful seascape.

Lauren, received a song dedication during the wedding because “Greg never had a daughter ..and now he has Lauren.” Very touching gesture. The song “Brown Eyed Girl” was chosen for this “father – step-daughter” dance. Lauren calls my brother “Geggie”- (A little too saccharine sweet for my taste but an indication that Greg might actually get the respect of the step children as time marches on.) Michael is a little hyper – like kids can be…but apparently the family is ready to March into the future together likes millions of dysfunctional families in this country do.

I regard the job of Best Man as two fold (and said so in my toast): 1. Talk the groom out of it and 2) get the Groom to do something he’s not likely to do after he gets married – gamble, stay out all night, go to a strip joint …(I failed on both counts). My preparation for the toast included the selection of music tracts and a number of stories designed to illustrate and embarrass. I was able to edit about 90% or my intended material down to a kinder-gentler 15-20 minutes which was probably still a little too long – and more than Greg expected. I could see that both Greg and Ellen were on pins and needles through the whole time I had the mic – but were pleased that I showed restraint.

Here’s the toast (as closely as I can remember delivering it):

Greg and Ellen July 5, 2003
(edited to reflect actual comments on the wedding day)
Two Jobs of Best Man

  1. talk the groom out of it
  2. talk the groom into doing something he wouldn’t think of doing after he’s married  (stay out all night, go to a strip club, gamble… what-ev 

I have failed as a Best Man on both counts.

My brother is planning to go through with this thing.

So what can I do?…

So I decided to make a film about Greg.

But we ran a little short on funds…

Gonna need to borrow some money – what do you say Rob?

I only need about $2 Million to make this film.

so let me describe the Movie. (Let me pitch it to ya)…

…a movie about Greg in his formative years…that maybe helps shed some light on how he has come to this juncture in his life…

…this treatment includes some ideas for the Soundtrack for the movie as well…

Hopefully, this will help Ellen see what she’s getting into and maybe provide a little insight for all of you that wish them well in their marriage…

Opening credits and first scene:

Music: Father and Son – Cat Stevens

“You’re young, that’s your fault. Think of everything you’ve got. You will still be here tomorrow, though your dreams may not. Find a girl, settle down, If you want you can marry…look at me, I am old…but I’m happy…” 

Aerial  – Zoom in through giant picture window at Edgewater Drive House….

Here’s where we see Greg getting folded into his convertible bed...ya know one of those couches that fold out to a bed…well he was often folded into that bed as a part of his wake up ritual.

Greg’s muffled voice can be heard “Dad I’m up! I’m up!” 

Disolve to Lakewood High School graduation ceremony in progress…

Music: Oh Very Young – Cat Stevens

“Oh very young, what will you leave us this time. You’re only dancing on this earth a short while. And though your dreams may toss and turn you now …like favorite jeans they fade in blue….and the patches make the goodbye harder still.”

This song was playing in the Cutlass Supreme after the graduation ceremony is over. (This is an important “establishing shot” Greg and I put over 100,000 miles on that car)  

Cut to

Music Change: Radar Love

“Been driven all night, my hands are wet on the wheel….”

Wide Shot of the same Cutlass Supreme headed I-71 South/and eventually I-75    

This begins the segment of the film I like to call:

The Valdosta Incident

It’s approximately 1200 miles from Cleveland to Miami…That’s about 24 hours of driving

Greg was always convinced that was just a one day trip

Two drivers – 24 hours – no prob – except one of the drivers is a control freak and the other (me) would just as soon leave the driving to my brother…

Though we did that drive a number of times (at least twice a year for 4 years)

…on one trip…Greg, admitting a bit of fatigue after driving for about 16 hours straight asked me to take the wheel.  

We were in Valdosta, Georgia.

Now Valdosta GA is just North of the Florida border

…but it’s still 7 – 8 hours of driving to get to Miami. 

I wasn’t driving 10 minutes before Greg fell asleep

I wasn’t driving 15 minutes before I fell asleep

When we hit the warning track – the gravel on the shoulder of the road

Greg was awake and alert…and ready to take the wheel again.

Music: She came in through the Bathroom Window – Joe Cocker’s version (Beatles tune)

“She came in through the bathroom window…protected by a silver screen…now she sucks her thumb and wonders…”

Cut to Mahoney Hall on the Campus of the University of Miami – bright sunny Florida day

Zoom into Dorm Room 234 Mahoney Hall (another expensive camera angle but well worth it)…you could hear our 8-track player blasting Joe Cocker …Greg is imitating the way Joe Cocker. 

Cut to Greg pulling into Mahoney Hall in a big yellow school bus as he crashes into the concrete canopy at the entrance to the lobby of the dorm building. 

(He miscalculated the height of his vehicle…fortunately the 20 mentally retarded kids he was transporting on a field trip were not yet aboard)

Cut to Greg singing along with the house band to:

Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones

“(guitar riff) Jumpin Jack Flash it’s a Gas, Gas, Gas”

The Miami experience includes a number of diversions for the rigors of academia…the beach, the night life…the race track. A win at the track (Hialeah) is the reason that later that night Greg takes the stage for a rendition of Jumpin Jack Flash…This was not a karaoke night…Greg made himself part of the act!

Cut to the University of Miami Rathskeller…on a typical Friday Afternoon…It’s Happy Hour

Music: Free Bird – Lynard Skynard

“(guitar) ….I’m as free as a bird now….and this bird you’ll never change”

The drinking age was 18 then and the Friday Happy Hour tradition was a big part of our college experience…  

Free Bird – This song is 8 or ten minutes long…The stimulus/response mechanism that tells students that it’s about to be “last call”…Plenty of time to get at least one more beer.

“I’m as free as a bird now….and this bird you’ll never change…”

As the song winds down you see Greg Playing Air Guitar in a beer soaked Rathskeller …

Now flash forward about 20+ years.

Wes picks up the phone in St. Louis/split screen shot Greg’s on his cell phone in Tampa…He’s got kids in the background…they’ve rented a movie and the soundtrack is Julie Andrews… 

Sound of Music – Julie Andrews – from movie soundtrack …I called Greg on the phone … and I hear:

 “The hills are alive with the sound of Music.”

The audience is left wondering - What will become of the “Free Bird” and what kind of sequel can we expect from Greg?

Credits roll across the movie screen and the audience is left wondering how the story of Greg is going to play out…

I hope that the sequel is a happy one with Greg and Ellen.

Thank You. 

The band at the reception was flexible and was able to tolerate and support a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”  as performed by me…joined by Greg. A pretty fun little duet with my brother and I sharing the microphone and not really knowing the words. Pretty funny …”Regrets I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention….I’ve lived a life that’s full ….Much more than this…I did it my way!”

The rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding provided perhaps the greatest drama. The wedding party along with a number of out-of-town guests enjoyed a terrific meal in a place called Jackson’s Bistro. The private room provided a righteous view of the fourth of July fireworks on the Bay.

All seemed to be running smoothly until, after the dinner and fireworks the group began to disperse. Dan and Netti slipped away, the party was winding down… Mom and Dad left with Sully Barth (mom’s friend since they were little girls). Decending the stairs outside the restaurant, Sully took a nasty spill. Sully is 80-something and she got a nasty gash in the back of her head. The pool of blood at the base of the stairs and the Emergency Rescue People on the scene made it clear that something had happened. Kinda like a car wreck – you really don’t want to know….By the time I got to the scene…Mom was being a tad overly dramatic about insisting on going to the hospital with her friend Sully. Fortunately for me, Rob was on the scene too. He is a take charge Kinda guy - a real field general - and was able to bark out a few orders and make arrangements for advising Sully’s husband at the hotel (Bob Barth chose to skip the dinner, choosing instead to kick back in the hotel room).
Rob – God Bless Him – stayed in the hospital emergency room with Sully and Mom and Dad until Sully was released. Due to the heavy traffic from a variety of fireworks mishaps and routine holiday accidents the ER wasn’t able to release Sully until 7 AM! Ten stiches in the back of her head. Yikes!!!

Golf was a top priority for me for this trip. I was successful in playing 9 holes the day of my arrival in Tampa (by myself) and recruiting Greg/Wesley and Matt to play as a foursome on the 4th of July (with Rob and Kevin and Ellen’s borther-in-law Larry behind us in a three-some) and a round with Sundance on the 5th. 45 Holes of Golf!

I could write a book about what I observed through a variety of Morgan golf experiences. Especially the nature of playing with Morgans. Suffice it to say…Tempo is pretty hard to maintain when Rob is hitting into you….or when Sundance prefers your putter to the one in the bag you rented for his sorry ass. FYI scores to be added to my on-line handicapping calculation – 98 for nine at Babe Zaharias public course (rating/slope 68.4/117) and 103 at the Rocky Point course (rating/slope: 68.2/114 from the white tees) on July 4th…I am thowing out the extra nine at Babe Zaharias where my concentration fell off trying to keep Sundance happy – a 56 for nine.  Rob Claims a score in the low 90’s but refuses to show anyone his scorecard.

Shot of the round for Wesley (Greg’s Son) – a 40 foot pitch into the hole

Shot and hole of the round for Sundance – a 199 yard par three. A driver to the green – two putts for a par. Sheesh – this from a guy who hasn’t played in 15-20 years.

Overall, everything went smoothly and without any real crisis. A good time was had by all. (Net Net – Golf outing for Jim Varney and Uncle Wes will be better when we can concentrate on the important stuff – tempo, studying breaks on the green, keeping it in the short grass etc instead of wedding party photos and tuxedos).

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