American Wedding

If you’ve arrived here hoping to find some extended treatise on the American Pie sequel, well, sorry, friend. You’re out of luck. I’ve never even seen it. But stick around anyway.

I recently had the honor of standing up with my friend Derrick as he married another one of my very best friends, Amber. I’d watched those two grow together through many trials and tribulations into a power couple. They’re truly two of the best humans on this planet, so it was exciting to see them combine forces. And as their wedding date drew near…

The world seemed to go to shit.

Two well-publicized police killings, right after another. Were the killings racially motivated? It seemed entirely possible. Were they straight-up assassinations? Less likely, but that didn’t prevent people from drawing virtual battle lines on social media, on horrible cable talk shows, and even more repugnant blogs. And then, the most despicable (and yet, sadly, not completely unexpected) reaction occurred. Officers gunned down in cold blood during a peaceful protest in Dallas. Our nation seemed headed to the brink of disaster at breakneck speed.

And once again, idiots and fools raised their ignorant voices in an attempt to fan the flames of hate. The one that filled me with rage and despair was the since-deleted Tweet from former Congressman (A GODDAM CONGRESSMAN!) Joe Walsh (not the guy from the Eagles. The other one.)

Check it out:

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It was a punch in the gut, perfectly encapsulating the point of view shared by so many of my backwards-thinking white brothers and sisters. It was as if they all breathed a sigh of relief and said “Finally! Now we can be open and direct with our hate and violence! At last, war!”

Of course, some of my black brothers and sisters played right into their hands, Tweeting support for the gunmen and praising the murders of men that had done nothing wrong except wear a badge.

Things looked bleak, to put it mildly. Depression set in and seemed determined to hang around indefinitely.

Derrick and Amber to the rescue. Again.

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See, that Friday night, the 8th of July, members of both wedding parties and families and friends all gathered for the wedding rehearsal. That’s when hope showed up again. Hope in the form a stunningly beautiful, petite, blue-eyed, blonde bride and the imposing, handsome, tall, black man she’d fallen in love with. A man who had already demonstrated compassion, patience, and love with her two wonderful daughters…and incredible patience with the fiercely independent Amber. I mean, seeing them stand there together, Derrick towering over her, neither one of them concerned about anything other than being excited to begin the rest of their lives together…how could you not be inspired? But it got even better.

The kids.

Yeah. The kids. A colorful mix of punk-rock haircuts and shades of pink and green, of glasses and suspenders, and skin tones ranging from pale white to rich mocha. And they didn’t give a good goddam about looks or religion or skin or social expectations. They had no idea that they were avatars for the literal future of our country. They were kids. They wanted to play. They wanted to dance. They wanted to take their shoes off in the church. They were hungry and wanted pizza. Kids.

And the groomsmen! Black and white. Tall and short. Ukrainian and Liberian. The bridesmaids were just as impressive: servicewomen, teachers, writers…tattoos and smiles and confident female sexiness in all its sizes and shapes and colors and ages.

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“Where you from, Paul?” “My mom.”

So on Saturday, after the ceremony, after the pictures and the uncomfortable clothes and the waiting and the standing, came the reception. Dancing, drinking, hugging, laughing. Joy. Bliss. Hope. Everywhere. And it was good. And I felt so happy.

So thanks, D & A. You guys rock, and this huge clan of ours, these wonderful misfits…they restore my hope. Constantly. I’m so very proud to be part of that. Take a look..

I threw that video together, not just for Derrick and Amber or their guests and friends, and not just to try and inspire anyone who needs a pick-me-up. I did it for myself. I cobbled it together over the last few evenings so that in days to come, if and when I feel hopeless and sad, I can watch it and remember how great this world truly is. I can remind myself that hope is very real, and Real America is still the best place in the world.

 

Pirate Trouble

You guys are in for a treat. For this entry, I’m handing off the blog to a very special guest author who happens to be my 10-year-old son, Simon. His writing is exemplary. It’s…real. It’s natural. It’s conversational. Did I mention he’s ten? Yeah, I know I’m a beaming, proud father, but don’t take my word for it: Simon received an A+ for this story. AN A+!! I limped across the finish line with a “C” in my collegiate creative writing class, so maybe it’s a bigger deal to me than it should be. No matter. That’s my kid. He’s got talent.

Without further ado, please enjoy “Pirate Trouble” by Simon Watson

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Original cover art by Simon Watson (marker on construction paper)

Boom! Splash! A cannonball shot at the ship I was being held captive on. Thankfully, it missed. This is that story.

I wake up sweating in my bed. I hear footsteps.I look at my clock. It is one in the morning. I look at the top bunk.

Kara, my sister, is there in a deep, deep slumber. I walk out to see what made the steps. I step into the living room only to see two bodies laying there. I look closer to see who they are.

Mom and dad. Both with deep cuts on their foreheads.

I ran back to my room and shook Kara so hard she almost fell out of her bed. She woke up both yawning and stretching.

“Hey!” She yelled. I answered with “Shhhh! Mom and dad are…”

“Mom and dad are what?”

“Dead.”

She looked at me with a “I think you’re lying” look.

“Come with me,” I said.

We stepped into the living room, and she gasped. She burst out crying. Tears running down her cheeks like rivers. She put her face into my chest and started sobbing even more.

All of a sudden, a voice came from the front door.

“I’ve got you now! The name’s Blackbeard and you kiddies are comin’ with me!”

Fear was frozen on Kara’s face. Suddenly he grabbed both of us by the arm.

“Ow!” I said. Blackbeard had a strong grip. “Let go!” I said, then kicked him right in the stomach. He stumbled back. And just when I thought things were going good, he tightened his grip on me, let Kara go, swung his fist, and knocked me out.

He must have done the same thing to Kara (I woke up to her yelling and screaming for help.)I had a burlap sack over my head. My hands tied behind my back with rope. Through the tiny holes in the sack I could see Kara. She was tied up the same way I was.Burlap sack on the head, hands tied behind the back with rope.

I looked out the holes again. The sun was out. Had I really been out for that long? Then someone came over an ripped the sack off my head. The sun burned my eyes. I closed them and put them into my legs. Then the same person untied my hands. I put my hands over my eyes. I could finally squint. After about a minute I could open my eyes fully.

I looked up and saw Kara. She was already standing up.

She walked over to me and gave me a big big BIG BIG hug.

“Lets. Jump.” She said under her breath.

“What?!” I said in a medium voice. “Okay, fine.”

“Ready? On three. One. Two. Three. GO!”

We ran and ran but then…we were lifted into the air.

“What the..?” We looked back.

Of course it was Blackbeard, holding us up by the backs of our shirts.

All of a sudden, someone yelled “NAVAL SHIP! RAM THEM!”

The ship jerked to the right. I fell to the ground. The naval ship must have seen us, because they started firing.

Boom! Splash! A cannonball shot at the ship I was held captive on. Thankfully, it missed. A couple of inches lower and my head would have been ripped off.

The next two missed, and the next one hit. And that’s when I said “JUMP!”

We ran and jumped off the side. We decided to get out of the way of the cross-fire so we didn’t get hit. We swam to the front of the naval ship and they dropped down a ladder. We climbed up and the ship sailed away from the pirates.

They dropped us off at an orphanage. A month alter we were surprised when someone came and got us. We now had parents They had a dog and a cat. It’s going out well.

Here Simon’s teacher makes the following note: “I’d end the story here”. Like he’s some sort of stinkin’ editor. THIS IS MY BOY’S ART! HOW DARE YOU! HOW…sorry. Maybe the teacher is right. Nevertheless, here’s the epilogue…

And then I joined the army. My arm was blown off by a grenade. Luckily, I knew someone. A surgical doctor. Dr. Kara. She fixed me up, and later I got married and had two children. One boy and one girl. Josh and Lilly. From there on I had a good life.