Let Them Eat Cake

** I was right in the middle of planning my wedding in 2007. It was a shock to learn that weddings seemed to be more about commerce than love**

I’ve come to find that planning a wedding is less about love and more about how to scam people out of money. Movies have crammed little girl’s heads with impossible dreams of unicorns and ice sculptures and now they just can’t live without a chocolate fountain on Their Big Day!

Also, I now understand the concept of a “non-refundable deposit”. It turns out that it’s so overwhelming and expensive to plan a wedding that anyone who truly knew what they were getting into would hop the next flight to Vegas. So what if most people frown on the impromptu nuptials? Who cares, at least you’ll be sane. And not broke. But the wedding industry has figured this out, and that’s why they created the “non-refundable deposit” to chain you to the wedding of your dreams weather you like it or not! Elvis is beginning to sound better and better. He’s an icon, right? What’s not to love?

I have tried to be a reasonable bride (if there is such a thing) and use the phrase “It’s My Day!” as sparingly as possible. I have also subscribed to the Martha Stewart School of Planning and have organized my entire wedding into color coded sections of a bridal notebook that has “Rebekah’s Wedding Organizer” embroidered on the front. Don’t Judge. I have immersed myself in learning the proper protocol and etiquette for every bridal occasion and decision. It’s my opinion that some of these traditions are really fun and some are dumb as shit. For example:

Fun: Being fawned over and showered with champagne while trying on designer gowns.

D.A.S.: Hot-gluing Life-Savers all over a t-shirt that says “Suck for a Buck” and expecting the bride to wear it in public for her bachelorette party. WTF?

Ok, so another wedding tradition that I am really not a fan of is the Wedding Cake. I know it’s important to a lot of women, just not this one. Number one, I don’t like cake. Number two, I especially don’t like super expensive cake. So I was planning on having a plain cake that wasn’t crazy expensive just to say I did it, but frankly, I didn’t care if we had one or not. I heard that Publix made a pretty mean wedding cake and luckily there was one right by the Ritz that we were getting married at. I knew it wouldn’t be expensive and so this was going to be a perfect solution and I mentally checked it off the list.

When we went to the Ritz for our first tasting we also met with our wedding planner and I casually mentioned that we would be bringing in our own cake. She said that would be “no problem at all” but that there would be a small fee charged to have the staff cut and serve any cake that was not made by the Ritz bakery. I figured that we would still come out on top since the Publix cake was such a steal. I gave the go ahead and didn’t think anything of it until the end of the meeting I thought to ask how much that “small fee” would be?

“Six Dollars” she replied. I’m thinking: “wow, $6 that’s it? Man, everyone thinks the Ritz is so overpriced but that’s just not true, look how reasonable this is...” “Per person” she continued. Um, WHAT?!?!! So, it’s an ADDITIONAL $6 per person on TOP of the cost of the cake just to have someone slice it?? I’m doing the math here and we are having 150 guests and at $6 per person you are telling me that it will be NINE HUNDRED FREAKIN U.S. DOLLARS JUST TO CUT THE CAKE?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?

No effing way.
After I reattached my head to my body from where it had blown off, I asked about the other options. She said that their Ritz-Carlton Bakery could prepare a beautiful, one of a kind, wedding cake that would be a culinary and visual masterpiece! They would fly in a world renowned German Chocolatier, the Queen of England’s Personal Pastry Chef and only use the eggs from virgin baby chick’s who have been specially bred for just this cake…. or at least that’s what you would assume she had said based on the fact that the Ritz-Carlton cake was $16 per person!!!! SIXTEEN! PER PERSON! For 150 guests that math works out to be a $2,400 cake!!! (It's not possible to use enough exclamation points to convey the ridiculousness!!!!)

Are. You. Kidding. Me.
Hell no. There is just no way that I am going to pay twenty-four-hundred-dollars for a wedding cake that I didn’t even want in the first place! Absolutely not. No. So, after I very calmly told the planner that I would sooner pay $2,400 for pile of dirty socks and that no cake on earth is worth that much money, I decided that we would just not have a cake at all. If I was going to spend money on a dessert I was at least going to have something that I would actually eat. We ended up serving a Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Chocolate Mouse and a Raspberry Gelee instead of cake. And you know what? No one even missed it.


The “C” Word

** In the midst of planning my wedding vanity became more and more a driving force in my life. Logic and Reason, not so much.**

I’m sure you have been wanting confirmation of the fact that I am living due to the length of time it’s taken me to get back into the habit of writing these little updates. Good new is that I AM alive, but I recently almost died –ish. For those of you who do not know I am technically about a quarter German but based on the translucent nature of my skin you would think I am more likely a quarter Casper The Ghost. Thanks to my father’s heritage the mere mention of the word “SUN” can send me to the hospital for third degree burns. Sadly this has come to mean that skin cancer runs in the family. The dermatology community has slowly been hacking away at my Dad for years… always something to biopsy or cut out. Because of that I have come to live with a realistic fear of experiencing the same fate. I stopped going to the tanning bed almost a decade ago and stopped laying out the sun for hours as well. I’m white, and totally ok with it……Most of the time.

Turns out that one of the times in my life that I was not ok with it was for my wedding. I wanted to have a “natural glow” on the big day and decided that a slightly increased risk of dying a slow death was worth a bronze tone for one day. I decided to get a 6 visit package to the local Cancer Shop Tanning Bed and went in to sign up. The first indication that this was a bad idea was that the owner, who was working the counter, had achieved a tan the color of Coke a Cola. Very strange. After mentioning that I have not had a tan since 1985, and only wanted to go in for 5 minutes to start with so I didn’t burn, he said that he had a product “just for you!” It was a “tingle” lotion that would enrich the tanning process without exposing me to any more rays. He said that it did, in fact, “tingle” a little but did not hurt at all. I agreed and slathered the crap all over me as if my life depended on being tan. I then crawl into the tanning bed ready for a relaxing few minutes of peace, turned on the radio and fan and waited for the bed to be turned on.

What I wasn’t expecting was the effect the “tingle” lotion actually had on my see-through-German-skin. As soon as the bed turned on it felt like he had set the temperature to SCORCH THE SHIT OUT OF THAT WHITE GIRL!!!!! It felt like I had just laid down on the surface of the sun. My skin was already on FIRE and I only laid there for 30 seconds. I leapt from the bed screaming bloody murder. The owner came running back and assured me that it was going to be ok and that my flesh wasn’t ACTUALLY on fire. (yes, it was!) He tried to convince me to get back in the bed and I told him, very politely, what I thought of his establishment. As I was standing there I realized that the burning sensation was actually getting worse and then the owner threw some “cooling spray” over the door and said it would help. Well, I practically DRANK the bottle and it did nothing to stop the burning. I was so fed up I just scrambled to get dressed and go home to shower. As I was changing I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and OH DEAR LORD I was red. Not a little, we are talking red Crayola marker RED with white blotches all over. I looked like some kind of polka dotted red chili pepper and I was FREAKING out.

I rushed home and the response I got from Brad was no help at all. He basically told me that if I stayed in this condition he would reconsider the offer to marry me. After 3 showers, 2 tubes of topical Benadryl and 2 days later the redness finally went away and I resigned myself to being a pale bride because I was NEVER going back to the tanning bed again!

Lesson learned.


A Religious Experience

** This was several years ago when a last minute trip to an Auburn game turned into something so much more**

This past weekend I made a last minute decision to attend the Auburn vs. LSU game that was being played in the great state of Alabama, or, as Brad calls it, “God’s Country.” My college roommate, Jenn, and I decided to drive down together the morning of the game; a game that started at 2:30 CST. Big mistake.

The first bad decision was waiting until 11:00 EST to leave when we were PAINFULLY aware that game day traffic in Auburn is a death wish. None the less, that’s when we left for our trip.

One thing to know about Jenn is that she's an atrocious driver. And that’s all the time, even when there is not the allure of alcohol and orange and blue shakers waiting at the other end of 85 South. So naturally driving at WARP SPEED did not help her ability to drive in a straight line. But we made it to Auburn and experienced surprisingly light traffic… until we came to our exit. We sadly realized that it would take us about as long as a trip to the DMV to get to the tailgate: F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

As we slowly crept down College Street we realized all the things we could be doing with this time: writing a novel, running a triathlon, or climbing Mount Everest. And we became more and more depressed that our tailgating time was being eaten away and the fact that there was little to no chance that once we got to the tailgate we would even find a place to park. Trying to park a car on a game day in Auburn is equivalent to winning the lottery. Twice. But we had a plan. That plan may have involved parking illegally on a curb in front of a fire hydrant…. but that plan worked like a charm! We figure that parking laws, much like underage drinking, were merely “guidelines” according to Auburn’s legal system.

Jenn and I were meeting our other roommate from college, Amy, at her tailgate. Amy had tickets to the game, but Jenn and I had not yet committed our first born children to pay for season tickets, so, we were on the look out. We knew that we could count on the fact that if we batted our eyes and twirled our blond locks long enough we would magically find tickets to the game. And sure enough, we got tickets and saw the entire game. It was a very intense game and after a series of heart-attack-worthy-plays, Auburn pulled through for the win, but the real celebration began later that evening.

After we returned to Amy’s house, and had a “heart healthy” (and "sober") dinner of boiled peanuts, pizza, dinner rolls and spinach artichoke dip, we got beautified for a night on the town. If you have ever been to Auburn you know that the only place worth going to is Supper Club. Supper Club is Auburn’s night life. It’s a Southern Institution. A Legacy. And for all intents and purposes; it’s a dump. But we love it and there’s no place we would rather go.

Our little trio went to sit on the outside deck, listen to the band and talk shit about all the other girls there. Don't Judge.What we didn’t expect was such an obvious target. The band was playing “Summer of 69” - an upbeat oldie that everyone loves - and the crowd was full of half drunk college kids bobbing their heads to the beat. One of the kids had brought their mother who apparently was a big fan of this particular song and she got to the stage to dance.

She must have been in her late 50’s and was wearing a shorter-than-appropriate-for-her-age jean skirt, sneakers (no socks) and a tank top she obviously borrowed from an anorexic teenager that said “I (heart) AU.” She was THE ONLY person dancing and she looked like she was performing some sort of tribal mating ritual around in circles. She basically began to scare the drunks and fueled our shit-talking for the night. The dance resembled a chicken that was both drunk and retarded at the same time. At one point she tried to pull an innocent bystander onto the floor to dance with her and the poor boy looked like he was going to cry. Lucky for him, he soon had the opportunity to sit back down when a young man asked to break in…

I don’t know that there was any way I could have prepared myself for what happened next. This guy, somewhere in his early 20’s, must have had a John Travolta obsession from birth, and studied the dance sequence from Greece every day since he got his first leotard for Christmas in 1983. He had probably prepared for this night his whole life and tonight was his night. He challenged her to a dance-off. This dance-off included all the workings of a So You Think You Can Dance? audition episode. There was leaping, booty dancing, the worm, chest bumping, and some gratuitous hip grinding. And Mr. Raunchy McBootyShake even used jazz hands. I have never laughed so hard. It was MAGICAL, and I don’t think I could ever do it justice, or see anything like it ever again. And the funniest part was the fact that this was the highlight of that lady’s LIFE. I don’t know if she was hanging out with her daughter at the bar to try to re-live some of her college days, or just to piss off her shrink, but either way she must have had a religious experience that night. She danced like this was her last chance to ever dance again. And that guy took white boy dancing to a whole new level.

And as I watched them, through tears because I was laughing so hard, I wished that I had just spent the extra money to get a freaking camera phone so that I could capture the essence of the dance-off for all to enjoy. But, alas you’ll just have to imagine it, or donate some money to me for a camera phone. Either way.


The Joy's of Homeownership

** I had just bought my first home in the summer of 2006. I had no idea of what homeownership would have in store for me!**

The definition of “Sucks”

Hmm, where to begin? I guess I’ll have to start with the first bad thing in a string of the most random, and possibly worst, days of my life…

So. Brad and I had been living in an apartment together and back in March he temporarily lost his mind, decided we should “take some time apart”, and moved out. Enter my new roommate: Jen. Jen was a girl I worked with and she moved in with plenty of baggage, cigarettes and a demonically possessed cat named Rocky. Rocky was pure evil but only partially de-clawed. She didn’t have his back claws removed citing some cruelty to animals propaganda that I didn’t care about after he used those claws to ruin my stuff. During the time we lived together he destroyed the following:

All Venetian blinds in our apartment by way of hurling his body against them,
A Murano glass figurine I brought back from Italy,
Two cut glass bowls of my mothers,
Oh, yeah, and FOUR leather parsons chairs that were funded by selling my soul to Pottery Barn.

Then, a few months later, I bought a Townhouse (yes, yeah for me I am a grown up now) and Jen was slated to move with me to the new place. Just before the closing she came to me to tell me that her friend Lauren desperately needed a place to stay and could she please move into the 3rd bedroom? I agreed and thought that myself, and Jen, and Lauren and Rocky and Pancake (my dog) would probably be a bit much, but what the hell? I’d have a cheap mortgage.

The next day Brad called with news that his sister (whom he lived with) was divorcing her husband and now he was a nomad and could he please move in, too? This was going to be a cluster of estrogen and animals like no man had ever seen before, but he asked for it. So, now it was going to be me, and Jen, and Lauren, and Brad and Rocky-the-Devil-Cat, and Pancake and we would be one big happy-ish family.

So I went to my closing, blissfully unaware of what homeownership would really hold for me…

The beginning of the end

The morning of the move from my apartment into the new house was hectic at best. The movers were supposed to be there at 9 AM but never showed. I had to call some back-up movers that charged 400 space bucks an hour and they didn’t bother showing up until noon. As I was looking at Jen’s furniture (that I had offered to move for her at no charge) I called to ask if she wanted to have it moved with all the clothes still in it. She responded “don’t move my stuff, Lauren and I aren’t moving in.”

blink, blink.

So there goes $1,000 worth of rent every month. Her reason was that she thought it was cruel that I had asked her to keep Rocky in her room when she wasn’t home so that he couldn’t rip up any more of my furniture. How dare I?

Life went on and I moved in anyway now happy to have a home with just Brad, me and Pancake. Our first night there was pretty stress-free and then the weekend came. Friday night my Mom and I stayed up till midnight furiously painting before the furniture arrived Saturday morning. When we awoke we were still high from the paint fumes and couldn’t move our necks. American Signature Furniture called about an hour before the scheduled delivery time to inform me that they had some “bad news.” The bad news being that the truck with ALL of the furniture that I had bought had been stolen the night before. The whole truck! They would obviously not be able to deliver my furniture that day, and not the next day… or even next week. No, they wouldn’t be able to deliver my furniture for a month. MINUS TEN POINTS FOR THEM!

A plumber, a bobcat and thank GOD for insurance

Still reeling in anger from being forced to eat dinner off the floor, we encountered yet another issue to deal with. A few days ago Brad went into our unfinished basement to drool over his massive fishing pole collection when he noticed a small leak in one of the pipes. Upon closer inspection he determined that is was a small crack in the pipe and a plumber would simply need to tighten the joint or do a little caulking.

Oh, man, “a little caulking”? That was cute.

So imagine our shock when the plumber said that we had a little trickier situation on our hands. There was a crack in the pipe, but the problem was that the area of the pipe that was cracked was about 3 feet inside the foundation of our home. And the only way to get to it was to DIG. UP. OUR. FRONT. LAWN! That’s right, they brought a FREEKIN bobcat and tore up every inch of our yard and made a 10 foot moat by our driveway. Then, just for fun, they decided that they couldn’t just pull the pipe out, oh no, this pipe was too tightly wedged into the foundation. In order to get it out they had to JACKHAMMER THE FOUNDATION OF OUR HOME. I am not kidding. I had been a homeowner for 6 days people, and they were using a jackhammer. Really?

Well. We now have state-of-the-art plumbing and the worst landscaping in North America but we are surviving. Everything will be ok. We will eventually get all of our furniture delivered and the yard will be moat-less some day soon. I thought I would share this with you to let you know that being a grown up isn’t all it's cracked up to be. But I am happy, and I am healthy, and I could easily flush a small child down my toilet with no worries that my plumbing couldn’t handle it. On second thought, maybe I’d flush the demonic cat.


Wherein I Resolve to Life in the City

** This is hands-down the funniest thing that has ever happened to me. I thought I was going to die.**

Brad's 24th birthday was on the 23rd of May and I wanted to do something really special for him. Brad loves to fish and all things fishing related. He usually wants a gift certificate to Bass Pro Shop but I just didn't feel like giving him another stupid gift card. And nothing says “I love you & I put a whole lot of thought and effort into your birthday present” like a gift card, right? So I decided to be extra cute and write him this poem:

A Birthday Present Dilemma

Happy birthday Brad,
You're finally 24,
We’ve been together for awhile,
But you’re still so hard to shop for.

Every time I ask,
It’s “fishing this and fishing that,
A gift certificate to Bass Pro,
Just make it out to Brad.

Or, how about a Boat?
So I can fish every single day,
We can take it to the ocean,
To the lake, or to the bay!

You can get me a new pole,
And an expensive brand new reel,
A tackle box, some bait and hooks,
I’ll be catching all our meals!”

I thought about just giving in,
And heading to Bass Pro,
And getting you that gift card,
That I know you wanted so.

But then I realized something,
What’s all this equipment for?
He should be outside fishing,
Not shopping in a store.

So as your birthday present,
It’s not a gift that you can touch,
But a fishing trip in Blue Ridge,
‘Cause I love you so very much!!

Who knew I possessed such literary talent? Impressive I know.

I had done massive amounts of research to find the best fishing trip that North America had to offer(read: booked the first place that came up on a google search for “GA weekend fishing trips”). Let’s be honest, I know NOHTING about fishing other than I get yelled at if I wear heels on a boat. So I did my best to find a good place and The Blue Ridge Mountain Cabins boasted of a “quaint log cabin perched at the edge of a fully stocked lake” (FULL of bass fish) and the use of free boats! Brad was surely going to be impressed.

We left for Blue Ridge, North Georgia, as promised, looking forward to a quite, romantic weekend getaway. Well, that’s what I was looking forward to; Brad was looking forward to fishing, and lots of it. After arriving on Friday we decided to take advantage of the "stocked lake" with "free boats" and walked down for our first fishing trip of the weekend! When we got to the lake we found out that, in reality, the lake was a very small pond. And the boats were canoes. But we decided to make the best of it and we both very carefully got into the canoe and began to row in a tiny circle since the diameter of the pond was all of 3 feet. So image the two of us in a tiny canoe with 15 fishing poles, bait and tackle, rowing in a circle and trying to fish. As you can probably imagine we didn’t catch a thing; in addition to the ridiculous conditions it seems that the last time the "stocked POND" was stocked was June 12th, 1973. I’m sure at this point Brad began to question our relationship and if it was really going to work out between us. So we went back to the Cabin empty handed and defeated.

The next day we decided to go "real fishing" on Lake Blue Ridge. So we gathered enough fishing equipment to open a Bass Pro Shop all our own, and headed to the lake. When we arrived Brad strapped a fishing-fanny-pack around his waist (control yourselves, ladies… He’s taken.), grabbed a HUGE green tackle box, 14,937 fishing poles, a bucket and a few tubs of bait and he trekked down to the base of the damn. I grabbed my lip gloss and cell phone and gingerly navigated the terrain in my high heels. Once I finally made it down to the water Brad got out his award winning $350 fishing pole along the shiniest, coolest lure you have ever seen and he spread out all the special fishing accessories to go along with it. He then proceeded to give me a $20 Zebco pole that he got from the kids department at Wall-Mart, an 89 cent can of corn and told me to "have at it".

Within the first 10 minutes I had already caught a fish and Mr. Greatest-Fisherman-That-Ever-Lived hadn’t even gotten a bite. It was at that point when he leaned over and told me to "gimme that damn corn."

After all was said and done that day we came home empty-handed and instead of cooking all the fish we were supposed to have caught we went to KFC and brought home a bucket of fried chicken and decided to relax in our quite little log cabin.

After eating dinner we were sitting downstairs in the den watching TV. It was pretty late and I started to get a little freaked out. It didn’t help that we were watching an episode of Criminal Minds where they kill a family that’s camping. I convince myself that some flannel-wearing mountain man wants to hack me up and make a stew out of me. I was starting to stress out and then I heard a sound in the kitchen. I was really getting flustered and told Brad to go check it out. He told me that I was crazy, and then reluctantly went up, in his boxers, and checked out the noise. (Way to intimidate the killer, Brad)

A few seconds later he came back downstairs and assured me it was nothing. I calmed down and decided it must have been “nature” making the sound. Then about 10 minutes later I was sure that I had heard a scratching sound in the kitchen again. At this point I was really scared, and Brad just told me that I was being paranoid and we started to argue back and forth:

"Brad, shhh.. Listen!..... I swear I heard something scratching around, I am NOT crazy, go check it out!!"

"Rebekah, honestly, what do you think it is? Do you really think that there is a lumberjack in our freakin cabin?"

"No, but there might be an animal, just go look."

"You think there is a raccoon or something? There is nothing in this cabin but me and a crazy woman!"

"I Swear to God Brad, if there is an animal in this cabin...If a freaking opossum hangs down over this wall I will never...."

And right at that very moment a FREEKING FLYING SQUIRREL glides about 2 inches from my right shoulder and lands on the wall a foot in front of my face, so help me God I am not making this up. The squirrel twisted its head back, stared me down with its creepy bug eyes and started screeching. I have never jumped so high in my life. I literally crawled on top of Brad’s head and started screaming Bloody Murder at the top of my lungs. Brad was laughing so hard he almost couldn’t breathe and the squirrel starts flying around the cabin screeching, and all hell just breaks loose.

The ceilings were really high so to get Satan’s Spawn the Flying Squirrel out of the house Brad had to grab a fishing pole, MY ZEBCO FISHING POLE mind you, and open the front door and to try and shoo him out of the cabin. So he starts chasing the squirrel around with MY fishing pole and I am in the den standing on the couch holding a shoe in one hand and the remote control in the other having a full blown panic attack. It would have been easier for Brad to get the squirrel out if he hadn’t been laughing so damn hard, but he finally went out a crack in the roof. A CRACK IN THE ROOF, people! That totally did not make me feel better since now I know that he can come back in through that same freakin hole anytime he wants!

Oh my stars.

The moral of this story, ladies and gentlemen, is that I, Rebekah Jane Samford, am not, nor will I ever be, "outdoorsy." And this is a perfect example of why. This crap ONLY happens to me! And next time it's going to be a freakin bear, I just know it.

I hope that all of you had a fun, safe and flying-squirrel-free Memorial Day!