That Time I Became a Jedi Knight for a Wedding…

There is nothing that brings a group of convivial spirits together better than a wedding. Something about two individuals professing their everlasting love to each other just gets people in the mood for dancing, drinking, meeting and greeting, followed by excessive celebration throughout the night. I love showing up and raising eyebrows as I strut around on the dance floor in a newly tailored suit, at the same time fawning over the beautiful members of the opposite sex who are dressed equally as fashionable. They’re one of my favorite things to attend these days.

So when my longtime childhood friend Nate told me that he was getting married, I was more than excited to participate in the festivities along with all of the preceding events leading up to the big day. The first matter of business of course, was the bachelor party.

Now to be honest, I imagined a sentimental night reminiscing with a couple of old friends with what we used do on any typical Friday night when we were youngsters growing up in our small rural town along the Snake River; sitting around the TV with a large pepperoni lover’s pizza from Pizza Hut and a 12 pack of Mountain Dew, playing an epic game of Monopoly. And to top the night off, we’d finish with a little TGIF, watching only the classics of course; Family Matters, Boy Meets World, and Step by Step among a list of other great family friendly shows before popping into the VCR a selection from the Star Wars trilogy and fading into a deep slumber. It would be the perfect departure from bachelor life for our good friend before taking that final step into adulthood…

47 drinks later, I found myself at the rehearsal lunch the next day hating the very essence of human existence. My regularly extroverted personality had quickly turned quite misanthropic, as I sat at the table finding the task of swallowing food increasingly difficult, further regretting my bibulous decisions from the night before. With my face turned pale and my eyes bloodshot red and drooping halfway down my face, it was clearly evident that my cadaverous features had me in the running for poster boy of the Spokane County morgue.

I guess you could say that that day… just wasn’t my day. But at least I had the rest of the afternoon to recover before Nate’s wedding the day after, and thank God for that. I needed to be at the top of my game, because lets face it, wedding’s aren’t just a time to watch a couple present themselves as one under the blessing of God. They’re also prime territory for meeting babes… LOTS of babes!

On that sunny Sunday morning, after a good night of much needed sleep, I headed to the Glover Mansion, a historic landmark of Spokane, Washington where the wedding was to be held. Built in 1888 by famed architect Kirtland Cutter, this 12,000 square foot masterpiece takes the elegance of the Victorian era and mixes it with modern amenities such as electricity, air-conditioning, and Xbox, while still seamlessly preserving a classy 19th century look. I, as well as the other members of the wedding party, was enamored at the myriad of rooms to be explored amongst the vast layout of the place. Walking through the ballroom and up the stairs, I imagined a grand history of glamorous city functions that had taken place within the walls of the home: the rich and famous that had once stood in the very spot I was standing, the elegant parties held by Spokane’s aristocratic elite in the roaring 20’s, or the line of children scurrying down the steps each Christmas morning overlooking the spectacle of a 12 foot Douglas Fir meticulously decorated with a beautiful assortment of ornaments, towering over a collage of presents scattered about the room.

Along the upstairs hallway past the awning of the staircase, I peaked into a long line of bedrooms, each one housing in its past many a children, teenagers, parents and servants, each of whom had created their own memories, including semi-violent scuffles from family feuds between the siblings, deeply held secrets of sinister acts dealt within the mansion’s walls and never to be mentioned to the parents in fear of a spanking or grounding, and generations of people living out their lives in opulence and luxury, savoring the special occasions that cements the miracle of family. All of which is merely but a small fraction of the mansion’s 100 plus year history; a history that will never be complete, forever locked away in the minds of its previous dwellers.

The refined décor of the mansion’s interior screamed romance, an obvious attraction for wedding locale. And in almost all cases, romance attracts one other important element that wouldn’t make a wedding complete without it’s complement… Girls!

As for the wedding itself, I wasn’t exactly a groomsman, but still seen somewhat as a guest of honor, able to hang out with the homies and do the groomsmen type of stuff before the commencement of the day’s activities. Most people would be a little sour about not being picked as a groomsman, but the way I see it, I’m still looked upon with importance to the groom, while holding less responsibility, thus, giving me more time to plot my strategies and execute my mission to pick up more babes, a mission that my mind quickly began convincing me that it was to be the day’s primary objective.

Not long after I arrived, the first prospect came strolling by the groomsmen’s lair. “Can I get you guys anything?” sounded a pretty voice, just sweet enough to divert my attention away from the major Halo pown session I was delivering on the Xbox. It was the wedding planner, a traditional cutie presented to us gracefully in a summer dress, one of my favorite types. A couple dumbstruck looks floated around the room, as if they didn’t exactly know what to do when a situation like this arises. Luckily for them, I had a witty and concise request up my sleeve to relieve the stagnant awkwardness consuming the room.

“Yea, I’d like a round of beers,” I stated, followed by a few chuckles from the rest of the party.

“No problem, I’ll bring you guys up a couple of Blue Moon’s,” she replied with straight and proper demeanor, much to our astonishment. My buddy Alex and I looked at each other with bewilderment, as if we had just watched Jesus himself turn water into wine. A minute later she was back with 8 full bottles of beer, more than plenty for each of us to get loose with before show time, an accommodation that literally took my breath away. I knew this one was worth it, at least for some good conversation, with the possibility of a number exchange.

I spent a couple minutes ironing out my moves, contemplating how to approach the situation and what lines to say, then waiting for the opportune moment to strike. I could start with a few trivial questions about the history of the mansion, spark some intellectual curiosity, then move into some small talk, a perfect setup to swoop in with a clever pick-up line and sweep her off her feet.

After a minute of preparation, I was ready for action. This doll was in my sights, and I set out to claim her full of confidence and adroitness… only to be stopped within footsteps of my prize by Nate’s father, our long time spiritual advisor.

“Follow me,” he insisted with a slight grin on his face. I was very reluctant to do so, for I had this anxious feeling that it could destroy all of the plans I had worked so hard to set in place. Regardless of my quarrels, I decided to abort my mission for the time being and settle into what he had to say out of respect for the man. I’d get my chance; patience was the key.

“I’m going to need your help during the reception,” he began as he led me into one of the empty rooms of the mansion. His smile grew ever more vivacious as he began pulling out an oversized brown cloak from a closet in which the fabric never seemed to have an end judging by the amount of pulling that was required to lift it completely off the ground. After a minute of pulling, it was finally removed from the closet, and in the corner appeared a long glass shaft with some metallic gizmos at one end. Nate’s father looked around the room in a sheepish manner, while my intuition foresaw bad idea brewing inside his head. When the coast was clear, he grabbed the glass wand and pressed a button, illuminating the glass with a bright neon blue color. It was now abundantly clear what this long, light infused object was, and I could feel my heart sinking into the abysmal depths of my chest, fearing that I was to have a significant level of involvement with it. With a cloak in one hand, and a lightsaber in the other, he leaned in close to my ear and whispered…

“I want YOU to be a Star Wars Jedi Knight during the wedding.”

“NOOOOOOOOO!” I screamed inside my skull. This was bad. REALLY bad.

“And?”

“And you’re going to walk around, and talk to people like you’re a Jedi from Star Wars. You know, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, or Yoda, or Luke Skywalker! It’s going to be really funny.”

The look in his eyes—I don’t think I’ve ever seen Nate’s dad so excited for anything in his entire life. And I could understand; his son was getting married, and in his eyes this would be the coupe de grace of all toasts to end toasts for future toasts for all people who like to toast. What I’m trying to say is, if I went through with this, my chances for getting any girls at this wedding would be, well, toast.

“Uh, ok, I guess I could think of something to do when-“

“Great! We’ll talk a little later, I’m going to go check on some of the other family members,” he told me while dumping the Jedi equipment in my hands and disappearing into the depths of the mansion. In the distance I caught a glimpse of Nate’s younger brother looking upon my overwhelmed stature and shaking his head, vicariously feeling the anguish I was suffering. But what was I going to do? Say no? I’m sure he had this stunt planned out for weeks—months even, and had been counting on me and me alone to pull it off.

Some quick background before I go any further: As kids, we used to love Star Wars, like many young children did. There were many weekends and even weekdays where we’d stay up late watching the movies over and over again, arguing over its history and why and how the events took place the way they did. It opened up an endless imagination of space and exploration, with a good mix of fantasy and mythology, a perfect aggregation that we seemed to never grow tired of, especially Nate. Over the years, many of us kept our appreciation for the film series, even the butchered prequels, with Nate showing the most affection, something I completely respect the man for. But I just couldn’t see him bringing homage to his Star Wars adulation at his wedding. I guess his father had a different idea, and who am I to argue?

Anyway, the outdoor wedding ceremony began, and it was hotter than a honey bucket in the Gobi Desert. My 100% cotton shirt wasn’t doing me any favors either, intensifying strategically placed discolorations under my armpits and back from the copious amount of sweat dripping from my pores. “How the hell did I get myself into this,” I kept asking myself, escalating my frustration through each thought that entered my head. I don’t know why Nate just couldn’t have made me a groomsman. It would’ve been way easier to pick up babes that way, and I could have easily gotten out of stupid Jedi duties. It seems like this type of crap keeps on happening to me wherever I go.

They said some vows and kissed or whatever—I don’t exactly remember in what order; I was still a little steamed about being a Jedi and suffering in the baking sun. Don’t worry, I kept my cool and didn’t make a scene, partly out of respect for Nate, but mostly because my parents were there and I didn’t want to deal with getting the wide-eyed death stare from my mother mixed with the “cut it out” hand gesture across the throat, or get a disappointment lecture from the old man later. Both suck in their own separate ways.

My angst didn’t stop there. During the ceremonial lunch, I was constantly tormented by my throbbing heartbeat, a subconscious reaction to the fact that I was about to look like a complete dork in front of everybody. I hadn’t felt this much anxiety since the time cousin Nick made me do a belly flop at the Wisconsin Chain O’ Lakes in front of a parade of pontoon boats, and the more I tried to forget about the whole thing and conceal my emotions, the harder they came crashing down. It took a long time for me to overcome my nerdy past of math teaming, chess clubbing, Magic: The Gathering, and computer plugging from high-school, and as an engineer, I’m constantly battling the stigmas of nerdom, which is not an easy thing to do, but somehow seem to pull off from time to time. God knows how many years this little spectacle was going to set me back.

The ambience of talk and background music faded as the honored guests took center stage to begin their toasts, my cue to sneak off to the upstairs and prepare for my “Grand Entrance.” “Oh gee, I have to go to the bathroom,” I told my surrounding company as I glibly excused myself from my table and headed towards my immanent doom. I reached the backroom where the stunt’s apparatus lay, but not before something else caught my eye in the bridesmaid’s den; an open bottle of champagne placed smack dab in the middle of a table with droplets of water bleeding through the glass. I wish I could say I skipped passed that room without touching the bottle, but shamefully, desperate times call for desperate measures, and my human willpower wasn’t strong enough to resist the temptation.

After my quick pit stop, I settled into the backroom, slipped on the Jedi cloak and grasped the lightsaber tightly as if I was ready for battle. “Maybe I don’t look so bad,” I thought to myself, working up the courage to raise my head and take a look in the mirror. “Who knows, I may even look pretty cool…”

It was worse than I could have ever imagined. I looked like a total dweeb, and in the era of social media, that means you’ll always and forever be a dweeb. There were going to be pictures and video evidence plastered all over Facebook, Instagram, and all those other bull crap websites. Potential employers would see that and be all, “This guy has the goods, but look at him in this ridiculous Star Wars outfit! I think we’re going to have to go with this Ben Woodward kid instead.” And what if I ever had the blessing of meeting my hero Kanye West? “Oh, you’re that dude that looks like a jerk in that Jedi costume. No way you’re dope enough to kick it with me,” he’d say before driving off on his hog with his smokin’ hot wife.

Man, all these scenarios were starting to make me a little light headed. The intensity of my breathing increased and I began to keel over, nearly losing the ability to stand. “I hope I don’t pass out from a panic attack,” I said to myself… or did I?

Then, a sudden epiphany struck me, sending a sensation of feeling back into my legs. Alex and I had spotted an old secret passageway earlier when we went exploring around the crib—an old servant’s staircase out of sight from the mansion’s main interior. It led to the staff kitchen, which connected to the dining room where lunch was being served that had a door leading to the patio outside. With everybody’s attention on the guests of honor divvying out their toasts, it was a clear and straight shot to freedom. I could bail out of there without even being seen, if it weren’t for the fact that I had my backpack still lying in the groomsmen’s lair. It had a couple of valuables in there, an Ernest Hemmingway book, some Green Bay Packers paraphernalia, and my private journal of which I had spent two years recording my inner thoughts and writing down all the important events that had taken place, along with a couple great ideas that I had plans of pursuing in the future, many of which are very personal. With that thing in the wrong hands, the consequences could be devastating, let alone the fact that I was about to lose two years of invaluable knowledge and memories I had worked so hard on to inscribe. I guess some sacrifices just have to be made…

“My iPad!” I blurted as my palm met my forehead with a giant “smack!” I realized I had brought it with me for some silly reason! I don’t even know why it was in my backpack in the first place! “Crap,” I puttered as I jerked my head forward and gritted on my teeth. “I spent like 600 bucks on that thing!”

There was no way I was leaving without that! So once again, I was back at square one, in torturous solidarity waiting for the ultimate and inevitable humiliation.

Through the hall echoed the toasts from the bridesmaids. I listened attentively as they poured out their hearts and emotions for the newly wed couple, wishing them the best of luck and sending kind words of gratitude for all the memories and impacts they had on each of them. “No. Stop. Don’t do it,” I kept telling myself, but it was no use. A giant wave of guilt blasted away my selfish desires, similar to how Luke Skywalker blew apart the Death Star in the original Star Wars movie.

“What was I thinking,” I asked myself. “We’re talking about one of my childhood best friends here!” All the memories—the monopoly games, Mountain Dew consumption, Nintendo 64, James Bond Golden Eye, Sim-City 2000, TGIF, Pizza-Hut ordering, Nudey scene from Titanic—The point I’m trying to make is that there was too much history there, and Star Wars was his all-time favorite movies series, the consummation of our childhood! Sure, he isn’t as into it as he once was, but it’s still important to him… it has to be. Chances are he’s going to appreciate the ode to our favorite pastime and the fact that I looked like a doofus in front of everybody. Maybe I can suck it up and do it, or just kind of ease into a plan B or something—

Too late. The Star Wars fanfare boomed through the speakers from the wedding DJ. Go time.

Before I could figure out what to do, my legs involuntarily moved my body down the steps and onto center stage, with all eyes fixated on this dingus who was clad in an oversized brown cloak. Through my peripherals, I could definitely tell I was creeping a couple of the hotties out, but whatever. That was neither here nor there anymore.

I approached the wedding party’s table and revealed myself to the man of the hour, sitting next to his bride by pulling off the hood. They shot me a smile that resembled that of amusement mixed with delight, and maybe a little shot of “really?” on the side. I pulled out the lightsaber and proceeded to knight my newly wedded friend.

“Nate, my young padwan… You have completed your Jedi training. You are now worthy of courting your princess. Go in peace my young Jedi… and may the force be with you… Always.”

Something along those lines was said; I can’t remember the exact phrases. To be honest, I don’t know if you can ever remember something you say when it comes directly from the heart.

The Jedi knighting was followed by a hearty resonance of clapping and laughter. I couldn’t tell if I had actually pulled this off or if they were just placating me with a polite response. Frankly, I didn’t think about that part too hard, I was just glad the whole thing was over. And you know, I think I even made that babe of a wedding planner smile a little bit, even when she was trying hard not to. But even better was the look of sincere gratitude Nate’s father flashed me as I made my way back up through the crowd after the knighting was finished. I left with a solid feeling that although I may have made a complete ass out of myself, I had at least lightened the mood for a couple of folks, and touched the hearts of others.

Sometimes, it just takes a man to be willing to go through a little humiliation to better the populace. And I guess in the end, it’s just a reflection of one’s character, the type of person they truly are—their creed.

So when it was all said and done, I wasn’t able to nail down any hot dates with any babes, but you know, that’s ok. Getting together that weekend for a celebration of life and love brought back a lot of great memories with a lot of great friends. And most importantly, Nate scored a dame that he’ll get to spend the rest of his life with, a good one at that. That’s something I can definitely live with, no matter how many stupid Jedi pictures get posted on Facebook.

Besides, I still got a couple more weddings to knock out before the season’s over. If I play my cards right, I just might run into a broad or two; I mean, the odds are kind of in my favor now. I bet there’s a lucky babe waiting just around the corner looking for her Jedi hunk.

A very lucky babe…

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