Tuesday, September 02, 2008

scenes from a Mystic wedding, part 1: Saturday

Kate and I traveled up to Mystic, CT, for a wedding over the Labor Day weekend. The groom was one of Kate's closest friends growing up, and she was a "groomsperson" in the wedding party. We drove up to Mystic on Saturday morning, leaving before 8 AM to try to get there in time for a schooner cruise around Mystic and the surrounding waterways. Along the way, I noted that my vaunted GPS had decided not to cooperate fully with our attempts to use it to navigate. It would only occasionally "acquire satellites," sometimes deigning not to see any in the sky just a few minutes after being locked on. At one point mid-morning it decided the current time was actually 8:45 PM, and it took several reboots to get the thing to switch back. Kate put up with my cursing my dysfunctional gadget, and my gadget addiction in general, and for that she is a trouper. Also, she knew the area around Mystic, so even without a fully functioning guidance system, we found the boat dock in time for the cruise.

The boat ride itself was fun once we got out onto the water and the rain stopped. But for most of the cruise a steady misting rain kept us all a little damp and chilled. Since it was August neither of us had thought to bring a jacket with us for the trip. Although the boat ride was the only time we would have needed the extra layer; the weather had improved dramatically by that evening. After the cruise we needed lunch and to do some last-minute shopping. We looked in vain for a decent dining option and when we found nothing promising, we went to The Ground Round. I don't think I'd been in a Ground Round since high school. I remembered this chain as the place where they showed old movies and gave you peanuts in the shell, and you could toss the empty peanut shells on the floor. This Ground Round had neither movies nor peanuts, but it did have the world's unhappiest bartender. The host seated us in the bar area, saying that they were busy and we'd get quicker service there. Even so, it took us almost a half-hour to get a sandwich and a salad. During our wait, the bartender complained every time the host put someone else in the bar, and, while trying to enter something in the register and talk to a poor soul applying for a job there, she told this man "could you stop talking for a minute? I can't get this drink order right with you talking to me."

Saturday night was the rehearsal dinner, followed by drinks at several bars in downtown Mystic. Mystic is a quaint resort-like town so the bar options were few and far-between: restaurants or an Irish pub. So we started with the Irish pub. It was obvious from the start that we were invading the locals' Saturday night hangout. Although I appreciated the cheap drinks and the bartender's heavy hand with the liquor, we were getting dirty looks from our fellow patrons. Things didn't improve when four of us decided to play pool on the 25-cent table in the back. We were almost done with our game when two gentlemen came over and made it clear they wanted the next game. They sat at the bar and glared at us for the next 20 minutes while we ineptly tried to finish our game. When Kate and I eventually won (on an 8-ball scratch by our opponents) these guys made a move for the table. That's when a group of girls approached them and pointed out that they had put their names on the whiteboard behind the pool table, which apparently gave them the rights to the next game. Their names had been on the board before we had started playing, so we assumed these girls were upset with us for cutting in line. But they hadn't appeared when we were playing, so we got away with a game. And it wasn't at all clear that the whiteboard was the pool table waiting list. The two guys who had been waiting went back to their seats at the bar and continued to glare at us. That's when our group decided to find another bar.

We moved the party down the street to a Mexican restaurant with strong margaritas, a sombrero we appropriated for the groom, and best of all, no unhappy patrons. About two hours later and many drinks later, six of us decided to go to Foxwoods. Our crowd was down to three girls and three guys, including the groom and one of his best friends. Kate had already retired for the evening so I was with a group of people that I didn't know that well. But when you're drinking, everyone's your friend. When we got to Foxwoods around 1:30 AM, the groom, his buddy, and his other girl friend who'd driven us there found a place at a craps table. The other two girls and I watched them play for a few minutes, then decided to walk around. After getting some food, they were ready to go home, and so was I. I'm not a casino fan. I don't gamble, I can see shows in New York, and I can't think of any other reasons I'd want to go to a casino. I'm not sure what I was expecting to happen by going there. I wasn't having a bad time, but I recognized that I was getting tired (I'd woken up at 7 AM and it was now 2:30 AM) and that if I stuck around until the groom and his friends were ready to leave, it might be a while and I'd get cranky. So we said goodnight to our friends (and our ride) and asked a security guard where we could get a cab. He pointed us toward the Grand Pequot side of the casino (visible only by signage from our location) and told us to find the valet at that entrance. What he neglected to say was that the Grand Pequot entrance was on the far side of the casino, so we walked for about 15 minutes to get there. The valet called us a cab, which blessedly appeared about 15 minutes earlier than she told me it would arrive. As soon as we were in the cab, the driver started complaining about the valet parking attendant who was taking his time moving the car in front of our cab. She said something nasty about his nationality. A few minutes later we saw a New York cab in front of us and she said something unpleasant about that cabdriver's presumed nation of origin. In other words, she was a flaming racist. We asked her about the types of people she picked up at the casino, and she told us about a drunk couple she'd taken home earlier that night. She said the husband was a fine fellow and she hadn't minded dropping him off, but the wife "talked about me like I wasn't even in the car" and she was offended. She told us she'd pulled over and ordered the wife out of the car, and that Connecticut law allowed her to do that. We were in the back woods at this point, and the three of us sitting in the back seat agreed with her so that she wouldn't find a reason to force us out of the car as well. I got back to my hotel at 3 AM. I found out the next morning that the groom and his friends got back at 4:30 AM, up $14 for the night after big gains and big losses when they started falling asleep at the table. Also, they hadn't seen any free alcoholic drinks while gambling, and one of them had a hot chocolate when he got cold. Had I known that, I might have stuck around. Who doesn't like free hot chocolate?

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