Here's Part 1.
As we drove up to Healdsburg, Mel asked me about the bride, my friend Christine who Mel'd never met.
"You will be fast friends, trust me. Christine is great. Great! I like her A LOT. You know those people you really like? She's one of those."
Christine had arranged for her BFF from San Diego (Shannon) to get a 2 bedroom place, which Mel and I gladly split. "We're staying with strangers. I have no idea what to expect."
God bless her, Mel responded, "Sounds good to me."
We finally arrived to the wedding reception and waltzed in, rudely late but delighted to find flip flop clad, already tipsy people 'our age' lounging around this fabulous estate in the middle of a vineyard. Immediately, we found Christine.
"Hey bitch! We were wondering about you!"
"God." I gushed. "I'm so sorry we're so late." Obviously, lunch had been served sans us. Shit!
"Who cares! You're here! I'm so happy! And this is Melissa! I know everything about you, Griffin. Relax, guys. Welcome!"
Melissa grabbed my arm. "I like her."
Then we met Christine's dad, Steve. "Oh! You gals want a 'Leg Spreader'?"
I clutched my pearls. Mel got a glimpse of her childhood. Basically vodka, ice cream and a raw egg, I dumped my Leg Spreader in a potted plant. Mel asked for a bigger glass. We awkwardly mingled for a moment until the bride announced we were about to play a game.
Talk-To-Strangers Bingo requires that we wander around this house and find someone who's lived in Mexico, owns a farm animal, shot a gun, etc.
"Hey, Steve." Someone asked. "Ever shot a gun?"
Steve put down his Leg Spreader. "Anyone Vietnamese here?"
"In that case, yes."
Melissa spun around, grabbed my shoulders and whispered, "Thank you."
Then we met our recently-engaged roommates. After 30 hours together, I feel like I know them too well to describe them with an accessible "celeb. equiv."
Shannon: Reese Witherspoon
Anthony: Tyson Beckford
The party was fabulous, cupcakes were available, I found a gay. And while the shindig took a humiliating turn for the worse when a fellow guest named 'Daisy' and I had to pop water balloons with our bodies, Melissa won the mummy wrapping contest.
Momentarily, I was reminded of that horrible high school freshman orientation, where 300 nervous, awkward teenagers were forced to pass oranges with their necks. But then again, Christine was there for that dreadful moment. So makes sense that she'd, you know, MAKE ME POP A WATER BALLOON AGAINST SOMEONE ELSE'S BODY.
Well, at least I won a scented candle.
Anyway, Shannon, Anthony, Mel and I decided to go back to our place and grab power naps. Shannon had managed to find a gorgeous 2 bedroom apartment on a private property in the middle of a vineyard. It was cute, it was cheap and most importantly, it was convenient. Right on the main road into Healdsburg, we parked our cars in the driveway and dozed off. The nest thing I know, Melissa's shaking me awake. "What are you, dead?!?! Get up!"
We joined the crew at the Healdsburg Bar and Grill (dude, get the pulled pork slider) and learned the songs Anthony sings to his class.
Oh yeah, Anthony? Kindergarten teacher.
"You're just gonna be you, and I'm just gonna be me and that's the way it's gonna be."
Anthony and Shannon decided to head home around 10pm, but not before providing me with a detailed map of the TWO turns we'd need to get home. Uber-conscientious, Shannon even made sure I had her cell number and understood which direction to head.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we got it.
Mel and I hung out with some other wedding guests until splitting to grab some provisions (I'm not going to even get into the complex story of why we felt the need to buy what we felt the need the buy). Driving around, Mel found a Safeway which much to out horror, appeared to be closed. Frustrated, we sat in Rhonda the Honda, split a cigarette and took stock of our surroundings. Which is when we spotted an old hatchback.
"Shit, Mel. That car looks like evidence."
Seriously, it really did. It probably had fingerprint dust around the door handles. Blue light that thing and that Datsun'd be like a bloody lighthouse. Trust me, the owner of that car is under a log and some brush with their jeans around their knees.
We decided to head home. But now, which way we goin'?
Apparently 4 minutes away from our pied-a-terre and yet 30 minutes later, we were parked in the middle of a vineyard, lost and laughing so hard we could barely breathe. Rhonda the Honda went up and down Dry Creek Road a good 8 or 9 times, windows open, her headlights the only illumination for miles. Anthony and Shannon had warned us how pitch black it'd get. I decided to pull over and test this. "Hey, let's see how dark it is."
I flicked off the headlights in dead silence. I cannot describe the darkness that surrounded us, but it was pierced with screams and hollers, Melissa grabbing at the overhead light and gasping, "Never do that again!"
Back on our same stretch of road, though, she was singing a different tune.
"Who cares if we're lost. Just keep driving forever. I love this!"
I've got to admit, we had the best day. Really, the BEST day. And now it was midnight, we were apparently yards from our big, comfy bed with blankies and pillows, the trunk was filled with wine and snacks, the windows were all open with warm air messing up our hair, we sang along to any song on the radio...I don't want to sound like an eHarmony ad, but I cannot describe how much fun we were having, lost and dateless on a Saturday night 75 miles from civilization.
On our way up there, we both agreed it was time for us to return to wine country. I don't want to get sappy, but our friendship is like a marriage. We needed to get out of Dodge, take two days and just do friend shit. And here we were, at midnight, in the middle of some grape vines, laughing so hard we could barely call Shannon for help. But we had to.
Hey, we avoided being a cock block as long as we could. But by this point, we'd been enjoying being lost for a fucking long time. Shannon and Anthony are engaged. They can have sex for the rest of their lives. They can certainly go without tonight.
Anthony answered, "Which one is it?"
"How'd you guess. Hey asshole, I'm just gonna be me."
He gave us the address again and alerted us that garbage cans were at the end of the driveway. Hey, guess what happens on garbage night, John Kimball? Garbage cans are at the end of everyone's driveway.
Turns out, we were 2 driveways away.
We made our way up to the apartment, crawled in bed and laughed until the next thing I knew, it was morning. Again, sapster here, but I got up, got dressed and looked out the window.
I love it up there, I really do. I was all Diane Lane movie, looking out the window as the mist rolled over the vineyards. Every direction was like a douche commercial, it was so oddly perfect and directed to attract women of advancing age.
I went for a walk. I wrapped a pashmina around myself, pretended I was a famous person trying to "get away from it all" and strolled. We weren't anywhere near town. We were in the middle of a vineyard. So I just walked. And walked. And looked around. And then walked some more.
I came "home" and made coffee, what with the provided Peet's and all.
Around 10, I crawled back in bed. Now it was my turn to wake this bitch up.
"Why are you awake?!?" Mel covered her head with a pillow.
"Get up. We have wineries to visit and..."
Yep, she was up. Which brings me to Part 3. And Part 4? Well, that's when I tell you about our new friend we call, "Bong Water," a term I should point out, was ripped off from Mr. X. It's how he refers to his daughter's boyfriend. Anyway, take me anywhere past Petaluma and I fall madly in love with life.
And discounted designer apparel...
*videos to come, I think...