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Tying the knot ... the soundtrack

Spring is here/The sky is blue (whoa-whoa-whoa)/Birds all sing/As if they knew/Today’s the day/We’ll say I do/And we’ll never be lonely anymore.

Spring is here, indeed, and I’d rather hear of it from the Dixie Cups than from Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Still, that old bard had it right when he wrote, “In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove; In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

My thoughts of love turn also to a wedding mix, given that Loml (Love of My Life) and I have agreed to stand at the precipice and then, breathing deeply, take that next step, hurtling headlong into chasm of marital bliss, joining the charnel heap of those that took that leap before us, oblivious to Bobby Burns’ wry warning that, “Gin a body meet a body/Comin thro’ the grain/Gin a body kiss a body/The thing’s a body’s ain.”

So, it’s early June when gin a body meet a body on National Forest land, hand-in-hand and under pitch-perfect Pagosa skies, Karl officiating the deed.

The following Monday I’ll remind him of Lady Macbeth’s advice, “A little water clears us of this deed: How easy is it, then!” but to mull that water with a few fingers of Jameson’s.

Given that early-June deadline (yes, I’m having far too much fun with words), Loml and I have been scrambling to hammer out the details and, like a couple of Timothy Learys, paying particular attention to “set and setting” in our desire to see this abbreviated planning period pulling off both ceremony and party with aplomb.

Limited time and resources have made necessity the mother of invention: We’ve so far decided to forgo a caterer (electing instead to whip up a ginormous batch of pasta and white sauce, salad and Costco bread sticks), a chi-chi rehearsal dinner (a family barbecue will suffice) or a decorator — this will be your basic DIY affair.

Of course, the music has fallen on the shoulders of the Random Shuffle guy. We looked around for DJs and given the loot they’re asking, decided my sick music collection and mad skillz with a mix would make for a splendid evening of dining and dancing.

I know, you scoff. You’re not alone. My colleague Randi (whose own nuptials are planned for October) mentioned the weather forecast in Hell when our officemate Lindsey suggested I man two turntables and a microphone for that blessed event.

Fine, be that way. When your wedding reception dance party mix lacks sufficient Slayer or Jay Retard to pep things up after soporific standards from lame-oids like the Billies (Joel, Idol or Ray Cyrus, but not Holiday), don’t act surprised that someone has palmed the cake knife in order to give the DJ a well-deserved gutting.

While most of you are reading this as you line Peetey the Parakeets cage, some of you are asking yourselves, “Why would Loml, for all that’s decent and divine, trust that jackanape with music for her wedding?” (with a subset of that group awaiting the inevitable reply that emits from a scary, cranial closet).

Aside from the aforementioned awesome music collection and mixing magic (and trying to accomplish this soiree on a strict budget), Loml knows I’m wicked with musical knowledge (if not sense of humor) but nonetheless willing to put aside my hipster sneer for the genuine Mr. Happy smile.

Naturally, not employing a DJ presents its own set of logistical challenges. After all, I’m 50 percent of the focus on that Saturday afternoon so zipping around to handle the music is hardly where I want to be. We’re not really off to a good start if I’m spending time searching up Sade’s “By Your Side” while I’m supposed to be cutting cake or polishing off my third bottle of champagne.

Therefore, the Pod has been programmed with a series of folders set up for each step we’ll take during the day. Mr. Random Shuffle may be a bit odd but he is thorough.

Given the tight budget, the majority of setting up the venues (the ceremony and reception) will fall on my shoulders and for that, I’ll need some pumped up jams to put the muscles and determination into overdrive. For Folder 1, think Snoop Dog’s “Gin N’ Juice,” or Mastodon’s “All the Heavy Lifting” mixed in with a fair share of The Game, At the Drive-In, Bitch Magnet and McCluskey thrown in. Guy music, frankly, for the dude’s labor at making it a glimmering day, grappling tunes made for a WWF extravaganza.

Adequately pumped by the loud and proud, tables and chairs set up in both venues, with all the gee-gaws and lights in place, I’ll slip into a tux and await my lovely bride. At that point, Folder 2 seriously shifts gears for the gathering in the forest: Rossini, Mendelssohn, Bach, Pachelbel, Mozart, Vivaldi, et al. The usual suspects, sure, but I’m not sweating (now, that is; check me in June) the pretty-much obvious choices because, A) I’m not tremendously versed in classical music, B) Neither are 99.9 percent of those attending and, C) It’s all good.

Really, if some insufferable music snob sneers, “Oh, ‘Canon in D,’ how expected,” I’ll be tossing the bum into the Piedra. There’s only room enough for one music snob at this affair and he’s the one wearing the silver silk tie.

With vows exchanged, rings slipped on fingers and the glad-handing in progress, the Pod gets passed on to trusted hands, the person I have instructed in the very basic but esoteric art of mix magic (really, they’re just folders, dude) and who will fly to the reception hall to plug in Folder 3 — The Gathering.

That folder is light fare (much like the grub we’ll be serving): Sinatra, Van Morrison, Dylan, the Beatles, a boat load of ’60s and ’70s soul and R&B, a smattering of ’50s Cool Jazz and Doo-Wop, mostly understated tunes that won’t overwhelm our guests as they seek out their assigned seating nor upset the digestion of the older guests we’ve invited.

About 90 minutes worth of tuneage goes into Folder 3, all music that sets the stage for the music in Folder 4, the so-called Special Dances.

In the midst of all this planning, I’m learning the intricacies of wedding protocol. For instance, I wasn’t aware that the bride and groom are supposed to be the last ones to arrive at the reception: I thought it would be the other way around but Loml learned me otherwise. What we’re supposed to be doing while the crowd gathers and cools their collective heels is beyond me but ... well, I can think of some things we could do to kill time but, I digress and this is, after all, a family affair and a decent newspaper. Hmmmm.

Anyway. The Special Dances had somehow slipped under my radar RE: wedding etiquette; during that part of the numerous receptions I’d attended I suppose I’d slipped out for a smoke or was raiding the bar. I mean, I knew there was a Special Dance for the bride and groom but was utterly oblivious to the fact that pretty much everyone remotely attached to the bridal party twirls around in front of a crowd.

Which makes me realize why I’d been AWOL during those moments at other weddings and, from the list of Special Dances Loml tells me we need, I’m surprised my face didn’t wind up on the side of a milk carton.

The trick to Folder 4 is two-fold: Not making it so long that guests aren’t slipping into a diabetic coma from hours of cute but also avoiding songs that are groan-worthy. As gorgeous as “Always and Forever” by Heatwave is (and a slow-dance favorite for Loml and me), it’s almost seven minutes long. On the other hand, Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” barely breaks the two-and-a-half-minute mark but has been played for so many Special Dances that I’m pretty sure almost everyone will be searching for a champagne bucket to catch the return of pasta and white sauce.

I’m thinking “I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Flamingoes (a slow-dance masterpiece), while not odious, is a little too obvious. Likewise, “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney is a bit on the overdone side. Yes, picking something that is “our song” should be where I want to go but we own so many of those, it’s like picking our favorite flower from Monet’s garden.

On the other hand, the other Special Dances (Loml and my dad, her son and my daughters, my daughters and me, etc) aren’t as tough: Dylan’s “Forever Young,” “Betcha’ By-Golly, Wow” by the Stylistics, “My Body is a Cage” by Arcade Fire, “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green … the possibilities are almost endless, if not fun to cull from that large and sumptuous list. The cake cutting is also easy: “Cut the Cake” by Average White Band and “Cherry Pie” by Warrant is all that’s needed, like fireworks on the Fourth of July. The Main Event portion of Folder 4 is, as I write this, a contingency that might not find its place until that day.

The final and longest folder is, of course, the party part. With everyone’s blood sugar redlining from cake and hootch, Folder 5 kicks things into high gear. And while that might seem simple enough, the trick is to keep most of the room grooving – no easy feat considering we’ll have guests from eight to eighty. And while a good DJ would be able to read the crowd, I’m going on intuition a month before the blessed event, mixing it all a priori, assuming with some confidence that I’ll run the table.

Certain songs like, “Shout (Pt. I & II)” by the Isley Brothers, “I’m Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO, “Pump It” by the Black Eyed Peas, “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow, the DJ Otzi version of “Hey Baby” along with some rockin’ blues like “Rollin’ and Tumblin” by Muddy Waters, or “Shake Your Moneymaker” by Elmore James, are sure shots, there’s no way people can avoid getting up and shaking it like they mean it. Unfortunately, as any good DJ (or standup comic) will tell you, there’s no telling how a crowd will react from one night to the next. They’re as fickle as a blushing bride.

Fortunately, Folder 5 is the only risk I’m taking on that Saturday afternoon; the rest I’m confident will go off like an Italian firecracker, eliciting all the oohs and ahs that bright lights and big booms deserve.

Still, no wedding worth holding is without a magnum full of headaches and several fistfuls of hair. To return to Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley,” and agley they will, laid down with all the chaos that has marked our existence since the universe snapped into being. Falling flat on our faces (especially with all the planning that goes into making a wedding absolutely perfect) is not just a sure bet, it’s written into the contract we signed when we agreed to take a position with the Human Race.

Yet, after it’s all said and done, we get to look back on the SNAFUs and laugh with the love that blossomed and took root on that special day.

While I may have my doubts about how we’ll fete friends and family, figuring out which dots need to be connected in order to get from point A to point Z, there is no equivocation at all that Loml and I have made precisely the right decision in tying our knot. More than that, with that one day (and all its bare-knuckle bellicosity) behind us, will inevitably endure and, to return to the Dixie Cups:

We’ll love until/The end of time/And we’ll never be lonely anymore/Because we’re goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married...

jim@pagosasun.com

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