Wednesday, September 10, 2003

So, OK, it happened. I’m married. AS of Labor Day weekend. You can see pictures here.

Now I’m back in Washington, temping at a company that is secretly ruled by leprechauns (that’s the only explanation I can come up with for why the tables and chairs in the breakroom are so tiny).

Here’s the full rundown:

I flew to L.A. on a Thursday on America West, which may be the worst airline in the world. The movies suck (Holes and Daddy Day Care), there’s no food, and they always seat you next to the screaming kids. However, for $300 round trip, they can stuff me in the cargo hold for all I care. I'm cheap. (Everyone who went to college with me: shut up).

Matt and Merrill (one of his oldest friends) picked me up at the airport. We picked up food from a restaurant that carried tacos, burgers AND chili cheese fries. Matt and I stayed at the Hotel Merrill, where he not only relinquished his room to us, but allowed us to watch all the Cartoon Network we could stand. After watching an outrageously sexual Japanese cartoon, we met up with Skye and J.B. for drinks. Emphasis on the multiple drinks.

Also, Matt gave me a pretty, shiny emerald engagement ring that I absolutely love. I use it to mesmerize fish and small children. Ooh, shiny. Though, in retrospect, pretending to bite it to test its authenticity may have been mean.

Friday, Skye picked Matt and me up to eat at the In-N-Out Burger. Fun fact: it’s even more Christian than Chick-Fil-A, and the bottom of the soda cups say John 3:16. Afterwards, we shopped for wedding bands at the mall. We just wanted sterling bands, since we’ll get nice ones later when we do the church wedding. Virtually every store tried to guilt us into buying platinum (“You must not really love each other if you just want silver!”). However, Fox Jewelers offered to make the rings on the spot. The best part was their slogan: “Home of Bling-Bling.”

Friday night was Merrill’s 30th birthday party/the rehearsal kegger. Skye brought 40s for the wedding party, Matt and Merrill performed some songs together, I kept the snacks refreshed and alphabetized, and Skye’s friend wanted to adopt me and take me home in her purse.

Saturday Matt and Merrill hunkered down in front of some wings and an Alabama game, so I begged Skye to come rescue me. I can go to football games and have a great time, but sports on television make me want to scream. Skye picked me up and drove me to the Grove, where we had brunch and shopped. Skye bought pants. She was very excited about the pants. On the way, we saw Flynt Publications. Porn is housed in a building that looks just like the Death Star.

Saturday night a group of us went out for a steak dinner for Merrill’s birthday. On the way, we saw a sign for “Korean Disconunt Underwear,” which may be the most awesome sign ever. I had no idea that Korea had specialized underwear, or that Nunts could disco.

Sunday Matt, Merrill, Skye and I got into Merrill’s Toyota Matrix (the Cool Dude’s Minivan) and drove to Vegas. Ever spent five hours crossing the desert? I’m an East Coast girl, and that much nothingness weirded me out. We had a great time listening to Will Shatner sing “Mr. Tambourine Man”. Until you’ve heard the Shat, you simply haven’t lived. We also saw the Definition of Optimism: a truck towing two Jet Skis across the desert.

We arrived in Vegas and went straight to the courthouse. Let me tell you, getting a marriage license may have been the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I had to show more I.D. for my Safeway Club Card. The place was German in its efficiency and 60s fortress in its architecture. Best of all, when we got back in the car, “White Wedding” was on the radio. Omen!

We drove to our digs for the evening, the Westward Ho! hotel and casino. I highly recommend staying anywhere with an exclamation point in the title. Our room wasn’t ready, so I only had about 40 minutes to get ready for the wedding. I chucked Matt out of the room, dove into the shower, and assigned Skye tasks such as untangling my necklace, smoothing my veil, and finding a way to attach a large Icelandic coin to a flip-flop (answer: hairpins).

To prepare, Matt and Merrill watched football on TV.

The limo picked us up at 4:30 and took us to the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel for our 5:00 service. Advice to anyone who’s getting married: go easy on yourself. Chuck the detailed wedding plans, the worry, and the fuss. Not because your wedding will be beautiful anyway, but because you won’t remember any of it. I do remember Elvis singing “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, during which time Matt and I were supposed to stare into each other’s eyes. No matter how much you love someone, that can get a little dull after the fourth chorus. We said our vows, or at least, we think we did. We couldn’t understand what Elvis was saying, so we just said “I Do” every time he paused. So, instead of getting married, it’s entirely possible we bought swampland in Florida. Then Elvis launched into “Viva Las Vegas”, which we incorrectly assumed was the recessional. The four of us paired up and strolled out, and were shooed back into the chapel by a minister to dance. Fortunately, it looks somewhat intentional on the video. We completed the service with a Rockettes line. Afterwards, we took pictures, I threw the bouquet (caught by Skye), and we got back in the limo. The time? 5:12. Awesome.

We had 6:30 dinner reservations at the Hilton, so we killed an hour in the Star Trek Experience theme bar. A very nice couple purchased our Klingon Blood Wines (aka rotgut Merlot), and we gawked at the geeks. Afterwards, Skye and Merrill treated us to dinner at a lovely Northern Italian restaurant and then we went gambling. Matt and I lost money right and left, while Skye and Merrill came out ahead and went out for steaks at 2 am. Matt and I had long since turned in. It was fun being in the only city in America where no one looks at you funny if you play the slots while wearing a white dress and a veil.

Monday we got up, went out for breakfast, and drove back to L.A. We celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day early by making up stupid pirate jokes in the car. We also stopped in Baker to buy Slim Jims and see the World’s Tallest Thermometer, which was digital and not even turned on. What a scam.

We got back to L.A., watched T.V., went out for Thai, and stared at one another aimlessly. I flew back on Tuesday, where I changed planes in Vegas. McCarran International Airport is nasty, smells weird, has really unlucky slots, and only has Taco Bell to eat. Yuck.

So, I’m home now and getting organized to move to Bogota. The uniquely solipsist State Department has decided on several occasions that I do not exist, and I’m temping for leprechauns. Needless to say, I'm ready to go.

To keep yourselves amused until the 7th Heaven premiere (September 15), please feel free to vote on my name:

Pick a New Name for Shannon

Now that I'm married, what should I be called?

Shannon Stamey Johnson

Mrs. Matthew R. Johnson

Shannon Stamey-Johnson

Shannon Johnson

Mrs. Johnson, if you're nasty

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