(pictures of the event available right here
if you're interested)
It's a happy day because I'm able - finally - to give some serious thought to what my
future plans will be. I think the trip to Hawaii for my gorgeous sister's
wedding did me more good than I could have imagined. Nothing clears the cobwebs out of one's
head like wallowing on black sand beaches and drinking mai tais between arduous
hula lessons and snorkeling trips, let me tell you.
So I'm not sure if the mai tais alone had a salubrious effect on my constitution. This
unexpected bout of the happy might have come about simply because of the wedding
itself. There isn't anything quite like witnessing someone you love get married to someone
they love. My baby sister and her spanking new husband have a story that reads like a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie plot, actually -
it's one they can dine out on for years, which is always a plus when making new friends. An
inevitable question that comes up at that first awkward "couples dinner" is "So...how did
you two meet?" So
I'm happy to report that I, Mitzi, had quite the hand in making sure that these two
youngsters got together.
About three years and change ago I was living in Charleston, South Carolina with my
ostensible Prince Charming. I'd lived in our shared apartment for a while before we
married, so the phone was still billed under my maiden name. A very old friend of my
mother's from back in my dad's Navy days called me up, very upset
that she had lost touch with my mother. Since Mom and Dad retired rather quickly to an
extremely rural location, Mom hadn't quite kept up with her usual
Chrismas card list, so Judy was SOL on Mom's new address.
I didn't really remember Judy. She was one of those soft, elegant women who floated around
in clouds of Shalimar at my mother's cocktail parties when I was a little
girl - those wine and cheese and fondue 70's affairs that lasted well into the night which my
sister and I raptly spied upon from our perches at the top of the stairs. I knew Judy had two
children and that her eldest, a daughter, was about my age. I remembered family lore that she and my mom
were pregnant with me and Courtney at about the same time. But I barely remembered playing
with Courtney, and Gavin was an even fainter blip on my memory radar - I had a vague
impression of him in a tulle-draped bassinet, but nothing more substantial than that.
So I was a little nonplussed when I received a breezy, distressed phone call from Judy,
who wanted not only my mom's address but to have lunch with me. I met her at a local
restaurant (owned by a real asshole that I used to work
for, but the asshole serves good food, so what the hell) and we proceeded to have a
three-hour, two-bottle-of-good-wine meal. Judy? Was, as they say in the South,
a hoot. A type A (but not Martha Stewart type A, you know what I mean; I
could never see Judy mowing down her gardener, for example) and well-appointed brunette, she
was screamingly funny and deliciously Californian. In the South, California is considered a
foreign country, did you know? Anyway, she was slightly dramatic but never
obnoxiously over the top, given to slightly theatrical emphasis on important words in
conversation. All around, it was a windfall of an afternoon. The stars aligned just so, and
we got along like Louella Parsons and Cindy Adams at a whiskey-soaked premiere. Or
She brought her friend with her, a lady-who-lunches type, but she
turned out to be pretty cool too. At least ignorable when she wasn't as cool as Judy and I
were. So we whooped it up all afternoon. She showed me pictures of Courtney's wedding, I
gave her the rundown of the past, oh, 32 years of my life, and just as the dinner crowd
began to trickle in Judy realized that she'd forgotten to ask much about my sister Carrie.
So how old is she? Is she married? Where does she live? The answers were,
respectively, 30, no, and Portland, Oregon. Judy almost spilled her pinot
grigio (which, may I add, paired masterfully with the crabcakes).
Omigodyouarekiddingme! she shrieked. I steadied my own wineglass and shook my
head. Nope, no kidding. Judy was suddenly solemn as a Jewish matchmaker, which
essentially she was. She reached across the little table and grasped my hands, staring
meaningfully into my eyes. Ashley, she whispered dramatically,
Ashley...Gavin lives in Portland! We were both just tipsy enough to shriek and
cackle with abandon, so we commenced to do just that, Judy's friend darting furtive,
embarassed glances between us and our patient waiter (who was to be very well compensated for his efforts, I might add).
He is so unattached right now, Judy explained, her eyes glassy with
possibilities and pinot. We huddled together while she grilled me for all the salient
details: What part of the city does Carrie live in? Because, you know, Portland has parts
and...well...parts. Does she work? (Here I stammered through a lame explanation of
Carrie's very complicated medical research job that pays an enormous salary and requires
trips to exotic locales and that I can not for the life of me understand.)
Ommigod what a great job! Judy beamed, and I knew her rapture wasn't just
about the coconut cream pie (even though said pie was delectable and served by a very cute
and did I mention patient waiter).
Okay, a little background. My sister? Is gorgeous. But she had the poor fortune of
wasting most of her 20's on a Scottish guy who turned out to be - imagine! - a
cad. So she was very much in
once-bitten-twice-I'll-kill-the-next-asshole-who-crosses-my-path mode. And really,
who could blame her? Jerkboy got her twenties *and* the apartment in San Francisco after she
realized what a pig he was. So Carrie was, well - let's just say Carrie may not have been
quite ready to believe that Gavin was as good a guy as Judy was selling here.
So I cautioned Judy about this situation, which she airily dismissed with a slosh of her
wineglass. We left the restaurant (to the relief of our put-upon, increasingly adorable, breakless waiter) and blearily stepped out into the bright
Charleston springtime, buoyed by our mad matchmaking skillz and by visions of our
loved ones happily picking out extremely tasteful china patterns (please god nothing with
That night I nursed my buzz with another nice bottle of wine and a long chat with Carrie.
She was skeptical, of course, but reluctantly agreed to meet up with Gavin at some point in
the future. Considering the tone of her voice, I supposed "the future" meant roughly around
the millennium that the Sun goes supernova. But I was undeterred and rather sloshed, so I
chirped Carrie a happy goodbye and promptly made a few phone calls to the more gossipy female sector of my family and fell into a contented
sleep, proud of my day's labors.
(Here's the Meg Ryan part; your patience will be rewarded and you will get a good tip, I
After a few weeks Carrie arranged a meeting with Gavin and one of his friends and one of
her friends, which is the universal "if you're ugly and goofy my friend here will be
my excuse to make a sly escape" date scenario. It's actually a lot more crafty than the old
"Oh, my cell is ringing gotta go" line, by a long shot. Carrie and her friend arrived at the
bar a little early to shore up with a couple of martinis, and
Gavin and his friend straggled in later. Having no picture and therefore no identifying
details other than "she's blonde, I think" (Judy was too impaient for the actual
meeting to note that Carrie is also 6'0, thin, and stunning), Gavin scanned the bar for
clues. He saw several girlfriend-type couples, a few hopeful guys, and this really hot
blonde chick at the end of the bar, engrossed in conversation with a relatively also rather
hot friend. He decided that he couldn't be so lucky on a Tuesday night and settled into the
bar for a scotch and to play the ancient "are you my date or not" game.
Okay, the thing about Gavin is that he is absolutely, resolutely, indisputably one of the
most confident men I have ever in my entire life met. He has a gift for putting people at
full ease on contact, which is useful in almost every situation imaginable, particularly
this one. So he made his way down the bar, ingratiating himself
with all the women along the way, until he got to the hot chicks at the end of the
line. Lo and happily behold, the hotter chick was - surprise! - my sister!
The way Gavin tells it - and damn, this boy can tell the hell out of a story, you'd think he
was Southern that way - he fell in love - love! - with Carrie at first sight. He says she knocked him out the minute she turned her cool greenblue
eyes his way, and knowing my sister and the Southern training she received at my mom's knee
I don't doubt that one little bit. Gavin can tell the hell out of a story, but my sister
knows how to work
a glance, let me tell you.
Now on Carrie's side of it, there was slightly less whelm. You have to
understand that in her mind at that time all men were potential ex boyfriends who sleep with
their secretaries, which is a miserable cliche on top of the rest of it. You also have to
understand that my sister is so pretty that men follow her for entire city blocks like puppy
dogs, I kid you not. (When she went to Italy a few years ago she practically had to
hire an armed escort to walk her down the street. All that height and blonde hair clouded
the Italian mens' minds and made them stumble blindly into her and accidentally fondle her
ass.) So Carrie was, understandably, a bit jaded on the guyfriend front.
But. But! they had a perfectly reasonable evening. Gavin managed to keep a civil
tongue in his head rather than on her neck, which is always a plus in Carrie's book. But
where Carrie is possessed of Meg Ryan/Nicole Kidman - type good looks, Gavin is much more
of a Tom Hanks (Tom Hanks again, see?) - slash - Jimmy Stewart kind of a guy. Now
for me, that's about as hot as July asphalt, because I had a thing for Jimmy Stewart and not
Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story way back when I was only about twelve. But Carrie
had dated Mister Charming Jude Law-Looking Bagpipe-Playing Jerkboy for many years and was used to a
different sort of feature arrangement on her young hopefuls. Gavin was supremely unruffled
by Carrie's attitude, which I'm sure she was tossing in his direction the way Isadora Duncan tossed
her scarf around in that icily chic manner that intimidated famous burly drunk men. It's testament to Gavin's confidence
and good humor that he wasn't scared shitless of her Garbo act, to be
perfectly honest. I mean, I love my sister but she can be frosty as Katherine Hepburn when
she wants to be.
So Gavin took fair note of Carrie's state of mind, got her number, and craftily played his
cards like a whale in Vegas. He let weeks go by, weeks during which Carrie was
bored to tears by several disasterous setups by well-meaning friends, and waited for his
perfect moment. Carrie was in the process of buying an adorable little house in the Pearl
District with all the not-so-adorable stresses that go along with acquiring real estate,
but she had the presence of mind to plan and throw a giant housewarming party just before
the painters and contractors invaded her new space. She sent out invitations to half the
Pacific Northwest, and Gavin made the cut. Problem was, the party conflicted with an
all-weekend music festival he'd been planning to attend for months.
So what did he do? Take note, all ye hopeful geeks, because Gavin did what any man who is
trying to win the affections of any woman should do: he went to the festival, set up his
campsite with his friends, had a rollicking Friday, then drove the hundred and fifty
miles back to Portland to shower, buy Carrie a lovely tropical houseplant, and
attend her gathering.
In retrospect, Carrie's not sure whether it was the drive, the shower, the plant, or Gavin's
sense of humor that made her pack an overnight bag and roadtrip back to the festival (at
four in the morning) to hang out with Gavin and his friends. Now, I vote the shower, because
that was a very classic touch as one tends to get rather stinky at a three-day outdoor
concert venue. But then again, a sense of humor is quite the selling point in a
city that prides itself on hipper-than-thou irony. Whatever it was, they made it back in
time to see Willie Nelson (and it is also testament to Gavin's great taste in music that
he wanted to see Willie when Willie was not yet cool again).
So, in short, Carrie and Gavin played Blue Skies for their first
dance as man and wife at their fabulously tasteful Hawaiian wedding.
Is it any wonder that I'm feeling sort of optimistic about my own future? If nothing else, I
have a bright, shining career waiting for me as a matchmaker.
I just have to add that one of the best parts about this whole wedding thing is that my
parents got to reunite with their erstwhile best friends and now have a wonderful place to
stay in Arizona over the winter holiday season. Judy and Mom had a blast
planning the wedding in a flurry of girlish giggles and nostalgia; Dad and Pledger (Judy's
husband) fell right back into their Navy days buddyhood. And I got to wear an Audrey
Hepburn-gorgeous dress (it's celadon silk, with jet beading around the floaty hem and has the most perfect neckline ever) for the most beautiful wedding I will ever attend (much less be a
Everything about the wedding (and the entire weeklong celebration that preceded it) was charmed and charming. All their friends from across the globe came together to wish them well - 65 total guests, all the way to Hawaii! Even more amazing, both sets of friends - Carrie's mostly a group of adorable Southern girls and Gavin's a strapping pack of men from the Bay Area - got along as though they'd all grown up together. The champagne and the happy were flowing like...well, like champagne, actually. Bubbly and sparkly and with lots of warmth and giggles.
There also was hula. Yes, I said HULA! Carrie, ever the planner, had arranged for all the girls to have a hula lesson with an impossibly kind and exotically beautiful local woman a few days before. First, my dad and Carrie danced to Sinatra's You Make Me Feel So Young and we all cried our mascara off. Then all of us girls got up after the round of first dances to do a little hula for the boys. Holy Pele, it was fun! Yeah, it sounds cheesy, but trust me, we paid close attention to that hula lesson and practiced all week long, so we looked good swaying our hips in the Island breeze, all barefoot and pedicured and wearing our pretty pretty princess dresses.
The food? Best. Food. Ever. Most receptions, it's all about the booze and choking down lukewarm cardboard hors d'ouerves. Carrie and Gavin spared no expense to make the food delicious - a mark of Carrie's Southern hospitality and Gavin's San Francisco restaurant scene-honed palate. Seafood galore, tenderloin for the meat eating boys, and salads that actually had yummy things in them like shrimp and coconut and crazy tropical stuff I can't pronounce but am always glad to chow on.
Gavin had always wanted a croquembouche for a wedding cake, but Carrie pretended to nix that idea on grounds of Extreme Tackiness. But it was all a ruse! She turned around and had a special groom's cake made for him...a nice fat croquembouche of decadently silly profiteroles all piled up in a mist of caramel thread. (A groom's cake is a Southern tradition - it's like a sidecar cake and acts as a counterpoint to the wedding cake.) The proper wedding cake was a lilikoi and white chocolate confection that disappeared entirely before the dancing was done, and Gavin got all misty-eyed over his beloved croquembouche monstrosity, to everyone's amusement.
The DJ was perfectly well-behaved and uncheesy, the meticulously selected music was incredible, and everyone but everyone danced their asses off. Gavin wound up hiring the entire staff - bartenders, caterers, DJ, photographer - for an extra two hours because we were all having way too much fun to retire to our respective beach houses.
And Carrie? Well, Carrie was the gods' own vision of a bride. All the cliches apply - glowing, blushing, thrilled, grinning, barefoot, laughing. But Carrie had that something extra that only certain brides have - the knowledge that she had finally and at last found a good man. Unlike Mister Scottish Narcissist (may he choke on a haggis). Gavin was the answer to all her unasked questions, and she knew it. So did we all.
And did I mention that the wedding was held on the beach at sunset...in Hawaii? And that, to top it all off, I got the most insanely hot escort you can imagine because I am so tall and Calvin the gorgeous groomsman is tall as well, plus also dark and handsome? (I mean, Calvin is also married, but as a matchmaker you can't exactly ask for the moon and the stars.)
Dreams do come true, even the dreams you didn't know you had.