The Final Wedding Wednesday

Well, this is it: The last Wednesday before the wedding. And the last status report.

For the most part, the work is done. The song list is completed. Everything is ordered, planned and paid for. The centerpieces are ready to bust out. Everyone has their jobs and knows where to be and when. My self-designed stand for the cookie cake is done. All the gifts for the wedding party are bagged and ready. The program is designed and printed out. All the people are seated. The place cards are ordered. My hair is cut. And I even have my tux already (it came in early!).

So now, we can relax and enjoy the celebration. And I can sit around wearing my tux. And pretend to be James Bond.

One of the neat things is hearing friends and family talking about how excited they are for Saturday. It's gonna be a real fun party, I think. I am excited to celebrate. And for The Intended and I, seeing our loved ones all together and all happy is a huge deal. We're happy to see others' happy.

In fact, I've enjoyed being able to answer one common question this week. I've actually had 5 friends independently ask if there will be a bouquet or garter toss. The answer is no. One guy said, "Good thing. Now I don't have to bring my blow torch to burn the mother down."


So, there's lots of excitement about the big day. But really, this is about more than a day on the calendar. I'm most excited that I get to finally live and do life with my best friend.

This will probably be the last post until July. When I return, I will--as an unnamed friend told me--"be a Mr." I then explained I'm already a Mr., but yes, I am about to gain a Mrs. How cool is that?


Uncle Moment of the Week!

Every Tuesday morning I do a short bit on a local radio station about the new music coming out. Today, not long after I was finished, my phone rang. It was my brother. He had a great story I had to share.

My brother's wife called his office early this morning and was put on hold. She noticed the hold music was tuned to a local radio station, but wasn't paying any attention to it. She just put it on speaker to listen for Chad to pick up and went about whatever she was up to.

But all of a sudden, her son (the Super Nephew of mine) starts giggling and giggling. His mom's like, "What's got into you?" And so she pauses and listens to the radio playing over the phone--and realizes it's me talking. The boy recognized his uncle's voice!

I am so tickled by that. And it proves once again that everyone laughs at Todd.


Really, Officer, It's Rotten Grapes!

A few weeks ago, I taught my final Sunday School class at my old church. To mark the occasion, I brought coffee cake and grapes. And, of course you know what everyone ate. It wasn't the grapes.

I thought, Well, these grapes will be a healthy snack at work this week. And I threw them in a Target bag full of stuff that'd been laying behind the seat of my truck.

Fast forward to today. I am driving in my truck and need something behind the seats. I reach back and root around...until my hands feel something squishy. The grapes!, I think. Crap. So, I make a move to yank the Target bag out so I cannot forget to throw away the browned and liquefied grapes. Yanking was the problem.

Apparently, I didn't have the grapes' ziploc bags ziplocked. With the yanking, grape juice flies everywhere in the cab.

That's when I notice the smell for the first time. Longtime readers of PTOIT will remember the last time I let food decompose. It stunk.

This is different. That's right: my truck smells like wine. I am dead serious. I can still smell it on my fingers--they smell like alcohol. This isn't so bad. I kind of like the smell. It's sweet like a white wine. I even considered drinking some of the fermented grape juice out of the bag...

However, the smell could be dangerous.With my luck, I'm fully expecting to be pulled over by a cop. The Intended says that when I got pulled over on Memorial Day for drinking, the cop let me go because he couldn't smell anything.

Now he'd smell it. It hit him like a brick wall when I roll down the window. And my only defense will be, "OK, so I had these grapes..."


Cleaning Up

I love my job.

So, last Friday was Clean-Up Day. We have this event every June. We spend the morning cleaning our offices, we have an outdoor lunch and then the afternoon is usually full of fun. For instance, for my first couple of years, the afternoon was filled with an Olympics where departmental teams would compete in games like Scattergories and Pictionary and Bocce Ball.

Two years ago, my friend Emily took over and breathed new life into the day with an amazing variety/talent show (where I embarrassed myself in front of everyone with improv comedy).

Last year, we were told that Clean-up Day "is about cleaning up." And so, that's what happened. The fun was drained out of it. We worked, ate lunch, went back to work, and then about a quarter of the company came back outside for a lawn concert with Warren Barfield.

This year, our events committee chose to blow the roof off. We held an interdepartmental Heptathlon. In addition to events in Pictionary, Cornhole (or Bags), a Golf Challenge game, Croquet and Bocce, we also rented these big blow-up games from a local party rental place. We got a 52-foot obstacle course and the day's big fave, the Velcro Wall.

Here's the obstacle course:

Because I was on the committee and had to judge games, I didn't really get to compete for my Media Group's team. (We're the consumer group. And so, we named the team: The Consumering Fire.)

For me, the best part of the day was "testing" the inflatables before anyone else came outside. Clay, Phil and I ran the obstacle course. Clay, Kim, Emily and I goofed around on the Velcro Wall.

Here's Clay:


The Consumering Fire ended up winning Third Place in the games that day, mainly because of David. David, who does marketing for our magazine and runs our MySpace page, participated in every event several times and racked up mega-points. Here he is scoring a 9 in the Velcro leap:

The only competing I did was in the Velcro Wall. But I didn't really do that well. I got a high score of a 6. No upside-down stuff for me. (However, The Consumering Fire did go on to WIN the Velcro Wall event. Thank you, David!)

Most of my day was judging the Bags games:

While this wasn't quite the high energy entertainment of the inflatable games, I did have fun running Bags. Actually, I was surprised how many people wanted to play the game. We had a line 4-teams deep at one point!

That goes to show how good the day went over. This was a much-needed morale boost to the company. There's such a tangible shift in attitude and spirit change around here it seems. There was so much laughter. Almost everyone stayed outside to either participate in or watch the games. In fact, there were dozens of chairs set up around the Velcro Jump.

And who can blame them. Watching co-workers stuck on flypaper is pretty funny:


The Bachelor Party

Saturday was designed to be my Perfect Day. And it nearly was.

Best Man Doug (with help from the groomsmen and ushers) planned an amazing day. In fact, Doug said that he actually got it deemed International Todd Day. I am not sure what it takes to actually get an international holiday declared, but it seems like it would take a lot of paperwork, so thanks to Doug for that. That's why he's the Best Man.

The Day started early. Marc (read his take on the day here) picked Doug and I up at 7 a.m. for breakfast at Seven Dwarfs Restaurant, the little hole-in-the-wall Greek place that Doug and I used to eat at every Thursday morning. I was indecisive about what breakfast to get--but, fortunately our regular waitress was there and just told me which one I was getting. That was helpful.

Then, we went golfing at the course that Doug, Marc and Emily and I have shot several times. The group increased by 3 for this--my old boss Ted, my dad and my brother jumped in. I shot two very good first holes. And then, it all went to heck.

My dad was the opposite. He had a rough start and then just went nuts. In fact, he had the best shot of the day. There's a hole with a lake between the tee and hole. To get from the first part of the fairway to the green, there's a little wooden bridge. Dad somehow managed to get his ball to go through the bridge.

I almost beat that shot though. On the same hole, my ball was a line drive -- right for the lake. I yelled, "Oh No!" but just then, the ball hit the water and skipped off the surface of the lake like a skipping stone. In fact, it bounced at least 6 times on the water's surface. It almost seemed to be rolling on the water. Ted goes, "Dude, it's gonna make it to the other side!" It finally sank about 3 feet from shore. But man, it would have been legendary had it made it to the other side!

The next stop on the Bachelor Party Gauntlet was perhaps my favorite touch. First, we added three more guys--my old youth group protege Mike, my high school friend Josh and my college roommate Jeff. And then, we arived at the Sox game 2 hours early to tailgate. I've never actually tailgated at U.S. Cellular, but have always wanted to. It was very fitting and super fun.

Any Perfect Todd Day needs the White Sox involved and so we met that quota. But even better, the Bachelor Day got it's needed proportion of Grilled Meat--a necessary man-day element.

This is when I started drinking. Someone brought Mike's Hard Lemonade and that got dangerous. I had three while grilling out and so when Chad recommended I grab a fourth beer for the walk to the ballpark, I was foolish enough to agree. (After all, it's like a 500 yard walk, you don't want to die of thirst!)

As soon as we entered the park, Jeff found Mike's Hard Lemonade on sale. With that gift added, I got to a good loopy feeling, had fun watching the game, and then didn't touch any more alcohol for the day.

However, this stop was the one black mark on the day. This is the only thing that kept it from being perfect: The Sox lost a close game that went down to the wire. A win would have made June 9 the Perfect Todd Day. Doug should have had a talk to those guys--especially Rob Mackowiak. (After all, he managed to arrange for perfect weather...why not a White Sox winner?)

After the game, we all drove to Weber Grill for dinner. Some of us made it quicker than others. My car had some navigational issues. (Surely not my fault. It's my day, I could do no wrong.) But, we eventually made it.

I'd never been to Weber before but it was a good choice because it added a second shot of Meat to the day. Really, with the Sox and Meat so well represented at my Bachelor Party, the only thing more Todd would have been if we watched Star Wars and then fought robots with the help of monkeys wearing people clothes.

It was also really great that The Intended met us all at Weber Grill. It was nice to have her involved. After all, how could my Perfect Day not include her? Awwww....

Here's a group shot she took at Weber: (The bronze guy in the middle is a statue.)

Oh, and note that Marc (far left) and Mike (next to me in the front row) are wearing Sox garb. They are Cubs fans. And so, that also made my day perfect--seeing my heathen friends coming to the light.

After dinner, we went to Dave & Busters to finish the night with lots of gun shooting and car racing. By the end of the night, my trigger finger was sore. It was kinda crazy to keep up with everyone in the busy place. But it was great having everyone there. In fact, Emily and Charissa joined us at Dave & Busters to visit with the newly Ohio-based Doug.

And that's really what made International Todd Day so great. Sure, the Sox, The Intended, all the Meat, and the Zombie Shooting made my bachelor party Todd-rific, but being with all my best friends all day is what really sent it over the top. Good friends, Good times.

(Yes, this is me and Doug in a portable love seat. What?)


Change is Strange -- But I Got My Black T-Shirt

So I'm at work today wearing shorts, sandals and my army hat. I love my job. It's Clean-Up Day--a day devoted to cleaning our offices, eating, playing games and eating. We're blowing the top off of Clean-Up Day today with rented inflatables and all kinds of games. I hope all goes well.

This starts a big weekend. Tonight, The Intended and I will share a End-of-the-School-Year Celebration Dinner and then I will pick up Best Man Doug at the bus station. Apparently, he's been wandering around there since January when we thought he moved to Ohio!

Tomorrow is the big day--The Bachelor Party. Honestly, I can't wrap my head around the fact that I will be having a bachelor party. It seems weird. I am excited for it but I don't really know what to expect or quite what to think. I guess I haven't really thought that much about it since I'm still not quite grasping the fact that it's 1) here or 2) actually for me.

Maybe this is because right now, there's just so much to think about and so much change and so much surreal stuff. This wedding run-up is a lot of fun. But kinda crazy and strange. I was at The Intended's on Wednesday and I was like, "I'm gonna LIVE here in two weeks."

That night I was over there, The Incoming Sister-In-Law was working on moving out. She asked me to carry her TV down to her car. To explain what happened, it's best if I share what happened from the Incoming Sister-In-Law's perspective and then from mine:

She was thinking:

"Are you strong? The TV is really heavy and awkward. You might be fine. It's just I have no upper body strength. Oh my gosh, the TV is so dusty. I should dust it. Or I could just move it as is. But, oh, you have a black shirt on..."

What she actually said aloud:

"Are you strong? The TV is really heavy and awkward. You might be fine. It's just I have no upper body strength. But, oh, you have a black shirt on..."

I responded: "It is true: my black T-shirt does give me superhuman strength."


Don't Mind the Photographer

Sunday was my last official youth group event: The End of the Year BBQ. It was a fun celebration with the kids and other leaders. We celebrated the graduating students and as a goodbye present, I was given a cool mirror lined with the faces of all the kids. When I look at me, I will see them!

The day started with swimming and scuba. I didn't scuba this year because I felt like just swimming and hanging out. So I took pictures of all the kids in their gear. This led to one of those silly, embarrassing moments where you just want to hide.

I was taking pictures of all my youth group kids in their regulators, tanks and scuba suits. And then, I saw Mike and Ethan swimming nearby with just masks and snorkels. So I got pics of them. Just feet away, two more teen guys with masks were swimming. So I took a photo of them (right).

And then...they just looked at me. One waved. That's when I realized I didn't know them.

At the risk of looking like some pervert or creep, I just walked away. Oops.

The rest of the day went better. At the BBQ, we played Bocce Ball and Bags. Our kids ate approx. 600 hotdogs. I wrestled an 8th grader (and won, thank you). It was just a nice non-stressful outing. And a good last event. But it's not goodbye. I will still be around.

Just not around those two random guys in my picture.


Thanks, Sweet Lou!

When you are a Chicago baseball fan (especially this year) you look for whatever sort of entertainment you can get out of baseball. And right now, it sure isn't coming from watching these White Sox. Stupid bullpen.

Anyway, early this season Marc correctly observed that perhaps the most entertaining part of this season for the Sox and Cubs would be waiting to see which fiery manager would blow up and get ejected first.

We made a bet: If Sweet Lou blew up first, he had to display Sox pennants and such around his office. If the Blizzard of Oz exploded first, I had to hang up Cubs stuff.

Thank you, Lou. Thank you so much for winning me this bet one day before Ozzie got thrown out Sunday. And thanks for doing it with so much panache!

The best part is that because Marc is not at this office anymore, he's offered to instead wear Sox apparel all day this Saturday at my bachelor party. Sweet.

It'd only be better if we'd had an extra bet over what team would fight themselves first...


Happy Wedding 1st!

According to my sister, today is not June 1st. It's Wedding 1st. Apparently, the entire month has been renamed as a dedication to my blessed union on Wedding 23rd. I am not sure that this name change is being officially recognized by most city governments, so you may have to check in your area for participation.

More Weekend Stories
So, in retrospect I'm realizing that I had a very eventful weekend last week because I still have stories to share from it. In fact, Sunday itself was pretty eventful.

That morning, The Intended's family and I went to the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. We walked over from our hotel in Des Moines. As I sat down, I noticed a black and white stripe down my brown pants. Weird. A bird has some how pooped on me during my walk to the restaurant.

I went to the bathroom to clean it up. When I entered, a small boy ran up to me. He pointed to his infant brother being changed by their Dad on the changing table and said, "There's poop everywhere!"

I thought, "You ain't kidding."

I can't speak for the infant, but my problem cleaned up really well. But still, that's no way to start your day.

On the way home from Iowa on Sunday, I turned onto a street in Sycamore and was about one block from The Incoming Mother-In-Law's house. That's when the police lights turned on. I was pulled over. The officer told me that when I had turned onto the street, I took the turn way wide and went off the road. He said, "I just wanted to make sure you were OK to drive." What a sweet guy. I assured him I was fine, and then he just let us go.

The really memorable things about this run-in with the law were:

1) The officer took awhile both before coming to the car the first time and in coming back with my license. This was really funny because we were only a block form our destination and The Intended had to go to the bathroom really badly. I kept encouraging her to just make a run for it because I wanted to see a COPS-like foot chase.

2) If you would've driven by my traffic stop, you may have thought I was a wanted fugitive. There were actually three cop cars involved at different times of the ordeal. I am not sure why exactly. Perhaps they too were anticipating The Intended running for it. Then, a fourth cop car drove by. The officer was at my window telling me why he pulled me over when a Sandwich cop (a cop from Sandwich, not like an enforcer of sandwich law) drove by and actually gave my cop a thumbs up.

It's like, "Way to go, man. Good catch. They look suspicious."