The one amenity the Motel 6 room had that the Days Inn room didn’t afford was an easily accessible shower stall; of course, the latter did have handicap rails in and around the bathtub. I took advantage of the situation and had a most refreshing shower, washing the road grime down the drain. I duded up in my dress shirt and slacks, shoehorning my glossy wingtips as a final statement. I relaxed enjoying a vodka and tonic while watching the local news, which included an entertaining segment about a SWAT team corralling a disoriented alligator trying to cross North Loop 410, not far away. What a story!
About 7 P.M., Franz showed up, and exclaimed, “Wow, the traffic was horrific!” I smugly thought to myself, “See, I told you so.” After downing a potent potable, we loaded the walker into his rented mid-size SUV and I commented, “I appreciate you renting a four-door auto (via my email suggestion) so it would be easier to stash the walker.” He actually put the walker in the rear cargo area, and said, “I was charged a few extra bucks for this model, but it’s well worth it, knowing I can escort you around in comfort.” I couldn’t have asked for more from brother Franz.
We ventured off to the rehearsal dinner at the Los Patios restaurant several miles away just off of Loop 410. Unfortunately, as we made the designated exit off 410, Ted’s directions soon became muddled and confusing – it was veer left here, turn right there. What made it all the more frustrating was that we could see the Los Patios sign beaconing above the trees not more than several hundred feet away. To make a long story short, through sheer perseverance, we finally found the restaurant after meandering helter-skelter around the grounds. What a relief!
We were greeted in the parking lot by a lady property guide and several wedding guests, including Corbin Bates, the stepfather of the groom, who graciously assisted me up the long walkway through a virtual rain forest to the secluded restaurant. I wasn’t sure if even GPS could have pinpointed the place for us. Ted surprisingly met us at the front entrance, and I exclaimed, “Your directions were awful. Why couldn’t you have drawn a map?” He shrugged it off, saying, “I was never good at drawing maps.” Well, so much for that falderal.
Franz and I made our way over to a corner table where Ted’s mother and stepfather, Sue and Doug Ward, were already seated. There was no need for intros, since bro’ had met them at the rehearsal earlier. He said to Sue, “I can’t believe it took 45 years for me to finally meet Ted’s mother.” He then leaned over and said quietly, “Your ‘ex-wife’ really impressed me. She’s one fine lady.” I replied so that Sue might overhear me, “Yeah, Ted inherited both her good looks and brains.” I looked over at Sue who gave me an appreciative smile. We had a fun table going as a couple on the groom’s side joined us (I cannot recall their names).
I could see the evening was probably turning into a “first-time meeting” affair among many of the guests, and the two ladies at the adjacent table were no exception for yours truly. After forty-plus years, I finally met Ted’s very attractive twin sisters, Cristie and Lissie, attending with their husbands and young siblings. One of the hubbies came over to our table and out of the blue thanked me for the Texas Courthouse calendar. I was a bit puzzled at first how they came to have one of my editions, but then I remembered giving Ted a bunch of calendars to distribute among friends and relatives. I said, “Eric, hold on to that calendar. It can be useful every six or seven years, you know.”
Ted really did his homework in selecting Los Patios as the rehearsal dinner’s venue. The interior had an inviting ambience about it with its solid wood flooring and exposed timber ceiling trusses along with floor-to-ceiling glazing that offered views of the nearby creek trickling through a veritable forest. I leaned over to Sue and said, “Our son certainly picked a great place to have this rehearsal dinner. But, have you noticed how all the talking in here seems amplified? Restaurateurs on the whole prefer hard interior surfaces rather than sound-absorbing materials (like acoustical tiles and carpet) to give the illusion that the place was ‘packed to the rafters’ with happy patrons.” Sue gave me an understanding nod.
I could have handled the buffet, but since it was located on a raised portion of the floor (three steps, to be exact), I was afforded the luxury of having Franz being my caterer. As we were in the second-most Hispanic-populated city in the country (next to Los Angeles), it was only fitting to have a buffet of “Tex-Mex” cuisine, or whatever. Bro’ brought over a plate of mouth-watering enchiladas and a glass of red wine. I mentioned to Franz that Doug (now retired) had been an employee at NASA, and was directly involved with the space program during the “soaring sixties”. That info gave him enough fodder to strike up a conversation with the somewhat staid engineer. As I mentioned before, it turned out to be a fun table.