National Lampoon's Anniversary Weekend
Our anniversary was September 13, however, the goodies started coming in on the 12th. Jordan called me that Monday to tell me he had plans for the weekend, to arrange for Lilli to stay with the grands Saturday night, this would be an overnight trip. We were texting back and forth all morning due to my excitement which is never containable. I asked what I needed to wear and he in return asked if I needed something new. He then said to run on over to the TJ Maxx to get whatever; he knows how I LOVE that store! While in there I got a phone call from him.
"Whacha doin'?" he asked me.
"I'm at TJ looking for something to wear," I replied happily.
"You need to leave TJ Maxx; it's been taken care of," he responded proudly. I was a little bumfuzzled.
"Jordy, did you buy me something new?!"
"I can't say, just know it's been taken care of."
Like any chunky girl my heart sank. I love my husband, but he thinks I'm perfect and perfection, as we all know, is usually a size 6/8. This chick hasn't been a 6/8 since she was 6 or 8 years old. Not wanting to burst his little bubble I was careful to tread lightly.
"Jordy.....you don't know my size, baby....." I gnawed my lower lip.
"It's okay. Your mom said if it didn't fit you could slap on some Spanx or whatever those things are called." (Well, there went my sexy undies for the night.) Oh, dear Lord. SPANX. Also out the door with the undies went that great meal, for when one wears SPANX one is also limited to water and only a few short breaths every few minutes.
"Jordan.....what size did you get....of whatever it is you've 'taken care of '?"
"I got you a 10."
WOW. That was PRE-baby Lilli, POST baby Lilli due to breastfeeding and......dang it, I wish I still had a nursing kid. I'd be so stinkin' skinny and hot. Let's just say I haven't seen a 10 around my waist in a few years.
"Oh, baby....you're SO sweet to think I'm SO thin....but there's NO way I can get into that size." I almost cried I felt so terrible.
In all of his preciousness he responded, "I think it'll fit, Bran, I really do. If it doesn't, you can keep it and use it as inspiration." (He knows I'm about to start a 'lifestyle change.')
I couldn't help but beam with pride. He loves me so much, doesn't he, God....thank You!
That evening Jo called on his way home from work: "Stay in the bedroom until I come in to get you," he told me.
When he arrived he and Lilli both came to retrieve me from the bedroom; they led me downstairs with my eyes closed and sat me on the couch.
"Open 'em," he said and he was standing in front of me, having set two bags down at my feet. One was labeled Baker's the other Cache. I grabbed the Cache bag first and laid the box from within on my lap. He beamed as I removed the paper from the most perfect hot pink silk dress I've ever seen in my life. It was short with only one frilly strap. A matching hot pink belt wrapped around the waist. I held it up in front of my face; no, it wasn't going to fit......for at least 4 months, but by crackies I wanted to run a mile that very minute! It was gorgeous and looked as if he zapped Barbie's wardrobe to fit a real person. I was speechless and he said, "I saw it on the rack, the only one they had, and it screamed YOU." I was so proud of him and squealed in delight.
Next I opened the Baker's box; inside was the latest season version of the glittery pink shoes I'd been begging for. They were more hot pink with flecks of gold and purple. I literally came undone. He had also purchased the matching clutch, huge dangly gold earrings and four pink studded gold bracelets. I was all set for this night on the town.
In total shock and awe I kept hugging and kissing him and asking, "How did you do this? How?! You're amazing! HOW?!"
Through all of the laughter and excitement and my arms wrapped around his neck he replied, "Well, I had my own personal shopping assistant: a gay man worked in Baker's and he basically helped me with everything." We cracked up! I've always told Jordan when in doubt about fashion, find a gay man.
TRUST ME. I know.
The week dragged on and it seemed Saturday would never arrive. In preparation for its arrival I did what any wife wanting to woo her husband all over again would do: I cleaned the house and made myself over. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach….but ‘they’ failed to add that he likes to eat that phenomenal meal in a spotless house at a well set table next to his pearl and lipstick clad wife.
All week I worked on ME. I shaved, I waxed, I self tanned (not the orange kind), I highlighted my hair, I bleached my teeth, I worked on any facial blemishes and made sure my skin was super soft and clear. I cleaned the house all day Friday amidst breaks from getting ahead on all of my school work. Then I treated myself to a MAC Me Over at the MAC counter in Chattanooga including some new eyeshadow for the big day; I was all set for this day to beat all days, this weekend of perfection. Any outsider would’ve thought Saturday was going to be my wedding day.
Friday night I went to bed with visions of Jordan, makeup and those fabulous glittery shoes dancing in my head. Oh, a night alone and one out on the town to boot! A fluffy hotel room that I didn’t have to clean and some quality time with Jordy! I was so excited I could hardly sleep.
AND THE STORM BLEW IN.
I rolled over with a pain in my gut. What the heck? My stomach is KILLING me! Opening my eyes I saw the numbers 3:00 shining from the Hello Kitty alarm clock on my night stand. I got up to make a potty call, and what to my wondering eyes should appear…..A crime scene, only no cops would be coming to my rescue.
Jordan was just as disappointed as I was when I popped 4 Ibuprofen and downed some Benadryl for my crazy legs and warring ovaries. However, we were determined not to let this ruin our weekend.
I woke up fairly early Saturday morning, my tummy buzzing with only butterflies thanks to my cocktail a few hours before. I had my day all planned out: First, get Lilli packed and take her to Mom and Dad’s house. I did just that and then drove over to the Buddha people to get my nails done. (That’s what I call them because they have a fat Buddha statue that they give coffee to of a morning. Yes, I’m serious.) Jordan insisted I have acrylics put on since I hadn’t had them in years, but I was still out of the nail shop by 1:00. I had planned to get in the shower by 1:30 since we were leaving at 3:45. I made it home in plenty of time.
I showered and shaved and did my tanning/teeth whitening routine, then sat on my bed to get my makeup going. This was the part I’d been so excited to start. Then I ironed our clothes and curled my hair. By the time I finished Jo and I both noticed how behind we were running; I’d been doing everything by the book and so had he, but somehow we were late against all attempts to be on time. He called the restaurant and moved our reservation and all was fine. Still, we were a little rushed.
We finally made it out the door around 5:00, an hour and 15 minutes later than we had planned. My hair was also falling. I wasn't thrilled, but Jo was looking at me like a Barbie doll so I couldn't complain much. I was beginning to panic about the time, however,and so was Jordan. Amidst his panic he let part of his big plan slip: “I just don’t wanna be late to the Fox.” AAAAHHHHH!!!!! THE FOX THEATER IS MY FAVORITE!!!! Just the same, I had no idea what we would be doing at the Fox so we both let it slide. We made it to Atlanta and I saw my surprise restaurant which was also my surprise room for the night: the Sundial and the Westin Hotel. I was immediately thrilled since Jo knows the Sundial is one of my favorite places to eat.
It took forever to find parking but we finally did….on the 6th level of a nearby parking deck. This was no problem only the elevator was incredibly slow and we spent about 15 minutes waiting on it to make its way up to the 6th level. Again, we were panicky. I insisted we go ahead and eat against Jo’s pleas of, “Maybe we should wait.” We had a little over an hour; surely we’d be okay. We finally made it to the 72nd floor the Westin and walked into the Sundial.
Our table was right next to one of the floor to ceiling windows that surrounded the restaurant. Our view was perfect: a sunset over downtown Atlanta, GA. It couldn’t get anymore perfect than that.
A rather petite, with the exception of her chest, light skinned black woman waltzed up to our table and almost flew into my lap. Her light brown ringlet hair shaking like Fraggle Rock she exclaimed, “GIRL! Where did you get those SHOES?!” Her eyes were as big as saucers as she wrinkled her nose. “Where the camera be? I gotta get me a pic of them shoes!”
Jo and I almost fell over with laughter. She chatted with us for a few moments and apparently let it slip where Jordan was taking me but I never heard her. Jordan was very quick to tell her it was a surprise and that I was still in the dark. He also told her we were in a bit of a hurry since our plans started at 8. Jo had purchased parking online so the waitress said we’d be fine but she’d “get on it.”
We had the best meal for dinner; Jordan had pork and my lack of a gallbladder and I had chicken. I even had a glass of wine which is HUGE for a teetotaller.
We left the Sundial and Jordan handed me two sheets of paper when we got in the car.
“These are the tickets. Look at what we’re going to see.”
I took the papers from him carefully as if what was written on them would fall off of the page, wondering what he could’ve done. I read the heading: “Broadway Across America.” Well, this’ll be fun, I thought, still wondering why this would be such a shocking surprise to me. Then the line under it screamed silently at me: "WICKED." I literally came undone. Clapping my hands like a seal and squealing like a girl, I bounced in the front seat of Jordan’s tiny Honda Accord, completely elated. My heart pounded in my chest and tears sprang to my heavily made up eyes. “Oh, my gosh!!! Oh, my gosh!!!” I breathed in and out rapidly and was lost for words. I’d been wanting to see this show for a few years now; it’s only every singer’s DREAM to be a part of the cast of Wicked, let alone sit in an audience and watch it come to life onstage!
“Brandi, for real," breathed a laugh. "Calm down now; your face is gonna be numb.” I told him how grateful I was and how much I loved him; I also tried to squeeze and kiss him as much as possible while he was driving. “Let’s go!” I said excitedly and shook my hands in the air.
I was flying high as we made it to the parking right at 8:00. We knew we’d be fine since our parking deck was right next to the Fox; all we had to do was park and walk in. Sparkly clutch and camera in hand, I was all ready to go…...except the parking deck was closed, coned off and there was no attendant. Parking should not have been closed and wasn't there an employee? The butterflies in my tummy took a nose dive for my colon. We couldn’t get to our parking spot we had already purchased. We then drove around downtown looking for parking……..for 30 minutes……
Jordan finally dropped me off at the Fox so he could go look for a parking spot. I asked an attendant for directions and also about parking. "Are you here for the reception?"
"Um, no....for 'Wicked'." He gave me directions and then I told him about our parking fiasco. The guy face-palmed himself and exclaimed, "$#*@!" I just stared. "They're not supposed to do that!"
"Okay, um, thanks anyway," I smiled and waved as I made my way into the theater. Before I did anything I had to pee; I found the ladies’ lounge and from there went into the restroom as the music to Wicked rang on the stage above my head. If any of you have ever been to the Fox you’ll know it’s not exactly this easy in the restroom. I got a little lost in the ladies’ lounge; it was a little strange that all of the toilet seats were upright, but I just figured they had just been cleaned. I sat in a stall, did my business and walked out. However, when I walked out I noticed the urinals…..and ran smack dab into a MAN.
“OH MY GOSH. I just used the men’s room, didn’t I?”
“It happens all the time, sweetie,” he replied as he laughed and walked on by.
I got up to the steps of the theater and no one would help me as the employees were clearly enamored by the show. One woman showed me my seat and was beyond the definition of rude, so rude that I said to a slouchy greeter lounging in a Fox seat, “Isn’t she a ray of summer sunshine,” and continued on my way. I was very surprised at the lack of manners and hospitality that usually came with the ambiance of the Fox Theatre. I finally made it to my seat: the VERY TOP row of the 2nd balcony. Jo had warned me that we had nosebleed seats, but I could still see the entire stage. I made it to my seat right before the song “Popular” but was completely lost on all that was happening in the show.
Fifteen minutes went by and my heart was breaking because my husband wasn’t sharing this amazing experience I’d been dying to be a part of with me. We were late for everything, on time for the show but parking sucked for the SECOND time, Mother Nature imposed and now this! ANYTHING ELSE? Suddenly my phone vibrated. It was Jo. Oh, crap. He’s been mugged by a homeless guy with a broken Budweiser bottle, I thought. After all, it was dark……and it was downtown Atlanta……and my husband, just this once, wasn’t packing. The attendant eyeballed me so I made my way to the ladies’ room right behind me. I know how to act in a theater setting so this was abnormal for me.
“I’m here,” he said. “But I don’t know where you are.”
I tried to give him directions to our seats but he couldn’t find them and the attendants were literally ignoring him. I called my mom.
“I’ve ruined everything, Momma! I thought it’d be okay to eat! He’s worked SO hard and here we are: APART!” She calmed me down as I cried in the Fox ladies’ room.
“He’ll find you,” she said. “It’s almost intermission time, just have a good time and wait.” We said our goodbyes and hung up the phone. I went back to my seat very quietly, which was thankfully on the end of the row, when it hit me: All theater etiquette aside, my man is down there waiting on me. GO. GET. HIM. I wanted Jordan to know that HE was more important to me than Wicked, no matter how badly I’d wanted to see it. I also wanted him to know that no matter what, we’d make the best out of the weekend. I knew I wouldn’t make it down the steps in those 6 inch glittery heels; I grabbed my clutch, slipped my shoes off and walked barefooted through the Fabulous Fox to find my husband.
There he stood at the 2nd level balcony waiting for me, handsome as ever, and clearly not bludgeoned by a vagrant.
We sat in our seats and when intermission came he told me his story.
“There was no parking, so I had to park 3 blocks away. I couldn’t get the parking meter to work. I tried everything!” He was stewing by now. “We’re gonna get towed,” he said flatly; his debonair and happy attitude had worn off.
We found an attendant immediately and told her our parking story. There was no one there with the power to help us the way they felt we needed, so they put together a Fox goodie bag for us and we finished the show. We were then given the number of a head honcho to call Monday morning who would hopefully reimburse us for parking and if we were lucky, tickets.
What we saw of the show was wonderful, but we were both heartbroken. I was due to not getting to see the whole thing and Jordan was due to his plans for us being blown to smithereens.
Afterward we sulked our way back to the car, my tired feet now carrying very unhappy blisters. Sure enough, Jordan had a $25 ticket posted to his windshield. On our drive to the hotel traffic was horrendous. We sat bumper to bumper as a couple of cars had their radios and bass turned up so loud that it was hurting our ears. Then I looked to my right and a male driver was hanging out of his window from his waist, while driving with his buddies, staring a hole through me. He almost wrecked, and I almost puked.
We arrived at the Westin ready to park, however there was, AGAIN, no parking. If we wanted our car to stay within reach we were going to have to pay the valet parking company $29. Completely out of ideas and emotionally worn out, we did.
We checked in which seemed to take forever and this wasn't helped out by the incredibly drunk, New York Yankee bridal party that was ahead of us, all groomsmen. They yelled "Hava nagila!" and "Opa!" with their upturned wine bottles and annoying Bronx accents.
Jordan had talked our room up pretty big; we’d have a great view, no doubt and the shower was a walk-in with dual shower heads. After this night, a hot shower was what we both needed. Overly excited, we slid the card key into the door and walked into our room. While it was nice and the bed was big and comfy, it was a little out dated…..and there were NO dual shower heads, let alone a walk-in shower. They had replaced the furniture with a modern style and had done the same with the wall art; however, the carpet and other decor could have used a Nate Berkus touch. The view, however, was out of this world, so we settled on that. We slept in a California King bed facing a wall to wall, floor to ceiling view of downtown Atlanta, lit up like a Christmas tree. I laid there with my head on Jo’s chest, listening to him breathe in the dark, feeling the stress of the evening drain from us into the mattress below. If this is what it was all for, I’m good to go.
The next morning we both woke up fairly chipper. Jordan had ordered a package with our stay which included a buffet breakfast. We showered and readied ourselves before heading to the 5th floor for food. A nice spread was laid out with plenty to choose from. Immediately I noticed the many nationalities in the hotel, but quite a few were from China. I knew it was China due to the Air China flight attendants roaming around in their little uniforms. I thought nothing of it until I was reaching for the gravy at the buffet. My hand was literally an inch from the spoon when slender hand shot forward grabbed it. Caught off guard because there had been no one in line ahead of me I turned to see what the matter was.
Now, here are several rules we have here in the south; my favorite: Don’t ever come between a fat girl and the gravy.
“Oh! Soddy!” exclaimed the little China doll. “Glavy?”
Yes, that’s gravy. And yes, you need to move it……or lose it. Of course, she didn’t. Did she even know what “glavy” was? Good grief.
We sat and ate and enjoyed our breakfast after that. Then we packed our things and headed home. Upon pulling into the driveway Jo and I both agreed that we were total homebodies and wouldn’t be going to the city again for some time. We laughed and then Jo said, “Where are the house keys?”
I looked at the key chain and they weren’t there. The valet boys at the Westin had taken our keys off of the car keys. By now, we were livid. We had to drive to Chatsworth for our spares from the landlord and camped at my parents’ for a while. I’d had it, and spent the better part of the day on the phone with the powers that be at the Westin.
When I finally got hold of who I needed, I let it rip. I give you, the basic rundown: “Here’s the deal. You’re gonna find my keys. NOW. Then you’re going to overnight them to me. Then you’re gonna march your tail into the Westin, get my credit card number and refund that $29 I gave you entrusting that you would not only park my car but take care of it and everything inside of it.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said the owner of the valet company. “We have a policy that if there are extra keys attached we take them off.” I sat silently waiting for it to sink into his thick skull just how stupid that policy was. “Uh, but we’re about to change that, ma’am.”
“Yes, that would be a good idea; the best one you’ve had all day, I think,” I said to him.
Later that night I had a voicemail from him: “If you like, Mrs. Griffin, I can send someone up to Dalton to deliver your keys personally. Again, I’m very sorry.” This was about the 4th time he’d apologized and the keys arrived Tuesday.
After everything had calmed down I called the Fox Tuesday afternoon. I told a very nice woman named Shelley our story. She called the parking company next to the theater and had them refund our money; she then offered us 2 free tickets for Sunday’s showing of "Wicked", 8th row orchestra seats.
In the end, the weekend was a total wash, but somehing about going through it with Jordan made it all worth it. We both had worked for DAYS to make sure the 24 to 48 hours we had to celebrate “US” were absolute perfection. The evening had fallen apart. The weekend had fallen apart. But knowing that the world could crash around me and I’d still have him by my side was all that really mattered. And that is where perfection was found.