Jun 17, 2016

Prairieville V: Dia de los Flores

Wednesday was divide and conquer day, although we could have called it flower day.
Before we left, Saori had placed an order for green filler and for white flowers. Two huge boxes that would be delivered to Aunt Kim’s. The problem was that the delivery was showing delivery possibly as late as the next day, and it was unclear where actually any of the packages were. Since we were going to be out of Kim’s house from thursday morning onward, this posed a serious problem since there would be nobody to arrange the flowers into the bouquets and table arrangements if the flowers arrived after we left. So we went out for contingency flower shopping. Flowers, from the start, were paramount on the list of what Saori wanted in her wedding.

We sent the minivan crew off with a shopping list and then we took off. First stop was the Winn-Dixie florist department, where we discovered the florist was going to be MIA until friday. The poor produce guy, barely out of his teens, had to step in for us, and he was super nervous and super polite. I forget, often, to have the manners of a southern gentleman (if not the ideology and worldview). It is better to be good than polite, always, but politeness is always welcome. Anyway, our produce guy called up the florist for us and she talked him through what information he needed for me to order boutineers for myself and the groomsmen. What did I want? I wasn’t so particular. A yellow rose for me to match my tie, and some kind of blue flower for the groomsmen. How much would it cost? $5 each? Done and Done. Saori inventoried the supply and the quality of flowers available, and then we mosied on next door to the other flower shop in the strip mall. But not before I grabbed a few grocery store donuts and a free coffee.

There is a kind of sweetness to these rural grocery stores. Slightly nostalgic, slightly bittersweet, stores haven’t been updated since the 80s, lay in acoustic ceilings and worn linoleum, like a walk-through Polaroid. Maybe if I shopped there regularly, I’d start to complain about the quality of the produce, or the fact I couldn’t buy some key ingrediants, but is nice to swing in once in awhile. Probably its hardwired from too many idylic summers, coddled in nowhere Oklahoma.

At the flower shop next door, Saori was on the hunt for greens. What kind of greens? Eucalyptus, maybe some bear grass. Leatherleaf, like coke, is always on hand. Actually, I’m amazed how much I picked up about flowers and flower fillers in the last month. Probably the staff were amazed that the groom was up there with the bride, and he already knew what leatherleaf was. Eucalyptus was a little harder to come by. The Winn-Dixie had some, but the people at the florist called down to the big nursery wholesaler to find out about their stock. They had some. Silver dollar even, which is a special type of Eucalyptus. We had originally wanted to go to this wholesaler ourselves, but we weren’t allowed due to state requiremets that you had to have a licence to be a florist, and to get a licence, you needed your original birth certificate....

Anyway, the people were really nice, and they offered to put an order in for the Eucalyptus if Saori called it in by 3pm. Sounded good to us, so we hopped in the car and drove to the next stop, the Sam’s club in Baton Rouge. Aunt Kim kindly loaned us her membership card, and walking inside was another powerful blast of nostalgia. Sam’s club has not changed at all since mom, dad, Tay and I would make biweekly trips there when we were living in Scottsdale. It was like stepping back in time and space since I had not set foot in one for over ten years. We were there to check out the flower department, but they really didn’t have much remarkable, so that was a bit of a failed endeavor.

Outside of Sam’s, mom got in touch and let us know that a box of greens had been delivered to the house. We did a celebratory dance in the parking lot. At least the filler would be there.

We drove all the way back to the Albertsons closer to Prairieville, and there we found a really good supply of fresh cut flowers. Saori took her time thinking and picking out about a dozen bunches of various flowers and I threw in another case of water for the house. We also picked up an extra bucket for the arrangement of the flowers.  We drove it all home, just missing mom and the gang who were heading out for lunch and to pick up the boards from Kinkos. Sometime in the day, there had been an attempted delivery, which we figured out was the box of white flowers, and mom followed up with the delivery people to hold it at their facility for us to pick up between 6 and 7 pm.

Saori started to work on the flowers. The box flowers is an interesting concept. You order, in bulk, a bunch of flowers and they arrive in a big long box like you ordered a shotgun. The green fillers are a little tired looking but you throw them in water and separate them out a bit and they perk up, especially if you trim the dried stems and throw a little plant food in the water. We had earlier shipped to aunt Kim a big bag of plant food for cut flowers, as well as wire and flower tape for making bouquets.

Kim had put all the photo frames in her house at our disposal, so I busied myself filling frames with photos of Saori and I, together and of our childhood, historic family photos, and photos of family weddings. I also spray painted some wood boards which aunt Kim had picked up and assembled photos on those to be hung with teal ribbon from whatever hanging mechanism we could find. I hung them from the kitchen table light, more for convenience than anything else, but it seemed to work so there they stayed.

I can’t imagine, still, how much work it must have been to take out all of our damn photos from the frames and to put everything back in its place after the wedding.

We had been watching the forecast from about a week out, and it was supposed to be clear up until the afternoon. Of the wedding day. We actually arrived to Prairieville with this in the back of our heads, so while we were a little dissapointed, it was not so crushing in the lead up. As always, Kim and Tracy were on top of it. They were working closely with the caterer and had a rain plan worked out, and as the wedding day grew closer, Kim decided we needed more tents. So wednesday afternoon, the caterer and the tent guy both came out together to the Prairieville house.

The caterer wore black and white striped chef’s pants and rubber clogs, like he had just stepped out of the kitchen. The tent guy was a huge, red-faced guy, heavily bearded, and they both spoke with thick cajun accents, the tent guy nearly to the point of me not being able to understand him. Saori and I followed them all out to the patio where they debated if they could get a big 20x20 tent out there. The tent guy, it turned out, was also a fireworks guy, and wanted to know if were ok on that account. We had bought a bunch of sparklers, so we were, but it was still funny. They started talking with Tracy about his commute to the refinery and the tent guy told him to keep an eye out for a 14 foot long aligator without a tail he spotted one time near one of the ponds that Tracy drives by. 14 feet long, not including the tail. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we had to go rescue our flowers, so we politely excused ourselves and hopped out.

We drove back out to Baton Rouge, fighting rain, traffic, google maps to get to the delivery center. They needed Saori’s ID to release the box of flowers (but no birth certificate, ha) but we got it. It was a feeling of great relief driving back, even with the stopped traffic on the airline highway.

One other thing which was constantly amusing is that Kim and Tracy live off of Perkins road, which is lined with things like Perkins cleaners, Perkins plaza, Perkins apartments, and everywhere I’m seeing my last name. And then there is also old Perkins Road, which led to amusing signs like “coming soon! Old Perkins Apartments!”

We called in to the Prairieville house and got an order for Popeye’s fried chicken, which we swung by and picked up on the way back. The rental car smelled an intriguing mix of fresh, heavy florals and fried food. We munched on fried chicken and watched the end of Blues Brothers. I put mom and Tay to work assembling our gifts to the rehearsal dinner guests, and they did a good job of it while Saori busily started assemlbing her bouquet and her bridesmaids bouquets. After the gift boxes, Tay sat down with me and we talked through the bachelor party.

Before we had arrived, Tay floated the idea of doing a bar crawl mixed in with some live blues or jazz, and that sounded pretty good to me. I’m not in my early 20s, neither of us were into the idea of hiring strippers, and I don’t have a bunch of local friends. Moreover, I am ashamed to note that even in Germany of all places, my alcohol tolerance has slipped, and a thorough “stag-do” would probably keep me ill through the end of the trip, so that was out. The question then, was who to invite.

Thursday night before a saturday wedding. Not all the guests are in town, probably, not so many of the guests are guys, so we decided to open things up to both guys and girls and the only limit we set was that they had to be roughly in our generation. I gave Tay a list of emails and he sent out invitations and set the itenerary.

And that was wednesday. Food, Drinks, Tents, now the flowers were in place. 

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