Mobile's Big Fat Greek Wedding, Part 1... Its in the Shoes
Stephanie's good friend Delisa was getting married this weekend, to a Greek fella named Nick Pournaros, in Mobile, Alabama. Steph and Delisa went to Baker High School together, also in Mobile, and Delisa was actually a bridesmaid in Steph's wedding. Also in the wedding included Suzie, the matron of honor, who also served as the Maid of Honor in our wedding in 2004 (and Steph was in hers), Lesley, a bridesmaid who Steph went to high school with, and ushers named Mike and Ken, who Steph went to high school with. It was going to be like a big reunion.
We left around 420am on Friday morning--originally, we had planned on leaving Thursday night, but we decided to save the money for the night in the hotel. Steph had to be at the hotel, the Mobile Fairfield Marriott, by 915am to be picked up in a limo to go to some bridesmaid spa brunch thingy... chicks love that stuff. So, I would get to hang out by myself, go to the mall and/or anything else I wanted to do.
I'm driving, Steph is asleep in the passenger seat, and we're crusing along when, right past the Evergreen exit, it hits me--I've left my suit shoes. Now, understand, I don't have cause to wear a suit a whole lot, which means the one pair of shoes I have that go with my suit, and are a bit too fancy just for my casual church attire, only get worn when I wear my suit--so forgetting them is a big deal. When Steph awakes, I inform her I'm going to have to buy some more shoes once I get to Mobile. There goes the $100 bucks we were going to save by not staying Thursday night, there goes the free morning I had in Mobile. Over breakfast at the Evergreen Waffle House, she's not happy...
...we arrive in Mobile around 820am or so, and check-in is not until 3pm. Steph and I wait in the lobby for the limo to pull up, while she's giving me the rundown of where to go for shoes.
Note this... its been a long time since I've been to Mobile. We came down for Suzie's wedding a few years ago, and last year we were here for Nick & DeLisa's engagement party, but as for just driving around the city, its been probably eight or nine years. In 1997, while in Troy, I dated a fellow student who hailed from Mobile, which is where I really fell in love with the city. Its a cool town. The roads I'm familiar with are Airport, Government and Cottage Hill, which all run parallel to each other, and perpendicular to I-65. Also, Schillenger's runs across the three roads I named, and thats where the chick I dated used to live.
Anyway, Suzie arrives, and soon after, the limo picks up both of them. So I'm off to buy shoes. First stop, Shoe Station. Now, here's the problem when it comes to shoe shopping... I don't do it often, because its hard work. I have a wide foot, so finding shoes that are A) 9.5 to 10, B) Wide and C) look good is a hard combination. I get to Shoe Station and start walking the "dress" shoe aisle. I scan boxes, but don't even stop to look unless I see a "W" on the box. Then, if there's a "9.5" or a "10", I'll take out the box and look at it. I find one pair of shoes for about $40 that might do me okay... but, remember, I've got a pair of "suit shoes" that I never wear because I never wear a suit... so I'm looking not only for black shoes in Wide, the right size and that look good, I'm looking at the possibility of being able to wear them again, plus, we're on a budget.
I do, however, find a pair of boot type shoes that I like--I would call them pimp boots, for no other reason than that would be cool to say: "Hey man, check out my pimp boots". "Hey Dave, are those your pimp boots?" "Yeah, dawg". But I can already tell you any shoes I purchase that I can describe with the words "pimp" and/or "boots" is going to automatically be met with contempt from the lovely wife.
I leave Shoe Station with those shoes in mind (the $40 pair, not the pimp boots) and cut across the street to the Bel Air Mall. I dash into American Eagle--nothing. I zip in JC Penney's, and find some that might work, but no salesperson will help me, so I leave. I go into Payless Shoe Source, and see a pair for about $20 that might work. I'm hesitant though, and tuck them in the back of my mind. Across to The Shoe Dept., I find a pair of Bill Blass shoes that could be what I'm looking for, and they are only $29.97--I might get out of this cheaply. I cut into Parisian quickly, where I find this chick named Ashley who immediately asks me if I need help. I told her quickly my issue, had to find black dress shoes, my feet are hard to size and I'm on a budget. So she goes to the back and comes out with three or four different kinds of shoes, including a pair of Steve Maddens that I really like. The tage says $69.97, though, so I wince and say "Thank you, I might be back" and go out to the mall again.
Over to Sears and Dillards, both of which gave me no service, I then went into Target, figuring it was worth a shot. Nyet. Sears was memorable though, because I saw a lady who was carrying a bikini, and I could only pray and hope that she was holding it for a petite daughter who was in the bathroom, because it scares me that she might've been buying it for herself.
Alright, my final selections... I go out to the car and go back to Shoe Station (can you see why I hate shoe shopping?) to look once more at the $39.97 pair I liked. I reflected and decided against them. I really liked those Steve Maddens at Parisian, and what's more, I liked the fact that out of 8 places I had gone too, Ashley, the chick in Parisian, was the only salesperson who even bothered with my business.
Back to the mall.
I went back into The Shoe Dept. to try to talk myself into spending only $29.99 on that pair of Bill Blass shoes, instead of spending $70 on the Steve Maddens (I'm such a woman) but I looked at them, I just couldn't do it. I did, however, find a decent pair of size 9.5W brown dress casual shoes for only $16.95. The brand? "ID Required". I kid you not. The box had dust all over them, and though buying them crossed my mind, I figured they were $17 for a reason. I mean, ID Required?
Back to Parisian. Ashley said "Are you here for your shoes?" and I said "Yes I am". I tried them on again, she gave me some advice and I went with it. On the way out, I met the manager, a guy named Mark, and told him how I had been all over the place looking for shoes, and how Ashley was the only salesperson who gave me the time of day. I'm hoping he (or you) didn't think I said it because she was like, 21 and cute, because while shoe looked 21, she was only cute in a Jennifer Herndon sort of way.
I've now spent 2 and a half hours shoe shopping. My free day is slipping away. I spend the rest of my time over at Barnes & Noble, then a quick stop into Wherehouse Music, which is a part of the Springdale Shopping Center. I only mention this because this used to be the Springdale Mall, which was really annoying because to get from one side of the mall to the other, you had to go through JC Penneys... now, they cut it all up into a Paton Creek-like area. I do remember this though, because I had a dinner date at Garfield's with Cyndi Bledsoe back in 1995. Neither Garfield's, nor Cyndi Bledsoe, is there now. Aaaaand back to the hotel.
There are three restaurants I hold dear to my heart, possibly because you can't visit them in Birmingham, and that's Denny's, Steak-n-Shake and Whataburger!, and all three are in Mobile. My mind churns, and I think to myself "Denny's today... Whataburger tomorrow... and we can stop at Steak-n-Shake on the way home. YES!!!" So I stop at Denny's and have an apple-filled pancake. It wasn't very good. Yes, I was very disappointed.
Its around 2pm, and they let me check in early, and Steph shows up a few minutes later--we both zonk out for the afternoon.
Wedding rehearsal is at 5pm at the Greek Orthodox Church, while dinner is at 7pm. Now, the service itself is going to be a Greek Wedding service, which I'll explain in tomorrow's posting, but DeLisa, who is Baptist, has a Baptist minister who will read vows for the two of them--sort of like "the Baptist part of the wedding". The minister is none other than a guy named Chris Estes, who Steph went to high school with and asked to prom--he said no.
Lesley's husband Jason and myself are the only spouses that are there that aren't a part of the ceremony--Lesley, Suzie and Steph are part of the party, while Ken and Mike, guy friends of the group, are ushers. Jason and Lesley both are avid photographers, so he was taking lots of pictures during the rehearsal, while I just had our 35mm camera. Suzie's husband, Mike (a different one) is not there yet, but will meet us for dinner.
The wedding photographer came up and was talking to Jason and I, asking about our cameras. Jason described his in detail in photogspeak, while I just said "Mine's a Pentax 35mm". The photographer looked at me strangely and said "Oh... you have film?". He says it like I'm some sort of quaint antique collector... "Yeah, man, I keep it next to my 8 tracks."
Dinner is at The Pillars Restaurant just down the road, and Jason & Lesley and Steph and I get there first. We try to save some spots for Suzie & Mike, Mike and his date Daphne and for Ken, but after a while, we had to give them up. DeLisa's two other bridesmaids, Nicole and Melissa, sat with us, along with Nicole's husband Bill and another couple. Nicole is actually from Monroeville, so I had some semblance of an intellectual conversation with her about Harper Lee and Truman Capote.
My dinner was grilled snapper with a crab sauce, while Steph had the "butterboy", 8 ounces of really, really good cow. We ended up having some of all three desserts, which were a great Ameretto Cheesecake, a Triple Chocolate Mousse cake and one heckuva Creme Brulee. Because I tried yogurt a few weeks back for the first time in about 15 years and found out I liked it, I decided to try the white wine. Now, I'm not a drinking man at all, but its been a long time since I had wine, so I thought I'd taste it and see if I liked it this time around... no chance. Not a fan.
Nick's Aunt Tessia made Greek wedding cookies for all to indulge in, and that was fun... I really wanted to find her and say "Aunt Tessia, I don't eat meat", just to see if she'd look at me and say "You don' et no meat? Izz okay... I make lamb", but Steph wouldn't let me.
Someone did drop their water glass and managed to soak my sleeve and the tablecloth directly in front of me, but beyond that, it was a relaxing evening of dinner with friends. Of course, as the night wore on, the wine and other spirits kept pouring, so it gota little rowdier as you'd expect, but about 9pm or so, Steph and I were just plain exhausted.
So, with that, I leave you until tomorrow, when I'll give you Part 2, which will include the details of a Greek wedding and my chance to dance at a Greek wedding reception.