The Many Miles Man

Three days. Not a day less. That was my guess.

By the tight grip of his jaw, medicine I knew the man seated alone at a table next to a window in Blu had to have been on the road for at least three days.

I was almost right.

David had already been out on business for four days straight. In that time he had wound his watch to keep current in three different times zones. He wouldn’t be home again to Pennsylvania for another four days and by then he would go from Milwaukee to Chicago to Miami to Arkansas. Not the type of trip you plan for efficiency and pretty airports, view that was for sure.

David was in the sort of business where it probably made sense to wear a tie, but no way, no how did David need one. He was sure and confident and a necktie wouldn’t have proved anything worthwhile to anyone he passed by on the road. But you can be certain that if he had knotted something around his neck, it would have been as impressive as he was. With his shaved head, piercing eyes, and tight, compact frame he looked like he could have been Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luther. But something told me that David was more concerned with saving the world than destroying it.

David was a road warrior and he seemed to be winning whatever battle he had signed up for. Executive recruitment was his trade, and he was on a multi city swing finding leaders to fill voids and making clients happy. And now, for a moment, it was time for David to be happy.

David’s red wine arrived. He grabbed it with hands that looked like they could easily shatter the long stemmed glass holding the drink. He took a long sip. His strong shoulders relaxed. You could almost hear his body say, “Ahhhhhhhh.”

David stared into the night, his eyes sharply focused on the shining lights of the Milwaukee skyline. He looked like he was hatching a plan, some scheme that would be a stunner for sure. He reached for the wine. Another sip. A little more tension released from his shoulders. A little more calm in his face suggested that when he chose to, his smile would fill a room with light and wonder.

Those eyes, those piercing eyes staring into the night–they were full of intrigue, intellect and a little bit of danger. The hand shifted again, but this time it passed over his wine and headed for the breast pocket of his sport coat. He reached toward his chest. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a shining revolver at the end of his powerful grip as the hand emerged from his neatly tailored jacket. And if he wanted your wallet, you would have given it happily and thanked him for the honor of choosing you to stick up.

As his hand emerged from his jacket, a phone appeared in his palm instead of a weapon of mass destruction. I somehow imagined that David was actually capable of doing even more damage with his phone than any chamber full of bullets. He lifted the screen at an angle and typed. He waited.

A moment passed.

Bing.

A message.

Then a smile.

I offered a hand and said hello. His fingers could have crushed the meta out of my carpals, but instead he warmly accepted the friendly gesture. After four days, it wasn’t the worst thing to see a smile coming back at you in a comfortable place on top of the city and a few floors above the bed where you’d hang your head.

“Everything okay with you?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said David. “I miss my wife. I always miss my wife.”

It was nice to know that the most impressive gentleman in the joint was simply pining for his sweetheart.

We traded pleasantries and I bid him a good night. Glancing back a moment after saying goodbye, I saw him smiling down at his phone. His wife had written back, something sweet, something funny, something that deserved another pull of wine.

I asked the waitress to send him a glass of whatever he was drinking as soon as he was ready for his next. David had many more miles to go, but tonight, alone in the dark he earned a quiet moment to remember that he’d be home soon enough to say, “I love you, oh yes I do.”

It’s the Last Word When Tom Says It’s the Last Word

“How do I share this on my friend’s page?”

It was late morning in the Lobby Bar and a gruff guy named Tom was fiddling with his smart phone. There are plenty of reasons for gruff guys to be in a bar before noon—a quick one after third shift, pharm drowning sorrows for being laid off, vacation day drinking…the list goes on. Getting social media tips wasn’t a reason that had ever occurred to me.

I was sitting nearby so I took a chance and asked, “Are you trying to share a picture?”

A younger guy next to Tom named Dave looked up from his laptop and said, ampoule “Tom needs me to remind him how to share things about three times a week.”

Dave grabbed Tom’s phone, swiped some strokes, and shared an article on Tom’s friend’s Facebook wall. Tom was pleased.

I asked my new “Because of Facebook” Friend why he was in the lobby bar so early in the day.

“Waiting for Jerry, salve ” said Tom.

Tom and Dave’s two traveling partners Heather and Damien nodded.

Heather chimed in brightly, “Tom called Jerry to get us because he didn’t stay with the team. Jerry was probably still sleeping.”

Damien piped up, “Yeah, I bet his hair’s wet when he shows up.” Damien was drinking a morn­ing coffee milkshake you order for some serious comfort. Damien looked like he really need­ed that java shake comfort.

This ragtag crew (including the absent Jerry, it seemed) turned out to be a bunch of team members who worked in promotions. Tom was their leader and they were shipping out of the Pfister after a conference stay. They explained something about getting beer steins back to St. Paul. Those promotions people have all the fun.

I asked why Jerry hadn’t stayed with the rest of them when he could have had a Pfister over­night on the company tab.

“Jerry was rooming with me,” said Damien. “But his girlfriend lives in Milwaukee. She didn’t want to share my pillow.”

Dave and Heather groaned. Tom rolled his eyes. They played their team roles very well. Tom was crusty, Dave pulled Tom into the modern world, Heather gave off sunshine and sparkles, and Damien landed road comic zingers. Jerry, if he ever showed up, was clearly the driver.

“He got a ticket for parking at his girlfriend’s,” said Damien. “Does that get expensed?”

Tom rubbed his eyes. “Hell, no. Jerry pays.”

A server approached Tom from the entry by the bar leading from the Café. She put a club sandwich down in front of Tom. He thanked her and started to eat.

Heather looked at Tom surprised and said, “When did you order that?”

Tom stared deadpan and said, “I got it while I waited for you to meet me down here.”

Dave reminded his boss, “Tom, Jerry’s gonna be here any minute.”

Tom wiped his mouth and looked at Dave. “Jerry’s late, Dave. Now he waits for me.”

That Tom.

He always gets the last word.

The Earl of Soggy Sandwich

“We have great meat in our sandwich, but the bread is pretty soggy.”

Now how can you fault a guy for eavesdropping on a conversation with that line?

One of the realities of being a writer who spends his time seeking out drama and intrigue and laughs and pretty bridesmaids in fancy dresses at a luxury historic hotel is that your ears are almost constantly tuned to any snippet of conversation that floats through the air. I’d stop short of calling this an on-the-job hazard. I mean I don’t carry a pick ax and a helmet into work–let’s be real.

But there is that slight danger in my line of work that scales in on the terror threat level of stubbing your toe of becoming a nosy snark. Listening in on other people’s conversations is something I tell my preteen daughter not to do because it’s a little rude. But listening on other people’s conversations when you’re a writer is noble and elevates the art form. I realize I’m a big old hypocrite, but hopefully I’m one who continues to learn better ways to tell a story while my hearing is good.

In the case of the man and woman who were dissecting the quality of a figurative sandwich while enjoying a spirited conversation over a late lunch (salads, not sandwiches, so I knew the bread and meat combo of which they spoke wasn’t listeral), I was just sucked into my actively passive listener mode because of that killer opener.

It’s easy to tell when to approach and engage, and when to let things flow naturally and to stand back and be a spectator. This was one conversation that I felt deserved a natural flow. That opening line seemed to suggest I was in for a doozy of a listen–some more great folksy charmers like that sandwich line seemed to be dangling at my eavesdropping fignertips. It was all too yummy for the writer in me.

I listened in with rapt attention, plucking the highlights of the volley back and forth.

“Crackerjack.”

“She’s the real deal, alright.”

“Gotta keep those folks engaged.”

“Embrace it.”

“Look for efficiencies, understand the market.”

And, finally, the big zinger.

“If you ever think about hiring a coach to work with folks, I love working with super stars to help them achieve their potential.”

These two very smart and accomplished people were kind and nice and lovely but left me with absolutely no clue as to what their well polished business speak meant. My ears had been faced.

Ultimately, I found out Benjamin and Amanda (I also found out they had names) were having a business meeting about education reform, so I was right. These people are indeed smart and accomplished and I bow to their noble and frustrating work.

Then I snapped their picture, asked if it was okay to use it in a blog post and walked away.

Lesson of the day?

Here’s what I learned.

When the meat is good in the sandwich, but the bread really is soggy, it’s probably best to wait for a slice of pie.

That and maybe I should start to think about cleaning out my ears.

Of Fathers and Sons and Hugs

Joe and Simon hugged themselves into a booth at the Café at the Pfister on a Saturday afternoon. They stopped for a quick nosh before scrubbing up for a wedding on the 7th floor. These gents looked like they had invented hugging, viagra and I was immediately impressed.

I watched this small miracle take place as I chomped a veggie omelet. Call me a sap, but watching a sloppy looking guy hugging his imp of a six-year-old son in public is kind of beautiful.

Simon reminded Joe, buy cialis “We gotta make this quick pal…Mom wants us to get upstairs and shower.” I saw that Simon believed in the HAPPY WIFE=HAPPY LIFE principle. Smart man that Simon.

Joe had some important stuff to discuss with his father.

“Why do you think I don’t like Mickey Mouse?” asked Joe?

Simon was surprised. “You don’t like Mickey Mouse?”

“No, tadalafil I don’t like Mickey Mouse,” Joe answered flatly.

Joe had it all as he ordered his mac and cheese—someone to talk to who buys lunch and gives you hugs. It made me think about the recent hugging history between me and my dad. Our pre meal hugs have been a matter of diminishing returns for years.

Simon helped Joe sort it all out. “You like Pluto. You like Minnie Mouse.”

“I do like Pluto,” said Joe. “But I DON’T like Minnie Mouse.”

Simon scratched his head. “Why do you think you don’t like the mice?”

“I don’t know,” said Joe.

My dad and I used to chat this way over Saturday morning pancakes and sausages. We now struggle to talk, but not out of a lack of love. We have just become men who rarely find time for having as much syrup as you want and telling bad jokes.

Joe shifted gears between nibbles of mac and cheese. “Dad, can a good knife cut anything?”

“Well, it depends,” said Simon looking at Joe’s butter knife.

“What about candy?” asked Joe. “Could a good knife cut candy?”

“That would be hard,” said Simon scooping a bit of Joe’s noodles into his mouth as he waved the waitress over for their bill. My dad used to finish my sausage. It’s clearly part of the good dad DNA.

Simon and Joe paid their bill and scurried out of their seats. Simon swung his arm around Joe’s shoulder in what can only be called the perfect walking hug. “Show offs,” I thought. I shared the smile that had come over my face with Simon as I caught his eye.

Joe lit up as he walked past my booth. “A jawbreaker would be hard to cut.”

“A jawbreaker would be impossible to cut,” agreed Simon.

I don’t know guys, watching you makes me think nothing is impossible. Consider for instance a future Saturday at the Café at the Pfister when me and my dad hug our way into a booth and let the syrup flow. But no way, no how is dad finishing my sausage this time.

How to Dig Yourself Into a Hole of Uncomfortable Depth in Under Sixty Seconds

The standard question to ask when you see a gathering of three young ladies in the Lobby Lounge with a few drinks backed up in front of themselves and one of those young ladies is wearing a bridal veil is, stuff “So when are you getting married?”

I asked the standard question.

The standard answer you hope to receive to the standard question is, “In two weeks! I’m so happy and in love!”

I didn’t get the standard answer.

I got something better, view and here’s what it was.

“Oh, I’m not getting married. My dad just got remarried.”

The standard follow up to the nonstandard response to the original standard question is, rx “Oh, were you in the bridal party?”

I asked the standard follow up question.

The standard follow up answer you hope to receive to the follow up question to the nonstandard answer is, “Yes, I adore my new step mother! I’m so lucky—now I have two amazing mothers!”

I once again got something other than the standard answer.

“Oh, no. This didn’t come from my dad’s wedding to his new wife.”

Of course, I’m always game to dig the whole a just little deeper. The standard follow up question to the follow up answer to the follow up question to the original answer to the original question is, “Really? So where’s that bridal veil from?”

I’m nothing if not focused and purposeful. I asked the standard follow up question to the follow up to the follow up.

That follow, follow, follow answer you want to get at this point goes something like, “This is the bridal veil I know that I’ll wear on the day I take my great life’s love as my husband. I was inspired by all the love my dad showed to my new step mother yesterday.”

This will probably be no shock to you, but I didn’t hear those words. Instead, these were the last ones that I heard that really mattered.

“This was the veil MY MOM wore to my dad’s first wedding to HER. She thought it would be a riot if I wore it to his wedding. Like it?”

And scene.

Look Away If You Can’t Stand a Love Story

I would like to warn all you cold-hearted pragmatists out there that I’m about to tell you a love story about people taking their time to find one another. You can cease reading now if you need to iron or sort your recycling.

But if you have even half a heart, treat then you should rush to the nearest window, throw it open and shout, “I believe in love!” And you should keep reading (or listening), of course.

There was an open seat next to Justin at the bar. When I shook his hand as I introduced myself, I felt a surge of power rush up my arm. He immediately struck me as a man of great character, pharm someone you want on your side. His smile and easy, polite way made me want to spend time talking about the meaning of life, or maybe just arm wrestling. He’d probably beat me with that strong grip, but Justin struck me as the sort of guy who makes you feel good about having your hand pressed to the mat.

As a group of folks sipped Val’s zippy Bloody Mary’s at the Lobby Lounge bar, sick the world seemed to circulate around Justin. Though the bar sitters all seemed to be strangers to one another, occasionally someone would look at Justin, softly seeking his approval, wanting some sort of acknowledgement of good deed from the positive force sitting with them all.

Justin explained to me that he had come back to his old Milwaukee stomping grounds from his new home in San Jose, CA. When I asked him what his favorite thing about coming back to Milwaukee was, he was quick to answer.

“It’s gotta be staying at the Pfister.”

I checked…Justin doesn’t work for the hotel’s marketing staff. He’s just a guy who likes to be treated well.

It makes sense. Justin treats people well himself. He excused himself for a moment to help a group of young ladies dealing with a frustrating Uber encounter, a knight in shining armor behind a Bloody Mary.

Somehow the attractive woman seated next to Justin had escaped my view while we had been chatting. But as he made his quick chivalrous trip, I spotted a lady who seemed in every way to be a part of Justin’s world.

Christina was her name, and I had guessed right, she was Justin’s better half. Christina certainly added to the reason that Justin felt a stay at the Pfister was a highlight of his hometown trip. Sharing the experience with a lovely lady surely adds to the charm.

Justin returned, and all had been handled without incident. He told me the Uber driver was a decent guy, but it was good that he had been on hand. Better safe than sorry. I kind of wished I had had a parking ticket to contest so I could take Justin along with me to make my case.

With his sweetheart by his side, Justin explained that he and Christina had a warm and lovey story of how they had come together as a couple. The two had grown up together, been great friends in high school, and then went their own ways and created their own families. After each of them had separated from their spouses, they reconnected and took their friendship to a new level.

The fact that it had taken two decades for their hearts to entwine kind of took my breath away. They seemed so right, so suited to each other. And so happy to be sharing their time together at the Pfister.

Now with a mix of children between them, Justin and Christina put family first. But celebrating together for a weekend of romance and fun was a series of their own moments. It had been a 20-year burn, but by the look of Justin and Christina hunkered together, the wait had been worth the while.

Lesson Number One: Always Talk to the Mustachioed Rapscallion

I happily made the acquaintance of a mustachioed rapscallion named Farley as I was sauntering through the Pfister’s lobby.

Farley runs with a crew of real quick wits. I asked questions, viagra they gave me the straight dope; it was all very polite. Basically, Farley and his gaggle are like the fresh-faced reboot cast of “Friends.”

These nimble minded grinners came from the East (New York City) and the West (Los Angeles) for a friendly wedding. That is to say, the wedding event came about because their friend who grew up in the area asked them all to attend and they were happy to bring their shiny selves to Milwaukee for the very first time.

Farley is part of the New Yorker element of the crew. He loves the Pfister, look he likes walking around the Cream City, and he appreciates the fact that folks around these parts are friendly first. He’s also a fan of the beer in Milwaukee and holds a cold one in his hand like a champ. Suds soak his bushy lip decoration as he savors the flavors of an amber brew. That’s the downside of distinction.

Farley’s friend Monica is a spit-fire. She responds to all my queries with plain-spoken honesty. It’s also quite possible that she simply and cleverly sold me on a big bag of tall tales. I don’t care really. She’s immediately likeable, ailment so if she’s lying, she’s doing it with a lot of moxie and I’m always in favor of spreading more moxie around.

“Where are you from?”

“Los Angeles.”

“What do you do there?”

“I’m a housewife.”

“How was the wedding?”

“It was great.”

“What was the most memorable part of it?”

“I slept with my best friend last night.”

We quibble over prepositions. Monica insists she is in no way suggesting any inference of carnality. Monica is just trying to explain to me that she slept with her best chum in a comfy bed and is thoroughly refreshed. It’s all squeaky clean info, but you’re never really sure if Monica is telling you the whole story because she’s a cheeky one.

But Monica is also classy, and the prior evening’s activities were glittering and elegant as reported by her group of friends. They all sprinkle their description of the wedding and a Pfister overnight stay with words like “gorgeous” and “refined” and “stunning.” For a precious and shining moment, Los Angeles and New York City have ceased to be the centers of their world.

As I spend more time with this witty crew, I so, so badly want to pull upon Farley’s grand buffo mustachio. I stop short because of my internal gentlemen’s code. Farley has had an on again off again relationship with his lip of hair. He’s been going about growing and pruning and growing and pruning and growing and pruning for some five years now.

“I keep the stray hairs from those clippings in a jar under my desk. Never know when I’ll need them to put this back together,” he says pointing at his mustache.

I can’t fathom that putting Farley’s face back together with the shreds of his hairy calling card is a golden moment anyone wants to see. I hope he never has to try because I definitely found that I liked his sassy puss.

Simon and Kathleen, two of the good looking supporting cast of characters in this wry little sitcom, confirm Farley’s bold assertion. I get the sense that Farley’s mustache has gotten the whole crew in and out of a series of hilarious scrapes, fodder for a whole series of mad cap half hour pilots. I’m telling you, this group is ready for prime time, what with the style and the bi-coastal vim and vigor and the really nicely tussled hair.

Cabs are coming, flights are being pursued, but not for want of a quick getaway. These pals aren’t into tears and sopping hankies until they meet again. It’s nothing but a day of the fondest farewells for Farley, Monica and all the friends in between.

The Big Ideas Make the Small Moments Soar on Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day and I would like to take a moment to tell you what that has meant during the lead up week to this holiday at the Pfister.

Everyday when you pull into the Pfister parking garage, cialis a succulent smell of great cooking hits you as you open your car door. You are immediately happier, if not a little hungrier than you should be.

Early last week, a little girl sat dangling her feet in a chair across from check-in, stretching and striving to get her toes to touch the ground. She didn’t succeed, but I’m betting on her making it in a year or two.

Two friends reunited outside of the gentlemen’s rest room on the ground floor. Upon exiting the loo and bumping into his old chum, remedy a very effusive and smiley chap grabbed his friend’s cheeks and called him “bubbe.” And, yes, in all of his happy reunion vigor, he had thoroughly washed his hands.

During a mid-week lunch two ladies ate salads and chatted in the Lobby Lounge while also ordering lunch for two co-workers to enjoy when they showed up later. The older of the ladies departed before the others arrived, and the solo woman thanked her departing companion for picking up the tab.

In the Resident Artist Studio, Todd continued to dazzle guests and visitors as he added more stunners to his collection while his talented wife Renee contributed some beautiful concoctions of her own to the whole artistic aura in the building.

I took a moment to visit the alcove with the portraits of all the Wisconsin Governors and was quite taken by Walter Kohler, Sr.’s bow tie.

At the bar, Val has concocted a Bloody Mary mix that is infused with habaneros. A drop of it on the end of a straw is enough to remind you that you want to drink gallons of it for days on end.

A couple celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary found that the room that they were staying in was a tad too noisy for them, so the gracious staff found that it was possible to move them and upgraded them to the Presidential Suite because it’s the nice thing to do.

People looking for rest checked in for a calming retreat, regular Joes and Janes celebrating the special moments in life raised a glass and had a meal, and notable citizens, starlets and heroes found that being at the Pfister was a refresher course in modest grace done up right.

Memories were made without even trying. And it all happened against a backdrop of peace, freedom and choice.

In considering this Memorial Day and the Pfister’s place as a sanctuary built upon the ideals of patriotism and civility, I was taken by a passage I found in a 1910 edition of The National Magazine describing a visit to Milwaukee to celebrate the annual Field Day of the Boston Ancient and Honorable Artillery. The passage describes a grand reception of the Eastern visitors to Milwaukee, with dinners hosted by the Pabsts and greetings from Mayor Rose and other local forefathers and mothers of civic pride. The highlight of their trip, however, seemed to be their stay at the Pfister as described in these glad tidings.

Soon after the arrival of the company, the lobby was filled with gaily uniformed men who enjoyed themselves as genuinely as schoolboys out for a holiday. From the moment of arrival to the departure of the corps, there was always something to do.

Memorial Day is a time for us to reflect on all the glory and wonder that it means to be an American. Men and women throughout our nation’s history have defended and protected all the important tenets of our commonwealth, but also a child’s simple right to dangle her feet from a chair in a fancy hotel. The Pfister has thrived under a philosophy of “Salve”, a dedication to great hospitality for all,that embraces the best of our patriotic beliefs that we live in a nation that should be safe and full of possibilities for everyone.

Today, let’s all raise our own symbolic glass to those men and women who have done so much to make the idea of democracy flourish throughout the years. And if that glass is full of Val’s spicy Bloody Mary mix, I salute you.

Let Me Help You Do Your Crossword Puzzle Through Deceit and Unfair Play

While it is true that guests come and go from the Pfister on a daily basis, order there are also plenty of good souls who you can classify as Pfister regulars.

The formidable Barbara Brown Lee who has knowledge about the visual art world that could fill many volumes of thick books (my predecessor Anja Notanja Sieger tells Barbara’s story beautifully) is a definite regular in the Café at the Pfister.

Barbara has her own table. She has no need to look at the menu to know what she wants to eat. She’s on a first name basis with the entire wait staff, and jokes fly back and forth with them all.

Barbara also comes in daily, picks up the newspaper (the real paper one, not a digital version mind you—that’s how regulars play) and does the crossword puzzle. She’s a champ and finishing the crossword puzzle is something that is not a miracle occurrence for her, but rather the daily expectation.

Having taken to sitting near Barbara on my daily visits to the Café, I have happily formed a friendly relationship with her. In that collegial role, I have recently become one of the people Barbara might throw a clue out to for help while she’s doodling on the puzzle. I suspect sometimes that she doesn’t really need the help, it’s more like throwing a dog a bone. I for one slobber all over that bone.

I’m always willing to step up and help a crossword puzzler to fill in all the open boxes. I like to give my fellow man or woman an assist, and it’s certainly great to entrench yourself in the fabric of the regular rhythms of life at the Pfister by showing one of the regulars some love.
So I help Barbara finish her puzzles whenever she throws out a clue. And to do so, I cheat real, real bad.

I’ve certainly been able to come up with a few words and ideas from time to time on my very own. There was the day that the word DAHLIA (a Mexican flower was the clue) came to mind and I was able to help Barbara with a vexing opening. But I’m often at the Café writing behind my open laptop that is connected to the internet through the glorious available WIFI. The temptation to reach into the vast Googly network of research available to me without Barbara or anyone really seeing me do so is too tempting.

Barbara threw out the clue, “Two letter Kipling poem,” and you would be amazed at how silently and stealthily my fingers typed KIPLING into my keyboard to get a list of his works. (The poem is called “If” by the way, and it is a good one.)

I’ve not told Barbara of my cheater, cheater, internet eater ways yet. For now, I’ll try harder to keep my hands off the keys and keep my brain in the game. Being a regular means living by a certain code, and I’ll be damned if 17-across will bring me to my knees.

Join Me As I Begin to Salute the Women and Men in Silk and Lace Uniform

I anticipate that today I will begin what will grow to become a more public and frequent declaration of one of my favorite harmless infatuations.

Bridesmaids.

Oh, how I love a gaggle of ladies who have all agreed to wear the same dress and stand in front of a group of people.

And, okay, I can’t forget their male counterparts, the groomsmen. Guys, remember, clip-on bow ties just mean you haven’t tried hard enough (forgive me, I’m a bow tie snob).

The Pfister is a glittering nexus for wedding activity. It’s either the place your party gathers and stays at before a march down the aisle, or it becomes wedding command central for every element of your public declaration of love. It is literally possible to enter the Pfister for your wedding one day and never leave the building until several days and glasses of champagne later when a shiny new ring has been firmly placed on your left hand.

Everything you need for a good wedding experience can be found at the Pfister. There’s nothing wrong with the eye candy of the whole building with its classic architectural flourishes, of course, but there’s also a spa for pre wedding primping, plenty of bar space for having an ounce of courage before you make the big move into coupledom, and ballrooms are abundant for your grandmother to sit and finish her wedding cake while you and your wedding party do the Chicken Dance to really show the world you’ve gotten hitched. Plus, a post wedding day breakfast in the Café at the Pfister offers plenty of options for that one dude at every wedding who pushes it a little too far and needs to have a start of day meal that combines equal parts of greasy and gooey (a sure fire hangover cure according to my dear, sweet mother).

I have a sentimental attachment to the whole idea of weddings as they relate to the Pfister, because my wife and I stayed the night at the Pfister the evening after we got married on a Friday the 13th 107 years ago (I am very old as you can probably tell from my baldness and affection for eyeglasses that make me look like Swifty Lazar). I will always remember how gorgeous our room was and how quickly we fell asleep when we tumbled into our suite. I am ever grateful for that uninterrupted night of Pfister rest as it gave my wife and I the strength we needed to rise triumphant the next morning and finish off the catering we had done ourselves for a party for 200 of our friends…but that’s another story of things you should never do when planning a wedding.

At my wedding, I wore a suit and my wife wore an eggplant colored dress. My brother and I were the ushers, no one wore matching colors, and the bride taught a spinning class the morning before the ceremony.

It is perhaps because of this casual approach to pomp that I have since been slightly obsessed with the dynamics of weddings that really have some sort of structure and design. Don’t get me wrong, I love how I got married, but I always have secretly wondered what it would have been like to have a few guys stand next to me in matching bow ties while I said my vows looking at my dad uncomfortably stuffed into a tuxedo. It boggles my mind what that might have been.

It was with a giddy joy that I came upon a group of bridesmaids in the Pfister Lobby. Signing on to be a bridesmaid means that you are content with enjoying the one time in a woman’s life when wearing the same dress as another lady at a party is not only an okay social thing to do, but it’s sort of expected. In this case the chosen bridesmaid dress was a deep dark blue. The ladies had every hair perfectly in place and comported themselves with a grace that suggested they knew their business well.

I thought their dresses were quite fetching, but I am also constantly curious about how the ladies themselves feel about the clothes they must wear in service to the bride as her support network. I honed in on a bright-eyed lady named Ashley who I sensed was the organizer of the group. I asked her that key style question that haunts all bridesmaids: “So, how do you like your dress?”

Ashley smiled and graciously said, “I think it’s beautiful. I imagine I’ll wear mine again.”

I stood with Ashley and found myself in the center of the group of waiting lady attendants. I posed the question to the other women, and fellow bridesmaid Melissa said, “It’s okay. Certainly not the worst I’ve ever worn.” Like a career soldier, Melissa wears the colors in dutiful service to the bride. Melissa, we salute you.

I noticed that all the bridesmaids were wearing matching flip-flops. Ashley explained to me that the flip-flops were a comfort concession for later on in the evening when the whole bridal party planned to tear up the dance floor. Other heeled shoes were part of the uniform of the day, but it seemed that standing on ceremony in those for too long would have been a bit too much for all the ladies’ tootsies.

In the pecking order of my bridal party obsessions, bridesmaids come way before groomsmen. It’s not every man’s business to wear a tuxedo. I think the best gang of groomsmen are the ones who sort of fade into the whole party. They’re the ones who are fun lads, have all the right buttons done, and don’t faint from locking their knees during the wedding ceremony.

The fellas complementing the ladies in blue were all hydrating well sucking on water bottles when I asked for a picture. It was good to see that no flies were open as I asked for a photo.

Groomsmen extraordinaire.  But let's face it, second fiddle to bridesmaids.
Groomsmen extraordinaire. But let’s face it, second fiddle to bridesmaids.

I imagine these guys presented well at the actual event. They looked like they had all done a good workout beforehand and were serious, steely and focused on being a quiet and respectful set of bros who knew it was best to let the ladies shine.

Ashley pointed out to me that the bride had made her way into the lobby at one point and that I might want to talk to her about the big day. I smiled at Ashley, and nodded enthusiastically about that announcement, but I never thought to check in with the woman in white (who, by the way, was gorgeous and beautifully gowned). Honestly, I didn’t much care. It’s the ladies and gents who agree to have their clothes picked by others that really turn my head.