The Pencilneck ®, Foo’s Button, and Porter’s Wedding
by Owen Garratt | The Adventures of The Pencilneck ®
“I dunno, get him a protractor or something to keep busy,” Porter said.
“We could send him over to the nursing home to watch Coronation Street” Butch offered.
“We could shine a laser pointer on the wall and let him chase it,” Porter said.
“You guys! Be nice to Owen!” Lynette scolded.
“I agree with Lynette, leave Owen alone!’ I said, kicking Butch. They were commenting, again, on my being the one red-blooded Canadian male who’s not into hockey.
“You guys are just like chickens,” Lynette said. “You all gang up and peck on someone’s head until someone else gets it. Honestly!”
We all looked at her as if to say “Yes, and…?”
I was back in the town I went to high school in, Wawota SK. The occasion was Marc Porter and Lynette Peterson’s wedding. I was honored to be asked to stand up with them, along with Foo. Porter’s son Jake was holding down the best man duties.
Marc and Lynette Porter (No, it’s not the Pawn Stars guy…see below)
I asked Porter about specifics, and he said “Just a white shirt and black pants. There’re no rules to this. Whatever happens…happens.”
I could tell what this meant. It was going to be…exciting. It was going to be full of laughter. And there was NO way I was going to get The Colonel and The Boys involved; anything could happen, from gunfire, to demolition derbies, to feats of strength, to open rioting.
Anything could happen, from gunfire, to demolition derbies, to feats of strength, to open rioting.Click to tweet
And so I treated myself with a little hair of last night’s dog and read Esquire as Porter, Butch, Foo, and Lynette watched the game with Grew – their neighbor across the street, and Porter’s extended family.
Porter’s sisters and brothers and in-laws and nieces and nephews festooned the house, so Foo and I were staying in Porter’s camper parked across the street. It was early April, and while the snow was gone it still got below freezing at night, but the furnace in the camper had a sense of humor and decided only to come on if no one was actually in the camper, and there was no water hooked up.
It was warm enough burrowed into the covers, but overnight my nose got frozen and getting up and going out for that first whiz of the day was discouraging.
We discovered another idiosyncrasy – Porter didn’t level the trailer very well, so when Foo, staying in the front, or I in the rear bedroom, rolled over or itched a scratch, the whole trailer bucked and heaved and sent the other chap flying.
Anyhoo, The Day arrived, and Foo and I teetered around and got changed in the camper.
Wardrobe Malfunction in The Locker Room
“You don’t need the suit jacket,” I said. “Porter said just white shirt.”
“I think I’ll wear the jacket anyway,” said Foo.
“Well shite, if I’d have known it was a free-for-all, I’d have hid my own paunch with a jacket!” I said. “Uh…a bit, ah, snug, isn’t it?”
A bit hypocritical of me, perhaps, to comment on his weight, but he’d taken three attempts at the button and now that he’d got it done it was creaking and shuddering like an armed catapult.
“I’m good” he grimaced.
“It’ll be kind of hot, won’t it?” I asked, trying to help.
Then the air was split with a *crack* as the button shot from its moorings, ricocheted off the wall next to me, careened off of the ceiling and nailed Foo in the forehead, nearly felling the man.
After my chortles ran down, I saw why Foo went with the jacket: there was a perfect geographical record of a previous meal spelled out down his shirtfront.
Something in tomato sauce, likely a meatball, had left an impact crater on his left chest. It’d bounced right, schmearing his right upper ribs before slamming into his right forearm. From there it changed direction and appeared to try and burrow under his shirt at the lower buttons before finally rolling off the bottom.
It was as if Lee Harvey Oswald had made spaghetti for JFK at the Warren Commission Luncheon.
It was as if Lee Harvey Oswald had made spaghetti for JFK at the Warren Commission Luncheon.Click to tweet
“Now what am I gonna do!?” Foo shrieked.
I wiped laugh tears from my eyes and scampered across to Porter’s garage for supplies.
MacGyver to The Rescue
“Hold still,” I said after returning. I took a finishing nail and tied 500 lb fishing line to it, then ran the line through a washer, so the nail lay across it. I ran the line through the jacket and tied off the button. Then I put a stitch through the buttonhole to close it off so the button couldn’t slip through.
“But I’m sewn into my jacket!” Foo complained. “How am I going to go to the bathroom?!”
“Well, it’s not tied to your pants! It’ll hold, and it hides your meatball avalanche. You look like someone shot you.” I said, trying not to chuckle.
We stepped back to Porter’s garage as Butch pulled in and we opened beers. Over Foo’s shoulder, we could see Grew running feverishly to meet us.
Grew needs to trim some Growth
“I need an electric razor!” he yelled, making Foo’s teeth clack together.
Grew had shaved half his face, but the other had about two week’s growth on it. He was holding an electric razor that stunk of burning motor, and smoke was coming out of it.
Foo pointed at it and said “There’s one!” and clapped Grew on the back.
“Not this!” Grew yelled.
“Sure, that’s a razor,” Butch said.
“That’s what I thought too,” I said.
“No, I know it’s a razor…” Grew started.
“I do that sometimes; you’re looking for something, and it’s right in your hand,” Foo said.
“You’d better hurry, it’s almost time to go,” Butch said.
Grew danced a few steps, “My damn razor’s busted!”
“Good thing you’ve got that one then,” I said.
“This IS my razor!” Grew yelled.
“Good you found another one to replace the one you broke,” Foo said, clapping him on the back again.
“No you fricken arseholes! This is my razor, and it busted, and I need to finish shaving!!” Grew yelled.
“Why didn’t you say so?” I said.
“I didn’t even bring mine because I only shave every other week,” Foo said.
“Since when have you ever shaved twice in a month?” Porter snorted.
“I didn’t think they still made electric razors,” Butch said.
“Well Groovy, I guess you’ll have to have a proper wet shave,” I said.
“No time…” Grew whinnied.
“Why don’t you see if you can borrow one over at the nursing home?” Butch laughed.
“Dad!! I’ll borrow dad’s!” and off he ran – flip-flops slapping the pavement as he went – to the nursing home to borrow his dad’s razor.
Then we went to the town hall, not quite but almost late. Sentence was being pronounced by a JP, Velda Weatherald, who also happened to be a substitute teacher for us back in grade 8. We stood around backstage lowering some more beer and chit-chatting when Velda asked where Porter was.
“I think he slid out for a quick puke,” Foo said.
Porter sidled in looking somehow flushed and more pale at the same time, and asked if anyone had gum. I was on my last piece, but jokingly dug it out of my cheek and produced it on the end of my finger. I should’ve known better, because Porter snatched it and popped it in his mouth and muttered ‘thanks’! Foo gagged, but we all began the nervous laughter that sometimes grips you right before an occasion when you’re supposed to be serious.
We lined up at the door. We chaps were to stride up the aisle to gather up our corresponding gal, and sashay them up to the front. The tune began, and someone gave me a mighty shove, and I bounded and stumbled out in front of the crowd to tumultuous applause and laughter. Recovering quickly and stifling my own laughs, I shot a couple of dramatic cuffs, and strode down the aisle to get Shanna.
Knowing a good thing when he’s on to it, Porter’s son Jake gave Foo a solid one and sent him out backwards, his arms pinwheeling as he tried to regain his balance. Even hampered by the fish line holding his outfit together, he gave a remarkable demonstration and stuck a perfect landing and flourished as if he was a gymnast doing a dismount. He smoothed back his mullet and trod down the aisle to get Porter’s daughter, Amayrah, who was convulsing with guffaws.
Jake was smooth and understated, but Porter moonwalked out and Thriller-danced down the aisle, complete with sequined glove.
“How the hell did Porter manage to get that past committee?!” I murmured to Foo.
“He scheduled the meeting for next week…” Foo said, adding a “Ba-dum *tish*.
The Fuse is Lit
As we got more or less settled, Velda stepped out, and it was instantly like being back in grade 8. I recognized the symptoms: nervousness, fidgetiness, sideways glances to see if your buddies are about to start anything, and an incurable impulse to push boundaries and buttons.
I mean, you know how it is; when you’re in a spot where you’re supposed to behave, even the littlest thing can set you off in peals of suppressed laughter.
Seriously, is there anything funnier than a fart in church?
She admonished us for screwing around and shushed the crowd and began her deliberations. The lineup was Porter, Jake, Foo, then me. Except for Porter, we were all staring at our feet and holding our breath trying not to laugh.
And now, with all of us in our 40’s, how long has it been since we’ve a) been together and b) actually had to behave?
I chanced a peek over at the bridesmaids, and they were in pretty much the same state we were. I ‘whewed’ a few breaths and tried to wind down a little.
Then I made the mistake of looking at the crowd
Butch and Grew were in the front row, and apparently, Grew’s dad’s razor had a few hiccups of its own: he’d peppered his face with toilet paper stuck on the shaving cuts. I have no idea how he mangled his face so badly with an electric razor, but there it was.
It looked like he tried to shave with a weed-whacker.
I shouldn’t have looked at Grew….
I clamped down and tried not to howl in laughter, but an ‘oomp’ escaped, followed by a ‘sknknknk’ and I looked at the floor, gasping.
Foo and Jake sensed the outbreak behind them and held deep breaths and desperately tried not to look at anything. Titters and ripples began in the audience, and then Jake did something awful…
He reached back and lovingly grabbed Foo’s hand.
I couldn’t see what was happening, but Foo’d hunched over a bit, and his shoulders began heaving up and down, and he had his other hand clamped over his mouth. This got the whole audience going, and threatened to burst the dam. I gasped for breath and hooted and then Velda turned to us and gave us The Look. I hid behind Foo, and she let him have it square between the eyes.
Foo took a huge gasping breath, covered his eyes and bleated:
“I’m just so HAPPY!”
And that did it.
The Dam Burst
Two hundred-plus people had been trying not to laugh, but no there was no stopping it. I turned my back to the audience and let loose an irrepressible torrent of bent over guffaws. I laughed so hard that the room spun, my knees quivered, and I ran out of air and launched into a series of crippling coughs that made my vision go dark around the edges.
Somehow, we made it through the Pronouncement of Sentence and as the papers were signed, Foo and I gave a sort of impromptu stand-up routine. We riffed, cut each other mercilessly, and trotted out material that we hadn’t used since high school, and we kept everyone in stitches – even Velda broke down and laughed. Sort of.
Impromptu entertainment at Porter’s Wedding
The pictures and supper were also rife with fun, and Reggie (whose real name is Dale) did up some of the best prime rib I’ve ever had.
Jake, Lynette, Owen, and Foo
The band was pretty good, and Porter offered to stand the drummer on his head if he didn’t let me sit in for a few tunes, which was also fun.
Playing a few tunes
Revenge of The Suit Jacket
As the evening progressed, I could tell that Foo’s jacket was starting to bother him. He made the rash decision to dance, which of course got him worked up into a heated lather, and as he couldn’t take his jacket off, he got rather moist.
Occasionally his eyebrows would rocket up into his hairdo, which made the person he was talking to flinch and step back a bit, so I guessed the nail was digging in.
I made a point of being in the bathroom or out back when he had to whiz, because the gyrations he went through trying to juggle his drink, his pants, his shirt, the jacket, and ‘himself’ all at the same time was priceless. An octopus would’ve had trouble with it.
He couldn’t pin his shirt and blazer up under his arms – the fishing-lined jacket kept everything put. And it seemed that the sweat-sticky shirt kept twisting and bunching and rising under the coat, adding much to his predicament.
The Motorhome that Smitty Built
Smitty, whom I hadn’t seen since 1992, bought his motorhome and after the dance, a bunch of us fellas crowded in.
It was one of those rare times where the conversation and jokes flowed, everyone was happy, and no one’s spouses were there to urge decency, temperance, or common sense.
The old tunes played, and we talked of the good times, of the bad times, and made urgent promises to do this much more often.
Over the course of the evening, Foo suspected that his jacket was slowly trying to assassinate him. He kept flinching and giving sharp, violent tugs at his lapels and craning his neck and grunting at himself.
About 5:30 am Cuddy was looking out the window. “What’s the matter with Foo?” he asked. “His pants are around his ankles, and he’s got hold of his suit jacket and is twisting and turning like he’s trying to tear it off!”
By 8:30 am Butch, Foo and I went back to Porter’s, where the rest of his family was just getting up. We got a hero’s welcome, because even the 20 something nieces and nephews packed it in around 2:00 am.
The strain, however, was starting to show on Foo. He was sweating and panting, and he’d pulled his shirt up so high that the collar was up to his ears and the first meatball stain was visible.
“What’s the matter with you? Why are you trying to pull your shirt off without taking off your jacket?” Porter asked.
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