The Best Day Ever

“Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would”

Neil Diamond, “Sweet Caroline” (1969)

There are moments in a person’s life that he or she considers to be the best they’ve ever experienced. Making the big play. Delivering the key speech. Witnessing the birth of a child. In my case, I can say without hesitation that the greatest single moment of my life occurred at Darlington House in La Jolla, CA at preciously 4:17pm on September 14, 1987, when an organist began playing the opening notes to the Wedding March, and the woman who would later be related to me by marriage took her first tentative steps toward me. It was an out-of-body experience, something I hadn’t felt since I scored three touchdowns in forty-five seconds against Pacific Grove High School. Somehow, someway, this beautiful, intelligent, and fun-as-all-get-out blonde walking my way was going to become my wife. Booyah!

But what is the best day of your life? That’s might be a little harder to determine, because a lot can happen in 24 hours. My wedding day was great, but I could have done without having to make nice for four hours to 247 people I had never met before and would most likely never see again. The days my children were born were memorable as well, but I seem to recall spending a lot of time at the hospital holding a newborn Ross or Keith and sweating the details of what I needed to buy more of; life insurance or lottery tickets.

But now I can confidently say that the single best day of my life was Saturday, August 26, 2017. So like any good story, let’s start at the beginning.

12:01am– I’m at a bar.

The fabled Grad Center Bar at Brown University, to be exact, an odorous dormitory dungeon featuring moldy pool tables, decrepit dart boards and an obscenely wonderful selection of draft beers. This cryptic basement masquerading as a watering hole is the site of the Ross Geiger/Caroline Kelley Wedding Rehearsal Dinner after-party, and Ross has been generous enough to invite the old man to tag along. Among the invited throng of under-30 something’s are my two nieces, Kristina and Kimi. Kristina traveled all the way from San Diego to make an appearance at her cousin’s wedding, and at this very moment she’s surrounded by three less-than-sober rope-a-dopes who have no shot at getting her phone number. Meanwhile, Kimi, who had recently moved from San Francisco to New York “just because,” is busy kicking ass and taking no prisoners on the pool table. There’s two things you can say about creatively tattooed Kimi right now; one, she’s undefeated. And two, she’s ready for another round.

Observing all of this riveting action is a sleepy-eyed Keith Geiger, his Best Man-butt planted atop a bench made sticky by years of beers being knocked-over by pool cues. Keith, who doesn’t imbibe and who arrived about a dozen hours ago from Orlando, thought it would be a good idea to stay up the night before playing video games so he could sleep on the plane. #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime.

1:30am- Father Geiger and Oldest Son close the bar. It’s a first. God willing, it won’t be the last.

8:00am- I’m sitting alone, unshowered, unshaved and for all intents and purposes unconscious, in the dining room of the four-bedroom house I’ve rented for the week. Sitting on the table are caffeinated IV’s (we’re going vente today…none of that tall or grande stuff) from the Starbucks around the corner. My son’s getting married today, and I’ve got only a few hours to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Hands down, the best decision I made regarding this wedding was to rent a house for our invited family and friends. It allowed everyone to unwind and relax, and to spend time together in the environment of a cozy home with creature comforts like a kitchen and living room.

The Pretty Blonde materializes from upstairs, and despite the early hour she looks like she just stepped out of a Chadwick’s catalogue. “So what did you do last night?” I mumble in a pathetic effort to sound pleasant. She tells that she brought a gang of friends and family to our place and that they spent several hours listening to music and dancing around the living room wearing decorative, ornamental hats from a rack in the foyer. “We laughed so hard,” she says. “We were all just so silly. It was so much fun.” I try to tell her how much “fun” it was cruising the desolate streets of Providence, Rhode Island with your son at O Dark Thirty in the morning, but I don’t think she’s listening. That’s okay. Neither am I.

10:00am- “Let’s eat, dammit!” pronounces Aunt Scot, a former Wall Street customer of mine from Richmond, VA who’s been part of our family for years. Those brave enough to emerge from their bedrooms pile into a car and head for some greasy spoon in beautiful downtown Providence. Ten miles and twenty minutes later, we discover that our great spot for a sloppy Saturday brunch is closed. Option B requires another ten and twenty, only this place is so popular the line to get in goes out the door and around the block. Kimi, who can’t remember what time she got home this morning but knows it was WAY before her sister, searches Yelp for Option C. Success! The good news; we can be seated right away. The sad news; it’s located a stone’s throw from our rental house. I can help but laugh at our ineptitude, but what I really want to do is cry.

11:00am- My cell phone rings somewhere during mid-waffle. It’s Ross, and he wants to know where I am so he can drop off some name cards for the wedding reception. He and Keith show up five minutes later looking like they’re ready to run a half marathon. Oh, to be young! Turns out they’ve been up for hours and have already had breakfast. They’ve even walked to town from their own Airbnb, a fabulous idea on this picture perfect, 75 degree August day in Providence (that’s not a typo). In just a few hours Ross will be adding another layer of responsibility to his young shoulders, yet he looks and acts as if it’s just another Saturday. He calm demeanor is yet another example that he didn’t spend much time in Dad’s end of the gene pool. On my wedding day I was more nervous than a Kardashian being sentenced to shop at Wal-Mart.

As Ross and Keith head back towards the house they’re sharing with the other groomsmen, one singular thought brings a huge smile to my face. Ross and Keith. Keith and Ross. Older brother (26) and younger brother (23). The groom and best man. Today is Ross’s wedding day, and he’s sharing every waking moment and introspective reflection with Keith. Here are two brothers, who are as similar to each other as oil is to water, and who nowadays are lucky to be in the same room once or twice a year, connected at the hip and making memories together that will last a lifetime. As a parent, you dream of moments like these, when your children not only get along with one another but also love and respect each other as well. My eyes say it all as I gaze over at The Pretty Blonde, who looks up at me while she wrestles her way through an omelet; we did it.

11:45am- My phone buzzes again, only this time it’s from the MOB (mother of the bride). She wants to arrange a handoff of the name cards. Her text mentions she and her soon-to-be-married-off daughter are having lunch, and it turns out the restaurant is just down the block. I grab the name cards and sprint to the restaurant, oblivious of my odorous condition. MOB takes the cards and, as you’d expect of anyone footing the bill for their only daughter’s wedding, begins inquiring about about a half-dozen other potential what abouts and what ifs. Trust me, she’s done plenty already by simply helping to raise a terrific daughter. Meanwhile, Caroline, today’s star attraction, looks positively translucent, her hair and makeup already in place. She’s completely composed, and at this very moment she’s emblematic of everything that makes my son crazy about her. She’s intelligent, rational, logical, and ready to have the time of her life. She tells me again that she’s looking forward to becoming a Geiger soon, thus offering further proof that she’s as brave as she is beautiful.

1:15pm- Shower. Check. Tuxedo. Check. Handkerchief. Check. Let’s light this candle.

1:16pm- Ross calls. “Hey Dad, the guys and I are starving. Would you mind picking up some sandwiches and bringing them over to the house?” The kid’s scheduled to get married in less than two hours, and he’s thinking about food. Why am I not surprised?

1:30pm- I make a previously scheduled trip to the bride’s parents house to drop off cousin Kristina, who’s a professional photographer and has offered to take pictures of the bride and bridesmaids getting ready. Answering the door holding a bottle of champagne and wearing one of the biggest Cheshire grins you’ve ever seen is the FOB (father of the bride), a polite gentleman blessed with infinite patience who has spent most of the day with eight giddy and slightly inebriated women. I drop off Kristina and head for the nearest deli, wondering what my life would have been like if I’d had a daughter.

2:00pm- Best Man Keith answers the door wearing jeans and a Pokémon t-shirt. Ross and the other grooms dudes  are in the living room, sitting around in their underwear surrounded by empty beer bottles. I hand off the sandwiches, shake my head and say nothing. The wedding begins in an hour.

2:25pm- A bus rented to ferry the bridesmaids and groomsmen to/from the various wedding venues is ten minutes late picking up The Pretty Blonde and me. Our Panic Meter moves to DEFCON 1.

2:40pm- The entire Geiger Wedding Party piles into two cars and arrives at Saint Sebastian Catholic Church, as gorgeous a locale for a wedding as you’d ever hope to find. With no one else in sight, and the doors to the church closed, we stand outside wondering if we’ve made a HUGE mistake. I walk up and open one of the doors only to find five supposedly well-educated groomsmen looking at their phones. “Um, why haven’t you guys open the doors?” I ask. “Is that one of our duties?” Men are really stupid sometimes. We can’t help ourselves.

Only 89 guests are expected to show up, the vast majority of whom are friends of the bride and groom (only ten are from the Geiger Party). MOB and FOB, lifelong Rhode Islanders who know practically everyone who’s anyone in the state, made the decision to make the wedding about Ross and Caroline, and I can’t thank them enough.

3:15pm- The guests are seated and the priest, who happens to be Caroline’s uncle, is locked and loaded. The Pretty Blonde and I are supposed to lead the procession, but the bride, who arrived about two minutes ago in a limo and is wearing the most amazing wedding gown we’ve ever seen, has to use the bathroom.

3:20pm- A church door suddenly bursts open, and five members from Ross’s Campolindo High School class scamper ever so indiscreetly into the church. Turns out they thought the wedding ceremony was at Aldrich House, which is actually the site of the wedding reception. Cue men are really stupid sometimes 2.0. It’s a good thing all of them lettered in cross country.

3:25- Here comes the bride. HOLY OH MY GOD YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!!! Where did I put my handkerchief?

Midway thru her walk down the aisle, I turn around to sneak a peak at Ross. He looks worldly in a black tuxedo. His chest is out, his chin is up, and his brown eyes are focused squarely on the woman of his dreams. He wears a proud smile, secure in who he is, who Caroline is, and the lifelong journey they’re about to take. Ross will always be my son, but from this moment on he’s no longer my kid. Ross has become a man.

3:26pm- I’m a sloppy mess. Where on earth is my handkerchief?

3:45pm- “Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to announce to you Mr. and Mrs. Ross and Caroline Geiger.”

5:00pm- It’s time for yet another photo op. Ross and his groomsmen fan out and take a seat along some steps in front of a one of the many ivy covered buildings at Brown University. Each one hikes up their trousers to show off the logoed socks of their favorite NFL team Ross has gifted to them. Best Man Keith, however, abhors football, so instead he’s sporting a pair Pikachu socks. I can only imagine what he’ll give Ross at his wedding.

5:55pm- The Pretty Blonde and I finally arrive at Aldrich House. The setting, from the dining room to the outdoor tent, is PERFECT.  Meanwhile, I’ve got only minutes to educate the bartenders about a masterful switch-a-roo I’m about to pull off. As father of the groom, I’m responsible for tonight’s booze. Of the 89 guests, 75% are under the age of 27, which means they can drink all the beer, sangria and cheap wine they want. But I live an hour outside of Napa Valley, and I’m not drinking ripple at my son’s wedding. I’ve brought a case of 2014 Far Niente chardonnay and a case of 2014 Nickel and Nickel cabernet sauvignon, and both are only to be served to the “adults.” I devise a secret password alerting the bartenders of who gets to enjoy the really good stuff; Nickel white or Nickel red. I start passing the word to the over-50 set as soon as the crowd begins to arrive.

7:15pm- A bartender alerts me that we’re down to only one bottle each of Nickel white and Nickel red. “Are you kidding me?” I ask. “How could twenty people go thru almost two cases of wine in just over an hour?” I instruct her to put the remaining bottles aside for the bride and groom for their own consumption. For what it’s worth, the reason I chose 2014 vintages is because that’s the year Ross and Caroline met. Pretty clever if I do say so myself.

8:30pm- Keith Geiger, who also looks amazing in a tuxedo, brings down the house with the mother-of-all Best Man toasts. He also manages to bring tears to his big brother’s eyes. Man, am I proud of him. Keith, too, has become a man. His own man.

A year ago, when Ross told me he wanted Keith to be his best man, I asked him why he asked his brother instead of one of his high school/college/work buddies. “I wanted to keep it in the family,” he said matter of fact.

Lord, take me now.

10:00pm- The band, which is GREAT, dials up Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and everybody hits the dance floor for the umpteenth time. Ross and Sweet Caroline are serenated by every one of their friends. MOB and FOB dance with one another like no one’s watching, and if you didn’t know better you’d swear they were back in school. And for the first time ever, Keith and The Pretty Blonde are sharing a dance. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

10:15pm- After a stirring rendition of “Shout,” the general manager of Aldrich House informs MOB and FOB, who pulled off the perfect wedding ceremony and who have put on a wedding celebration that exceeded all expectations, that neighborhood noise restriction’s require the music to stop. Like, right now.

11:59pm- Queen Katherine, Ross’s godmother and UCSB sorority sister to The Pretty Blonde, is sashaying around the living room of our rental home while drinking her third glass of brown liquor, excitedly reliving with me and The Pretty Blonde each and every minute of the wedding reception. Her second wind is amazing when you consider that as soon as the band began to play she never once left the dance floor. This post-wedding adrenalin rush shared by just the three of us continues into the wee hours of he morning. As it should.

And thus ended The Best Day Ever.

P.S.-I learn the next day that just as I was calling it a night, Ross and Caroline, still dressed in their tux and gown, made their way to an all-night pizza joint in Providence, whose owner saw fit to comp the newly-minted couple a pie. For a pair of Brown grads from the class of 2013 who are lovers as well as best friends, that’s exactly how they wanted to spend their wedding night.

9 Responses to The Best Day Ever

  1. Sherry Williams says:

    Lovely story!!! So happy for you all!

  2. Erik & Kristen Keller says:

    Congratulations! Sounds like a wonderful memory

  3. SCOTT with 2 T's says:


  4. Log says:

    You spin a fine take. As always, thank you for the peek inside your heart

  5. Pam says:

    Awesome! Congrats to you both as the proud parents!!!

  6. Jimmy Balint says:

    Congrats Lee !! As usual, very well wriiten. Sounds like a wonderful couple of days on the east coast. Hope all is well.

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