A Farewell to Johns

Monday, August 02, 2010

I was home in Saskatoon on Sunday night after saying goodbye to Fort St. John and my cousins there. After visiting with all of my family that night except Larissa, who is currently working at a resort in Mexico, I hit the old familiar bed too hard to notice how comfortable it was or for that matter that it was a whole new mattress. The first week back was a hubbub of activity, unpacking, sorting, and getting things in order not to mention the big event of the coming weekend that had brought me so many tears on the road: John's Bachelor Party. It was the following weekend and there was still a lot to do before like sorting out meals, getting groceries, sorting out a total price,and so on. I won't bore you with all the details of that or my return to "Dynamite Dean and the Formidable Pylons" avec yellow card. We lost by the way, because the ref let the other team score on a handball, not that I'm too worried about such things. Our team regularly celebrates defeats as victories. I didn't call anybody up or plan a big welcome back for myself, instead I'd just go and visit whoever called me. We had dinner with my family and grandparents and John (who is basically counted as family at this point), I met up with Megan and some of her friends one evening, I fell asleep at 9:30 one evening and that's pretty much the week right there. Then, at last, it was time for the weekend and John's bachelor party where I and his other friends and family could bid adieu to single John.

John was running a bit late from work and I had to pick him up from his family's house outside of town. I was running a bit late myself, having forgotten the hamburgers in the freezer at home, needing to gas up, and so on. I should mention before I forget that I wouldn't have gotten it all done that day if it wasn't for Steve helping get snacks, organize the golf tournament rules, prizes, and just being a sounding board for good advice. And while I'm thanking people, I should say that Darren I owe a huge thanks for finding us a cabin - his uncle's - that we could use, booking golf, and helping with things while I was on the opposite side of the world. Now, all that lateness and running around and I still managed to get to John's not long after he did and moreover managed to have him at Athena for the rendezvous drinks at the specified time: 5:30. There we were met by Steve and Kirk, his cousins, as well as my cousin Jonathan. Probably the biggest surprise for the weekend walked in the door about 10 minutes later in the form of his cousin from Edmonton, Mark Mielke. It was pretty impressive for him to get all the way here for the weekend and John was very excited as he'd been assured that none of his family from out of province would be there. Then we hit the road to our destination, 3 XL Athena Pizzas in the back and arrived at Mistusinne on the shores of Lake Diefenbaker around 7 PM that night to find Darren waiting for us. After settling in, getting ice (thanks guys and fictionally attractive ice girl!) and unloading everything we cracked the pizza boxes and the alcohol and warmed up for the arrival of the last guest for the weekend, John's cousin Lee, from Regina.

The night was a lot of fun though we didn't do anything especially wild or nutty. Or at least I didn't think so until I saw the photos. We essentially sat around the living room with our respective drinks in hand visiting and getting to know each other and telling stories that would never come up had a female been present. And apparently dancing on ottomans? We were up and visiting until about 3 AM. I was up again at 5 AM as John shook me awake - something in the cabin was reacting badly with him and he was having trouble breathing and so it was that after a busy week getting caught up, de-jet-lagged, and planning this party we were up after only 2 hours of sleep and racing for the hospital in Saskatoon about 140 km away. I don't think it took us very long to get there but by the time we did he was breathing quite a bit better than when we left (which wasn't saying much). The doctors had him breathe through a device with a ball to see what sort of pressure he could generate and he only got to 300 when a normal person can hit 650 or so. I tried too and for some reason could only hit 450. Hmm. After inhaling the ultimate hangover cure: pure oxygen and steroids, John was breathing at about 420 and we left the hospital picked him up some pills for the weekend (no reaction with alcohol? Great!) and headed back to the cabin.

The timing was really good as we got back at around 9:30 and just in time for me to start on breakfast for everybody. They all had just gotten up and thought we went for a drive to get ice or something but John had the wristband to prove it: he'd promised Leona no "The Hangover" stunts and I had broken that before dawn on the second day. Breakfast that morning was grilled tomatoes with oregano, BBQ sausage, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns. It proved to be a little much to handle all at once cooking for eight on no sleep and Mark saved the day by volunteering to take over the hashbrowns while the others watched Major Leagues on VHS and John napped. We managed to get everybody fed and get ourselves out the door and to Harbour Golf Course with two minutes to spare before our tee-time. Steve's rules were specifically designed for the course and really made the golf fun though I was a bit too tired by the end to swing much less get too crazy with them. Still, the best rule by far was the taunting hole where everything from funny one-liners to run-over golf balls to plastic bottles thrown midswing and chipping while the golf carts were buzzing in reverse stretched the creative mischief muscles. The course itself, aside from being in need of new groundskeepers, was beautiful and I felt like we were in BC or somewhere else as sail boats bobbed by on Lake Diefenbaker. That is, until you round the corner and there's the Elbow grain elevator standing on the horizon.

After golf and a lot of sun - did I mention the weather was perfect for this weekend? - we headed back to the cabin whereupon the boys put on the rest of Major League and I got started on dinner. Getting off the course and out of the sun I felt a lot more awake again so I didn't bother napping. We were missing one crucial ingredient from my plans that day and that was oil to make homefries. So plan B was to dice up the potatoes (with help from Darren and Mark) and spice them with whatever we could find and wrap them in aluminum foil. There were three foils, one was spiced with salt and oregano with lemon to be added later, the other with salt, basil, and tequila with lime to be added later, and the third was spiced rum and a mix of spices which proved to be everybody's favourite. I also made up my controversial Greek salad with cinnamon and then BBQ'd some beautiful steaks my dad had cut up for us. And I cut up some more limes and got the tequila shots going. If I may say so it was a really nice dinner although I forgot to cook the bacon-wrapped scallops that were meant to go with the steaks and I couldn't have done it without the help the boys gave me.

That evening after dinner, Lee had brought Beer darts and we went outside and played that until the mosquitoes won and drove us back inside. Here, we all put in $5 and had a pretty good round of Texas Hold'Em. Any time you went head-to-head with John you had to take a shot of tequila (and so did he, of course). Unfortunately, he was out pretty early but I made it to the final three and fatigue finally got the better of me. I don't remember this at all but apparently I passed out on the couch for a little while or at least long enough to be photographed. Then I got back up and we continued the party though I was not up much longer before John passed out and I was close behind. Jonathan left at some point in the night as he had a busy Sunday with work ahead of him and after breakfast, which was a much more simple pancakes, 'maple' syrup, and bacon, Lee had to leave too. Then we went to the beach and swam a bit in the lake (which I know was warm but felt very cold) and returned to the cabin and a Risk tournament after some dishes. I don't remember the order everybody went out but I think Darren was first and he also had to leave to go home that afternoon so he said goodbye there and then. I believe Kirk was next followed by Steve and then Mark, and so it came down a head-to-head between John and I. What would any good best man do in this situation, a showdown with the groom-to-be? He'd let him have the game of course! But I could not shake low numbers to save my life or John's and so I marched triumphantly to victory happy at least that he is used to losing to my invincible armies.

Then it was dinner time and tonight's helpers were Steve and John. On the menu were angus beef burgers with carmelized onions, fresh tomatoes and lettuce, the usual condiments, hashbrowns, and bacon-wrapped scallops. Not long after eating Kirk collapsed in a heap on the couch and a black-dressed John proceeded to flash him repeatedly. The black dress proved a little too tight, however, and John moved to a more wedding-traditional white one claiming that Leona couldn't have that colour to herself. It was probably appropriate given his magnificent defeats in the board game we would bust out that final night: Settlers of Catan. Mark had brought this (and I played it once upon a time in Malaysia) and once we started we were hopelessly addicted. We also had a mission to finish off all the alcohol we could which included my bottle of New Zealand Waimea which long time readers will remember me hunting for over three years, more tequila, beer, and so on. We played until 5:30 AM and after a breakfast of cinnamon buns and cream cheese we played one last game, cleaned the cabin, and started the caravan back to Saskatoon. It had been a great weekend and though not a traditional bachelor party, was a great weekend hanging out with the guys and enjoying the good life.

John's Stag Photos

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