Friday, June 17, 2011

Champagne, Strippers and a Pair of Jens—Or How I Got Engaged

It started off simply with another run-of-the-mill trip to Las Vegas. When I say that we’re talking dancing till 5am, drinks throughout the day and at least one over-the-top party thrown by one of my best friends—Kelly. She decided it was time for another high-end birthday party on the Strip and found the club, the view and the guest list to make it happen.

There were about 30 of us—give or take—in the city from all over the country. There were the LA friends, the Boston friends, the New York friends—a combination of classmates, siblings, boyfriends and girlfriends and even a coworker or two—at the Mix nightclub at the top of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. There was champagne and vodka, everyone dressed up and dancing, conversations and sharing through the early hours of the night. We were all out to have a good time in honor of a good friend.

Of course eventually the party had to wind down and various people split off into their own smaller groups to continue to try and keep the night going elsewhere. Clubbing, barhopping, gambling, eating were all on the agenda but for some people it was more a time for “Go the F*ck To Sleep” and for others it was more “Where The Wild Things Are” as we all spilled our way back on to the Strip.

You can guess where I ended up in that division.

There was a small group of us including Johnno, Edie, her brother and his fiancée Isabella, Valeska and a handful of others heading back out to the casinos to try and charm our way into another bar or club. After a handful of hits and misses—no $900 cover for us because they should be PAYING us $900 to join their party—we ended up deciding to meet up with a handful of people at the Glitter Gulch strip club downtown.

Yep. Lady strip club time.

In the melee of exiting, somehow I ended up in a taxi with Edward and Isabella while the rest of our group had their own ride a few minutes ahead of us. This is only important in that Edward would start to be the voice of reason from this point on because more than a few of us had had enough to drink to need one. I’d like to say at this point that while “drunk” I was in total control of what was going on with myself. However I did not plan to take care of anyone else that night—I was in it to win in it—that could be Edward’s job.

Eventually the three of us made our way to the strip club and half charmed our way into the place. I say half because I am pretty sure I still owe someone cash for the entry fee but whatever…I’m in the door. Most everyone there is in a good mood between the ladies dancing, the enforced 2 drink minimum and the post party high. Some people got hustled by the ladies, some people got motor-boated and some people knew when to say when it came to the ladies. Yet even strippers have to put on PJs and go to bed at some point and once again we closed another venue in Vegas

But some of us were not ready to stop the party—particularly Edie—so people tried to piece together another game plan. We ruled out nightclubs (they were closed), food (we all looked skinny that night), another strip club (it just gets skanky the further you go) but someone s mentioned the idea of getting married--as in “let’s find an all night chapel and get some of us hitched!!!”

That is how I ended up engaged—to Edie!!!

Yep. It was decided that it was time for me to give up the single life and for Miss Edie to finally “nail me down”. I was ready to go—she is one of my many Sistah Wives—plus I thought it would be a great story if not a great set of pictures to look back on. We both began the process of trying to research the details while the others mostly looked on in amusement. I checked in with Johnno to see what he thought and he was pretty game for the adventure—his only request was that we’d get the Palmdale house in the divorce. I did point out this would not be a consummated marriage but Edie still agreed to the terms of engagement.

This is where Edward saves the day.

Edward pretty much pointed out to me how bad of an idea this marriage probably was. Not only is Edie in a long term “thing” with her boyfriend/lover/fiancée Braden but Braden is a big towering giant of a man. A man who played Jason Voorhees in one of the “Friday the 13th” films. A man who makes crazy stunts for a living and does things like set people on fire. I saw Edward’s point and realized this was not the wisest decision so I did my best to break the engagement with a little bit of class and logic.

Edie wasn’t having it.

At this point everyone else was pretty much ready for bed—if not to sleep then to keep any other bad ideas at bay. (And some people like Valeska had a flight to catch in a hour.). So Edward finally threw his sister kicking and screaming into a cab and Isabella gleefully jumped in behind him—they were off to one part of the Strip with a smile, a wave and a middle finger. (You can guess who gave which one) The others piled into another cab heading towards our hotel but there wasn’t enough room for me and Johnno. We stayed behind to grab our own cab.

However the next cab claimed to not take credit cards and somehow we had both ran out of cash—funny how that happens after a strip club. So after some debate, some bathroom breaks, and water we decided that we would walk back to the Stratosphere. From Freemont Street. All because the cab driver who refused to take credits cards even though his door said he did—we were not going to an ATM for him!

We’re stubborn like that.

Of course Johnno and I forgot two key things; one being that buildings in Vegas are REALLY tall so using them to judge distance is a bad idea and the other being that Vegas is sketchy as HELL in certain areas. But now we wanted the walk on principal and feeling rather butch post strip club—off we went through the scary dirty streets regardless of place or time.

During our walk we rehashed the night’s events; I admitted to Johnno that I was surprised that he would have willingly allowed me to marry Edie that night. It’s not that he had to give permission—he probably would have given me away—but I would have thought there would be at least had a moment’s hesitation. His response to that train of thought was simple—he already knew he had me and I had him so… In response I joked that my ring finger was bare and in response Johnno did the same gesture back to me. He then took my ring hand and squeezed my finger three times as he repeated that he had me.

That was the moment.

I already knew that I loved Johnno. I had had several conversations with people about my plans to try and propose to him in the future. I had a long check list of things to do, people for him to meet, circumstances to be in order before the “big” moment could happen. If I am good at anything it is over planning, over thinking—so much navel gazing that I could give those strippers a run for their money when it comes to contortions—to the point that I lock myself in neutral.

I always wait for the perfect time.

But in that moment—walking down the dirty streets of Vegas, slightly punch drunk from a long night with my friends, only moments after an aborted engagement—I knew what I wanted. The question has never been if I loved Johnno enough to marry him but whether I trusted enough in his love for me. I have always found loving someone to be the easiest thing in the world—it’s letting someone love me that has always been the hard part. Allowing myself to believe that someone could see all the sides of me—the good, the bad and the ugly—and want to put up with me has always been a tricky thing for me to grasp.

And yet…

I realized at that moment how much Johnno did get me. He gets that sometimes I will get drunk and meander my way across town, that I can be stubborn and choose to walk when we could ride, that I love my friends so much that I will force myself to watch naked ladies, that I am crazy enough to get married on a whim just because it’s there… He sees and loves all those parts of me—that’s a huge part of why he does love me at all.

It’s amazing.

So I dropped to one knee in the middle of a dirty Vegas sidewalk, next to an abandoned building, across the way from a vacant lot. I took his hand. I asked the world’s simplest, frightening, meaningful question and he said yes. Just like that—no thought or hesitation.


Everything after that is blur of phone calls and texts and kissing and tears and a million other things rolled into one big jumble in my head. The only thing that sticks out is that I am now engaged to Johnno Houston Jones. Like engaged to be married—to spending the rest of my life with him--forever even.


And for that I blame two Jens, a handful of strippers, a little bit of champagne and myself.

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