Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rickey's Costa Rica Travelogue: Part II

Day 4. We still haven’t adjusted to the time difference and keep on waking up at 5:30 in the morning and going to bed at 9PM. Who the hell gets jet lagged from a puny two hour time difference? (The Hendersons, that’s who).

Departing from Liberia, we head towards Playa Hermosa, a gorgeous beach resort town on the Pacific coast. Driving west, I’m struck by how much flatter the land is here. It’s almost like the Serengeti—squat trees punctuate vast fields and large mountains loom in the distance. The car GPS does a decent job with straight roads, but once you venture off them, things quickly devolve into a greek tragedy. There are lots of unmarked rutted dirt roads here that the folks at Garmin have absolutely no idea how to classify. But on the plus side, the GPS does helpfully alert you whenever you’re about to cross over a speed bump. I wonder who the miserable schmuck is who has to drive around every country marking speed bumps on satellite maps. That poor bastard definitely drew a karmic short straw. One could safely assume that an ancient ancestor of his raw dogged Magellan’s daughter.

We’re settling in for seven days in Playa Hermosa at a lovely resort known as Villas Sol. It’s one of those all-inclusive packages that removes all worries and replaces ‘em with unlimited drinks, helpful smiles, and terrific spreads. Mmmmm, the white man’s burden never tasted so good. The resort is built entirely on a sloping hill with levels upon levels of houses with of cylinder clay tile roofs—the kind that Buster Keaton would scramble up on and cause an avalanche of roofing materials to cascade down after him. Looking at how vertically situated everything is, I try my damndest not to let the word “mudslide” enter my vocabulary. We’re just a short hike from the beach. I probably won’t be updating much over the next few days since essentially all there is to do here is relax and enjoy the incredible views. By no means is this a bad thing.

Promptly after checking in, we make for the beach with due haste. The sand is a black volcanic ash color that stains the skin and massages the feet. Looking for a spot to set up camp on the beach, we’re quickly accosted by an ex-pat named A.J. selling timeshares. He hands us two scratch off cards and informs us that if we scratch off three monkey symbols, we get a free car rental for a week. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this guy was working on commission. I swear these people would give up their first born for an opportunity to sell a condo. Uh, thanks but no thanks bub, the Hendersons would like to purchase a home stateside before they seek to expand their international realty holdings.We spend a while at the beach marveling at our surroundings. The surf is gentile and the sunbathers are friendly. We pick up our books and let the sun soak into our lanky Yankee bones. A guy wheels a cart down the beach selling cerviche. After careful deliberation, I decide to let my stomach settle with the normal local fare before diving into a cup of raw marinated fish (if no blog posts appear for a few days midweek, you’ll know why—I’ll have sampled cerviche and Erika will be attending to my foodsick stricken carcass).

There’s actually a good deal of stuff to do here. Tomorrow we’re doing pretty much the same thing: heading back to the beach followed by some pool action, but on Monday we’re going snorkeling. Tuesday is sailing. Wednesday is kayaking. In case you hadn’t already surmised, rolling Hendersons gather no moss. Back in a few days with updates.


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Friday, June 26, 2009

Rickey's Costa Rica Travelogue

Hey folks, this is Rickey checking in from Costa Rica. The next few weeks will be an interesting experiment for this blog. Internet connection willing, I’ll be live blogging from the road on our experiences down here. Also, you get the talented Young Henderson keeping dibs on all things Mets-related. And if that’s not enough, you get Adam’s quirky writings as well (no, he doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll get the memo shortly). Act now and we’ll toss in a complimentary set of steak knives! So ironically, Rickey going on his three-week honeymoon will actually INCREASE the frequency of posts here at RwR. And so, without further delay, we present our first installment of:

Rickey’s Costa Rica Travelogue
Moooo. There are fuckload of cows down here. It’s no exaggeration to say they outnumber the people.

Day 1. We touch down in Costa Rica, specifically San Jose Airport, where we spotted Josh Hartnett disembarking the plane with us. He’s accompanied by a blonde female who he dispatches to pick up his luggage from baggage claim. Apparently when you’re Josh Hartnett and have starred in cinematic masterpieces such as “Pearl Harbor,” you get sullen aneorexic blondes to grab your suitcase for you. We would have taken a photo of him, but this is Rickey's honeymoon, not Josh Harnett's, goddamnit.

A hasty exodus was made from San Jose via rental car (not much to see there) and we headed for Alajuela, a small town south of the central mountains of Costa Rica. The landscape is breathtaking, the roads treacherous, and the drivers maniacal. We booked a room for two nights in Vista del Valle Plantation Inn, an awesome collection of bungalows featuring thatched roofs, cozy mosquito netted beds, outdoor showers, and awesome views of the jungle. (In case you can't tell, we're quite eager to be on our honeymoon). Getting back to the digs, you walk out onto the deck of the bungalow and there’s the jungle, rich green canyons and all. Layers upon layers of dense green vegetation. Promptly after checking in to the hotel on Wednesday, we got ambitious and hiked down an insanely treacherous path to a nearby waterfall. The flume of water fell from a height seemingly half the height of the empire State Building and a hawk lazily circled high above the summit.As night sets in, the bats fly about and chirp. Fireflies blink three times at once while the river roars below and thunder sounds in the distance over the mountains. Trees are gnarled and covered with moss. The ground is soft and entire hillsides have sloughed off, only to be replaced by yet more vegetation. Inside every hollowed out tree trunk some creature undoubtedly dwells. Nature leaves no surface untouched or barren. Every morning the sun rises just slightly off to the left of the bungalow deck and basks the entire landscape in vibrant yellows and oranges. It’s a living depiction of “Dawn in the Amazon.” In the afternoon, a cool rain falls from the sky, and we peacefully read books on the deck, a biography for her and David Sedaris for me, while the soothing drops pitter patter down.

We discovered the food at the hotel to be fresh and new as we ate in an open air dining space resembling a tree house overlooking the valley. It takes the taste buds a little while to adjust to eating meat that hasn’t been injected with hormones and steroids. At first you think the steak is too gamey, but then it occurs to you that’s how beef is SUPPOSED to taste. The coffee here is the bar none the best I’ve ever had, something I’m told that is thanks to the sunny and moist Costa Rican climate. The company was excellent as well. We chatted with two Colorado natives who were seriously considering permanently relocating to Costa Rica. This seems to be a common refrain around here.

Day 2. Thursday, we started off with the traditional Tico breakfast of plantains, scrambled eggs, rice and beans, and an artisinal tangy spicy green sauce (yeah, I know, three days here and I already sound like freaking Frommers). While eating we peered through binoculars at goats grazing on a distant hillside. Then we hopped back in the rental car, a beefy 4WD SUV, (Costa Rica is one of those places where they’re actually useful) and made for the Poas Volcano. The drive up was incredible as we went through tiny villages, past sleepy farms, and up into the clouds. Farmers driving tractors smile and wave and tiny dogs yap at us as we drive by. Imagine that Tintin book set in Peru and you’re on the right track. You go up and down 25% grades, navigate crazy s-turns, while the rolling green countryside flies by and you totally love it. Just absolutely stunning stuff. The volcano was a massive smoking crater emitting enough toxic sulphiric gas to put the GOP minority to shame. After taking in the crater, we wandered around the grounds a bit more, winding our way up wooded spooky paths that seemed torn from some Tim Burton movie. Everything is rich here and teeming with life.
Afterwards, we headed to La Paz Waterfalls and Gardens, a touristy spot with a butterfly garden and some animal exhibits. A yellow beaked bird ate from my hand. Monkeys were fascinated by us. The jungle cats couldn’t be bothered to wake from their sleep. Overall it wasn’t much to write home about really, the star of the trip was the drive up there. Tomorrow we check out of the hotel and head towards Liberia for a one night stay before we settle in for seven days of beach relaxation at Playa Hermosa on the Pacific side.

Day 3. After killing a bug the size of my cell phone last night, it’s safe to say that we’re officially over the "charming rustic nature" of this lodge. The bastard was slamming itself against the bungalow door and emitting high pitched shrieks. Given enough time, he probably would’ve figured out a way to open the door. I swear to god, the insect actually screamed like a baby when I swatted him to death.And so we headed west towards Liberia, where we’re staying the night before embarking for Playa Hermosa. The drive was incredible, but fairly slow. In Costa Rica, it takes 4 hours to travel 80 miles. The roads are that twisty. Also, police set up checkpoints every few miles to nab speeders. If possible, Rickey would like to keep his honeymoon free of incarceration. Driving by scattered villages, we’re struck by how little in this country people have. They mostly live in cobbled together houses under sheet metal roofs. When a storm comes, they don’t file an insurance claim, they just rebuild, and somehow they’re always smiling.

We’re in Liberia now and wanted to go lounge by the pool but then the rain came. So we're hanging out in the room for the moment. The Ticos like to peek through the hotel windows at us. Not much to do in Liberia other than gamble at the hotel casino and catch a movie. We looked into seeing “Transformers” but were informed that it was dubbed in Spanish. I argued that this would only IMPROVE the experience of watching Shia LeBeouf attempt to act, but unfortunately, Erika felt otherwise. So it’ll have to wait until we get back in three weeks. Drat.

Logging on to the internet for the first time in a few days, I see that Michael Jackson has died?! The only english speaking tv channel we get in the hotel is Fox News (oh joy). Somebody fill us in, just what the hell are you people up to back home?

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Meet the Mets (again)

Yes, that’s right folks: it’s time for a long overdue Mets update. But how is this Mets update different from all other Mets updates you ask? Because it’s being written by Rickey Jr., Rickey’s younger brother! You see after Rickey got married, his selfish side took over and he departed on a honeymoon to some tropical paradise other than the tri-state area (see previous post). Well, rather than deprive the blogosphere of quality reading, Rickey asked me, Rickey Jr., to step in and fill his shoes. A word of caution: Rickey Jr. will most likely disappoint and alienate all of you but will try to make the process an enjoyable one by writing in the 3rd person. And now, let’s talk Mets…

…Even the casual follower of the Metropolitans is surely aware of the shitstorm of activity swirling around the team in recent weeks. And it’s mainly due to the injuries. Apparently, the Wilpons signed players with bones weaker than Sam Jacksons’ in Unbreakable. As a result, 40% of the starting team is injured and on the DL. Awesome. The only thing keeping Mets fans from putting garbage bags over their heads and jumping off the Whitestone bridge is the fact that the Phillies have also been stinking equally. It’s times like these that Rickey Jr. is thankful that he didn’t shell out money on the MLB package just to see the Mets (sidenote: Rickey Jr. lives in Orlando where baseball is frowned upon because it is a skilled sport….as opposed to turning left for 3 hours straight. As a result, Rickey Jr. doesn’t follow baseball as much as he should so pardon any errors in this post). But just as Mets fans begin to give up, the team shows some resolve and character in recent days. They took 2 out of 3 from the Cardinals and newbie pitcher Fernando Nieve had a great 1st outing. Is this reason to be hopeful as we enter the subway series? Who knows, maybe the Steinbrenners will spontaneously fire both Cashman and Girardi in one fell swoop and the Mets will trounce them. Eh, probably not. But let’s go with it and hope for the best. Whether relying on 3rd string players or using the ones with multi-million dollar contracts, one thing is for sure: the Mets will take us on some sort of journey this season and it’s better to come along for the ride than to idly watch it pass you by. Especially if you’re standing on the Whitestone and thinking about jumping. Don’t do that. Rickey Jr. prefers the blogging community alive and reading these fantastic posts.

OK, that does it for now. Stay tuned for more senseless news and analysis.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

(Probably) The Last Wedding Post You'll Read on this Blog

Quite the adorable couple, no? Rickey on the left sporting the 'Lil Slugger baseball cap, (clearly foreshadowing his illustrious softball career) and Mrs. Henderson on the right rocking the bangs and pigtails. This little locket just happens to be Mrs. Henderson's wedding gift. Cutting up those photos to fit into the locket got me wondering: what would things have been like had I met my wife Erika when we were wee kids? She'd probably have beaten me up a couple times for hogging the swings at the playground, I'd tease her for her love of pigs, she'd laugh at my irrational fear of raisins, and maybe, just maybe, I'd get a little peck on the cheek at the end of the day.

How'd the wedding go? In a sentence, everything went wrong and then everything went right. There were flat tires, dead car batteries, late shuttle buses, house fires, malfunctioning ovens, broken collar bones, rainy weather, and cash registers that spat out a price of $6.66 for two bagels and a cup of coffee, but once we exchanged vows, all was well. There's a book waiting to be written about everything that's happened over the past week, and yet all that craziness was quickly forgotten once "The Only Living Boy in New York" started playing. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we danced, and I got to wake up next morning with a ring on my hand and a beautiful woman next to me who I have the incredible honor of calling my wife. Life is good.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Listen, we know, you don’t want to hear about Rickey’s wedding. You care not about the fact that Rickey spent the past few days affixing custom designed wedding monograms to gift bags, water bottles, and funnel shaped pieces of cardstock designed to hold rose petals. So we’ll skip over that topic altogether and discuss something a bit less alienating and more engaging: the honeymoon. Following the wedding, Rickey and the newly minted Mrs. Henderson will depart for Costa Rica, a strange and mysterious country of which Rickey knows relatively little (this will become quickly apparent as you read onwards). And so, dear reader, we proudly present:

Rickey’s Comprehensive Costa Rica Travel Guide
Costa Rica! A country of natural beauty and splendor! Home of primo coffee beans, world class sport fishing, and the hit TV series “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” Costa Rica: the Switzerland of Latin America! Rickey and Ms. Henderson are thrilled to be spending three weeks in this virtually untouched Eden and yet there are most definitely several issues that those who travel to this exotic land must be aware of. For your enlightenment, we’ve listed them below.

Bandits. Here’s where Rickey sets the bar for this honeymoon’s success: NOT GETTING KIDNAPPED. If bandits kidnap the Hendersons and call their families demanding some sort of ransom, things will not go well. Rickey’s parents will kindly inform the bandits that they’re all tapped out after the wedding and recommend that the bandits have Rickey do some manual labor because he could use some sun and exercise.

Dengue Fever. We didn’t even know what this still existed until a day ago. This curious flu like disease has killed off no less than 35 supporting characters in various Hemmingway novels and now looms large over the Hendersons. Rickey and Ms. Henderson aren’t getting shots for any diseases, so wish ‘em luck with this one. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, rash, and everyone’s favorite ailment: hysterical blindness.

Local Food. Is actually pretty good stuff from what Rickey’s read. Mmmm fish tacos…. We’re sure that one day the Costa Ricans will submit to our greasy American fast food legacy, but until then, Rickey’s got bigger things to worry about while on his honeymoon such as…

Mel Gibson. Apparently he dwells somewhere on the Pacific side. He moved his family there a few months back, presumably in an attempt to live in a country where there are no Jews. Well guess what Mr. Gibson? The Hendersons are inbound, and they’re bringing the Hebrew horde with ‘em. Before you know it, you’ll be up to your eyeballs in skilled lawyers, amiable accountants, and doctors with excellent bedside manner. Tremble, Mel, tremble!

Volcanoes. Coasta Rica has a whopping five volcanoes, one of which is very much alive and erupts every day. Should a full scale eruption occur, Rickey will have mere seconds to react, because lava travels faster than the speed of sound. Or something like that anyway. (Rickey snoozed through 8th grade Geology).

Roads. Apparently navigating the roads in Costa Rica is treacherous enough as it is, let alone for a guy who plans on administering himself a liter of rum daily while he’s down there. But hey, Rickey drove up Mt. Washington, so he should be adequately prepared. We hope.

Snakes. Look, Rickey freaked out when he saw a tiny garden snake last weekend. Costa Rica has angry pit vipers and other serpents that conceal themselves in trees. Rickey has briefed Ms. Henderson that in the event of a snake sighting she is not to tell Rickey about it. Should Rickey see a snake then he is to make good use of the rape whistle around his neck. The plan is ironclad.

Bees. All honey bees in Costa Rica are of the Africanized variety, which is to say that they’re killer bees. Terrific. In hopes of fending them off, Rickey fully plans on bringing a few Wu-Tang Clan albums along with him. That should placate them, yes?

Monkeys. If a coworker’s advice is to be believed (and really, who doesn’t heed 30 second tidbits of advice from coworkers in the elevator?) then the monkeys in Costa Rica are force to be reckoned with. They’re smart. They’ll steal your belongings if you leave them unattended. Let those simians try and pull something with Rickey--he looks forward to wrestling a monkey. Rickey estimates that he could easily best at least 13 monkeys before they overwhelmed him.

Velociraptors. Based on everything we’ve heard, these guys are a real menace. They're the complete package: lethal yet devious. They’ll break in to your hotel room, figure out the combination to your luggage and completely rearrange your socks. Lousy raptors. If Rickey sees a can of Barbasol in the jungle, you'd damn well better believe he's steering clear of it.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

With a mere four days to go until the wedding, today we turn our attention to the important stuff: moichandizing. Some people call designing a wedding monogram “personalizing your wedding” but Rickey knows better. This is branding at its finest. Squeamish readers should probably look away at this point. We warn you: not since the reign of Louis XIV has anyone witnessed such a level of self promotion and self aggrandizement. (We shudder to think what would’ve happened had le Roi Soleil had access to Adobe Photoshop and a Michaels craft store). Behold:

Nick and Erika: The Beverage Coaster!

Nick and Erika: The Out of Town Gift Bag Monogram!

Nick and Erika: The Bottled Water! (this is even funnier if you know where Rickey works)

Nick and Erika: The Paper Funnel Thingy that Holds Rose Petals for the Guests to Throw!

Nick and Erika: The Cake Topper!

Nick and Erika: The Toilet Paper!

Nick and Erika: The Flamethrower! (the kids love these)

Nick and Erika: The Signal!

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wedding Update #756

Something called a "vegetable bowl" showed up on the doorstop yesterday, via the Hendersons' wedding registry. Rickey wonders: what exactly makes a vegetable bowl a vegetable bowl? Would something cataclysmic occur were one to put something other than a vegetable in the vegetable bowl? Would the earth tremble, the mountains sway, and a thousand norse gods of war emerge from their slumber to render the Hendersons' marriage null and void if Rickey was to put pasta in the vegetable bowl?

We have no clue. Ask the people at Waterford. Rickey's going outside for a smoke.

9 days...

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Your Weekly Softball Report: On Gender Politics, The Zen of Right Field, and The Glorious Mercy Rule

Perhaps Rickey is reading into things too much, but there is a certain degree of sexism present in any coed softball league. League regulations call for a minimum of three females on a team, otherwise the team can’t take the field. Furthermore, if you add more females to your lineup, you can also expand your roster to include more men as well. The insinuation here seems to be that women are an inherent handicap and adding one more entitles a team to compensate for this by adding a dude. Call Rickey nuts, but this seems a rather bad message to send. Also, it potentially exposes an office to multiple EEO violations when the coach of your company softball team belligerently stampedes down the hallway bellowing “Broads! I need BROADS for the game tonight!”

We can’t help but wonder what Emmeline Pankhurst would’ve thought about all this. She’d probably travel through time and organize her own feminist all-star softball team consisting of Abigal Adams pitching, Susan B. Anthony at first base, Elizabeth Blackwell playing second, Margaret Sanger at shortstop, Gloria Steinem at third, and Ruth Ginsberg catching behind the plate with Mary Wollstonecraft, Lucy Stone, and Sojourner Truth manning the outfield. They’d be called the Bra Burning Betties and they’d totally fucking win.

Rickey ponders about this sort of stuff while sitting peacefully in right field.

Right field is actually a terrific place to do lots of thinking like this. Right Field: home of Shawn Green! Right Field: inspiration for the classic Peter, Paul, and Mary song! Right field: where nobody’s expecting very much of you! As you can imagine, Rickey likes to keep a low profile in right field, and will dutifully (and happily) switch with the center fielder whenever a lefty batter comes to the plate. In fact, the only physical activity that’s required of Rickey in the outfield is to move to the edge of the infield when a lady comes to bat. This, friends, is yet another instance of odious sexism in softball. Whenever a female comes to the plate, like clockwork, Rickey’s team’s pitcher will turn his back on the batter and slyly motion for the outfielders to come in like it’s all part of some top secret and brilliant baseball strategy. Yes friend, you truly are the Tony La Russa of beer league softball! (deep down, Rickey’s totally rooting for the girl at bat to blast one into the center field gap).

Occasionally, a member of the opposing team will get wind of Rickey’s lackadaisical approach to right field. Either he’ll have noticed Rickey tossing a few warm up throws prior to the game or he’ll have simply sized Rickey up as the sort of person who has no business playing a competitive sport of any kind. Whatever the reason may be, Rickey’s stomach will turn whenever a righty batter looks right at him, pivots his body in mid pitch, and attempts to smack the ball into right field.

Oh no, he’s trying to pull it my way. He KNOWS I’m terrible. He can sense my fear. Something wicked this way comes.

In this situation, Rickey quickly weighs his options. Yes, Rickey could immediately bolt off the field, run to the parking lot, hop in his car, and hastily drive to the bar and get a head start on the aftergame drinking, but that sort of thing is probably frowned upon in recreational softball leagues. So Rickey will man up and tough it out. Nine times out of ten, the batter trying to hit the ball into right field will screw it up and ground out, so in a way Rickey is actually serving his team by indirectly contributing to some nice defense. Rickey’s mere presence causes ground outs!

Rickey’s presence, however did not prevent his team from getting whomped and the mercy rule being invoked. Turns out the ladies on the opposing team were freaking powerhouses. The oft heard comment from Rickey’s team: “their girls are better than some of our guys.” Uh yeah, we’re pretty sure that Rickey is one of those guys. His team’s record: now 1-4.

Afterwards, the team regrouped at a local pub. Bud Light and a burger after a 13-2 softball loss taste …well, honestly, pretty much the same as they normally do. Back next week with a thrilling edition of: The Softball Report.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Your Obligatory Wedding Update: The "Groom Under Pressure" Edition

Weddings make already crazy people do even crazier things than they normally would. Take last night for example—Rickey was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway and running late for a wedding-related task. Rather than wait for the traffic to subside like a normal person, Rickey drove onto the shoulder and gunned it (those rumble strips feel fun when you continuously drive over ‘em at 45mph). In his hasty and highly illegal detour, Rickey drove past an ambulance, and a whole lotta pissed off commuters, including one guy who hollered: “you’re a bad person!” Well that fellow clearly wasn't in possession of all the facts. Good… bad… Rickey’s the guy with the tuxedo ties that need to be picked up. This sort of thing transcends good and evil.

In case you weren’t aware, Rickey takes this whole wedding thing quite seriously. Why should Ms. Henderson be the sole decision maker here? The poor girl is already busy enough responding to everyone on the face of the planet asking her if she’s eager for her wedding (this happens so frequently that she’s debating creating a t-shirt stating “yes, I’m excited about my wedding, now piss off you bastards.”) And this is where Rickey steps in, fine-tuning the playlist, finalizing the rental order, typing up escort cards, and generally doing things that you wouldn’t expect a guy who plays 35 hours of Halo a week to do. But let’s be honest now, if Rickey is unable to pick out a suitable color for the goddamned cocktail napkins at a wedding, then what possible chance does he have of purchasing a house and raising a family?

And so Rickey springs into action, studiously taking every boxed wedding gift inside the apartment and stacking them neatly (the Henderson’s living room now resembles the warehouse at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”). Other tasks prove challenging. Sweet fancy moses, has Ms. Henderson neglected to write a thank you card to the person who bought that crucial All-Clad cheese grater off the registry? That shit needs to be looked into pronto! Was that ballroom dancing class scheduled for tonight or is tonight the night the Hendersons are meeting with their caterer? Does a mic stand at a wedding ceremony look tacky? Is powder blue the right hue for the tuxedo ties for Rickey’s groomsmen? Questions like this keep Rickey up at night. Quick, time to consult this wayward fucker.

All in all, you get the picture. Rickey’s got 18 days left before he gets hitched and, as they say… shit just got real.

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