I didn’t give up!

Don’t worry! I didn’t give up! I did start to feel bad that I hadn’t written anything in almost 2 weeks, but to be fair I was in New Orleans for a week, and didn’t have much time to sit down and write (even though I did have the romantic notion of writing a post sitting outside on the patio of Cafe du Monde while eating beignets and drinking chicory coffee.)

Me, Dana Jill, Erika, Ben, Trey, Molly, Mom and Dad.

So my brother found an amazing woman and somehow convinced her to marry him.  Erika and Ben have the same brand of weird, and it is a delight to be around the two of them.  Any of you in Hattiesburg, MS should count yourself lucky.  These two are a fantastic pair and I couldn’t be more happy for both of them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ben this past week.  I wasn’t exactly sure who the best man was before getting to New Orleans (it’s not neccesarily out of character for my brother to have forgotten to ask someone, and technically I didn’t really have an official best man at my wedding) and honestly didn’t really find out until the rehearsal.  I wasn’t the best man, I was second in the line up, which in no way hurt my feelings.  The only reason I mention it is because I was unsure whether or not I was going to have to give a speech.  I wasn’t super worried given my love for storytelling and love for my brother (plus it was an open bar so all of that bodes well for an ad lib’d speech at a wedding), regardless though I wanted to be prepared.  So I’ll use this to share some of the thoughts that I was going to share if I did have to give a speech (turns out no one gave speeches, which was for the best, I think).

Me and Molly goofing off while Ben’s stomach was in knots before the ceremony

There are tons of stories I could tell about my little brother.  I could talk about when we were all little bitty kids and Molly and I covered him in flour and put him in the kitchen cabinets (and he LOVED it).  I could talk about how he used to pee in our closet for fun when we shared a room growing up.  I could talk about when he had long hair and Molly and I used to roll his hair up in the windows of the car  or make him go get the mail when we got home from school and then lock all the doors so he couldn’t get back inside.  Molly and I also helped him finally pronounced the word crayon (kray-on) which he originally pronounced “crown” by mercilessly making fun of him until he changed.

However despite all of those things, I want to talk about hospitality.  I can remember one year  Ben had a sleep over for one of his birthday parties.  It was the next morning and we were all downstairs watching TV.  Mom came into the living room and asked Ben if his guests were hungry.  When she said this, the boys all perked up excited for some sort of breakfast.  Ben turned to them and said,” Oh yeah, uh… There’s food in the kitchen..”  Disappointed, none of his friends moved towards the kitchen. They just sat there and continued to watch TV.  They hadn’t been over to the house many times before so they didn’t know where anything was.  Mom quickly told Ben to get off his ass and to go get some cereal bowls down and show them where everything is, and he hopped to.

We hid Ben in the bathroom while
Erika was coming up the elevator

Fast forward a decade or so and Ben finds his passion.  If you have sat at his bar, in his section, or just talked to him about cocktails you already know that he just lights up.  He genuinely wants to take care of people and make sure that they are having a good time.  As a restaurant manager, I can tell you, this is rare, and is nearly impossible to train someone who doesn’t have that natural desire.

I was talking to Kathryn, one of Erika’s bridesmaid who lives in Manhattan.  She was telling me a story of when Ben and Erika went to visit her.  She shared that any time someone makes it out there to visit her, she feels obligated to show them parts of the city that the person would enjoy, and that varies from person to person, but either way she’s a good host and gives her friends a taste of the Big Apple.  She said the only time that she didn’t do that was when they came.  The reason being was that Ben and Erika took her out.  Ben did the research.  They took her to places they had only vaguely heard of, and they had an amazing time.  He knew what bars to go to, which bartenders were working where and, what restaurants that they needed to hit up while in New York.  So Ben gave Kathryn a taste of New York that she hadn’t even experienced before.

AMAZING charcuterie from Primitivo in New Orleans

I’m sure that any of you who don’t live in New Orleans have gotten some sort of suggestion from Ben or Erika on spots you have to hit and how amazing the food is. Ben has probably talked to you about the line of products that he represents (shout out to Giffard’s).  Erika has a spreadsheet, of restaurants and bars that they have been to, so that she can make suggestions on where to go in New Orleans for great food and great atmosphere.

I am amazed at the man that my brother is becoming. There was a period of time where he almost died a couple times due to a duck, and some heart problems, and mom and dad have almost killed him too many times to count.  So to see that he has found his bride, and has pledged to take care of her as they grow together through sickness and health, richer or poorer is mindblowingly amazing.  Erika you are in good hands, and I am so glad that you have joined our crazy family.
I told my brother that marriage is the hardest thing he’ll ever do, and the best thing he’ll ever do.  Here’s to the hard times, and the best times.  Cheers to Ben and Erika.

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