FARGO – Oh, the things we do to keep food on the table.
Here I am, a grown woman from a respectable Midwestern family, sitting in the Drekker Brewery parking lot and feeling like a stalker.
The Forum got a news tip Saturday that North Dakota’s most beloved couple — Josh Duhamel and Audra Mari (aka Joshamari) — were holding their wedding reception right here in good, old Fargo at none other than Drekker.
And which reporter just happened to be working this weekend, partly because she had foolishly switched weekends to help out another reporter? (I’m looking at you, Helmut.)
So here I am, wondering how I can cover an event like a celebrity wedding reception to which I haven’t been invited. The only time I have been more mortified was when my editor felt me to knock on the Insane Clown Posse’s bus to see if they would be up for an interview. (They were not.)
So, as directed, I sit in my little Juke and watch the action through my rear view mirror. I spot a tall, long-legged girl with long, dark hair and wearing shorts, black blazer and white platform shoes. Could it be Audra? The sister? A friend who looks remarkably like her? I ponder these questions as I slump in my seat, wondering why I didn’t pursue a career in a nunnery, as originally planned in first grade.
My editor asked me to collect any details, just in case Mel Gibson (also rumored to be in town) happens to cruise by, perhaps driving something unassuming like the Ford XB Falcon GT351 he drove in the “Mad Max” movies. (Duhamel and Gibson co-starred in the movie “Bandit,” slated for a Sept. 23 release.)
Mainly, I see a lot of catering types dressed in black and a large group of helpers arranging flowers. The flowers — which look like white hydrangeas (or could they be mums?) — are lined up in large urns on the ground. The florists are building an elaborate archway of flowers over the door that leads from the brewery into the large tent.
Beneath the tent, I count — best as I can, slumping in my Juke —16 to 20 long tables. Someone walks by and looks at me suspiciously, so I intend to be extremely interested in my radio. “Nothing to see here folks,” my body language says. “I’m just a guest who is here seven hours early, to make sure I get a good seat by the cake.”
The tables are set with white linens, greenery and more white flowers. Greenery is also being arranged over the entrance into a large bar kiosk with a gorgeous arched ceiling made from light and dark planks of wood.
I think of my own wedding, in which we had the bar in the tiny room where they kept the deep freezers for meat raffles. Hmph.
Off to the side, Spanky’s Stone Hearth food truck is parked. Will it be open for guests to visit, perhaps as they dance the night away? All I know is that I’m eating stale cashews and dried cranberries, hurriedly purchased from the vending machine when I received orders to drive over here.
Another person walks by, looking pointedly at me. Thank goodness for North Dakota, where people want to kick you to the curb but are too polite to do so. They are probably thinking that I could be Josh’s Great Aunt Hortense who hides her incredible wealth by driving a 10-year-old Nissan Juke.
As directed, I attempt to take photos. But I’m too afraid to drive right up to the tent, so I use my antiquated iPhone 8S to get furtive shots of the overall layout by snapping what’s reflected in my rear view mirror. The quality is akin to those shots of swamp apes that are always captured by some local eccentric with a name like Homer Bobby Beanblossom in the middle of a Florida swamp.
Suddenly, I hear live music coming from the wooden enclosure arranged in the Drekker courtyard. It has obviously been positioned to grant attendees some privacy from Snoopy McLurkersons like me, but the Man can’t block me from hearing the sweet, sweet music of love.
First, there’s an excellent cover of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away,” which always reminds me of my first official experience as a wallflower at Farmer’s Union Camp. It’s hard to tell beneath all the Costco bags I’m hiding under, but some of the words seem to have been rewritten into a more romantic vibe.
The second cover is a Boston song. I can’t remember the name, but it’s the one with an elaborate organ solo, which should help you narrow it down to their top 26 or so songs.
By now, I’ve really seen all I can see before the festivities begin, so I pull closer and brazenly shoot a picture.
Sadly, I flew too close to the sun. Before long, a young woman raps on my window and asks if I’m with the wedding party. I am ready to imperiously say, “Young woman, I am Josh’s Great Aunt Hortense,” but I doubt if his close relatives of her would be furtively snapping pictures through the sun roof of their vehicles. So I tell her I’m from The Forum, at which point I am summarily sent away to rake muck elsewhere.
When driving home after work, I followed my usual route (which actually runs by Drekker) and craned my neck to the left for one final peak. I see the back of a couple — she in a flowy white dress, he in a suit — sitting atop a shimmering red convertible.
It’s the closest I’ve come to a brush with greatness since having my photo taken with Norma Zimmer from “The Lawrence Welk Show” in the early ’90s.
So there you have it. My not-so-close and not-so-personal account of Joshamari’s wedding.
I just hope ICP never gets married here.