#bigkurtzbday: It may not have trended, but it was tremendous

So. Wow. Where to begin?

As the key to my front door turned on Saturday evening, I took a breath, suddenly not knowing exactly what I was about to find on the other side.

Until that last moment, I had truly believed I was merely depositing my gym bag, turning right around, and heading back out into the cold January air. Instead, I was met with a greeting far warmer than I could have ever imagined.

As all of you had long known – and as I began to realize – my wife had deftly designed a masterful surprise party to commemorate my 35 birthday, and upon entering my eighth floor apartment, I was instantly overwhelmed, extremely surprised, and above all, incredibly touched.

Seeing the smiling faces of people who’d come from near and far was intensely moving. It’s a testament to the selfless nature of true friends and the powerful love people have for an open bar operated by a slicked-back gentleman named Cameron.

I am so grateful and appreciative to all of you for taking time out of your lives to share the evening with me. It truly was a night I’ll never forget and for so many reasons.

Much of it can not be put into words – but that doesn’t mean I won’t try!

Here now, a selection of memories, moments, and thoughts to help me put a bow on one of the greatest birthday gifts ever:

Much of it began by hearing “Happy Birthday, Jas,” from a giggling Courtney Dolan. One of my wife’s best friends, Courtney and I go way back. Back to the days of D.C., back to the snow of Syracuse. So far back, in fact, that over the years I’ve become able to interpret the hidden meaning behind each of her comments. And as I embraced the person who served as the maid of honor at my wedding, and I heard her utter those three words, I was beyond certain that what she was really thinking was: “Wait, does my outfit look alright? No, seriously Jas. Is everyone looking at me?”

Moments later I shared some special time with Haleigh Raff, as the woman who “books celebs for Piers Morgan” invited me into her “circle of trust,” talking shop and spilling details (but not wine) while Jack and Rudy listened in, promising to keep their Iams-encrusted jowls sealed (note: neither of the dogs actually eat Iams, but I went with it for the sake of the story.)

As I helped Julie Zann and her husband collect their coats prior to departure, I witnessed “Piers Morgan Tonight’s” top political booker rave over the joy of the app UBER, all the while hearing her wonder if there was a way she could “Presbyterian” down the price, so as to help counteract her husband’s ghastly car service addiction.

In the same room, I soon caught Elisabeth Brubaker pulling her scarf off of a hanger, attempting to leave early simply because she no longer knew anyone at the party. That soon changed, however, as I insisted she stay longer, forcing another adult beverage into her hand, while introducing her to Erica Pitzi-Flanary.

An accomplished journalist currently reporting for New York’s WPIX, Pitzi is known for her masterful coverage of Staten Island following Hurricane Sandy. She’s also known for having one of the dirtiest mouths ever seen on a pretty girl, with a passion for rattling off specific details about the female genitalia. It’s a topic she’s well-versed in, and when she went into great depth with Elisabeth, my colleague and friend needed help picking her jaw up off the floor. But that’s Erica: completely unfiltered, and entirely honest. And she also brings amazing party favors.

Her husband Patrick Flanary, meanwhile, spent a large chunk of his evening “geeking out” with Jacob Banks, as my sister’s boyfriend engaged him in a lively conversation that covered music and film, over nearly three hours. “PFlan” once described himself as having a “PR shell, but a prose soul,” and after Saturday evening he can now add “life-long Bro-mance with Jake Banks” to his Twitter description. According to Jake, what the two experienced “is called a conversation,” but to those witnessing the interaction, it looked more like two men making love with their minds.

From making love, to making babies, “Miss Levy” came in the wake of both. Seven months pregnant, with the belly to prove it, Mrs. Allyson Schenker arrived without her significant other, as “Howahd” was home, having fallen ill. Nonetheless, the grade school teacher once accused of having her thong spotted by a student, had hiked up her pregnancy panties, tugged on a maternity dress, and “schlepped into the city” to celebrate. And no matter how much water Cameron fed her, I never was able to get her to reveal the gender of her unborn triplets (there has to be at least 3 kids in there, Miss Levy…)

A nod here now, to four people presently able to provide a window into Ally’s future. Both Julie and Rob, and Nedal and Tamryn, have each recently welcomed beautiful new babies into this big, bad world. Neighbors from the old apartment (shout out to the Marc, 29th Floor), and now friends for as long as they’ll have me, it’s because of the Bennett’s and Shami’s that Oscar will find three friendly faces – in Ellery, Vienna, and Jayden – greeting him on the first day of Kindergarten. But despite being new parents, why at least one of them couldn’t at least stop by the party, I’m still not sure (just sayin’…) I mean, shortly after Oscar was born, we took him to Iceland for the Hunt-Potter wedding!

And speaking of the “Boss Lady,” there were a handful of people who had never met Jolie Hunt, having only heard tales of her existence through various NYC industry back-channels. Well, let me say, the “Boss Lady” who loves a compliment certainly earned herself a few on this evening, holding court in the way only she can. Whether seated in the dining room, inviting various party-goers into her lair of intimate conversation, or having migrated over to the couch, where she was able to showcase her olfactory excellence – “Erin, I think I smell…” – “JH” came to play. A special nod to her and her husband Will [Potter] for graciously and generously donating the wine.

Staying with wine, stand up and take a bow Mrs. Kyleigh Kalakay. When I turned to hear Erin’s dear friend from Vernon, Conn. shouting “Hey Jas! Where is my effin’ Chardonnay,” I knew we had landed at a very special portion of the evening. Boasting two gorgeous little girls, and a figure that would make such a statement seem impossible, “Ky-Ky” made a point to enjoy her time in the big city, leaving both daughters – and all inhibitions – behind in Connecticut. I only wonder if her husband Chris realized he’d be spending the evening babysitting his eldest blonde princess, only hours removed from having been “peer-pressured” into buying her the type of handbag that they do not sell at “American Girl.”

Of course Chris and Kyleigh were not the only guests to log some miles in order to attend Saturday’s shin-dig. Initially based in Manhattan, Cecilia Dowd has since relocated to Long Island, making her presence at the party that much more impressive, and touching. Add in the fact that the Saab vehicle she often used to transport me to and from News 12 in Woodbury features an interior temperature equivalent to that of Bikram yoga, and one understands why she dressed in shorts for the evening. Seeing her in said shorts, one also understands why Andrew Rappaport came too. The unquestioned “captain” of the News 12 Long Island Sports staff, “Raf” never misses a chance to stir the pot, or push my buttons. Seeing his grizzly beard in person brought me back to the days of cold opens, colder frozen yogurt and office arguments with Rob Del Muro, who took to twitter on the evening in question to send his regrets:

Describing me as an “over-sharer,” in advance of the party my wife had invited those that are into social media to use various digital tools to help me celebrate. On my actual birthday – the previous Wednesday – embarrassing photos quickly covered my Facebook wall, as shots of a younger, slimmer, and extremely compromised “Big Kurtz” posted from morning through midnight. At the party, meanwhile, the technology turned to Twitter, as those that get down with the 140 character micro-blogging site were encouraged to push the hashtag #bigkurtzbday (you’ll notice Rob – aka @gmen8069 – executed this to perfection above.) Despite the best efforts and insistence of some, the hashtag never quite reached “trending” status. However, it certainly did spice up my feed for the better part of a few hours. And in the spirit of twitter, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a “h/t” to @billvoth, who I’ve come to learn is the brains behind the branding.

All of this attention to the “social web” seems sensible in light of my relatively new job at CNN, where I serve as the digital producer for “Piers Morgan Tonight.” As co-workers and colleagues wandered through my living and dining rooms, it dawned on me that I’d made a handful of really great friends during my 12 months stationed in the Time Warner Center.

In fact, earlier in the evening I introduced Ella Chick as someone who does the same job as me, but only better, and for a more reputable program (she’s the D.P. for “Anderson Cooper 360°.”) I then watched her make no attempt to hide her joy at being described in such fashion. That joy though, soon turned to horror, as Chick and her husband Scott began to take in a still photo slide show, revealing various pictures of the birthday boy (thanks to DJ Spinny aka Snap-A-Dactyl aka Michael “Doc” Dolan for his across the pond editing efforts.)

Amongst the requisite and ubiquitous shots of my wedding and Bar Mitzah – and somewhere right before the picture of me holding my newborn son in the hospital – rolled a picture of me posing in a simple, red, string bikini. Why I’d wear such a thing, let along pose for a picture while doing so, remains a mystery. A mystery that Ella will never be able to solve, as the image floats forever through her mind.

An image I’ll never be able to shake is that of my good friends Grant and Justine, as they stood in the back of the room as I arrived. Still in shock from the initial surprise – and not yet really able to comprehend the situation – realizing that “The Lodi” had traveled from San Francisco to New York for the weekend was mind-numbing. They came with a singular purpose: to celebrate, and enjoy. And that they did, leaving nothing on the table – a little something extra may have been left in the sink, but nothing on the table. Our friendship dates back more than a decade and covers multiple states. It encompasses weddings and bachelor parties, holidays and moving days, and far too many late evenings to recount in this space. Seeing this couple brought about a rush of emotions I’m still attempting to process. Grant and Justine are the types of friends who always make the extra effort, always go the extra mile (in this case 3,000,) for those they care about. Seeing that type of selfless dedication extended in my direction – as had been countless times in the past – was truly humbling. I’ll never forget it. To them, I simply say “Thank You.”

And to Stephanie Dobbs Brown I say “You’re Welcome!” Never one to miss an evening drinking wine alongside my wife, “SDB” is of the opinion that she should be commended for the various in sundry gifts she bestows upon those she interacts with. The more vino she guzzles, the more gratitude she deserves. But here’s the kicker: Dobbs-Brown is efficient with her appreciation, meaning she wastes no time waiting for anyone to actually thank her. Instead, she merely announces a prerequisite response after citing the gift or action she treated you to. “This party Erin threw you? You’re welcome!” “This one-armed dress I’m wearing? YOU’RE WELCOME!” “These hiccups I’m experiencing? YOU…ARE…WELCOME!” So, Steph, with this blog, I say to you, “No, you’re welcome!”

Real appreciation, however, ought to be doled out on Dobbs’ husband, the custom-suit clad Matt Brown. For on this evening, Matt did in fact do something that was worthy of praise: he guest bar-tended. With the clock having struck midnight on Cameron, the evening was left with a full bar, but no one to operate it. That dilemma was quickly rectified, as Matt, who added a floral apron to his ensemble, popped back behind our roving table of libations and emerged with a tray of Tequila shots. Whether or not the Tequila shots were a good idea is another issue entirely; but for Matt, the provider of Patron, a hearty L’Chaim!

Of course, Matt was not the only party patron to don floral. Representing Brooklyn, N.Y. by way of Morgantown, W. Va. Amanda Lawrence emerged through the front door, wearing a flowery blazer, and carrying with her memories of many a good time. New York is the third state I’ve shared with “Mandy,” as we first crossed paths as low-level television journalists in Charlottesville, Va. and then later both landed in Fort Myers, Fla. Seeing her on Saturday was a wonderful surprise, as schedules and such keep us from visiting as often as we’d like. But when the girl who passed me a 7-and-7 at my wedding became the woman who handed me a bottle of Seagram’s at my birthday party, I knew that all was right in the world.

Always adhering strictly to social etiquette (I wonder where she got that, Boss Lady?!,) I hear that the lovely Maura McGreevy was the first guest to RSVP. Able to brighten any room with an ear-to-ear smile, Maura was also on hand for Oscar’s bris. Both occasions were centered around celebrations, but luckily for my son, Saturday’s party needed no gauze, nor topical numbing ointment. However, if they had, I imagine Maura would have somehow known to bring them. She’s good like that. Plus, my mother still talks about the time they met at the Hunt-Potter Engagement Party: “Oh, More-Uh…what a lovely gihrl…a total sweet-haht…”

As anyone born on or around Christmas, or Valentine’s Day, or New Year’s knows, it’s tough to share a Birthday with someone, or something else. Your special day often gets overlooked, ignored, or at the very least, having to be dual-celebrated. Such is the plight for Lauren Azzollini. Also born on January 23rd, Lauren shelved her disdain for having to spend her birthday weekend at my apartment by making a point to graciously attend the surprise fiesta, even going so far as to suggest that she finds the fact that we have the same birthday to be a positive. I know she’s full of it, but I appreciate the gesture. And, she always calls me “babe,” which I particularly enjoy. When I reminded her that she’ll always be younger, and better looking than me, I think she began to feel a bit better. She then patted me on the butt, and peaced out for another party, a party that was likely to celebrate her properly, and exclusively.

Angela and Tony Rinella also cut their evening short, but for an entirely different reason. With “Tony 5” likely running circles around some poor Upper West Side baby-sitter, the Rinella’s had a very short window, a reality Erin and I are probably only a matter of months away from facing first-hand. Nonetheless, my wife’s college roommate – who once believed that Gin, Vodka, Tequila, and Rum, all in the same cup, make a good drink – prioritized the party, and made a point to attend after initially thinking it was impossible. They were the first pair of faces I saw upon arriving, perhaps a metaphor for the fact that it was for their wedding that Erin and I first visited New York, and years later, it was Angela – toting a 6-pack of Smirnoff Ice – that first helped welcome us to Manhattan as residents. They were gone as quickly as they came, but if history is any indicator, I’ll see them again soon.

It’s uncertain how much time Erin spent preparing for the party, or how long ago she began shoring up the details, but I do know that she couldn’t have done it alone. Rumor has it Michelle Horowitz – clad from head to toe in Diane von Furstenberg – may have played an integral role, joining for a “planning brunch” weeks ago. Truth be told, I had just assumed that “MH” was only stealing an opportunity to canoodle with Oscar. Apparently, her motives were more calculated. I only regret not having her deliver a toast on Saturday night, as having seen her speak in person, I’m very well aware of the ways in which she turns a phrase, bridging humor with emotion while captivating a room.

I referenced my sister’s boyfriend Jake earlier. But he would have never stepped into my living room Saturday night if my sister hadn’t said it was okay. In fact, I’m pretty sure that “Babe” Banks checks with my sister before he gets dressed, brushes his teeth, or gets the mail. That’s sort of the way Jamie Kurtz rolls: she takes control, and gets stuff done. With the intensity of my wife, and the pedigree of my mother, she represents a whole lot of what is right in my world. We used to fight like cats and dogs as kids. Today she’d be one of the first people I’d bring into my foxhole.

Seeing her Saturday wasn’t entirely surprising – when something is important, she’s there. She takes a warrior’s mentality into everything she does and when she’s on your side you can ask for no better ally. Just don’t cross her, or you’ll end up with a She-Ra “Sword of Protection” smacked up against your head (take my word for it … it hurts.) Watching “Jam” develop such a friendship with Erin is one of the truly rewarding aspects of being married. Erin and Jamie view each other as sisters, which means they routinely take turns abusing me, delighting each other to no end in the process. But it’s a pain I welcome. A torture I’ve come to expect, and almost enjoy. My sister knows me as well as anyone, she shares my dreams and my demons. And besides, there something pretty darn cool about having someone at your 35 Birthday, who was also at your fifth.

To this point I’ve used this space to offer thanks to everyone who attended Saturday’s surprise party held at my home. I’ve shared stories from the evening, memories from the past. It truly was a remarkable night, thanks in part to all of you. However, there is one person who deserves more thanks than anyone, the person who emailed and called each of you days in advance, the person who poured her heart and soul into this event, the way she routinely does with most everything in her life: my beautiful, caring, selfless, and loving wife, Erin.

What she did for me on Saturday, and the weeks leading up to it, is something I’ll never forget. In our nearly 12 years together, she’s wowed me time and again. She’s the strongest, most-dedicated person I know, a woman with a huge heart, and tiny, little, itsy-bitsy waist. But even for her, this was impressive. Planning something for me, a guy who consistently runs late and regularly abuses deadlines, must not have been easy. I imagine I nearly ruined my own good fun several times. But as I’ve come to learn, you don’t tell Erin there’s something she can’t do.

Driven and persistent don’t begin to cover it. She’s a tank with great legs, who typically rolls over anything in her way. In classic fashion, on Saturday night every ‘t’ was crossed, every lower-case ‘j’ was dotted. From social media and decor to the food and the friends, Erin didn’t miss a single detail. I do feel badly, however, because she was so busy playing hostess that the poor girl didn’t have a chance to enjoy any of the party. Next time, maybe she’ll make time for a glass of wine. I know she was busy, but she could have worked in some fun along the way.

Learning what Erin did Saturday filled me with so many emotions – love, happiness, surprise, excitement – but perhaps the strongest takeaway for me is pride. I’m proud of my wife, proud that she is my wife, proud to share my family’s name with her. I’m proud of the woman she’s become and I’m proud of myself for reeling in such a catch! But mostly I’m proud of my life — of our life — of the life we’re leading, that centers around her heart.

I used to think that I couldn’t be happy unless I was the center of attention. Being with Erin, I now know that I’m most happy standing just to her left, as she makes magic happen every day.

Thank you.

Please forward me any good photos you took on Saturday evening, so I can collect them in digital album form. My preferred method of photo receipt is text message, via 239.896.7173.
—–
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MLB Playoffs: Oh, What a Night. Late September Back In… 2011?

If there’s anything this night didn’t have, I sure couldn’t detect what was missing.

As Major League Baseball concluded it’s final day of regular season play, words like epic, heartbreaking, heroic, monumental, implausible, and breathtaking all seem appropriate. And this, in a world where hyperbole flows like Manischewitz on Rosh Hashanah.  Which actually brings me to my point.

Wild "Cards"

Wild "Cards"

Please read the full blog in it’s original form on Bleacher Report…

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/870930-oh-what-a-night-late-september-back-in2011

“I’m like a bloke from London, England”

So, Jay-Z may have said it best, on “The Bounce,” in 2002.

However, for a couple of days – or perhaps more accurately a handful of whirlwind hours – I lived it too.

Erin and I have returned from a glorious European adventure, which took us through London, and into Amsterdam.

Since people generally prefer the “don’t tell me, show me” philosophy, far be it from me to slow down the shutter-bugging with my worldwide writings and foreign fodder.

Part #1:  London, England (Wednesday May 11th – Thursday May 12th)

London, England (Wednesday May 11th, 2011)

London, England

We had great luck with weather in London.

Yes, Erin found it to be a wee bit chilly, but the skies were clear, the sunsets bright and colourful.

Across the Pond...

Across the Pond...

These first pictures are all via the “London Eye,” a massive, slow-moving Ferris Wheel that travels high above the city, providing great views as far as the “Eye” can see.

Again, how about the skyline!

Again, how about the skyline!

High in the Sky

High in the Sky

And how can one possibly travel all the way to the UK, and not snap a few shots of the towering timepiece famously known as “Big Ben.”

Big Ben

Big Ben

Roethlisberger Who?!

Roethlisberger Who?!

The tower is 96.3 metres (315.9 ft) high

The tower is 96.3 metres (315.9 ft) high

The “London Eye” features enclosed pods, where you can sit or stand, while climbing above the city.

One of the "London Eye" Pods (iPods?)

One of the "London Eye" Pods (iPods?)

The EyePod Shuffle

The EyePod Shuffle

Erin and I in our Pod

Erin and I in our Pod

The London Eye

The London Eye

Blue-lit Trees Lined Our Walk from the London Eye

Blue-lit Trees Lined Our Walk from the London Eye

Day two in London had Erin working (obviously,) while I caught some ZZZ’s and grabbed a quick work-out at the hotel (no pictures of either, sadly.)  We reconvened in the early evening, and set out for some ground-level sight-seeing.

Big Ben Against a Clear Blue Sky

Big Ben Against a Clear Blue Sky

Erin Looking Oh, So British

Erin Looking Oh, So British

Big Ben?  Bigger than Big Kurtz!

Big Ben? Bigger than Big Kurtz!

Postcard-esque

Postcard-esque

The lighting on this is rubbish, but wha'ever...

The lighting on this is rubbish, but wha'ever...

Not totally unlike her time in “The States,” Erin had many things to discuss with many people.

Who's in charge, here?!

Who's in charge, here?!

"Okay, here's the thing.  You and I need to have a serious conversation about a lot of things."

"Okay, here's the thing. You and I need to have a serious conversation about a lot of things."

I Spy Big Ben

I Spy Big Ben

Just a quick jaunt down the road, we stopped at the famous Westminster Abbey.  Noteworthy of late, the Gothic church served as the wedding venue for Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton.  We knocked several times, but apparently Will and Kate were unavailable for tea and crumpets.  Bully!

"I was going to wear my Alexander McQueen gown today, but alas, it's at the cleaners."

"I was going to wear my Alexander McQueen gown today, but alas, it's at the cleaners."

Is there anything in London that isn't tall?  Well, other than the Queen, that is.

Is there anything in London that isn't tall? Well, other than the Queen, that is.

"Take 'em to Church"

"Take 'em to Church"

Three Cheers for the Bus Driver

Three Cheers for the Bus Driver

Now after a long, trying afternoon of sightseeing, we opted to stop off at a pub for a pint.  This is a wonderful little English tradition, and one that we had very little trouble picking up.

London Pride

London Pride

Bottoms Up

Bottoms Up

Playing Footy

Playing Footy

Much like in the U.S., British phone booths have gone the way of the typewriter and VCR.

However, the old-fashioned, red unit still has its place.

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

Step inside the booth Superman is alive

Step inside the booth Superman is alive

After making a few calls, we closed out our final evening in the UK with a trip to Buckingham Palace.  We had hoped the Queen would pop out just to say “Cherrio,” but no such luck.  When “Her Majesty” is on the premises, four guards stand outside on patrol.  When she’s off-site, only two.  We were greeted with merely a duo, meaning she wasn’t “home.”

The guards "change" only once per day, at 11:15 a.m.

The guards "change" only once per day, at 11:15 a.m.

In the event that nature called one of the guards, I was quite ready to step in.

In the event that nature called one of the guards, I was quite ready to step in.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk

Part #2:  Amsterdam, Netherlands (Friday May 13th – Saturday May 14th)

After a very early wake-up, and a very quick plane ride, we touched down in Amsterdam Friday morning.

After checking into the hotel – and changing rooms because the first one was “heinous” – we set out to do it like the Dutch.

I'd explain where this is, but truthfully, I have no idea.  How's this:  it was a 5 minute walk from our hotel.

I'd explain where this is, but truthfully, I have no idea. How's this: it was a 5 minute walk from our hotel.

Our first Dutch Meal?  Spanish Tapas.  Go Figure.

Our first Dutch Meal? Spanish Tapas. Go Figure.

As the afternoon progressed, Erin transformed into the paparazzi.

I’m not quite sure how these next few shots came about, however, after 10+ years together, I guess I should be happy that she can still somehow stand the sight of me!

Alas, photo shoots now complete, the touring and exploring continued.

But not before stopping off for another “snack.”

Cafe Kobalt was an excellent recommendation by our hotel concierge “Peter,” so much so that we actually went there twice.

Cafe Kobalt

Cafe Kobalt

After dinner, the camera made it’s way back to the hotel, while the “American Couple” journeyed deeper into Amsterdam’s seedier parts.

But upon sunrise, Saturday brought about a whole new list of adventures and explorations.  Often referred to as “Venice of the North,” Amsterdam is a city of canals.  “Hop On, Hop Off” boat rides are the only way to go!

Canal "Buses" - The Easiest Way to See the City

Canal "Buses" - The Easiest Way to See the City

I hope this guy knows where he's going...

I hope this guy knows where he's going...

First Mate, at the ready

First Mate, at the ready

The City of Canals

The City of Canals

Venice of the North

Venice of the North

Ain't No Party Like An Amsterdam Party 'Cause An Amsterdam Party Don't Stop

Ain't No Party Like An Amsterdam Party 'Cause An Amsterdam Party Don't Stop

In addition to it’s canals and coffee shops, Holland is equally well-known for it’s Windmills.

Part of our Saturday Canal Bus Tour featured a stop at the De Gooyer windmill, which features a small micro-brewery on the inside.

De Gooyer Windmill

De Gooyer Windmill

"This windmill is blowing my hair everywhere!"

"This windmill is blowing my hair everywhere!"

Brouwerij 't IJ and the De Gooyer Windmill

Brouwerij 't IJ and the De Gooyer Windmill

After “hopping on” once again, we spotted both the Amstel Hotel, and the Heineken Brewery.

We opted not to take the official beer-making tour, as we had certainly created our own “Heineken Experience” the day before.

The Amstel Hotel

The Amstel Hotel

The Heineken Brewery

The Heineken Brewery

The city of Amsterdam is often represented by three consecutive X’s.  Contrary to common belief, this is actually not a nod towards the X-rated Red Light District.  Nor, as Erin suggested, is it a reference to “many hugs” (never mind the fact that in that equation, hugs would be represented by O’s).

Instead, XXX are the three crosses that form the core of Amsterdam’s city crest.

XXX

XXX

Thanks to Amsterdam’s thin, windy streets, bicycles are the preferred means of land travel.

This wasn’t always a welcome sight for my bride, who is still less than a year removed from being run down by a cyclist in Central Park.

"That bike better keep its distance!"

"That bike better keep its distance!"

Of course, while cycling is one thing, shopping is another issue altogether!

When it comes to hand-painted plateware, Erin is extremely “hands on.”

"Let me just get all up in here, right quick!"

"Let me just get all up in here, right quick!"

For our final dinner in Holland, we inadvertently made reservations for three.

"Excuse me, are you going to finish that?"

"Excuse me, are you going to finish that?"

Here’s hoping we are fortunate enough to keep traveling.

If so, I’ll keep posting!

“Oh, no! Oh, no! You’re Going to be Soooo Mad!”

“Oh, no!  Oh, no!  You’re going to be so mad!”

That’s all she kept saying, repeating it over, and over.  “You’re going to be so mad!”

My wife uttered these words to me, all while hiding behind a partially closed bathroom door.  She said it, with a smile draped across her face, and her skinny jeans pushed down across her ankles.

Not knowing what she was referring to, but fearing the worst, I merely handed her a tube of disinfectant wipes, thinking that whatever she spilled, tipped, or shattered all over the floor, Clorox wipes from Duane Reade would certainly solve it.  “No,” she mustered.  “It’s no that.”

Complete self-awareness and full-disclosure here:  I have a big-time case of OCD. Neatness, organization, and order are the tenants by which I live my life.  Phrases such as “Honey!  Please find a home for all your loose items!” are uttered with a recurring frequency in my apartment.  So, now staring dead into the face of an issue for which wipes weren’t the answer, I was equal parts baffled, and terrified.

“I peed on your shorts,” was what followed.

“What?  You did what!”

A brief look at the logistics of our apartment will have you realize that the bathroom – in it’s infinite spacial challenges – features an over-the-door hanging bar, upon which I drape wet clothing that isn’t dryer-safe.  George Costanza be damned, “shrinkage” is forever an issue.  And, having done the laundry yesterday afternoon, many of my gym clothes (all Nike Dri-Fit, naturally) were hanging precariously from the rack.

This, as they say, is where the plot thickens.

Apparently – and expert witness testimony still paints an unclear picture – my gray shorts fell from the hanging bar, into the toilet, unbeknownst to my lovely and loving wife. Never mind the fact that Erin is most-certainly guilty for knocking said shorts into the bidet, but one might also wonder how this would go unnoticed prior to peeing. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until mid-stream when Erin realized what had happened, causing her to utter the aforementioned fateful words:

“Oh, no!  Oh, no!  You’re going to be so mad!”

We bagged the shorts, as I was struck with emotions ranging from bewilderment to dismay.  Certainly, I was less-than-pleased.  But it can be hard to get mad at someone as cute as Erin.

She's Lucky She's Cute

She's Lucky She's Cute

Skinny jeans having now climbed back to her waist, my wife chased me around the apartment, offering hugs and apologies.

“Don’t hug me!  You just pee’d on my shorts!”

At this point, I remember attempting to hand Erin the laundry card, and bottle of “Tide with Febreeze, Spring Renewal.”  Right.  Because “Spring Renewal” must certainly cure urine saturation.

“I’m not doing the laundry now, but I will soon!” Erin responded.  Uh huh.

The shorts are in the washer as we speak.

And Erin is somehow already out of the dog house.

Notable Comments Overheard at The Roberts/Johnson Wedding

Tri-Delt Bar Crawl, Spring '01

Tri-Delt Bar Crawl, Spring '01

“Please pull the car around the front, would you kind sir?” – Brian Parsons, to the tuxedo-clad Big Kurtz

“Snort, snort.” Johanna Coyle

“I’m gonna drop-kick that old f*@!er for spilling red wine on my shirt.  Thanks goodness he missed my Hermes tie.” – Ryan Coyle, while dabbing at his dress shirt with seltzer, and inquiring about a Tide Stick

“Chicken fingers and fries are just fine.  What?  No, we’re fine over here at the kids table.  Not to worry.” – Stefanie Cove and Adam Cohen, upon being banished from Table #7

“My bridesmaid dress comes with a ‘gun-metal’ sash.” – Brigid Parsons

“Do you think my hair’s light enough?  Maybe there’s some ‘Sun-In’ in the Ladies room amenities basket!” – Kiki

– “Steve Guttenberg told me I made him so hard.” – C.D., on being “Gutted” by the 51-year-old Actor/Comedian

“Hey.  They got any booze at this shindig?” – Missy Kurek

“Make it rain, dude!  I’m about to get re-hungry.  We gotta come out firin’, and go hard all night. Ballz deep, baby.” – Tessy Casafranca, sharing her alcohol-consumption plans prior to the reception (clearly, Missy was taking notes)

“I just love white trash!  In fact, I’m gonna make a T-shirt that says ‘I Heart White Trash!'” – Jolley, as an angry hotel guest emerged from her room, and asked the 4th Floor contingent to take their post after-hours hallway chatter elsewhere

“I haven’t liked my husband in months. He doesn’t tell me I’m beautiful.  Do you think I’m beautiful?  Because I’m a tiger, and I’m on the prowl (with claw-like hand motion).” – Shauna Koon, to Big Kurtz in the last row of the Sheraton shuttle, following the reception

“I just told the bartender not to serve you anymore.  Get over it.” – Johanna Coyle, to Missy Kurek at the hotel bar after-hours

“What the hell, man!  That’s my mom!  You just slapped my mom on the ass!” – Tall white guy to drunk Asian groomsman at the hotel bar after-hours

“Outstanding!” – Dave “DJ” Johnson, when asked how he was doing, at any point during the weekend

“I do.” – Kim Johnson and Greg Roberts

Meeting the Mets

So, I took Erin to see St. Louis play at the New York Mets Monday night.  Erin and Jason at Citi Field

Well, actually, based on her W2 vs. mine, I guess technically, she took me.

But seeing my beloved Cardinals play in person was a prerequisite to our moving to Manhattan, so the moment the Redbirds nested in town, we hopped the 7 Train (how NYC does that sound!) and headed for Queens.

And as for Citi Field, the brand spanking new home of the Mets? Yep. It’s the real deal. A truly tremendous facility, at least as far as these senses are concerned.  Stocked to the sky with all the state-of-the-art amenities, it is somehow still intimate enough for even fans of the visitors, to feel at home.  Certainly, the concession prices are outrageous, but that’s to be expected.  And as my friend Lance – a Met fan from my building – says:

“You think ‘dats bad.  Wait’ll you go to the new Yankee Stadium.  Fuhgetaboutit!”

And only in Flushing, NY can you see as many yamulkes covering keppies as ballcaps. It’s somehow a seemless symmetry between synagogue and a spicy sausages sandwich, a place where Manischewitz mingles marvelously with Miller Lite.  And speaking of game-day garb, at exactly what age should you be required to leave your glove, at home?  Only a few rows to our left sat a man in his 30’s, dressed from head-to-toe, in full Met regalia, and wearing his mitt.  Bro, you didn’t catch anything in Little League, you’re not catching anything tonight.

Courtesy of StubHub, the New York Stock Exchange of game tickets, we found ourselves a very comfy, pro-Cards section along the left-field line.  Blending in amongst the rest of the red, so pleasant was the atmosphere that it wasn’t until about the 3rd inning that I realized the Redbirds only had 2 hits, as New York starter Tim Redding was easily out-dueling Cardinal hurler Todd Wellemeyer.  But things soon turned, as Ryan Ludwick’s 6th inning homer to left, had Erin and I high-fiving and fist-bumping our fellow crimson-clad compadres, and the Birds were back in the ballgame.  Even a few sprinkle spots failed to dampen the spirits, though Erin did duck out momentarily to head for cover, washing away our shot to make the Kiss-Cam.

But that’s just Ernest bein’ Ernest.  She is what she is, does what she does, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna question her.  I learned that years ago.  When she has thoughts, she share’s ’em.  And when she has inquiries, she makes ’em.  Like in the 5th inning, when the beer man came by slingin’ Heineken’s and Beck’s, leading to this exchange:

Mrs. Kurtz: “How is Beck’s?  I’ve never had one.  I generally stay in the Pale Ale family.”

Professor Pour:  “I don’t know ma’am, but I can tell you the beer is exceptionally cold tonight”.

And there ya have it.

As for other chilled entities, Brendan Ryan’s frozen rope over the wall to lead-off the 8th left my hands red and sore, and nothin’ ever felt so good.  St. Louis had pulled within a run, and 3 batters later Albert Pujols stepped to the dish with a man on, leaving the Cards within a swing of their first lead on the night.  But alas, even The Machine breaks down on occasion, as Fat Albert grounded into a lightweight, 1-6-3, inning-ending double play.

The Mets pushed across an insurance run in their half of the 8th, and St. Louis would never threaten again, as K-Rod came in to work a textbook 1-2-3 9th.  

And so it goes.  6-4, the final.

GetAttachment.aspxGetAttachment.aspx But it will take much more than a 2-run loss to ruffle this Cardinal fans feathers.  Yes, the Mets were the Kings of Queens in this one.  But just being at the ballpark, is a crowning moment all its own.

Magic in Miami

Engaged on South Beach

‘Twas 4 Years Ago Tonight…When it all Hit the Fan.

Sharing a Drink on South Beach…I asked for her Hand.

With Knots in my Stomach…I took to a Knee.

The Words Spilled Out: Erin, Will You Marry Me?

Occasionally I do this.  Just bust out into prose.

Not sure why.  I’m not a poet, but I may secretly think I’m a rapper.  I can’t really explain it.

In fact, on that very night, my proposal came via a poem.

I had recently picked up a Gift Card for a manicure at the Salon & Spa Erin and I frequented in Florida.  I used my “TV Station Street Cred.” to get a free hair-cut every two weeks, and Erin and I had both become quite friendly with my stylist Aimee, and her husband Jay.

As it turns out, the Salon was offering some sort of a new manicure promotion, and Aimee had snagged me a freebie.  This was my “in” when it came time to break out the ring.  Over cocktails on Collins Ave., I nonchalantly mentioned to Erin that I had swung by Vincent’s earlier in the week, and Aimee had passed along this gift card for the manicure.

“Oooh”, she says  “How great!”.

“Yeah”, I reply.  “I figure a free manicure is a free manicure, right?  Besides, you’ll need your nails done if you’re gonna wear this.”

It’s at this time that I shakily pull out the ring box with my other hand.  In front of a small selection of street-side patrons, I moved from my chair at the table, to a knee on the sidewalk, reciting a few words I’d crafted just for the occasion (all rhyming, of course).  After a hug and a kiss, and a smattering of applause, we’d somehow graduated from boyfriend or girlfriend, to “fiancé”.  Sophisticated, I know.

Now, when you’re dating someone for more than 4 years, as had been the case with Erin and I, the topic of rings, marriage, and proposals tends to come up rather frequently.  And not necessarily from one another.  More often than not, it’s the outside world wondering when “you two are gonna tie the knot”.

That said, surprising Erin on June 18th, 2005 was no easy trick.  Truth be told, I don’t know how she didn’t see this coming. I like to fancy myself on being rather stealth; she however, says I’m about as smooth as 3-day stubble.

Nonetheless, I nailed this one.  She was totally taken off guard.  Four years since the “Moment in Miami”,  we’ve been married close to two years, and there’s rarely a dull moment.  In many ways, our engagement night was truly a microcosm of our entire relationship:  Laughter and tears…dreams and fears.  Whoops.  There I go again.  The rhyming. The prose.

She Smiled at my Question…as Tears Dripped Down her Cheek.

Her Eyes Moved from Mine to the Box…Stealing More Than a Peek.

Her Response Came Next…I Remember it Still.

Marry You Jason?  Yes…I Will.