Sunday, January 2, 2011

Love is in the air.

*warning: random rambling ahead.
Mexico City: You think you know, but you have no idea.

"Love is in the air
Every where I look around
Love is in the air
Every sight and every sound. . ."

from John Paul Young's "Love is in the Air" (hear it here.)

I was reading an article the other day that asked a simple question:

"What was the single most fun thing you experienced in 2010?"

Usually, that answer would have been one that I pored over, scratching my head saying, "Oh, maybe Isaiah's fifth birthday party. . . .no, no. . . when we went to Lake Lanier with the kids or. . . .no, no. . . when Harry and I were in Jamaica for New Year's, yeah that's it . . . .no, no. . . .wait, definitely when Zachary started singing his country n' western version of Hey Diddle Diddle. . ." And so on. And so on.

But no.

This year, answering that question wasn't hard at all. Yes, the moments with my family were collectively, more often than not, super fun. But I am almost ashamed to admit that the single most fun thing that I did in 2010 did not involve my family at all. Yep. I said it. Not a Manning in sight.

Fun defined.

Question: Have you ever done something that was so unbelievably fun that while it was happening you knew that it would go down as one of the best times ever? Like so exhilarating that every two seconds you shrug your shoulders and spread your fingers apart yelling to the nearest person, "THIS IS CRAZY!" Sort of like you need to bookmark each moment of it with some kind of interjection because it's just that freakin' fun?

I certainly have.

Like the time that I took a last minute trip to Mexico with my best friend, Lisa D., while we were still in residency. It was literally thrown together with a bootleg online travel agency, and we crossed our fingers hoping it would all work out. And did it ever. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, it was so fun that we could barely stand it. The kind of fun where we kept looking at each other and hollering out at random times, "THIS IS CRAZY!" and all the other person could do is shake their head and say back is, "CRAZY!!" Or like when, the week after we graduated from medical school, two of our best friends, Jada R. and Felix R., got married in Memphis. Everyone was so over the moon with happiness for them and for life that the weekend morphed into legendary fun status.

Yeah. Like that.
With Lisa the weekend of Jada and Felix' super fun Memphis wedding 5/96
I was in my twenties when we took that trip and when Jada and Felix got married, and the only other time I think I even came close to that kind of fun was at my wedding reception in my early thirties (which quite possibly could have been related to a love-high.) Anyways, I say this all to make my long-winded point that, up until recently, these moments have been my benchmark for crazy fun.


The other thing about "WOW! THIS IS SO BANANAS!" kind of fun is that it almost always catches you off guard. Like that Cancun, Mexico trip Lisa and I took had every right to be a complete bust. I mean neither of us could have been upset if the resort had been infested with bugs and cats or if it smelled like a dirty dishrag. (What could you possibly expect for $500 including airfare?) Jada and Felix's wedding came so fast after med school graduation that it was hard to see how fun it would be. And even my wedding reception had it's fair share of hiccups leading up to it that could have also made it a nice enough fete yet not one to shriek in adulation over. Yet all of those experiences snuck up on us and exploded into that crazy kind of fun that took on an identity of it's own.

Confession: Based upon the aforementioned experience, I thought that this kind of fun was limited only to childless people under the age of thirty-five. I really did. But in 2010, I discovered that, yes, such fun is very much out there and just a-waiting to be experienced by ridiculously young-appearing forty-year-old-mommy-slash-doctors, too. (Ah hem.)

That's how this thing to which I am referring as the most-fun-ever-in-2010 was. Seriously. It was fun on steroids. All I could say when it was over was, "IT WAS CRAZY!!! CRAZY!!!"

Crazy like being on the fastest, most fun, most exhilarating roller coaster ever, but without feeling sick or like you really, really needed to get off.

Yeah. Like that.

Enough suspense? Well wait no more.

Q: "What was the single most fun thing you did in 2010?"

A: The Grady Doctors' Mexico City Wedding. 
(Final answer, no hesitation.)

As you may recall, I made a brief post about my decision to take that trip, but seriously--I was still so giddy about the whole experience that every time I started trying to write about it, I just didn't know where to start. But since that question inspired me to reflect on it once again, I thought I'd give it my best shot.

Bringing you along for the most-fun-ever-of-2010. . . .

Talk about a fun weekend. Like crazy fun. (Picture me shaking my head.) Before I get into the details, let me be clear: This was not that fun-only-because-you-are-inebriated kind of fun. (Although folks were imbibing that weekend) I assure you, this thing would have been crunk whether the tequila was flowing or not.

Let me explain.

First, the couple. Paulina R. was one of our Grady chief residents a few years back. She is not only one of the kindest, sweetest, and most thoughtful people you'll ever meet, she happens to be ridiculously smart and drop dead gorgeous. But in that effortless kind of way that makes you smile every time you see her instead of hate her every time you see her. Paulina R. fell in love with Russ K., who was one of our favorite former residents, too. Both of them stayed to train to be Infectious Disease specialists (which is really fitting considering their love is kind of infectious.)

So the two get engaged. And being the kind couple that they are, they invite a number of current and former Grady doctors down to their wedding in Paulina R's hometown of Mexico City. No. Not Mexico City, Georgia. Not Macon, Georgia or even Miami, Florida. Mexico City, Mexico. As in a you-need-a-passport-and-some-time-off kind of location. And yeah. You can go ahead and admit that if all you know of Mexico City are a.) random news stories about drug busts or b.) that violent movie with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire) that totally paints the scariest picture ever of the sprawling metropolis, or c.) all of the above . . . . .that, yeah, whole idea of a Mexico City get away might have made you take pause.

But you don't know this couple. When it came to that wedding, the infectious Infectious Disease doctors were liked two little pied pipers. More than fifteen former and current Grady doctors danced down to Mexico City behind their music to toast to their love.

Bright lights, super-big city
And so we get down there, and immediately the energy is so positive that it punches you in the chest and knocks your wind out. Nearly everyone is in the same (awesome) hotel, and is so infected with the infectious love of the Infectious Disease doctors that they're all over the moon with excitement. This infection was airborne. Love was sho' nuff in the air.

We all go out to dinner, and enjoy authentic Mexican food and authentic laughter, too. All there for the same reason, which immediately made every person there feel like old friends whether they were old friends or not. Every single person their was high on Paulina and Russell's happy, and there wasn't a wet blanket anywhere in sight. That was the first night.

The next day we tour historic parts of Mexico City. . .churches, museums, Aztec ruins. . . .amazing. A city built right on top of another city, with so much history swirling all around you and under you that it makes your head spin. We all kept looking at each other and saying, "This is crazy!" (See what I mean?) I had no idea how amazing the sights would be, which gave it catch-you-off-guard fun status already. That was the second day.

Grady doctors in the City
A mass

Later that evening was the rehearsal dinner. Paulina R. and Russ K. were nice enough to shlep all of the Grady doctors to the swanky rehearsal dinner which, I am certain, put most wedding receptions to shame. Complete with a margarita bar and a super fun band. Yes, it was nice. But it wasn't the bells, whistles or acoutrements that made it so nice. It was the energy. The infectious love of the Infectious Disease doctors was now an epidemic. Little did we know, that in less than one day it would soon reach pandemic status.

with Stacy H. at the rehearsal dinner
The Man and Woman of the hour
With the blushing bride
The Wedding Day.

People kept warning us. "Get some rest. You'll be up all night!" They said it in English. They said it en Espanol. They said it with smiles. They said it with raised eyebrows. "This is how people celebrate in Mexico City", they said. "Yeah, Yeah," we replied. Besides. I'm from Los Angeles. And my travel compadre and fellow Grady doctor Stacy H. is from NYC. We know how to handle a good party, thank you very much.

Stacy H. and I hit the spa of our hotel for some R and R before the big event. A lady sat down and joined us for herb tea and healthy snacks and gleefully told us about her daughter's wedding earlier this year. Stacy is bilingual which is great considering the woman got so excited that her English exploded into muy rapido Spanish.

"The reception lasted until 7:30 a.m." she gushed, "We danced all night! This isn't unusual here. I hope you have comfortable shoes." Zapatos para bailar. No translation needed.


The Wedding and Reception.

Beautiful bride, proud dad.

We get to the wedding. And a lovely wedding it was. Likely the most lovely I've ever seen (no offense to anyone reading this whose wedding I attended, including my husband.) Fragrant flowers everywhere. Paulina speaking her vows in Spanish. Russ giving his heartfelt lines in English. Both moms patting the corners of their eyes. The dads doing the same, and not the least bit ashamed. One family member read a scripture in English. Russell's brother, who happens to be bilingual (and one of our current Grady chief residents) melodically reads another scripture in Spanish. A choir sings songs that sound directly commissioned from heaven itself. I look up to see if a cherub strumming a harp will fly by. Instead I just see beautiful flowers, beautiful people, and beautiful everything. But mostly beautiful energy.

They provide us with vans and we caravan back to the St. Regis Mexico City. It starts off normal enough. A cocktail hour. Everyone looking swanky in black tie attire, which is always a nice touch. Hor d'ouvres so yummy that you embarrass yourself by taking two fistfuls every time they walk by.

With one of my most favorite Grady doctors ever, Dr. del Rio

The dinner was equally lovely, complete with delicious fare and heartfelt toasts. Sweet first dances. More eye patting and tight hugs. All wonderfully worth the trip. And though wonderful, it was pretty much the kind of wonderful that I expected. Completely acceptable for good times when you are a forty-something.

With Shanta Z.
a few Grady doctors that followed the pied pipers

First dances with family

But then something happened.

The band comes out to start the reception. And I cannot give words to what happened next, but I will do my best.

This band. This band. Sigh. They played. And they played. And they played. Up tempo music. Music everyone knew every word to. All. Night. Long. To the break o' dawn. Literally.

Once a Grady doctora always a Grady doctora!

They kept changing wardrobes, too. First it was these funky black ensembles. Then, all of a sudden, they start handing out flags for us to wave on the dance floor.

"This is interesting," I thought.

It was sort of like when you get a horn or a hat on New Year's before you do the countdown. But flags.
"Okay. I'm a good sport," I say to Stacy H. and one of my other favorite former Grady doctors, Gabe W.

So we dance. And we wave our flags. Which was strangely exhilarating.

But then. This band. This band. All of a sudden they come out dressed like King Tutankhamen. Singing Walk Like an Egyptian. And they hand out new props. Sphinx man masks. What? Yeah. I know! Crazy!

But it just. kept. going. Next? New wardrobe change. Some kind of sparkly get up. And now, they hand out pom-poms, y'all. Pom poms. Metallic ones. Why? Who knows. But it worked. It so, so worked.

Next? Metallic wigs. Who needs pom poms when you can just wear a wig and jump up onto a stage with the band? And if I'm not mistaken, some glow in the dark headbands and glasses somehow got inserted into the mix and began floating around the room. Why? I don't know. But was it fun? Crazy fun.


Think of sitting down? No way. Somebody's auntie would be sure to hand you a shot of tequila and pull you back on the floor. Or perhaps somebody's seventeen year old niece. Either way, there was no parking on this dance floor or any where near it. You needed to strap on those zapatos para bailar, fo' sho.

Next. "Lady Marmelade." New clothes and we get new props. Woo hoo! This time, fuzzy pimp hats and feather boas. Crazy! We jump on stage and sing it loud. "Hey sista, soul sista!" The Moulin Rouge version and then-- the PATTI LABELLE version next. Are you kidding me? This soul sista was lovin' it.

Oh. Forgot to mention the GIANT SHADES that also got passed out at some point shortly after Lady Marmelade. Why? Who knows. But did it work? Sho' nuff.

It gets better. Next. Gloria Gaynor. "I Will Survive." Are you kidding me? First I was afraid and petrified-- when I saw the band's new costumes. Impossible to describe fluorescent thingies. And for us? This time, giant inflatable microphones. Crazy!

It took all the strength I had not to fall apart!

At this point? Panting. . .nearly in tears. The fun is ridiculous. I am sure I cannot take another second of it.

But next up? Wait for it. . . . .some old school Journey circa 7th grade -- Don't Stop Believin'. OH yeah. Imagine a flash mob with 400 people all doing their very best Steve Perry impersonation. The giant microphones immediately become electric guitars during the electric solo (of course) which for me seals the deal for this reception as one of the best times ever. But just when I thought it could not get better, the song builds to its famous climax and everyone -- everyone, do you hear me? Young, old, feeble, able-- begins JUMPING UP AND DOWN like they were inside of some kind of multi-generational, multicultural mosh pit. Pointing in each others' faces and belting out at the top of their lungs:

"Don't Stop! Believin'! Hold on to that feelin'!"

Those lyrics couldn't have possibly been more apropos. There's no way you could have been there and not have had the intense desire to hold on to that feeling. Everyone was into it. E-v-er-y-one, do you hear me? (Even a few senior faculty Grady doctors who shall remain nameless and picture-less. Ah hem.)

It was crazy. Crazy, do you hear me? Crazy.

1:45 a.m. They hand out slippers. Slippers. Zapatos para bailar, for real. Trying to sit down? No way. Here's a shot of tequila with your name on it. And an auntie working your arms side to side back onto the dance floor. Crazy.

Zapatos para bailar courtesy of P and R.

Next. Another funky wardrobe change. And with this one, they hand out these fish and octopus masks. Why? I have no idea. But did it work? Oh yeah. There was also a giant jelly fish that on stilts that was dancing around the room. Gabe W and I kept saying, "Did you see that jellyfish?!? This is CRAZY!!" And oh yeah, forgot to mention that a few random beach balls somehow started getting volleyed around. Why? Who knows. But was it fun? Fun on growth hormone, dude.

2:45 a.m. Shut the front door! Waiters come out. To serve a whole 'nother meal. Yes. Hunger cannot and will not end this party. Super delicious chilaquiles and more. Only to be boogied off in slippers a.k.a. zapatos para bailar. Um yeah. It was, quite possibly, the best thing I have ever seen go down at somebody's reception. For real. Officially has reached a new category of fun: ultra-legendary jubilation.

I wish the giant jelly fish had been caught on film!

You would think that this kind of celebration would lead to scores of people staggering into hallways and falling over tables in inebriated stupors, but interestingly, no one even came close to that. We were all so high on the happy of the couple and the moment, that it just wasn't that kind of vibe. Which, to me, was just one more aspect of why this particular event was so cool.

Moment after moment, I kept saying to myself, "This is the best part!" Then a few minutes later, I'd say again, "No, this is the best best part!" But now I know that of it all, my favorite moment was this:

When we all hoisted Paulina and Russ into the air as the band played "Love is in the Air." Everyone was singing and clapping and cheering and dancing and. . . . . yeah. I loved that moment best of all. Why? Because, in a nutshell, that's what made the entire weekend experience of celebrating the infectious love of the two Infectious Disease doctors so extraordinarily memorable -- the love that was in the air.

At first, all I could tell people was, "You just had to be there." Now, I hope you feel like you were.

I have said it before and I will say it again: There is no better high than the high of being a part of someone else's happy. And now that I think of it, there's no better pandemic infection to catch than the infectious love of two wonderful people in love.*

*Especially when it involves giant inflatable microphones, metallic wigs, and King Tut masks.

The Bride was in the air, too.

Final thoughts:

1. Folks in Mexico City know how to party. For real.
2. For the most awesome reception ever, book this band (and Paulina's aunties.)

I hope you had some ultra-legendary fun in 2010. And I really hope that love is in the air for you in 2011, too. :)

most photos courtesy of Grady doctor Ameeta K. ~ thanks!:)


  1. That looks like a fantastic time! I was living vicariously through you and I must say kudos to the aunties for the tequila and the slippers... I hear that! Love it Soror!

  2. Thank you for writing! The good, the happy, the sad and the simple. I heart your blog!

  3. Okay I'm sorry if my comments all sound the same and are boring but I absolutely loved this post. Thank you for sharing!!!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

Related Posts with Thumbnails