saints, scholars, and soldiers



Bud and Baps, Sikh wedding ceremony, Charlotte, NC 8/25/07

If it weren’t for Thornton McKendree Long, Jr. – or, as you and I know him, the Budster – I would not be sitting here writing these words. We all need a bridge from our past eras to our present, and essentially, he was mine. In August of 1985, I was a bespectacled, sickeningly shy dork with awful skin and long corduroy pants in the 105-degree weather. Whilst playing the bass part to “O My God” by the Police in my Hinton James dorm room, I heard a knock on my door, and Bud waltzed right in.

He wanted to know if I wanted to start a little band, and I said, um, sure. For the next few weeks, I followed him around like a lost Labrador retriever, because he was from Statesville and thus knew half the UNC campus. He introduced me to Chip and Jon, and helped me find Kendall, and from that, I joined the Lodge, wrote a column, met Tessa, and began pretty much everything that constitutes my present life.

It all started from an act of friendship, one that I took as an act of bravery, to knock on some random guy’s dorm room door and suggest kinship. It took me a decade to summon that kind of courage in my own life, just the mere act of divorcing myself from self-consciousness long enough to invite another human being along for the ride.

I should mention that Bud and I did start a little band with a hot chick named Kam from the 5th floor, and we played two songs at the Hinton James talent show: “What I Like About You” by the Romantics, and the last non-ironic cover of “Stairway to Heaven”. This was 1985, mind you, at least six years away from irony, when “Stairway” could still be played without derision. The audience must have known they were witnessing history, as we won 2nd place (losing only to a whistler who whistled “Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston).

Bud and I crashed together for many years afterward, in many different situations: in the Basking Ridge, NJ “Divorce Hut,” on his couch at Estes Park in Carrboro, at Audubon Park in New Orleans, and finally, for three years at the Purple House on McCauley Street. Like all roommates, I took several of his habits as my own: an obsession with darts, the quest for the perfect mix tape song segue, several back stretches, and baby powder for the feet.

It was with an immense sense of satisfaction that we married off the Budster this weekend in two separate ceremonies: one Sikh, the other Episcopalian. His bride, Bapinder, is an absolute joy, the kind of soft-spoken woman who slowly becomes your favorite guest for the weekend; listen closely, because her best lines are spoken quietly and only once.


Jon tries to install Sikh headcovering on Chip

The Sikh ceremony was beautiful, set to a raga beat, and featuring incantations that seemed older than mankind. Our heads needed to be covered (which meant Chip struggled a little) but the wedding guests – who had come from India, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and yes, Iredell County – were amazing. The Sikhs explained everything, and were effortlessly nice; my favorite part of the ceremony involved Bud holding a coconut wrapped in silk, leading Baps around the altar four times in beat with the music.

The Christian ceremony was on Lake Norman later that evening, and featured some excellent chicken tikka masala and kick-ass billiards. In all, a celebration done right. And finally, after 22 years, the four of us who hung together when we were spazmoid 18-year-olds, are all married. Took us long enough, I guess, but aren’t late-blooming plants vastly more entertaining?

Chip, Bud, Jon and me in Atlanta, March 1987 – I’m wearing fake glasses


Chip, Bud, Jon and me in Charlotte, August 2007

0 thoughts on “saints, scholars, and soldiers

  1. scruggs

    Was is Lake Norman and not Jordan Lake? That is the one north of Charlotte. 5 min from my house in fact, but I’ll forgive you for driving right by it!
    I’ve been to one non Judeo-Christian ceremony, and it was the coolest event (if not 3 or so hours long!). The Hindu (I think) ceremony was held in some large conference room of a Charlotte hotel. The programs were printed in English, and every segment of the ceremony was explained in English to help out the UNC contingent. It was beautiful.
    [indeed, it was Lake Norman! I fixed it… – ian]

  2. mcf

    Heartfelt congratulations to Bud (and Bapinder!) It appears the ceremony was just beautiful.
    As a fellow Statesvillian, I am proud as only an “Ardull County” native can be of a fellow SHS grad. May you have many, many years of happiness together…

  3. LFMD

    Oh my! How nice! Congratulations to Bud and Bap!
    I remember seeing the four of you around Grimes and Manly those twenty some years ago. It does a heart good to see you guys sharing in each other’s happiness after all this time.

  4. Ehren

    This was a great post, Ian. I think that discussion of male friendship is sort of rare in our culture, and it’s been really on my mind lately.
    Also, congratulations to Bud! That wedding looks beautiful and warm and fun, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to meet the happy couple at a couple of Jartaculars.

  5. jordana

    congratulations to one of the loveliest couples i know! i’m so sorry we weren’t able to attend what appears to have been a beautiful and truly joyous event! love and best wishes…

  6. kjf

    ian – i came to your blog after the 2004 elections but stayed a reader in part because of posts like this. when you write about your friends from carolina and intertwine the old days with the present it makes for good reading. what interesting folks you all are!!

  7. Randy

    Ian, tell Bud congrats from Randy Basinger, a fellow Statesvillian and Tar Heel. Glad he found someone to wander the Earth with. Looks like it was a blast and it’s always good to get together with long-time friends. By any chance was the ceremony on Lake Norman at the Penninsula Club? It looked familiar. That place has just boomed with growth since Bud and I grew up in the ‘ville.

  8. Neva

    Sounds like a great time. Ian, you have a knack for replicating these old photos. How do you do this or is it just luck?

  9. Tim

    The best part of those pictures is the original pair of Air Jordans on Bud’s feet!
    OK, I guess the whole “merging of cultures” and “reunion of old friends” and the “celebration of two people’s love” is pretty cool, too….

  10. kent

    One of my favorite Jartacular moments was meeting Bapinder and discussing our mutual computer geekhood. She’s someone that looks very serious, but she is very funny. While still looking very grave. That’s a trick I can’t manage. I’m funny by acting like a clown. Babs is funny while looking like she’s delivering bad news.
    So congrats to B&B!

  11. block

    well said Ian… one simple act of brave kindness changed the trajectory of your whole life. Wonderful! Crongrats bud and baps…
    “stairway to heaven”? excellent confession!… and to think you made fun of me for my cover of “tangled up in Blue”

  12. SF Liberal

    I don’t have your current email address, Bud, but I’m really happy for you. We are slowly but surely building an army of white southern men married to kickass South Asian women.

  13. Bud and Baps

    Thanks, everyone! I’m glad my Air Jordan classiques are finally getting the kudos they’ve always deserved.
    (The stuff about our wedding is nice, too.)

  14. Annie

    Oh, so many cheers and congratulations to Bud and Baps!!! What a beautiful set of photos. You all look so damn happy…and I daresay ol’ Chipper is looking conspicuously tan and fit! Kansas must be agreeing with him.
    Y’all are the image of auspiciousness.


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