Saturday, May 2, 2009
A Train Wreck that Didn't Wait to Happen
We just got home from a wedding. I’d never met the bride. The groom is my husband’s friend. We’ve been introduced, but I don’t really know him. I was happy to go anyway.
I like weddings. Especially weddings that I am not in and I am not paying for. People are generally well behaved and they look their most presentable.
I usually get teary-eyed. The only wedding I’ve been to as an adult that didn’t make me weepy was my son’s. However, the bride and I were the only 2 people in the packed church not sobbing. I think the two of us determined someone had to remain calm and collected and since no one else seemed willing to fill that role, least of all my son or his father, it fell to us. But that is another story.
I’ve never met a married woman who doesn’t cry at weddings. Sometimes for joy, sometimes in sorrow, who can say. There aren’t that many events that trigger wedding memories so it isn’t unexpected that while the couple of the hour are saying their vows, the married people in the audience are thinking about another ceremony, another day.
When I think back on my wedding, specific moments, responses, and reactions will be forever burned in my memory. It’s nice that at least a couple of times a year we get invited to a wedding and I can spend a few minutes leafing back through those memories and savoring them again. The greatest hits list of my wedding includes the following:
1. My mother, in her infinite logic, decided to have my dog put down the morning of my wedding. She thought I would be so consumed with wedding nerves, I wouldn’t have time to be upset about the death of my pet. So while I was getting dressed, my older brother was given the task of delivering my beloved Scotty to the vets for his own ‘special’ day. Then, to assure I truly would be too busy to focus on her announcement, she apprised me of the act just as we arrived at the reception.
(Even though it dilutes the impact of this tender tale, in an effort at full disclosure I will admit that my dog was suffering terribly from a condition that medicine could no longer control and more than one vet had told us there was nothing else they could do for him. So the action wasn’t unreasonable, the timing just sucked.)
2. The week before the wedding my then fiancé's aunt loudly labeled my cousin a ‘filthy scab’ at a wedding shower my cousin was hosting. This was the result of a heated argument squished between insipid wedding shower games. The subject was an upcoming teacher’s strike in our state. Actually ‘filthy scab’ was the tamest of the invectives my future aunt by marriage used. She had a foul mouth. A really foul mouth. I usually admired her colorful use of profanity. I’ve been known to repeat a few of her more original epitaphs myself. But, that day I wasn’t admiring. I was livid.
Bows and ribbon were flying, the little pastel mints were aimed and thrown with deadly force. My future mother in law was trying to shield my new china place settings with her own body. I was frantically looking for the Sabatier Boning Knife I’d just opened. Whether to hide it from my cousin or use it myself, I will never know. But I was ready to call the whole thing off. It took my soon-to-be husband several hours in the back seat of his car to remind me again why I wanted to marry him, regardless of his aunt. The wedding back on, I still threatened to carry the boning knife down the aisle, in case his aunt did anything else to piss me off.
3. Shortly before the wedding, my grandmother, did her duty and had a ‘talk’ with me about married life. Her major concern had to do with my insubstantial dowery. Evidently the paltry 6 sets of pillowcases and the 7 'days of the week' tea towels I had painstakingly embroidered between the ages of 8 and 12 - which I admit, didn’t exactly fill my hope chest - reflected poorly on her. But this was not the lead-in to the discussion. It was prompted by my showing her the entirely appropriate undergarments I’d bought to wear on my wedding day. I happened to mention my fiancé was with me when I purchased them. This revelation led to one of my grandmother’s famous non sequiturs. With a straight face she pronounced -
“I have never allowed your grandfather to shop with me for such intimacies. Nor would we ever even discuss such things. That would be as good as admitting I actually wore them.”
The ‘talk’ went downhill from there. I often wondered how she would have reacted if I confessed that sometimes, I actually did not.
4. All of my attempts to exclude my father’s new wife from the festivities failed. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her there. It was that I hated her. She was a year younger than my oldest sister. She was sickeningly sweet and dishonestly devout; a beautiful porcelain doll, but the facade masked Medusa. She made my dad downright giddy. According to my husband, this last offense was because she possessed ice-cream cone tits. Evidently the engineering skill required to get those breasts in that specific type of bra to assure that you always saw her boobs at least 5 minutes before she actually entered the room, and they were always positioned parallel to the floor, appealed to my father, the architect. Or so the logic went. All I knew was when she entered a room she sucked all the life out of it.
My parent’s divorce was bitter, scandalous, and still very raw. But my mother assured me that with a little help she could rise above the occasion and survive the forced proximity. Unfortunately my mother’s helpmates were Valium and vodka, both of which I generally discouraged. For my wedding day though, I gladly accepted all the help they could give her. I personally witnessed her take her little pills, and kept the vodka bottle close by.
5. At the reception I backed into my husband, who had a cigarette in his hand, and caught my wedding dress on fire.
Then, there was the crooked paint-by-number (I’m serious) larger than life-sized painting of Jesus above the alter that took center stage in our pictures. There was the obvious fact that all members of the wedding party, except for my dad and possibly the minister, had recently indulged in some form of mind altering substance. I could go on and on.
Ah, good times. Good times. I think I will skip weddings for awhile.