Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Serve, Set and Spike! (but whatever you do, don't catch the bouquet!)

As I am ever the romantic (okay, you can stop laughing now), I would be delighted to hear that Clay had found someone special with whom to share his life. For somebody who's had the lousiest luck imaginable with men, I still remain optimistic (no, really -- you can stop anytime) when it comes to relationships. Well, at least, OTHER people’s relationships...

Somehow, I've managed to bring together at least three couples who are still going strong after 10 years (and thus have been indirectly responsible for a number of births as well), been a maid of honor numerous times (and like many of you, have a variety of hideous atrocities in the back of my closet to prove it!), and have provided Kleenex and sympathetic counsel to any number of my maligned and cheated-on women friends, although I have to admit that for the most part, my "counsel" has been limited to the words DUMP THE BASTARD.

As we approach traditional wedding season, I thought I’d share a few highlights:

Chartreuse Floral Medieval Costume with Garland of Flowers. My first maid of honor experience was for a coworker, Judie, a very low maintenance type. I highly doubt she had ever had even a passing acquaintance with a razor or a mascara wand. Now, for years, I had been a regular at a weekly volleyball game along the lakefront, which was mostly just a lame excuse to have a barbeque. I dragged her there one spring Saturday, and she immediately caught the attention of the local Neanderthal -- an overbearing, unattractive, unshaven, soap-challenged pseudo-intellectual named Larry. Naturally, it was love at first sight. Their outdoor wedding was an artsy-woodsy affair featuring strolling minstrels, maypoles, children lisping Elizabethan poetry, and -- the one masterful touch -- a sing-along recessional of "When I'm Sixty-Four." Larry later decided I disapproved of him (he was right), and doesn't let Judie communicate with me anymore. C'est la vie. I often wish I'd hung on to the cheesy getup I had to wear for this one -- it'd probably be right in style now. On Halloween, anyway.

Black Rayon Pants Suit with Gardenia Corsage. Next up was my best friend Wendy, whose ill-advised union to (shudder) an actor friend of mine was the culmination of one of those stagnating relationships that had dragged on so long that the wedding was the result of an ultimatum on the bride's part -- never a good thing. Everyone, including the bride, wore black, which may have been symbolic. They barely managed to get through the ceremony without hurling heavy objects at each other. Surprisingly, they're still married after 9 years, but there are a lot of recriminations. Most memorable moment: one of the gay groomsmen, surveying my suit, informed me that I looked like a "lipstick lesbian." I'm still not sure if that was a compliment. The suit did subsequently come in handy for job interviews -- I called it my “ball breaker suit.”

Periwinkle Crepe and Pearls. My next maid of honor experience was for my 40-ish friend Becky, a no-makeup-Birkenstocks gal who had grudgingly agreed to a big white wedding only to please her elderly well-heeled parents, who had waited...ahem! “forever for this” (tm Clay’s “This is the Night”). I brought her to the volleyball game one Saturday, where she met her future husband: a dark, heavyset scientist who was visiting for the week from his fellowship in Sweden. (Since Becky had always told me she intended to marry a dark, heavyset scientist type, her interest was understandably peaked.) Contact info was exchanged, and the next thing I knew, I was helping her pack and gamely sampling her attempts at lutefisk. And if you’ve ever tasted lutefisk, you know that THAT’S true friendship.

The following year, they returned from Sweden with her pregnant and in need of a suitable wedding dress. After I physically restrained her from buying something off the rack at TJ Maxx, off we went to the chi-chi bridal gown designer. I doubt this ultra chic lady had ever encountered anyone like Becky, who flatly refused to wear a bra, heels, makeup or jewelry, and hated everything that was put on her (why so many of my friends were attracted to a high maintenance friend like me in the first place is anybody's guess). She finally ended up with a strange drapey chiffon confection that was fine if you were the Bride of Frankenstein, and ever practical, she later dyed it navy blue, so she could wear it again. I’m sure it was a big hit at funerals. The bride and groom trolls on the wedding cake were a nice touch, although at the reception somebody's kid stole them and had to be bribed (with ice cream) to give them back. The best thing about a bride who doesn’t give a damn? I got to wear anything I wanted, as long as it didn’t clash with the flowers. The periwinkle crepe (copied from a little number in Bendel’s window) was my first custom-made dress. And my last, so far.

Turquoise Ruffled Scarlett O' Hara Hoopskirt and Matching Picture Hat. (Yep, that was just as bad as it sounds.) The bride, Linda, always claimed that her goal in life was to be a "matriarch." (Now that's something you don't hear very often!) Her wedding took place on a cold, rainy October day in a miniscule leaky chapel in Wisconsin's Door County. Most of us in the wedding party had never met, and were housed in a small bed-and-breakfast in the woods. Its owners lived, during tourist season, in a trailer in the front yard, only venturing into their house to cook the meals and change the linens. The wife also moonlighted as a waitress in town, and it was not unusual for her to serve you breakfast in her home, and then lunch at the Blue Iris on the main drag.

My roommate for the weekend was Hadley the wedding singer, a huge scary-looking female prison guard, who lumbered in garbed in men's clothing with an enormous key ring jangling from her belt. She spent most of both nights droning on about her gender confusion issues and need for a good depilatory. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep.

On the rainy morning of the wedding, Linda suddenly had reservations about going through with it, as she had somehow managed to cheat on her fiancé several times in the previous month. After we convinced her to go full-steam ahead (we all thought the groom was HAWT), we met her at the chapel, where we were confronted with the groom's unfortunate father -- a quadriplegic whose considerable apparatus refused to fit down the aisle. Nor did our hoopskirts. Finally, as the rain pounded loudly on the metal roof, we hiked up our hoops and helped carry the father (whom I must say had a great sense of humor) over our heads across the pews. Hadley turned out to have a beautiful soprano voice (go figure!) and was a mean guitar player. It was really too bad about that mustache.

The reception back at the groom's parents' house was interesting to say the least -- the quadriplegic dad, having a better time than many of us, was placed in a large sandbox in the corner, reminiscent of a Beckett play, where some sort of electrical current moved his arms and legs for him. And the ghastly turquoise getup? It landed in the Goodwill box the following Monday -- my other clothes rebelled against having THAT anywhere near them.

Believe It or Not, I Don't Remember. That infamous volleyball game was responsible for one more union: my twin brother's. I brought him along one Saturday, and he met his future wife Kyra, a witty, militantly feminist magazine editor. The polar opposite of my gentle, introspective dreamy brother. Correctly assessing him to be commitment-shy (or maybe just shy), Kyra wisely approached him through my sister and me. In fact, I think we were initially worried that she might be hitting on us! But no -- they've been happily married for 11 years -- after the only judge that would marry them on short notice was in bankruptcy court, and where can you go after that but up? And they produced my nephew, the best kid EVAH.

I suppose it's really too bad there was never someone around like me, FOR me. But I think some people are put here on this earth just to facilitate. And to have children named after them. And to cheerfully wave bye-bye to those children and return home to serene singledom.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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beauzzartz said...

Pink, I just love your wedding stories! BWAH! What did they do to your hair? Some of my scariest bridesmaid horror stories were the trips to the bride's salon before the wedding. Back when everyone wore their hair straight and parted in the middle, the do of the hour was either Scarlett O'Hara ringlets or an updo that rivaled the bride of frankenstein. *shudder*

Pink Armchair said...

Just wanted to say, beauzzartz, that while I've suffered through some truly horrific hairstyles in my life, for most of my adult life my hair has been very short, so, fortunately there have not been too many options for awful wedding 'dos. Thank God -- the outfits were bad enough.

The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

These stories are so funny. I was fortunately never a bridesmaid. I was married the first time in 1971 and my parents were happy I wore shoes! Same with the friends who married around then - so no formal weddings for me. Second to - to the wonderous MrNan - in 1991 after living together for 10 years. That precluded a formal wedding as well. Hearing these stories I was lucky I escaped the dreaded bridesmaid dress. So any pictures of the dresses or have they all been thrown out?

Jemock said...

I was in a wedding once in Jonesboro, Georgia--yes, the legendary home of Miss Scarlett herself. Needless to say, hoop skirts, bustles and picture hats were required. I actually think there's a statute on the books that mandates it. Anyway, I stood too close to one of the many many MANY candelbras in the church (think of Phantom of the Opera, and then add about 10,000 more candles) and my off-the-shoulder ruffle started smoldering, and I don't mean because I looked hawt. Which I did, considering I was wearing a yellow dress with 80 yards of ruffles and lace on it. I looked like one of those Barbie cakes. Anyway, I had to spit on it to extinguish the flames. Fortunately for me, smoking and spitting wasn't particularly out of place at this wedding, so I don't think anybody noticed.

ladyjocelyn said...

Pink, I love your story telling abilities. Shouldn't you have a newspaper column somewhere?

The closest I've had to a "bad" bridesmaid dress wasn't really a dress. My best friend at the time was in the Society of Creative Anacrhonism with me. This group recreates the Middle Ages. This friend got married in full Middle Eastern Medieval Garb...and the bridesmaids followed. It was a lot of work, but it was kinda cool because I could wear the outfit later to SCA events. *g*

~ YSRN ~ said...

Hee, Pink. These are the funniest stories!! When my best friend got married, I was her maid of honor. Her mother was (heh - IS) a psycho and she was a mess during the entire thing. She stressed me out so much I barfed on her shoe. Hee. No alcohol, I swear! I have absolutely no recollection of my dress. I'm sure it was hideous though!

Diamond said...

Love your wedding stories, Pink! The prison guard / soprano had me laughing so hard I was crying!!

I do have one small hair "horror" story. One of the bridesmaids at my wedding decided she wanted to get her hair done after the rest of us. Uh oh. When I saw her ten minutes before the ceremony she had her very thin hair in reverse cornrows with the four or five "tufts" crimped and standing straight up on top of her head. CRIMPED! This wasn't in the 80s either, it was 2002!

Oh yeah, then I found out she made out with my 16 year old brother during the reception. Needless to say I'm not friends with her anymore!!