Since college graduation, it seems as if people I know have been getting married rapid fire, as if engagement rings were shot out of a t-shirt cannon at the ceremony, and the madness has continued for the half decade following. Last year alone, I attended five weddings, and sent regrets that I couldn’t make it to three. I suppose it makes sense, time-line wise, as my ten year high school reunion is quickly approaching later this year, that people I’ve known my entire life are behaving like adults. It seems hard to believe I’m old enough to see friends from grade school and family members whose births I attended get married (sometimes for the second time), procreate, or even get divorced, because I still view myself as an awkward teenager, but somehow of legal drinking age. I think it may be ill advised to commit oneself to someone in their twenties, knowing that most serial killers statistically are middle aged men. What guarantee does a young lady have that the man she has legally bound herself to just hasn’t reached the serial killing stage in his life yet?
Personally, I have fear of government recognized commitments. I think it’s weird to file joint taxes and have joint bank accounts, but perhaps that is just my aberrant independent mindset shining through. I also have a difficult time picturing myself doing things that all my friends cannot do; I think it’s bizarre and irrational that my gay and lesbian friends cannot become legally wed, but my parents can marry and divorce multiple times. Homosexuals can purchase firearms, and finding the right weapon for you is easily more daunting than finding one’s soul mate, and there is just as much legal paperwork involved. Furthermore, marriages these days seem more destined to fail than not. The percentage of my relatives who have divorced is far higher than the ones that got it right on the first try and those who suck it up and live miserably put together. Actually, this seems to be more of a nationwide phenomenon, leading me to believe my bloodline alone may not be afflicted with a bad decision gene in their DNA. I also truly believe my homosexual friends are equally as capable of making each other miserable as my straight friends.
Some things about matrimony just don’t sit particularly well with me at all. Take the whole “love, honor, and obey” portion of ordinary vows for instance. Love and honor I understand; that’s the whole pretense under which folks gather ‘round so they can get free food and booze. “Obey,” on the other hand, leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. I’m not a terribly insubordinate person, but if you were to blatantly demand that I obey…say, the laws of physics, my mind immediately begins to conjure up scenarios and ideas involving levitation. “Obey” is such a strong, commanding word that my initial response is resistance, but I have yet to hear anyone vow to “love, honor, and consider doing stuff if asked nicely.”
Perhaps the most off-putting aspect of nuptials is the overwhelming work involved with planning and funding a wedding. I can understand why people elope to avoid the stress, but you don’t get nearly as many pictures and presents that way. Plus, people who elope don’t get an awesome cake, and whenever presented with the option of cake or no cake, I always choose cake. This spring, I am to play the role of a bridesmaid in a cousin’s wedding, and I made an attempt to alleviate some of her wedding stress by making her laugh at some truly awful bridesmaid dress “suggestions”: a quinceanera dress so frilly and gaudy, the model appears to have been half eaten by a cupcake, and an alternate dress with cleavage cut open to the navel. While it would have made for a better story, she never went all Bridezilla on me, but in her stressed state of all consuming wedding planning, she could not for the life of her understand why her tomboyish, motorcycle riding cousin would want to wear a $300 monstrosity. She left me a three minute voicemail saying calmly she did not understand, and eventually we got a pretty good laugh out of it, although I think I served to only further raise her stress levels with my frivolity, despite my intent. Lesson learned: don’t toy with a bride to be.
Another wedding I attended had an unexpected visit from the local police force. This outdoor wedding was to be held on the beautifully transformed lawn of a gorgeous house in a neighborhood that lacked adequate parking. To prevent problems with parking, a van was rented, and the groomsmen took turns shuttling guests from a parking lot in a nearby strip mall to the site. During a morning dry run through the neighborhood, one of the groomsmen driving saw a kid playing outside and in his giddy excitement at the day ahead, made a harmless comment about coming to the wedding. The child’s parents, however, saw a strange man in a white, unmarked van attempting to lure their child to a “party,” and reported the incident to the police. Subsequently, the police arrived to ensure that nuptials were actually being held, and no prospective child molesters were lurking about.
I possess a talent for awkwardness in social settings, which is apparently directly linked to my GI system. This year I attended a beautiful classic wedding that included a reception at a country club. The night prior, I went to a county fair and in a fit of extreme gluttony imbibed virtually the entire fair: a Polish sausage, cotton candy, a candied apple, a funnel cake, and deep fried Oreos. Promptly afterward, I discovered my tolerance for rides designed to realign the balance centers of one’s body is either not nearly as high as it was when I was ten or is much lower after eating mass amounts of borderline unnatural fair food. Incidentally, I also discovered I look like a jackass when exiting a ride pale white and focusing all my energy on keeping the contents of my stomach in place after teasing a kid about nausea before the ride had began.
Not one to pass up free food, I hit up not one, but two buffets of rich food at the wedding reception. By the time I made my way to the bar, my stomach was at maximum capacity and I opted to stick with water. Loaded to the brim with wedding food and likely leftover food my body refused to digest to teach me a lesson about teasing children, I was fully prepared to burn some calories on the dance floor. I’d been shaking it and pulling out my best white girl moves for quite a while, when a cute guy approached me. Well, hello there, handsome stranger! We were never going to be televised with those moves, but we were laughing and having fun, when he spun me at an arm’s distance half way through the song. I had a flashback of all the spinning and nausea the previous night, and suddenly only one thought infiltrated my head: I am going to vomit right now.
I took off running for the bathroom with no explanation, my hand cupped over my mouth. I made it into the first door of the bathroom which opened to a sitting room, when the vomit exploded from my mouth and nose, through my fingers attempting to hold it back, while I continued running toward the toilet leaving a trail of emesis in my wake. My body had almost finished purging itself of all the food I’d forced down, when I heard a male voice ask, “Are you okay?” I suppose when I suddenly ran away without any elucidation, he found himself in what he must have perceived to be a Cinderella-esque moment, and managed to follow the trail of vomit to sheer disappointment. While I’ve never attempted to impress a dating candidate with vomiting, it didn’t seem to be a great time to start. Even if he is some sort of sexual deviant who enjoys retching women, I’d like to reproduce this scenario as little as possible in my life. I was mortified, but at least my dress fit better.
“I’m fine, but I think I’d really prefer it if you weren’t in the ladies’ restroom.”
“Oh, so I guess you’re just not used to drinking?”
“Actually, I’m pretty used to drinking, but I haven’t been drinking tonight. Seriously, get out. I need to wallow in self pity, and I might throw up again.” I later met my cousins in the lobby of the nice hotel next to our cheaper motel unequipped with a sitting room, where they continued to drink and I offered shots of my newly acquired Pepto Bismol. I told the maid of honor the story, and between fits of hysterical laughter, she informed me that the vomit in the bathroom had been blamed on the obligatory drunk girl.
Despite the stress, disagreeable shoes, unforeseen vomit, and things that make me uncomfortable about weddings, there are a lot of aspects I actually like and anticipate happily, other than free food and booze. I love the opportunity to see family members who live too far to visit with any frequency, and I easily prefer weddings to call for the reunions over funerals. The reason for this is simple: my family is huge, diverse, and awesome. I realize lots of people believe that their families are amazing, but mine truly takes the cake. My step-dad’s side of the family is all out redneck, but without the overt racism and fear of homosexuality and continues to accept me as one of their own despite the fact that my mom and step-dad divorced over a decade and a half ago. My mom’s family is full-throttle and hilariously off-beat; these are the folks from which I probably get most of my traits. My dad’s family tends to steer closer to the societal norm, and is filled with intelligent, hardworking characters with great senses of humor. At a recent wedding, the cousins had all taken over the dance floor and were shaking our respective thangs, when the song Promiscuous was played. My cousin Mike, who lives in Florida and I always look forward to seeing, said “I don’t know if the cousins should all be dancing to a song promoting promiscuity. We are from the South.”
I’m particularly fond of atypical weddings. Another cousin, Danielle, was recently married. This girl is in the Air Force, a mechanic, a motorcycle rider, and all around badass. She just finished her second tour overseas, working hard and away from her family, so that people like me can live freely to do things like write silly blogs. When she told me she was getting married, I knew I wouldn’t miss it for the world, which was only reinforced once I found out the dress code was “jeans.” She wore a fringed, brown suede skirt with a green, sleeveless, plaid top, and cowboy boots. As for the setting, there were several cowboy hats present, an altar created with a trellis and hay bales, dual corn-hole sets to play during the reception, and a Twinkie on the wedding cake covered in coconut to resemble a tiny hay bale for this cowboy themed wedding that took place in a backyard. I loved it not only because I love my wonderful cousin, but because she made her low-budget wedding exactly as she wanted, giving societal pressure a heaping dose of the middle finger. Also, allow me to reiterate the fact that there was a Twinkie on the wedding cake.
Over the years, my view on matrimony has evolved from vehement opposition to generalized discomfort, which may be proof of my stunted maturity. It’s entirely possible that one day I’ll grow comfortable with the idea and agree to walk down the proverbial, or in this case literal, aisle, escorted by both of my dads, with my motley family to witness. If I do opt to ever legally bind myself to another human being, I’ll be greatly disappointed if the event isn’t a monstrosity of some kind, or at least officiated by an Elvis impersonator.