Recommended wine for today’s entry: Dom Perignon champagne. Go ahead! This was what my husband and I had after a successful — albeit wet — wedding ceremony 27 years ago. The excellent gift was made even better by the discovery that he didn’t like champagne, so I got the whole bottle. Well, that was good until the early morning flight the next day. It was worth the headache though.
First, a little news: This week marks the one-year anniversary of this mindless blog. I am pleased to say that it got nearly 10,000 hits over the course of the year — thank you for reading and especially for offering your comments, which are usually much funnier than the drivel I write! Remember, I welcome guest blogs, so if you do something really stupid and want to share your life lessons with us, please do… Even better, if someone you know (or especially someone you hate) does something really stupid — have at it! There’s nothing quite so cathartic.
While we’re talking about doing stupid things, today is my anniversary and I can’t help but remember my wedding day.
NO I AM NOT SAYING THAT GETTING MARRIED WAS STUPID. I’m sorry if it came out that way. What I meant was, when planning and executing my wedding, I did a lot — a really LOT — of stupid things. But since I was like 15, it was understandable. Actually, I was 22, but as I look at my 20-year-old daughter now, I am realizing how young 22 was. Anyway, here are the dumb things I did. Maybe it can help us all avoid such pitfalls when planning future nuptials.
First, I insisted on an outdoor wedding in the single rainiest month of the year.
Then I said we didn’t need a back-up plan.
Two days before the wedding, I realized that my hair hadn’t had time to lighten up in the sun yet (it was only May) so I went to the store and bought Quiet Touch, a hair “streaking” product. And Oreos and banana Moon Pies and beer and Corn Nuts and Apple Jacks. And I think some Bartles & James wine coolers. I’m sure I was reverting to childhood, seeing as I had come up from Dallas for the wedding and was staying in my old bedroom. Waking up to the green plaid wallpaper festooned with yellow and white daisies (and the picture of Clint Hurdle torn from the cover of Sports Illustrated) probably made me long to recover my youth. No, I didn’t have beer and wine coolers as a YOUTH … those were just in case I got the jitters.
After my mother had applied the Quiet Touch, very sparingly, one strand at a time, just like the box said, the phone rang.
Oops. We hadn’t picked out the music for the wedding. (Perhaps you can tell that I wasn’t all that into the ceremony.) So mom and I got on two extensions to chat with the very nice but quite affected gentleman from a small group of members of the Louisville Orchestra who’d agreed to play at the wedding, as long as they were paid handsomely and provided shelter from the monsoon season.
Him: Your wedding, is Saturday, is it not? You were supposed to give us a list of the music you wanted.
Me: Oh, yeah. What songs do you know?
Him: What? (you stupid hick) Well, of course we know everything. Bach. Mozart. Beethoven. Concertos. Sonatas. Processionals. Everything.
Me: Do you know any Dan Fogelberg?
Him: We’re probably going to need payment up front.
Then mom broke in, just so this man didn’t think we were white trash.
Mom: Shit! What time is it?
Him: The wedding?
Mom: NO … NOW! What time is it NOW?
Me: OH HELL, MY HAIR!!! M-o-o-o-m-m, GET UP HERE AND GET THIS SHIT OUT OF MY HAIR!!
Mom: Just do Dan Fogelberg and stuff like that. Click.
In Italy they say Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata — a wet bride is a lucky bride. As a survivor, I have to say it doesn’t feel all that lucky at the time.
The day of the wedding, I sat, along with my whole family, on the shag carpeting in the den and watched the Weather Channel. This is what all the event planners recommend for dealing with pre-wedding jitters. I sat in my ratty robe eating sunflower seeds and staring at an enormous front approaching from the west. If you are thinking that normal people don’t spend their wedding days cross-legged on brown shag carpeting and spitting seed casings, you have watched Luke & Laura’s wedding too many times. This is reality.
Then my brother said, “Hey, do you think they’ve mowed the lawn at that old house where the wedding is gonna be?”
Uh-oh. And just for the record, it was a historic home, not Boo Radley’s house. But they hadn’t mowed the lawn, at least not recently enough for monsoon season. When he got there, the rental company was delivering the white chairs and the chiggers were hopping around in the tall grass, excited about the naked ankles sure to attend the wedding.
We had to get to the wedding site really early because my hair goes super flat in rain and this was the 80s, when big hair was really big. There was a log cabin where we spent a very, very long time putting the curling iron creases in my hair just like Farrah Fawcett’s and strategically placing the veil to cover the HUGE WHITE DOT WHERE MY MOTHER CLEARLY HADN’T CAREFULLY, A STRAND AT A TIME, APPLIED QUIET TOUCH. But because I am not high-strung and because I had bought Bartles & James wine coolers, I was perfectly happy and, because it was my wedding day, I even put a coat of clear polish on my nails and used blush. (My soon-to-be husband had told me that if I started up the aisle looking like a stranger, he would turn and leave … )
It was only sprinkling as the guests filed in. I watched out the cabin window. There was a ruckus near the big tree that stood proudly along the path that the groomsmen would soon use as they made their entrance. My 6-foot-5, quite imposing father appeared to be talking to a long branch. Then a few of my husband’s fraternity brothers, longnecks in hand, dropped out of the tree and slunk over to the seats. I didn’t see anyone do that at Princess Diana’s wedding, but they probably just didn’t show that part on TV.
The sun actually broke out as I started up the aisle (I think my cue was when the quartet broke into “Time in a Bottle”). Our good friend Bill did readings from the Old Testament — quite well, I must say. He even wore something to make himself look like a man of the cloth, even though I believe at the time he was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. We had a SUPER fast ceremony, luckily, because just as we retreated back down the aisle, the skies opened and the crowd bolted for their cars, the reception and the open bar. (Luckily I’d been overruled and that event was held inside.)
Near the end of the night, I changed out of my cumbersome wedding dress, which I entrusted to my mother for cleaning and safekeeping. (Upon her return home that night, she promptly threw it on the floor of her closet where the schizophrenic Lhasa Apso nested in it for the ensuing six years.)
I put on a snappy white “going-away suit” with a deep aqua silk camisole and sensible pumps I’d had dyed aqua to match.
My father had secured a hotel room for us, which wasn’t all that easy because we had out-of-town guests staying at all the really nice hotels and the tree-climbing fraternity brothers were hell-bent on finding us. So dad — very cleverly — found an out-of-the-way but very nice hotel that gave us easy access to the airport the next morning. It was lovely and you sure couldn’t tell at the time that 25 years hence it would become part of a homeless shelter.
As we were checking in, a large contingent of conventioneers were also checking in. A bowling convention.
Smugly, we told the clerk who we were — and that we had reserved the HONEYMOON suite — WE, of course, WERE NOT BOWLERS. I mean, if the orchestra can look down on me, I gotta have someone to look down on, right?
Well, we paraded past the people, throwing them disdainful looks. Standing there in the lobby with their blue vinyl ball bags and dirty fingernails. Hmph.
When we got in the elevator, my husband said, “Did you sit on your foot in the car?” and I said, “Sure, probably, why?” and he indicated the smoky mirror in the back of the elevator car. There, across my butt, was an aqua print of a sensible pump.
Damn rain. But maybe it was lucky — we’ve made it 27 years. And counting.