My mother wore a long white lace gown for my wedding. I was only 25, and barely educated in wedding etiquette. I hadn’t been to many weddings. So when we shopped together at Nordstrom, I didn’t stop her when she found
“the perfect dress.”
Mom was paying for the wedding, as my alcoholic Dad and I were estranged. When he heard I was getting married, he said I’d be divorced a year later. I still hated him for leaving my Mother for his long time mistress, his secretary. He left the day of my high school graduation, so I “acted out” to put it mildly.
I stood on the honors platform and glared at the audience with scorn, like I was Stephen King’s Carrie. I was disgusted with the topic of the valedictorian’s speech, which was about the positive effects of nuclear energy. When we got outside and were throwing our hats into the air, I attacked the school bully, screaming that she was “a nothing, a nobody.” I was still mad at her for overhearing her in the bathroom saying, “Who invited her to the party?” And other mean things about me.
I made my sister the maid of honor, which was a mistake. I lived in Seattle, she lived in Chicago, and the wedding would be held in Shelter Island, New York, in the church in the green across the street from our summer house. I had never been close to my sister. She wasn’t excited about the wedding or eager to perform her duties. As a result, there was no shower, no engagement party, no bachelorette party.
In fact, no one was excited about my wedding except my best friend from second grade, who oohed and aaaahed and was thrilled for me. I had just graduated with a Masters in creative writing from Brown, and my friends from Brown comprised most of the guests. I was known for being an outspoken feminist at Brown, so my friends were in shock that I was getting married so young to a man who proposed to me four months after we met. At a get-together in New York City, my friends interrrogated me. Why was I doing this? Why was I being so hasty? I replied that I was in love. They treated that as a flimsy excuse.
When we announced our nuptials to Josh’s parents and family, no one said anything. Finally my soon-to-be sister-in-law piped up and turned to Josh’s brother and said, “When are we getting married?”stealing the focus. No one congratulated us. Soon after, Josh’s brother proposed to Jan, and their wedding plans superceded ours. They were married a week before our wedding.
My mom, who was excited about the wedding, set into full gear, taking courses in calligraphy (she made ink blots on the envelopes) and wedding planning. But when I visited her with a gay friend of mine, Jay, she flew into a rage.
“Why did Josh move to Seattle from New York City? He couldn’t make it in New York?” She shrieked in front of Jay and me. She was pacing back and forth, in a rage, railing against my fiance. “You’re mother’s crazy, completely nuts,” said Jay. Until he said that, I hadn’t really thought of my mother that way. It was always my Dad who was the crazy one. I remembered a saying, “If you think one parent is the problem, the real problem is the other one.”
Shelter Island is about three hours away from my Mom’s house on Long Island. I was sitting in the salon, my hair highlighted and curled, waiting for my Mother to pick me up for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. And waiting. And waiting. Finally, my sister arrived, and said coldly and dryly, “Mom is using Bob Dob’s old station wagon to drive with the dress so it won’t get wrinkled, and the station wagon isn’t working.”
“We have to leave now to make it to the rehearsal!”
“I’ll take you home now.”
When we arrived home, my mother was waving her hands wildly in the air, flagging down the car.
“Have you seen my purse?!! I’ve lost my purse! It had ten thousand dollars in it to pay for the wedding!” My mother was hysterical. After frantically calling every store she’d been to that day, she tried retracing her steps. Finally, she found the purse in the back yard, where she had dropped it when taking a photo.
We convinced her to forget about wrinkling the dress and to just put it in her toyota corolla. We had about one and a half hours to get to the church. My mother flew down the highway, and we got into a huge fight, with me screaming at her about Bob Dob and the time and losing her purse and carrying that amount of cash. She said something scornful about “Me and my rich friends.” At one point I was sure she was going to leave me on the side of the highway with my dress.
(to be continued…)