21. A disastrous wedding

We arrived at the rehearsal at the church just in time.  At one point, I got so angry with my sister that I  said, “You are no longer my Maid of Honor,  Linda is!”  Linda was the best friend from second grade who should have been Maid of Honor in the first place.

We all arrive at a quaint, small restaurant for the rehearsal dinner.  Although we confirmed it, there’s no reservation for us.  They give us free gin and tonics and tell us to go stand outside in the parking lot.  The restaurant is packed.

To the waitress’s chagrin, two friends of mine crash the rehearsal dinner.

We slept at a bed and breakfast and I slipped into my wedding gown, the best thing about the wedding.  It had off the shoulder short sleeves, and was embroidered with beads, with a long train.  I had been working on my Ph.D. while planning the wedding 3,000 miles away, and I had been so frazzled that when I picked up the gown, I left my car running and l9cked myself out of it.

The veil had a headband over the top of my head.  A bridesmaid helped pull half my hair back and curled the rest of my hair.  I wore a single pearl  on a gold neckless from my mom and a garner belt of blue.

In the limo on the way to the wedding, I did shots–not a great idea.  I had written my own vows and was terrified that I would forget them.

When I walked down the aisle alone to Handel’s  water music, holding a large bouquet of lavender and peach flowers, my Brown friends turned and revealed that they were all wearing Groucho Marx noses and eyebrows.  I thought it funny at the time, but now I consider it inappropriate and offensive at a traditional church wedding.

We then headed to the reception which was held at a large shingled colonial inn that overlooked three bodies of water.  “Bolero” was playing loudly as we arrived.

My mother made a speech about her own town hall wedding.  Nothing about how much she loved me, how much she loved Josh, why we were so good together.  The best man, who had come to Seattle to spend a few days getting to know me, did not like me.  He made a brief statement of congratulations, no speech.

My mom then gave the toast–and got my name wrong.  She called me “Catherine,” a name she had on her mind because my freshman roommate Catherine had not bothered to R.S.V.P. and my Mom didn’t know whether to pay for her dinner.

Afterwards. slightly drunk, I went over to my Mother’s table and threw a napkin down, “The least you could do was remember my name!”

Then I started bawling.  Mascara was running down my face and making raccoon circles around my eyes.  “My mom is ruining my wedding” I sobbed.

“It’s your day, ” Linda’s parents told me, “Go have fun and enjoy yourself.”

We danced the first dance to our song, “Darling you send me,” by Sam Cook.

One game we played was tossing the garter belt.  My cousin Billy caught it, and somehow my lesbian Brown friend’s leg was chosen.  Connie hemmed and hawed at the political incorrectness, not realizing Billy’s brain had been damaged in a car accident.  She finally begrudgingly went along with it, and Billy slipped the garter belt on her thigh.  This from a woman who asked me sardonically if I would wear white to my wedding.

The wedding was over too soon, I had barely spoken to everyone during  my rounds.

My mom had read somewhere that each guest should take home a gift, so she chose African violets, which no one really wanted.  She had many left-over violets piled in her car.

“There’s no room in the car for me to take you to the airport,” she said.

I got  a phone book and on the eve of my wedding day I was calling taxis, coaches, and limos trying to get a ride to the airport.  No one would come to the Island.  We were stressed.

That night I excitedly opened the gifts.  There were joke gifts.  Connie and her girlfriend had given us a cardboard cut out of a baby and some cans containing fake snakes that jumped out.  Someone gave us cheap beads that a psychic might hang.  Someone else gave us a picnic basket with an egg in it which I wanted to smash against the wall.  A good friend gave me a wooden rooster.  I had registered china and silver and kitchen ware, all of which we desperately needed, at Bloomingdale’s.  Only my old boss gave me some of the china I wanted.  Again, I was in tears my wedding night.  We did not make love and turned in early.  We left the window open a little resulting in Josh waking up with a cold.

The next morning at breakfast my mom was still adamant that we couldn’t ride in her car.  Her precious violets were more important than us.  My mom’s house was overrun with plants, some cuttings that were scrawny and ugly looking.

Finally I got in the driver’s seat, told Josh and my mom to get in, and demanded the keys.  I was so furious and determined that my mother gave in.  I drove like a bat out of hell, my teeth gritted, to JFK airport.  We boarded a plane back to Seattle: we would spend one night there before flying to Puerta Vallarta.

When we returned to Seattle we were exhausted.  The phone rang and I answered it.  It was the chairman of the theater department.  He said that because I was missing the orientation party, he would dock my pay.  The orientation party was a stupid, unnecessary shindig  where the graduate students met each other.  I hung up on him.

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