Picture from Quick Meme. Caption by Effie.
Weddings make me anxious. No, it’s not because my own marriage didn’t work or because I have some feminist objection to the legal and religious origins of marriage that smack of ownership and patriarchy, though both of those things are true. There is still logic in marriage. If you are religious, weddings are public celebrations of union and family, sanctioned by God. If you are not religious, they are public celebrations of union and family sanctioned by the IRS and various other state and federal institutions. Either way, they are public celebrations of love and commitment and generally, happy occasions. Who doesn’t like to celebrate love and family, have a few drinks, and do the chicken dance? Don’t point an accusing finger at me. I am not a bitter, jaded curmudgeon. I really like all that stuff, and I like knowing that people are still hopeful and crazy enough to want to take on the world together. Still, weddings make me anxious because of my feet. Even on my best behavior, one of them invariably ends up in my mouth or gets broken. OK, OK, I am rarely on my best behavior after a few drinks and the Macarena but I can get through most other events that involve drinking and dancing without saying something stupid or injuring myself. (That may be a lie, but I’m going to run with it anyway.)
This foot-problem thing started years ago, when I was still young and never-been-married. I attended the wedding of a childhood friend, the first of us to tie the knot. There were several of us single, dateless girls, seated together at the reception, right in front of the band. I think I remember the lead singer making fun of us. I must have already been an anxious wedding-goer because I had several margaritas before we even sat down for dinner. The reception was held at a local country club and I have a hazy recollection, from later in the evening, of trying to convince some poor employee to let me take a golf cart on a joy ride. What is not vague in my memory is a particular remark I made in front of my friend’s conservative parents.
After dinner, the bride and groom made their greeting circuit around the room. By the time they reached the “singles” table, most of us had consumed a few too many and were joking, rather crudely, about “what marriage means”. My back was to the room while we poked fun at the couple in their new joint venture. They both found it amusing, and when my turn came to contribute to the ribbing, I remarked that marriage meant having sober sex for the first time. No one laughed. All eyes were focused above my head, on my friend’s parents, who had just arrived at our table and were standing directly behind me. Oh gawd! At least my foot tasted like tequila.
There have been any number of incidents like that over the years, at the weddings I have attended since then. Before we were married, my husband and I went to the wedding of one of his cousins. I didn’t know his extended family very well yet, or that the people at our table were all his cousins and their spouses or significant others. At one point I leaned over and made a comment to my future husband about the hair dye-jobs of an older couple at the next table. He quietly informed me that the couple was his aunt and uncle and that the man on my other side was their son. The sober sex comment from that first wedding may have been excusable. How could I have known that my friend’s parents would sneak up behind me just as I uttered a totally inappropriate and slutty comment? But honestly, how stupid or drunk was I, to be commenting about other guests at a family wedding of a relatively new beau? In front of people I didn’t know? Don’t answer that.
I went to a wedding a couple of weekends ago, once again, as a single, dateless woman. The wedding I attended before that had been the previous summer. I had a date for that wedding. Sort of. We sat next to each other at the reception and I went home with him at the end of the night the way I typically did when we were out drinking together. I even picked out the suit he wore. My “date” wasn’t much of a dance partner though, and spent a portion of the evening picking up other women. Literally. He carried one woman from the smoking area back to the dining area. True to wedding-form, I got drunk. Not having an enthusiastic (or available) dance partner didn’t stop me from joining the party though. I went right ahead and made a fool of myself by falling down and breaking my foot. I had kicked off my five-inch heels to avoid just such a disaster, but it was a wedding. Of course I was going to do something stupid.
This last wedding I attended, two weeks ago, was a little different. I don’t think I said anything inappropriate and I didn’t break any bones, but I completely lost track of time and forgot to send my RSVP by the requested date. The bride was gracious enough to text and give me a second chance. She also asked if I would be bringing a date. No, no, I would not. I showed up to the church alone and the usher gave me my very own pew to sit in. No one else had a whole pew to themselves. It was awkward. Because the bride was also a friend of my almost-ex-husband, he was there as well. He did have a date (his girlfriend of the last 4 years or so) and had to share his pew with her and a couple other people. Thankfully I was not seated at the “singles” table at the reception. I got to sit with my husband and his girlfriend. This was way less awkward than it sounds. I am friends with both of them and was quite relieved not to be sitting with complete strangers or with a group of unattached people ripe for ridicule by the DJ. I’m not sure everyone else at our table was as comfortable with our little triangle situation, but they were congenial and dinner was delicious.
I may have made some gaffes (that I am blissfully unaware of) that day, but I didn’t drink too much and I left before the dancing started. Maybe the foot-curse is over. Or maybe I’m just finally learning from my mistakes. I don’t think I’ll ever be a relaxed wedding guest but, if invited, I will always attend. Every married couple needs a wedding guest horror story. I’m nothing if not willing to oblige.