weddings bring out the best and worst in us


Whenever I see a movie that culminates in a wedding scene, I feel cheated. Can’t these Hollywood geniuses write a more original plot to showcase the bickering, supportive, complaining, adoring, fearful, joyful, hateful, loving, fighting, hugging melodrama that is the modern American family?  

Any family really, throughout the annals of time.  

Certainly there must be another backdrop for inciting a family to its highest highs and its lowest lows. 

Why focus on the gobs of money, the frantic planning, the near disasters, the second thoughts, the last-minute jitters, the behind-the-scenes manipulation, the drunkenness, the missed cues, the incestuous ogling that characterize any decent wedding?  

The kind of stuff that would bring down the Roman Empire.  

Doesn’t any happy couple want to go to Europe or make a down payment on a house instead? With the $23,000 spent on the average affair, why do so few people take the money and run? 

Because -- as I was reminded at my nephew’s nuptials last weekend -- there’s nothing like a big fat wedding. 

The affair was a huge success. The two families, from different religions, mixed and mingled with affection. The weather was perfect. The food was good. The music and dancing were sensational.  

But still there was enough angst to make a politician lose his cool, enough tension to make a tight-rope walker skip a step. 

Every wedding has several pre-ceremony meltdowns wherever relatives are trying to get ready. In my house, with out-of-towners spending the weekend, seven people collided amidst showers, hair dryers, high heels, bow ties, hair products, dresses too tight to walk in, pants too tight to button, and red stains on white shirts from loosening up with a glass of wine. 

So much internal heat was generated, I thought the house would explode.  

Multiply this by over 200,000 weddings nationwide in the most marrying month of June, and multiply that by an average of 157 guests per wedding, and you have the makings of an atomic bomb. That’s 30,000,000 people frantically trying to get their zippers zipped and their collars buttoned in June alone. 

I was not at all surprised once we arrived to find an older relative -- exhausted just from getting there -- about ready to land in the hospital. This time it was a grandparent from the other side. First he was standing, then he was not. Nothing horrible happened, but it’s pretty near impossible to enjoy the rest of your night when in the first five minutes you are on the ground with a hundred people standing around you.  

As usual the appetizers were the best part of the affair but since you have no idea what food will follow, you’re both afraid to eat them and afraid to lose them so you hide some in your purse. Besides it’s hard to feel elegant chewing a stuffed mushroom.  

I was glad to see one relative taking the lead. She had a mushroom in her mouth, a mini-quiche in one hand, and a pig ‘n blanket in the other.  Her mate stood with extended palms of tiny pizzas and shrimp-on-a-stick. With her head she was signaling the cheese tray to stop. There were so many hors d’oeuvres in her vicinity I thought for a minute she was a human appetizer server, where the toothpicks stick out of her and the rest of us just grab.  

As the dancing got started, I saw a couple of younger women had been kind enough to wear what appeared to be nightgowns, while a couple of older women strutted around mouthing “inappropriate” and shaking their heads. The “bad girl” emblem on the pink nightie was especially striking.  

But I hardly paid attention because I almost passed out. To fit into my skintight red dress, I’d been on the flat belly diet and lost four pounds in four days though I didn’t need it. I refused to let those silly young girls take control of the dance floor; a mature older woman has got to take a stand.  

Did I say mature? 

All in all, it was a wonderful, heart-warming time. The couple left happy on their honeymoon, none of the celebrants needed a stretcher though several were holding their heads or their stomachs and staggering, people hugged goodbye at least 4,000 times until all the breath was pressed out of them, and somehow the world is almost through another June.  

But the second most marrying month is August.  

Get your high heels ready and your health insurance all paid up.

June 16, 2010

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