Ah weddings! Such a fine collection of stress and neuroses. While I should really share with you the details of this beautifully choreographed union between my cousin and some nice boy from Antonito, CO (population 400), let’s all remember this is about Me.
My own wedding took place at a lovely B&B in Taos, NM on July 6, 1997…I think, although it could have been 1996, I’m not exactly sure. I’d have to consult my divorce papers to confirm this and they are neatly tucked away at home in a manila file folder marked “Divorce” between Federal Taxes and Medical Records. I’m nothing if not emotionally organized.
At the time, I thought a vein in my head was going to burst because things didn’t go exactly the way I’d planned. Of course, now I realize that’s what makes a good wedding: the trips and falls, the eccentric relatives and untoward remarks, the unexpected death threats.
First, our rehearsal dinner fell apart: too many people, not enough entrees. Or chairs. Or tables. So several of us ended up eating our filet mignon on our laps and after the 50th thing went wrong, my fiancé got up and left. That’s right…hopped in his car and drove away leaving me with 25 dinner guests. And that was the good part. Long and the short of it, I ended the night draped over the railing of my suite sobbing uncontrollably while my Man of Honor, Phill, handed me glasses of water and patted my back because he was at a loss at what to do while I drunkenly muttered, “I can’t do this, I absolutely can’t do this.” Finally, having exhausted every handy platitude, he grabbed my shoulders and presented me with the facts, “Listen, you gotta get a hold of yourself. You love this man. You’re going to marry him…because, because, um, because your car’s blocked in.”
In the throws of my divorce, poor Phill kicked himself repeatedly insisting there was more he could have done, that he should have thrown me and my cold feet in the back of his Acura and spirited me away. But I’m glad he didn’t. I have never once regretted my marriage. I did it for all the right reasons: I was a woman terribly in love and I believed who we were together was more extraordinary, more complete than who we were apart. When you say “I do” you take a leap of faith. Sometimes you land hard, sometimes you land soft and sometimes you keep flying but no matter how the story ends…at least you held your breath and jumped. Anything less…well that ain’t living.
The day of the wedding, my future brother-in-law crashed our brand new Subaru after cutting off a 90-year-old farmer on his way to the Social Security office. Fortunately, no one was injured and Bro's rein of terror could continue. Yup, he was the guy packing heat during the reception (maybe because, as the Ranger once stated, “sometimes folks just need shootin’) while sniffing for marijuana which he was absolutely sure would turn up wherever Hispanics gathered (he’s a DEA agent by day) and then, after getting good and liquored up, began pawing D., my brother, R’s, wife. Mom, who witnessed the later, immediately whipped out her cell phone and dialed R. for an intervention (that’s right, she phoned him). This from a woman who has absolutely no compunction about screaming across a crowded dance floor, “Hey, you have a pinto bean stuck between your two front teeth.” For whatever reason, this time she chose discretion when calling out the dogs. From what we could tell, however, my sister-in-law was rather enjoying the pawing…which might explain why she’s no longer my sister-in-law.
Something about those old-fashioned vows..."to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, through joy and sorrow, till death do us part" takes my breath away and reminds me why being cynical isn't as much fun as it used to be.
My other future brother-in-law, who was also the best man, greeted guests at the pre-wedding cocktail party bare-chested, sporting a sarong snappily tied around his waist. We thought he might be planning to entertain us with some kind of exotic fire dancing act, but no, apparently he was merely suffering from the desert heat. Possibly a rash. Unfortunately, my 80-something-year-old Hispanic great aunties were scandalized (and probably a bit tantalized) about being escorted to their seats by a man in a bright floral skirt likely wearing no underwear (he was NOT, in fact, wearing underwear, but please don’t ask me how I know this…I still grind my teeth at night) This is the same man who asked me to pose naked so he could give his brother nudie photos as a gift. Now, I've done a lot of stupid things in my life, but on this one I demurred because Daddy, a diehard Democrat, always taught me to use this particular measuring stick…What would Bill Richardson do? Enough said.
And then there was THAT toast. My youngest auntie took the microphone and after doing the customary running-through-the-names-of-dead-ancestors, wishing us luck, long life and love blah blah blah, she held up her champagne glass and signed off with, “Just remember, if you ever break her heart, we will hunt you down and kill you.” At this, all 200 members of my family jumped to their feet and flung their arms in the air, cheering wildly as if the winning touchdown had just been scored and it was now time to tear down the goal post. My in-laws lowered their champagne glasses as their mouths went slack looking very much like parents who’d just witnessed their son being eaten by sharks.
My new husband, to his credit, was an excellent sport and carried off a tight grin but I could tell by the shadow that washed over his face, he was suffering a dawning realization… maybe what his ex-girlfriend had urgently whispered to him in the receiving line was true…he’d inadvertently married into the Mob. Note: No worries. The X is alive and well. And any suggestions of mobsterism are entirely inaccurate. Entirely.
Speaking of leaps of faith…the Ranger and I haven’t gotten to speak much lately what with all the wedding hub-bub and the three-hour time difference. But let me just say this…my dear, I hope this story doesn’t make you sad or make you wonder how it might have been if you’d been standing up there with me and the judge…actually, you were a freshman in high school so you probably wouldn’t have been able to take that much time off from hockey practice…but of course you must know that even if you weren’t my first love, you are my last. And my best.