Hello, Gentle Reader. A few posts ago I was talking about weddings, and how I used to work them all the time – I’d co-ordinate them, officiate them, cater, decorate, and so on. I stopped doing them a few years ago, for the most part, because for the most part brides are just terrible people for the entire run up to the wedding*.
Also, I rarely made any money at it – if it was a paying gig, there were enough out-of-pocket expenses/drama/wounded feelings/energies expended that by the end of the show, I wasn’t being adequately compensated, even if I charged extra, anticipating those exigencies. I still do one or two, here and there, for friends, if I must – but, for the most part, I’ve been out of the game for a while.
A few months ago, I was contacted by an old friend, to decorate for her wedding. Decorating, while requiring a certain eye for such things, is probably the easiest part of the whole operation. While A. is an old friend, we don’t know each other well; when we see each other, it has the novelty of a new acquaintance and the safety of long association. It’s a marvelous sort of arrangement. My roommate, Miss P., was also making the wedding dress for A. I agreed to decorate, not really wanting to do it – these days, I really hate working weddings, generally – but feeling obligated. Thus, I agreed, and thought nothing more about it for six months. I hadn’t quite forgotten, but neither did I do any planning. Regrettably, if I thought about it all, I’d groan, with much rolling of eyes, cursing the institution of marriage in general.
Besides, there was quite a great deal going on in the interim – the debacle with the landlord and militia, our forced move, numerous illnesses of family and friends – the usual everyday chaos that provides a counterpoint to the blinding beauty of the world.
Well. One morning, at probably eight o’clock†, Miss A. – who I had understood to be in Japan, actually, thank you very much – and her entourage of bridesmaids were in our house. Desperately groping for the button on the coffee-maker, and struggling to make a cigarette, I dimly perceived that she was here to be fitted for her wedding gown. I may have cursed. Certainly, apart from occasional steps outside to smoke, I concealed my bathrobed self in front of the computer. It was an ugly moment; I was barely aware of anything, could not figure out how pants worked, and my body was craving the sweet poisons that keep it in motion. And there were people? And strangers? And eight o’clocks in the morning? I couldn’t manage, or imagine. Given that the bride was being fitted for her dress, I faintly realized that meant the wedding was this week. Shit.
Once the entourage had left, and Miss P. the talented dress-maker had gone to work, I put myself together and fled to my mother’s house, Arvingdale: my refuge when I don’t want to deal with things. After a few days of effectively having a blanket over my head, it was absolutely necessary that I return home, because that was the day we were to leave for Cashmere, Washington, U.S.A. That’s right, folks: the world-famous home of Aplets and Cotlets‡.
I was vaguely aware of the bride’s theme and colors; I packed up draperies, some lights, lanterns, and shepherd’s crooks, things of that nature. I was not very enthusiastic, and the last I had heard, the wedding was to be in a Masonic lodge. That was six months before – at least – but that was what I was planning for. As I said, I’m not proud of it, but I really hadn’t been paying attention. I can’t stress enough how much I hate weddings.
At any rate, once Miss P. had finished the main seams of the dress§, we hit the road. Now, it’s a four-hour drive from Teaberry II to Miss A.’s family manse (well, while it isn’t actually a manse, it is a multi-generational compound; there are at least two (and I believe three) houses there; the house that Miss A. and her then-fiancée share with her brother when they’re in the country was where her great-grandmother lived, if I’m not mistaken) and I was not looking forward to that either. I was rather irritable, that day, as it happens, apparently.
The drive was uneventful, for the most part. We were only due to be gone two days – honestly, one and a half, really – but I was concerned about the number of cigarettes that I had and that I’d made for the trip.
I can deal with many privations, but insufficient tobacco? You don’t want to be around me without sufficient tobacco. I hadn’t yet quit smoking. I was trying to stick to one cigarette per hour, on the car ride – this is an improvement on the usual – and then we saw this:
I’m not certain if you can tell – photos are always such different sizes when I send them from my phone to the internet! – but all windows but the windscreen have been painted over or removed. Miss P. gamely caught up to, and kept pace with, this van until I got a decent picture. Further, there are rust stains all over the side of Uncle’s face. I don’t want to know what kind of game resulted in that. Any road, that was the highlight of the four hours of travel. Well, apart from conversation with a charming lady.
We arrive, and are greeted; dinner is being served as we pull into the driveway. There are several people present – the matron of honour, the officiant, the mother, the step-father, the fiancée, the bride, and we two. While not everyone knew one another, the conversation was delightful. Later, the young folk retired to the other house, and the matron-of-honor was correct when she said “Isn’t it wonderful how friends from three different parts of your life can get along so well?” The bride replied “I attract a certain sort of person.”
Cocktails flowed, and there were celebratory shots. The matron-of-honour is quite the mixologist, I must say, and the Bride was sensitive to my anxiety and awkwardness, pointing out where supplies were, and telling me “You’re family, now. Help yourself.” I did, and I’m afraid that I took the opportunity to hit on her best friend from high school/the officiant, of whom I’d heard for years. He’s actually much better in person than anecdotally, and I was very pleased to finally meet him. Before I shamefully cornered him, I had spent an hour or two trying to figure out whether or not he was gay, and after about an hour or so I learned about his fiancée. Whoops! I later saw a photograph of his young man, and they’re a charming couple. No worries; I’m sure it’s for the best that all new acquaintances learn that I’m utterly disgraceful as soon as possible.
He didn’t seem too upset by it, and, after all, as soon as he mentioned his young man I dropped that line of inquiry like a metaphor from Chernobyl.
With the arrival of more out-of-town guests, we had a final cocktail and then it was time for bed. Miss P. and I sprawled upon couches; I got back up for one last cigarette – Miss P. had just fallen asleep when I returned. Now, it’s an absolute necessity that I read before bed, or while in bed, because otherwise, sleep just doesn’t happen for me. Therefore, I was reading The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein (again. I had never actually managed to finish it before – that may be the subject of its own post, at some point in the future) when the Groom came out, sweetly, to shut off the light – he had thought that we’d fallen asleep, and forgotten. It was very kind. I immediately apologized, and after he went to bed, dog-eared the page, falling into slumber on the sofa.
And here is where we shall dog-ear this narrative, Gentle Reader, because I have been exceptionally verbose, and we haven’t even gotten to the wedding day itself! The next post will be Sunday, so there will be a Poetical Interlude, but on Monday, I’ll give you the Thrilling Conclusion in “In Which I keep a promise: Part II”. Stay tuned, kids.
*This is less sexism than general misanthropy. For the record, one wedding I worked for a friend, for the purposes of bride hate, the groom was the bride, and the bride the groom. With a wedding, one member of the couple is going to be hysterical, throw tantrums, and just generally be impossible. For purposes of convenience, no matter the gender or actual title, that person is referred to as the “bride” by me. They suck, yo.
†Generally speaking, I go to sleep between two and three in the a.m., and arise between nine and ten. Thus, while keeping odd hours, I am actually sleeping less. Whether or not I’m productive in my few extra hours is immaterial.
‡Aplets and Cotlets are essentially American Lokoum, but made from fruit grown here and not rose and lemon? For some reason I can’t abide either Aplets – made with apple – nor Cotlets – cleverly made from Apricots. It may be the fact that they put nuts in them. At any rate – although perhaps it’s just a local Washingtonian thing – everyone gets these as gifts, sometimes, and also everyone hates them. They’re nasty. They compare in no way to Turkish Delight, apart from consistency and also being essentially the same thing but somehow gross. Here’s a link .
(Don’t buy these if you are friends with your taste buds. Also, “Mom’s Tower of Appreciation”? Really? Could that be more awkwardly phrased? Probably it could, and I get paid, sometimes, to come up with shitty advertisements, so I suppose that I can’t complain. Still.)
§Mostly the dress had been finished, by now. Miss P. had received a box of silk and chiffon – yards and yards of it, and also was given a stipend to buy other necessary supplies. She had a rough dress, at the fitting; it was dyed, gradiating from a color about equivalent to navy blue in shade (but more resplendent) and going to an ivory-white. The strongest blue was at the shoulders, it organically shifted shade unto the underbust, from which it bled until it became ivory. It’s better than it sounds; I shall search for a picture. Anyway, the dress was made at this point, basically; the
second final fitting was between cocktails on Wedding Eve.