Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Going to the Chapel

I had a family wedding on Long Island last week. There was a Wednesday night rehearsal dinner, the Thursday night wedding, and then the Friday morning brunch – all because my daughter was the flower girl. This, of course, meant that my workaholic husband had to take a full three days off work in order to spend oodles of quality time with my parents. Please use your imagination on how well that conversation went.

Wednesday: My husband spent his “vacation” time by being on endless conference calls. I spent the entire four-hour drive listening to his side of techno-babble engineer-speak in complete silence, excluding the occasional requests for a movie change, snack, or drink from the back seat. That left me a lot of time with my thoughts and what I was primarily thinking was – I hate driving in New York. As a state, they seem to believe that signaling is for suckers, the line markers are private, motorcycle-only lanes, and that stop-and-go traffic means that you stop so they can go. When we finally arrived at our destination, I never wanted to curse more or hear “sku” less.

I was not in the best mood upon arrival and it only got worse when I was told up on check-in that my parents were in the next room. No sooner had we put the card key in the lock than she had poked her head out the door. She helped with nothing, got in the way more than the kids, and managed to make a rude comment about how I looked before the bride-to-be even emerged for the rehearsal. The kids were ill-behaved due to exhaustion (the dinner started well after their usual bed time), my parents were pissed that they weren’t at the head table, and my husband still had calls to make. It was a long, long dinner.

Thursday: The wedding day dawned bright and clear. I was so stressed out I couldn’t even take a deep breath. Like an ill wind, wherever we went, my parents were already there and were talking about death. While the butcher bill might be high in my family, I hardly think the best place to discuss for whom the bell tolled is at a wedding. Yet it was the constant topic of discussion. I spent the day getting a mani/pedi (sounds relaxing, but wasn’t), getting my daughter’s hair done, getting her pictures, getting her in place, etc. I had to stay with her because while everyone involved was family, none were family she had ever met. By the time I was handed a glass of champagne in the bridal lounge while we waited for the guests to be seated, I could have drank down an entire bottle.

With fifteen minutes to go before the wedding, my husband knocked at the door. My son, who was for the first time in his life, wearing a tie, was soaking, dripping wet. He had leaves in his hair. His shoes were making puddles. And he looked at me with the saddest, biggest eyes and said, “Mommy, I fell in the fountain.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake!

I gave the boy a kiss, smacked my husband on the ass for laughing, and sent them back to the room post-haste for a change. Lucky for my husband, three things were in his favor: I had already started drinking, our room was onsite, and we had a change of clothes packed. The bride thought it was hysterical, several guests took pictures, and my son was much happier in his shorts and polo than he would have been in his button-down and tie. I only learned afterward that the “fountain” was actually a pond with a three-foot drop, ringed in rocks, and deeper than he could stand. How he didn’t hurt himself on the way down, we’ll never know. In my husband’s defense, he was actively watching the child at the time of his fall because there is a picture of the moment before taken by his camera. It was a pure, simple accident.

So, onto the actual wedding; my daughter threw her petals with precision and did her best not to fidget during the ceremony. She then proved to be the life of the party and danced more than every other guest combined. While we were once again seated with my parents, this time the music was so loud that talking was impossible. My son was so exhausted that he sat glassy-eyed and dazed through most of the reception. By the time the very long night ended, I could have wept with relief and did actually utter a deep, unearthly moan when I finally shucked my Spanx, heels, and push-up bra.

Friday: My husband was up at 4 a.m. taking calls, my kids barely slept much later, and we had to attend the brunch before leaving for the drive home, which this time, meant driving in full-on holiday traffic as it was the first day of the Fourth of July weekend. Pictures of my sodden son were passed around, promises to get together soon were made, and we were finally, finally on our way home. But not, of course, without the box of crumbly, car-destroying cookies that my mom insisted on buying for the kids from a “real New York bakery.” Our GPS led us on a scenic tour of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty before taking us safely back to Jersey, and minutes within entering our front door, I sent the kids out the back door to burn energy in the sprinkler.

While I was broken, battered, and beaten down from three days of wedded bliss, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Family is family. And while I would have liked to have added my mother’s name to the roll call of the dearly departed, that woman has the constitution of a cockroach and I’m sure I’ll still have reason to bitch for many weddings to come.

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