All names have been altered to protect wills from being changed to exclude the writer.
Got it straight?
Totally fictional. Wink, wink.
First question. Been to any wedding?
Second question. Did you have any fun?
Third question. (especially crucial answer here) Were any family members involved, either in the ceremony or the reception?
Is it just the weddings I go to, but are they mostly affairs that tend to bring out the same traits in friends and fellow members of your family? Holidays and weddings. The two most statistically ripe times for drunkenness, erratic behavior and bad old habits.
Allow me to cite examples.
Instead of taking in a killer concert this past Saturday night with the Why Store, and Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, my wife Amy and I were guests a wedding for one of my cousins.
Oh man. Life’s scariest cliches spring to life. Recognize any?
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we.
We pull up in the driveway of the First Church of the Unlimited Giving in Indianapolis, and are greeted by a rent-a-cop decrying all compact cars carrying fewer than three people must park on the other side the lot, which can only be reached by getting back on the interstate and reentering the lot via the dirt road by the down by the river.
Ok. Fine. At least we were on time. We go, park, and I get out of the car, look over and notice my wife is looking at the right front fender.
“When did you get this dent?” she asks.
Huh? What dent?
“This one that looks like somebody leaned too hard against your car.”
I got no idea. Seriously. Great start, though. Oh, and the lot has parking meters. Nice touch.
We walk the nearly two miles to the church, and are greeted my cousin Jason. The cousin who thinks dressing up means clean jeans and menthol instead of unfiltered Camels. “Menthols smell better, right?” he’s been heard to say.
“Sup?” he asks.
“Not much. How’s (Oh, God, what is her name?), uh, life treatin’ ya?” I say. “You remember Amy, right.?”
“Oh. yeah. Absolutely.”
Noticing a leering quality, I decide to push on.
Inside, we run into Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob of the eternally rock hard handshake.
“Well, there’s the kids.” Bob yells. “How we doin?”
He extends his hand. The land of no return.
“You kids in town for the night? Staying close by?” he inquires.
Loaded questions. Better fib.
“Nah. We need to get back to Fort Wayne tonight. Have some work to do at the office tomorrow. What are you doing?”
“Well, you know Alice. She’ll be dancing until they kick her out tonight, so were at the Ramada. Come on by later,” Bob says, volunteering his room for us to crash in, I guess.
“Hey, maybe. Supposed to be a nice reception.” I interject.
“Yeah, I hope drinks are free,” he says.
After these first two conversations, I think “me too”.
Amy and I are escorted into the sanctuary by one of the ushers from the brides side. Seems nice enough. Wonder to myself the relevance of the partially hidden ax tattoo over his right ear. . No problems though, as we walk into a nicely decorated church, with loads of white colors, live flowers and candles.
We’re seated next to by Aunt Karen. We like her. She doesn’t pass judgement on too many people, dresses nicely, at least pretends she likes us and has two daughters, my cousins, both nice and intelligent. We basically lucked out here. We could have the fate of by brother Ryan, who has to sit next to friend of the family, Betty, who has the worst smelling feet in the northern hemisphere.
At least we hope it’s her feet.
The bride is beautiful. The groom is handsome, just as they’re supposed to be.
Neither is Catholic, so no need to put extra money in the meter. Grandmas cry. Nobody passes out. I do. I do, and we’re done in less than 45 minutes.
And the race is on. Who knows the shortcut to the reception hall? Heck, who knows the short cut to our car? Disneyland has a tram for people parked as far away as we are.
Needless to say, we aren’t the first ones to the reception, held at a sweet little country club in the middle of nowhere. On the walk up the driveway, I notice the guys who were earlier serving as the ushers double-fisting beers. I take it as a good sign. Looks to be a party.
Relegated to a back table because of our arrival time, we do get a prime seat to survey the scene. Christmas, reunions, weddings, funerals. The cast of characters is always the same. Anybody look familiar to you?
There’s Crazy Jackie, with her boyfriend at least 20 years her junior. She’s got the DJ around waist, undoubtedly trying to sweet talk him into playing “The Stripper” song during the garter toss.
There’s Uncle Steve and his wife Aunt Christy. Between them, they wear six necklaces, seven rings, have had four plastic surgeries, and six kids. Gotta love ’em, just don’t get too close to Christy. She’ll pinch your ass before you can say goosedown pillow.
Hey, there’s Aunt Mary. Probably the nicest woman here. I walk up to hug her, and she hugs me first. Good feeling when that happens.
Unlike the feeling I get when, later in the evening, I look to the dance floor and see the Johnny Travolta (circa 1978) of the family, cousin Willie, by himself, doing his knee drops and toe spins, and arm waves to KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight”
Seems like the DJ, in his pink bowtie and pink suspenders, likes it though. That is, until Willie drops a little too hard on the portable dance floor, and causes the CD to stop completely.
Whoops. That’s just too bad.
I wave to Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma sees me, but I don’t think Grandpa does. And shouting will do no good. I’m sure the hearing aid went off about the time KC started singing. Or it might have gone off when Grandma told him 45 miles per hour was just too fast for the interstate.
Here comes the bride and groom, followed by a photographer who looks like he’s been run over by a car and a couple horses.
A video guy comes around with a camera and microphone wanting everybody to give best wishes to the newlyweds. I give directions to the Condoms R Us store in Daytona Beach. My wife slaps the back of my head.
I notice a lady two tables over takes a slug of her beer, and hold the microphone up to her ear like a telephone. I think about alerting America’s Funniest Home Videos that a tape is in the mail.
Some kids come running by, and head into the hallway to do a kiddie version of “YMCA”. I wonder if they know what that song was about when it came out. I sure didn’t until Jim and Tammy Bakker tried to save me by telling me all about it.
So we eat dinner, kick back, play tic-tac-toe with a one of kids sitting at the table. (I get “beat” three out of four games.) We move onto the “I Spy Game”. Again, the seven-year old kicks my butt.
Wallflower Jane, my Dad’s cousin, never moves from her spot at the neighboring table. I think her corduroy skirt has suctioned her too the chair.
A pack of high school girls I’ve never seen flit past our table wearing flowered dresses shorter than a popsicle in July. Of course, I didn’t look.
White wedding cake is eaten. A garter gets thrown. The bouquet is tossed. Some guy is on a table exhorting the crowd to do the “Country Joe and the Fish” cheer.
It’s time to go.
As we walk into the parking lot, and up the driveway, I look at Amy and smile. I mention how it’s nice the most people get married only once and Christmas with this crew is along ways away.
We grab each other’s hand and walk in silence until we get into the car.
“Have a good time?” she asks.
“Oh, yeah. Gotta love the family.” I say, starting the car.
So do I.