When you were a little girl, you played house. Sexual exploration came early to you, so getting the My Little Ponies, the Barbies, the G.I. Joes, the Cabbage Patch Kids to hump each other was part of that play. In your mind, the boy and a girl humpers were always married. In fact, you assumed that one necessitated the other.
Interestingly, you never played wedding. The toys met, the toys humped. And within the space of that comma, they were husband and wife.
Which is about as long it took you and Squeezable Companion to get engaged, get prego, and get hitched.
* * *
On the morning of your wedding you don’t wake up with long imagined feelings from childhood play or girlhood fantasies. You’ve never played this role before. And you find this deeply dissatisfying. What are the marriage day feelings and why aren’t you having them?
You wake up SC and tell him he needs to start getting ready to meet the family for brunch. You’re hoping that he’ll give you a clue as to how you should be feeling, but he wakes up with a roaring headache and he’s neither happy nor affectionate. This is not helpful.
At breakfast, Mom and Sister are in high spirits so you take their lead and you get into high spirits. You forget your anxieties and dissatisfactions over fresh berries and more fresh berries. Bacon, weirdly and sadly, doesn’t tempt you. And the cheese blintz just makes you want to gag.
When SC comes down and his family too, you tell a story about how when you were five years old you went skiing for the first time and took to the slopes like fish in water. Your childish enthusiasm got the better of you when you decided that making one more ride down the hill was more important than finding a toilet and you ended up pooping in your snow pants with skis on your feet. You must be nervous to tell a poop story at brunch. Are you nervous though? You can’t tell. You don’t really know what you’re feeling.
* * *
At the hair salon, your Best Friend and Austria Best Friend, who flew in yesterday all the way from Vienna after only 3 days notice, and Mom and Sister are all there, including your soon-to-be Mother-in-Law and your soon-to-be Brother-in-Law’s girlfriend. The high spirits are holding.
The hair stylist, Pat, asks if you’re nervous. She doesn’t wait for you to answer before saying that the jitters will come either after you’ve had your hair done, after you get in the dress, or once you’re in the church. That sounds like the whole wedding to you. And besides, you don’t think you’ll get the jitters. If it hasn’t happened by now…
By the time you return to the hotel, Dad’s arrived and checked in. You have 45 minutes to get dressed and get your makeup on. But you want to introduce Dad to SC. They have never met. Having them meet for the first time at the church is out of the question. When you find SC, he seems distant. Is everything okay? They meet. It goes perfectly well.
You’re keenly aware of the fact that SC has not touched you or kissed you once since the day began. And you are really needy today. He seems nervous and stressed. You start to wonder if he’s having second thoughts. Why doesn’t he act like he loves you? Maybe you can call off the wedding. That’s crazy. You love him. Everyone is here. You’re pregnant. Everyone is here. Is everything okay? You ask him again. His voice and face are tight. This is all wrong. You want to shake him and tell him to tell you that everything’s going to be all right. You’re pregnant for God’s sake!
While getting dressed in Mom’s suite, your Brother-in-Law comes with sandwiches and soup. People forget to eat when they get excited and end up exhausted later, he says. You are touched by his thoughtfulness, and you think what a terrible judge of character you were and how wrong you were about him when you first met and thought he was a dickhead. SC is a dickhead.
Mom offers to take half a sandwich up to SC. He must be starving too. You have 20 minutes to put on your make up and get dressed. When she returns, she tell you he said, “I love your daughter very much.”
And it’s what you’ve wanted to hear all morning. You cry even though you just finished putting on your makeup and you don’t care because he made everything all right. He’s not a dickhead. You are a terrible judge of character.
The ceremony is, in the words of Best Friend, perfect. Perfect because it is so not perfect. The minister, a Korean man with over 15 years of experience, educated at the Harvard Divinity School, calls you “Harry”, “Hee-ree”, “Ee-ree”, “Edy”, and “Deedee”. He calls SC “Richard” at one point. You’re not so smooth either: “Son, um, Father, and… the Holy Spirit!”, “To have and…. To have.” When the minister starts to talk about the rain earlier that day and how the rain might not be so great for the wedding but good for the animals and the trees and the plants, your body starts shaking with laughter while kneeling before the alter. You’re going to hell. Some of the guests think you’re sobbing. Sister is actually crying up a storm behind you.
* * *
The dinner reception runs like one of the best dinners parties of your life. You love, LOVE, dinner parties. For you it is the confluence of all that is good and important, the very things that redeem the bleakness of daily life: food, wine, good conversation with people you love.
You see the wedding cake for the first time and you are blown away by BF’s talent and generosity. The Swarovsky crystal bride and groom bears on top of the cake are from Austrian BF. The gift bags are a complete surprise with name tags and messages written on the reserve side, each one hand written by Sister. You find out that Sister made arrangements for Dad to bubble wrapped maple leaf shaped bottles of maple syrup for the gift bags from Montreal and bring them in his suitcase before his morning flight to Boston because the ones she ordered online didn’t arrive. Brother-in-law went shopping for the chocolates for the gift bags at a fancy chocolate shop in Boston because Sister forgot the one’s she’d already purchased in Toronto in her freezer. BF picked up candlesticks as present from Sister, who was in touch with former colleague at a high end houseware store. She also transported all the party favors, the cake, decorated the tables with ABF, picked up her parent’s car to chauffer us around down because her mother was horrified at the thought of you and SC riding a cab to your own wedding and insisted on lending her Mercedez, which BF and ABF decorated with hearts and flower garlands, got her boyfriend to drive the newlyweds around town, and presented you with a beautiful set of engraved wedding cake servers. You also find out that two of your best girlfriends in Toronto sent over champagne toasts for everyone to start the reception dinner.
Touched is an inadequate word. Loved? Better.
The food is wonderful and the service, outstanding. All the worries earlier in the day were for nothing. You could not be happier.
Later, just before cutting the cake, you present SC with your wedding gift to him. It’s something you’ve kept in a small pocket of your wallet for over a year.
It’s a fortune cookie message. On your fifth date with SC, you had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. The food was middling, but when you opened the fortune cookie that came with the bill, you knew you would never forget the meal. At the time, you refused to show SC the message and when he excused himself to use the bathroom, you slipped the piece of paper into your wallet for safe keeping. Uncharacteristic of you since you are not superstitious, you do not believe in fate or destiny or ever think that something was or wasn’t meant to be or something was or wasn’t for the best, you don’t believe in “The One” or “Your Other Half”, you don’t believe in luck or that it all works out in the end, and you don’t believe in karma. And yet…And yet the words on that paper felt true to some small neglected corner of your heart, and you kept it in case that corner turned out to be right and you could then show it to SC one day. And then suddenly, so sudden it was like a resounding shot from a gun, it was that day.
Thank you to our family and friends who celebrated our wedding with us on such short notice. Very special thanks goes to Sister and BF, without whom our Shotgun Wedding would not have been nearly as wonderful. Not even close. You both mean the world to me.