I went to a wedding this weekend. I also helped my parents move. (At least, I THOUGHT I was going to help my parents move, but they'd already done all the hard stuff and all I had to do was go through my eighteen boxes of Mortifying High School Crap and decide if I was going to junk it or store it in my teeny tiny house, which, Oh. My. God. do I have a scanned-high-school-photo post in the works for YOU!) Anyway, I am going to tell you about the least traumatic of my weekend endeavors: The Wedding.
(Ha! I kid! Parents, you are SO INCREDIBLY EASY GOING!)
But yes, The Wedding.
Disclaimer: I love weddings! Love them! I even love PLANNING weddings (as long as the wedding we are planning is not mine- damn you evil wedding magazines and your despicable message of "You are not blond OR rich enough to get married!") I can be counted on to bawl through the ceremony, make nice with the grandparents and behave at the reception. I am an EXCELLENT wedding guest.
So excellent that I volunteered to help decorate for this wedding, even though I barely know the bride and would not recognize the groom if he knocked on my door and said, "Hey, I'm The Groom, I'm marrying that one girl you barely know." I volunteered because my friend The Pharmacist was coordinating the reception and it appeared that there would not be enough gin in the world to negate the effects of my friend The Pharmacist's wedding-related nightmares. I told her I would show up Saturday morning and she could put me to work.
But I got to the church and the Pharmacist was mysteriously absent. Instead I was roped into ironing the altar cloth by an industrious bridesmaid. Happy to be helping, I started ironing the Cloth That Would Not Be Ironed. Ever! I practically did a handstand on the iron, THAT'S how hard I pressed, and I could not get those stupid lines out. Enter the Wedding Coordinator, who, in my opinion, was only there for the snacks. "Oh," she said while munching on a carrot. "THAT'S not going to do." I pressed harder. I pressed longer. "Hmm," she said thoughtfully, stuffing a muffin in her mouth. "Maybe we'll just have to DAMPEN it and let it DRY and TRY AGAIN."
Okay, fine. But injuries to my ironing pride aside, there were about 14 million things left to do and I speak from experience when I say that no one is going to notice the frigging altar cloth. I finally adjusted it and draped it enough to satisfy the Most Annoying Wedding Coordinator On Earth and then I got to work pinning the aisle runner to the rug. Let's just say it was a tad crooked, but as my old boss used to say, "Sometimes done is better than perfect." I mean, did she want the 300 programs folded or not?!
And: where the hell was my friend, The Pharmacist!
I was sitting there folding programs with a rather obnoxious 10-year-old girl who asked me question after question about the flowers and the dresses and who really couldn't give me the time of day after she discovered I wasn't even a BRIDESMAID, what good was I to HER? I managed to escape before the Wedding Coordinator could chomp on her apple and start in about the aisle runner because I wasn't about to start fixing that. I had to get home. I had sunburned peeling skin to exfoliate before the grand event, thank you very much.
I couldn't find my friend, The Pharmacist, at the wedding. We were way up front, behind some poorly behaved children, and while I was spared a full on view of my terrible aisle runner job, I couldn't see a THING. After the wedding Phillip and I decided we didn't need to do the receiving line thing (so much for making nice with the grandparents!) and headed straight to the reception, which happened to be in a church building I hadn't even NOTICED earlier that morning. And there was The Pharmacist, wearing her killer black dress and a look that could ice over any human being who dared to interrupt her duties. But I shouted "HEY PHARMACIST!" across the [huge. gigando. decked out in gobs of lavender and tulle.] room anyway and perhaps it is a testament to our friendship that she did not immediately shoot the icicle daggers from her steely eyes and kill me on the spot.
"Pharmacist!" I said. "I couldn't find you! I got stuck! I had to IRON!"
"I know," she said gravely. "And from what I heard, they needed you more than I did." And off she went to tend to the buffet and the punch fountain and the table with the ginormous mountain of little boxes wrapped in pink paper and lavender ribbons. "Those," The Pharmacist hissed on her way to the kitchen, "are the FAVORS."
You see, this was not your average wedding. This was the wedding of a woman who has been employed by the Non-Denominational College Fellowship long enough to know every young person in Washington State, and a man from Philadelphia and a most decidedly different ethnicity than the bride herself. There were a bazillion people at this wedding. Most of us were happy laid back West Coasters, some of whom bothered to wear a tie, some of whom assumed that the little preprinted boxes stacked on the cake table were for taking home the wedding cake. SILLY US! Some of us were Fancy East Coast Ladies in our finest spangles and you people should know I am not one to make fun of spangles, so vast is my love of all things tacky and theatrical. But Internet. These were some SPANGLES.
As The Pharmacist had called me the night before to request my prayers for "reconciliation", I was most eager to hear all the gory details, but she barely had time to shovel in the sweet and sour chicken before her services were requested in the kitchen. So Phillip and I were kind of bored. We were only there, we figured, because The Pharmacist was possibly going to keel over from Tulle Overload at any minute and someone would need to call the ambulance. But there were 300 other people there and surely they wouldn't let The Pharmacist lie there untended to. Phillip went off to use the facilities and I started to pack up our assortment of glue-gunned spangled be-ribboned and bedazzled wedding favors.
And then? The Pharmacist appeared, hovering over our table. "Maggie," she said calmly. "I need you to help me save the wedding."
Well. What does one say to THAT?
The crisis was as follows:
In ADDITION to the myriad of things the Mother Of The Groom had initated, caused, done and demanded (that I am not at liberty to speak about, as The Pharmacist has not shook off the wedding induced hangover and has yet to pick up the damn phone to TELL me about them) there was APPARENTLY a Jamaican Rum Cake! This cake had arrived on the plane with Aunt So and So a few hours before the wedding began. It was APPARENTLY sitting in the kitchen somewhere and if The Pharmacist knew how to handle things AT ALL, this cake would have been properly sliced up and dumped into the 300 cake boxes currently hanging out on the wedding cake table. But dear God, WHERE WAS THE CAKE?
We went to kitchen number one. No cake! We went to kitchen number two. No cake! I tottered along in my cheapo Payless heels to kitchen number three and ten panic-filled minutes later, The Pharmacist had located the cake. It was cut into heavy chunks, wrapped in parchment paper, red plastic wrap and tin foil and stuffed into four or five plastic shopping bags shoved in a corner. I don't know HOW The Pharmacist could have MISSED it!
We began to rip open these cakes. We sent out the teenage staff to cart the cake boxes back to the kitchen so we could start filling them up. And right as The Pharmacist had unwrapped the first cake and placed it on a platter for dissection, the Groom's Mother flounced into the kitchen. Internet, hell hath no fury like a mother whose only son's wedding is being systematically ruined by a couple of West Coast hicks who have never seen individual preprinted cake boxes in their entire hickster lives.
"You can't do ANYTHING right!" she started in on The Pharmacist for what was, I am told, certainly not the first time that day. "This should have been done BEFORE people ARRIVED! What were you THINKING?" Then she looked in horror at the first cake on the platter and our bare hands. "And where are your GLOVES! You can't be handling that cake with your BARE HANDS! What are you THINKING?"
At this point I dropped my half-unwrapped cake and attempted to blend into the wall.
"Get me a knife!" she hollered. "So I can show them how to do it RIGHT!"
The groom magically appeared. "Mama!" he kept saying, "It's okay! It's okay! Calm down!" She just looked at him and said, "They need to GET me a KNIFE."
The teenage staff was looking for a knife like their lives depended on it (which, for all I know, they did) but each time a knife was presented it was the wrong kind. The right knife was eventually found, and The Pharmacist busied herself with washing it. It was presented to the Groom's Mother like the crown jewels, but she wasn't going to touch the cake with her bare hands- where were her gloves!
The looks we shot each other said, "Oh God oh God oh God please kill us now," but no such mercy availed itself. "There aren't any gloves," the groom said, handing her a paper towel. So the Groom's Mother gingerly placed the paper towel on top of the cake, brought her knife down oh-so-slowly, and cut a paper thin slice of Jamaican Rum Cake because anything thicker would have, she claimed, induced a diabetic coma. And what did we want to do? Put the wedding guests in diabetic comas? FOR SHAME!
(At this point in the story, my own mother said, "Oh! It was the groom's cake!" And I proceeded to berate her for not raising me right and teaching me the kinds of things that would ensure a future Mother of the Groom wouldn't murder me with the cake knife.)
The groom FINALLY got his mother out of the kitchen and we sliced up that cake in minutes, bare hands and all. The Pharmacist opened the boxes, I deposited the slice of cake and a poor teenage girl got to close it up and stack it on the cart. I kept glancing behind me the entire time, terrified that the Groom's Mother would see me using my grimy grubby fingers.
Through it all, The Pharmacist was the picture of grace. Her eyes were glazed over so as not to let any icicle daggers escape, her manners were pristine, her voice was steady, her kow towing to the Evil Mother of the Groom was jaw droppingly admirable. Had I been The Pharmacist I would have done one (or all) of the following things: Cry. Whimper. Use expletives under my breath. Spit on the cake. Stab the Mother of the Groom with one of the rejected cake knives. Squeeze the cake between my grimy grubby fingers, reshape it into a cake, slice it up and make sure the Mother of the Groom and her entourage received those special slices. The Pharmacist, however, knew a glass or three of Tanqueray was waiting for her at the end of this, God's test, and she would be rewarded for her strength and grace and restraint.
Before we finished boxing up the cake, we heard a loud "THUNK" from the reception. We saw a big crowd of people in the corner, but they were just taking a picture. The groom came in to check on us a few minutes later and said, "See all those people? They're just standing there because someone knocked down the wedding favor table and dear God if Mama sees that we are ALL DEAD."
So for all you East Coasters: are we really idiots in hickville out here? Who are totally clueless about cake boxes? (And a multitude of other things, which, STILL The Pharmacist has yet to enlighten me.) I thought I'd been to some fancy pants weddings, but I don't remember any groom cakes or spangles or wedding favors glue gunned to within an inch of their lives.
Anyway. The Pharmacist instructed me not to bother her before the after-wedding fog lifts. As for me, I am still shaking from the Wrath of Mama. Honestly. I go to weddings for the free food, not the free scathing lectures from people who are not my parents.
Tomorrow! Or later this week! Hairstyles that roamed the earth circa 1993! The junior high dance! The note from the boy who was friends with the other boy who sat next to the boy who I thought was cute! Flannel and bodysuits and fourteen-year-olds who have no idea how to use makeup! Whee!