It was my wedding day, labeled by those who are either still single or too old to remember, as “the happiest day of your life.” Take it from me; it was everything but the happiest day of my life. It was a nightmare come true, and I always felt as if, somewhere, somehow, either Rod Serling or Alfred Hitchcock were behind it all.
It began with getting dressed. Mom helped, of course. While she was smoothing my gown, fixing my hair, and zipping me up, she was reminiscing. Verging on entry into her second childhood, she decided to rehash mine one more time before starting on hers. Naturally, all this happy reflection was accompanied by a virtual Niagara Falls pouring from her two bloodshot orbs. And all along I thought my childhood had been happy. Silly me.
As it turned out, this was only a mild prelude to the waterworks yet to come.
“I can’t believe it,” Mom sobbed, looking at me (by now, her mascara had run to the extent that she resembled an Alice Cooper roadie). “You’ve grown up,” she observed astutely. “You’re not a little girl anymore.”
“Oh, sure I am, Mom,” I said.
“No, you’re not.”
“Oh, sure I am! I’ll always be a little girl!” Being only five-foot-one, there isn’t exactly much hope for a basketball career.
Time was growing short, so Mom wrung out her handkerchief out into an already drowning potted plant and waded from the room to be seated in the church.
I checked my appearance once more, hoping that my veil would drip dry without puckering. I was ready, but evidently Dad wasn’t, because he was nowhere in sight. Frantic, I rushed up and down the hall. Not a soul. Three minutes until “The Wedding March”! Two minutes! Something had to be done, and fast. I certainly couldn’t go walking down that aisle alone!
Strains of “The Wedding March” filtered down the corridor, just as the church janitor walked by. He was a short, fat man who looked like he just crawled out of a pipe; but he had two working feet, so, in blind madness, I grabbed his arm.
“Hey, where we goin’?” he demanded, waving his mop.
“I have to get married!”
“Well, dat ain’t my problem, lady! Aincha never hearda birth control?”
I continued to drag him down the hall. Arriving at the open door, with every head turned his way, he realized he was stuck. He did try to make the best of it and appear as dignified as possible, despite the fact that he smelled disgusting and looked like his clothes bore him a longstanding grudge. Everyone was standing as we walked down the aisle. My mother took a peek at this creature on my arm and quietly threw up into the nearest hymnal.
For the most part, this was the first look my fiancé’s family got at my family, and there were several whispered remarks made as we passed.
“She looks beautiful, but he certainly isn’t much of a dresser, is he?”
“If this is what he looks like when he goes formal, I wonder what he wears around the house.”
“I didn’t know there was a full moon tonight.”
Finally, we reached the altar, and my intended, the janitor, and I faced the Revered One who was to perform the ceremony. My soon-to-be husband looked at the piece of debris standing next to me, then at me, then at him again. His eyes bugged out as if he thought that, all this time, I’d been hiding my real father from him. The little man with the mop smiled at him (which, having no teeth, struck me as a wasted effort) and said, “Hiya, kid,” with breath that could melt Satan’s eyebrows. The groom backed off about six feet.
The preacher began. “Dearly beloved . . .” a sniffle. I didn’t even have to guess where that was coming from. As the ceremony progressed, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I couldn’t tell if it was because everyone was so happy for us or if it was the little Janitor’s cologne (Cesspool #5) that was getting to them.
Anyhow, after the ceremony, everyone kissed everyone else and wished us happiness. At that instant, my father came rushing down the aisle. It seemed he had gotten locked in the men’s room while trying to get a spot out of his tuxedo, and that’s where the little janitor was going, with his passkey, when I went and grabbed him.
Think the reception was any better? Not a chance.
When hubby and I arrived, the band was going full bore; however, it wasn’t the four-piece dance band I had originally hired. This was a seven-piece band, playing such mellow, danceable tunes as “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Alice’s Restaurant,” and “We Shall Overcome.” So what happened to the band that should have been there? Oh, my father-in-law took care of that. What we had before us was his nephew’s country-western-folk-rock-pop-jazz-blues-marching funeral band. Explanation?
“They needed the work,” pop-in-law said
From the way they played, I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me is that they weren’t covered with tar and feathers.
Strangely enough, my husband was really grooving on the trash that was blaring forth, and was out on the dance floor doing the Virginia Reel with his mother. Hoping fervently that this was all a bad dream, I made a bee-line for the bar and gulped down several inches of something that tasted like it would be more at home in the local mortuary.
The original caterers made it, though, and there was quite a spread; or at least I figured there must have been, since all the relatives were squeezed in at the buffet like hyenas around a dead giraffe.
After watching my husband do a polka with his Aunt Matilda, I decided to hell with the traditional dance with the groom, and went to get some grub, now that the crowd had thinned out.
There was a good reason for this.
There was no food left.
There were even teeth marks in the china; and my youngest brother-in-law was looking at my bouquet and salivating. Feeling that it would be either my flowers or my leg, I tossed them to him. He pounced and, growling, devoured it completely, deftly spitting out the little plastic Cupid that was affixed to the top.
From across the room, I saw my husband making his way to the punch bowl. He has no tolerance for alcohol of any kind, but before I could get to him to warn him that the punch was spiked, he’d already downed three glasses of it and was on his fourth. By the time I reached him, he no longer recognized me, and refused to stop drinking the punch. It was a little early to leave the reception, since we had only just arrived, so I tried to deal with mingling as best I could.
Leaving my newly acquired sot, I circulated to try to meet some of the members of his family who didn’t look familiar. There was his Uncle Fudd from Mud Springs, Georgia; Aunt Hepzebah from Vultureville, New Jersey; and a couple of tone-deaf thugs who walked in off the street because they liked the music.
At last, after what seemed like years, the time came when it was acceptable for us to depart. Having ignored all that nonsense about throwing garters and bouquets, I marched across the room; only to find my husband with his head floating, face down, in the punch bowl. I grabbed a handful of hair, yanked him out, slapped him back into semi-consciousness, and dragged him from the reception hall amid cries of “Good Luck!” and showers of rice.
The happiest part of my marriage was now over.