I've been sitting here trying to figure out exactly when weddings started to feel like funerals to me. Some of my fondest memories happened at weddings: Dave's wedding (when the surprise rain finally let up and he said to his pensive entourage "LET'S DO THIS BITCH"), Rich's wedding (at which Brendan slammed his own face in the cake for no understandable reason), and more recently, Jay's wedding (which featured a nine-piece cocktail band that allowed me to sit in for Burt Bacharach's smash hit "Close to You," to a frenzied albeit heavily-inebriated audience). Now that I think of it, I guess my biggest indicator should be that I didn't list my own wedding in there... Is that when it switched?
It wasn't like it was a bad experience or something; in fact it went exactly as Sarah planned it. We didn't go with my ice cream cake-shaped-like-a-Beluga whale idea, I remember being put off by that. But it was a tacky idea, I know. Come to think of it, I do remember being disappointed about how quickly she dismissed my original concept/theme, Sidelined Superhero. In that scenario, our wedding would be held at a beach, everything breezy and gentle. Most of the food would be shrimp-based. All of my family members who were allowed to attend my sisters' weddings in the temple (while I waited outside, as I am not a practicing Mormon) would be given superhero costumes and led to a roped off area on the beach about fifty yards from the actual ceremony. Most of the vows would be inaudible, I know, but if they couldn't join in the joyous celebration directly, at least they could take turns saving the world (within the confines of the velvet rope). I know it sounds bitter. I'm not bitter. Really, I'm not.
We danced, and danced and stuffed ourselves with Empanadas (my idea). But there was a nearly insurmountable inertia to it that I thought would end with the words "I do." And here I am, sitting at my sister-in-law's wedding and I have that same knot in my lungs that pinched me in 2013. Maybe not so much a knot as a boulder.
Perhaps I've had too much to drink. Sarah told me as much when she told me to "sit down for a while." The daggerlooks from my father-in-law would certainly support that theory, but then Papa August has been wearing the screwface ever since he was diagnosed with brain cancer four months ago. Hell, maybe it's the look of collusion; he seems as unconvinced of his daughter's holy matrimony as I am. I don't know why I'm so pessimistic about them - I've never even met the groom. I'm probably drunk.
I was content before, with our little dance party in the other room: Chris, Zo and I. Both of my kids have surprisingly adult rhythm for their ages, and I guess I'm a little proud of that, since I consider it my major contribution to their genetic makeup. Zo was doing some sort of neck thing that she must have learned from school when Sarah came in and told me I should sit down for a while. I should have known - I probably looked more happy than I've looked in years and you know she can't abide that! I went for broke, asking her to join us but she said that people were staring and that this was the kids' room. I went to the bathroom instead (this is what protest looks like, at this point... I takes m' time sitting down when she tells me to sit!) and wiped down my face in the mirror. I haven't seen my face in years, I think. All my features seem to be fleeing from my nose. My hair has been cowering back by my ears for years, but now I can see the explosive expressions I used to wear cutting a deeply-grooved retreat to the back of my head. I look older than my father, maybe. I must be drunk.
Sarah bangs on the door, tells me there's a strange man dancing "inappropriately" with our kids. At first I think she is being facetious, and I don't respond (so rebellious!). But then she insists that I come "do something about it." I'm annoyed. I ask her what exactly is so inappropriate about dancing with kids, but she doesn't acknowledge the defensiveness in my voice, she instead tells me that he had his hands "all over Zoey!"
I towel off my face, and just before I turn to go back to her world, I see a trace of anger work it's way back towards the front of me.
Grace Land (2006) - The Rooster And the Matador