Last weekend I was a bridesmaid in my cousin Kelly's wedding. Kelly and I are very different. One difference is that she does not have hangnails. I do. Sometimes I don’t mind them, and sometimes I just bite them off. Sometimes I clip them with the fingernail clippers, which I find satisfying.
Another difference is that I don’t smell like gin. She doesn’t either; she smells like very expensive Vera Wang oil, but her bridal party does. Every one of them. Especially Stephanie, this very awful girl who went to high school with Kelly and me. Stephanie married rich. Now, she just wiles away her days drinking and expressing adulation for Jessica Simpson. For example, I overheard her tell Kelly, “I just hope you and Brad are always as happy as Jessica and Nick, and as beautiful!” Anyway, after a couple of hours with Stephanie I wanted to shout, “Gin is NOT a fragrance, you fat ho!” But I didn’t, because after a chat with my mother in the coat room I realized that it’s not about me all the time.
Another difference between Kelly and me is that I think people should be who they really are and not try to be someone else just to fit in. Okay. Just kidding. I don’t really think that. A lot of people shouldn’t be who they really are—like Stephanie, or Kelly’s completely annoying husband, or people who want to hurt animals. You know who you are.
Anyway, I highlight these examples of the differences between Kelly and me to point out something very important about weddings. That is: You don’t have to like or even really know the people you ask to stand up with you before God and everybody on the day you yoke yourself permanently to another flawed human being. You don’t.
It’s a good idea, though, to ask the people who like you to stand up with you on that day. When you don’t, things can happen. Last weekend, for example, I was sort of blanking out and forgot to take my bouquet up to the front when we lined up after communion. Also, when that happened, I was being sort of passive aggressive, because I was like, so what if I forget my bouquet. What are you going to do about it. That’s right, nothing. And I have to admit it was exhilarating, breaking with the program in the middle of the program, if you know what I mean. This isn't widely accepted behavior, but sometimes it's necessary and rewarding work.
Disgruntled bridesmaids aren’t smiling bridesmaids, either. And who wants to spend $50,000 on a production where your actors don’t smile? For example, there are in existence now approximately seven hours of video footage documenting wedding and pre-wedding festivities. I am glowering in all seven hours of that footage. In fact I think there’s a thunderbolt in my left hand in one of the shots. Maybe it’s forking down from the swirling black portal that sort of followed me, Ghostbusters-style, all weekend. It’s hard to say at this point.
Anyway, there are several shots of me when I think no one’s looking. Most of the time I am staring at Angie, Bridesmaid #3, who has abnormally thick facial hair for a twenty-four year old woman. I am fascinated by Angie’s facial hair, and by the rest of the world’s apparent decision to overlook this flaw and let her be a big fat bitch anyway. Sometimes I am staring at Carrie, Bridesmaid #4, and thinking, “If you say ‘awesome’ one more time I will cut you.” Other times I am looking at the hot appetizers and wondering why, WHY, are there no more chicken satays. You can actually see my mind at work in these shots, because I look at the buffet, glower, and then look over at the groom’s friend Teddy (whose plate I saw LOADED with satays) and glower some more. In one shot I am eating cheese cubes off of some child’s plate. Again, I thought no one was looking.
Maybe everyone in the universe is nicer than me. That’s probably what my mother would say. “If you have to tear others down to make yourself feel good,” she’d say, “then there’s something wrong with you.” She would pause, and then add: “You need to work on your attitude toward others.”
And she’s probably right. I probably need to be more awesome. Because maybe gin is a fragrance. Maybe Teddy needed those satays, or else he’d starve. Maybe Angie needs that abnormally thick facial hair, to keep warm and dry and winter. It does snow a lot back home.
Then again maybe, at Kelly’s next wedding, I’ll feel like smiling more.