Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Always a Bride, Never A Bridesmaid

Do you know who's getting married this year?

Everyone, that's who.

Literally everyone EXCEPT me.


That face is not happy or smiley. It's frowny. I hate to be left out.

But seriously. Everyone.

It's pandemic.

I have been in the Sears wedding registry department so often they started issuing me a paycheque.

What the hell is in the water this year?

Ohmigod, DO NOT answer that. I may have to die a raisin's death, dehydrated and withered due to the fact that I will never again swallow a single drop of water that may or may not contain...well, you know. Ew.

But weddings are not just about hideous dresses and shoes dyed to match. They're not just about new toasters and dancing the chicken.

Underneath all the tulle, all the sugared almonds and kisses from Aunt Myrtle, lays the true meaning of weddings: cash. Er, I mean, love.

Yes, love.

Two people meet, enjoy screwing, and throw a huge party to celebrate this fact.

Take my grandparents, for example.

This is them on their wedding day in 1951, with confetti in their hair.

They met on a blind date, arranged by her sister. Pa was instantly attracted, I imagine. Nanny was a dish! Nanny always said it wasn't his height that attracted her (note her flats...a point of contention for over 50 years now!), so it must have been his motorcycle.

Motorcycle? My grandpa? My Pa drives a Buick. He often wears slippers to do so. He has a big beer belly and needs suspenders to keep his pants up. He wears little sweater vests and peaked caps. He sings songs about mares eating oats and doesn't eat steak because his dentures are too dull. Nanny and Pa cheat at cards and fight over cribbage. They make pickles together. They volunteer at Meals on Wheels and bowl together every Tuesday afternoon. I cannot imagine them zipping around town on a motorcycle. It makes me blush to even try.

They never really got engaged. My Pa pointed at a bunch of rings in a store and asked which one she wanted. They were married 3 months later; my Nanny was 19 years old, and Pa just a little older. They honeymooned in Niagara Falls.

We took this picture on their 50th anniversary, 3 kids and 9 grandkids later. 50 years is a long time, but this summer they'll be celebrating #55, which is even longer, if you hadn't noticed. They're beyond gold (in fact, they're "emerald"). And all because of that motorcycle. Would I even be here today if my Pa hadn't upped his sex appeal with a Harley? This is one of life's mysteries.

These are my parents on their wedding day in 1979, also with confetti in their hair.

They met at Tim Horton's; my father was a trucker, and my mother served the coffee. She was attracted to his quiet demeanor, especially in comparison to the much cruder sorts that mill about in coffee shops. My mother was 16. She saw that this suitor was much more serious about the relationship and broke it off, but not for long.

Like my grandmother, she is still waiting for her proposal. He simply showed her a ring in the parking lot of Tim Horton's, and at the ripe old age of 18, my mother became a beautiful bride. She was a baby. They too honeymooned in Niagara Falls.

But my father wore a ruffled tuxedo, hexing the marriage from the very start. They were not destined for happiness. She wanted 12 kids, he wanted 2. They "compromised" and had 4 (note to young couples: this is a shitty compromise), and probably only that many because my father badly wanted a boy. They never got him.

Instead they got 4 girls, who despite the divorce, loved to try on their mother's bridal gown and sigh over themselves in the mirror, imagining how bells would chime in their own futures.

My parents never rode a motorcycle. I only remember them in mini vans. What's the difference? Both couples look happy in their wedding photo. I find the shy smiles on both my mother and grandmother to be strikingly similar. Did my mother wear flats, or not? Did they carry the same flowers? Did they both dine on chicken? After the births of many babies, what causes one marriage to fail where another succeeds? This too is one of life's mysteries.

This is me on my wedding day, 2002. No confetti, just a lot of hairspray called "Cement".

We met when I was 14, in high school. We were just friends despite a few intense moments that never should have happened as we were both seeing other people, or lots of other people, as the case may be. Then I hated him. Then I fucked him. Then we got married. It's a love story for the ages.

We got engaged not because we ever intended to marry, but because I wanted the ring. He proposed to me in bed. I said "of course I will" and a year later, we did, surprising everyone, but most of all ourselves. I was 20 when we married...practically an old maid by my family's standards. We married in the sunny tropics and did not honeymoon in Niagara Falls. I did not wear flats. We did not eat chicken. We do not ride motorcycles. We did not bear children.

What will the future hold for us? Will we dance the funky chicken at our 50th wedding anniversary? This too is one of life's mysteries.

But I can tell you what we will be doing this summer: we'll be lugging around gaily wrapped toasters and toasting our friends, hoping that they too will beat the odds, that they will have happy marriages, that they will have the life together they imagine when they say "I do."

No comments: