Sunday, August 9, 2009
I attended a bridal shower yesterday, and it made me realize, I pretty much suck when it comes to the marital arts.
Not martial arts (my roundhouse kick is pretty good, I must say), mar-i-tal arts. You know, the various *"mandatory fun" events that accompany weddings, usually on the bride's side. The engagement party, the wedding shower, the bachelorette party, or hen night, etc. Even though I'm 8 years divorced, it's not that I hate weddings or the idea of marriage. Usually I'm very happy for the bride, and I want to help them celebrate. But these gatherings are so awkward for me.
The bridal shower for instance. You're supposed to invite all the female guests for an afternoon gathering of presents and parlor games. Both things I like a lot, but somehow these don't turn out to be two tastes that taste great together. I don't have much money these days. My friends always tell me they don't expect a gift from me, but my cultured upbringing commands that I never arrive at any sort of gathering empty-handed. And at my poorest, I can provide one of two things they can always enjoy: booze or jewelry, which is usually purchased or assembled that very morning while hungover. When I arrive at the gathering, I'm asked to place my sad little package or bottle against what inevitably turns out to be the fucking Versailles of gift packages. Some massive box with intricate wrapping, bows, secret passageways and trapdoors. The gift within is either some expensive trinket from the gift registry I could never afford, like a cuisinart and then a whole god damn library of celebrity chef cookbooks, that are also packaged with some fancy paradoxical gadget like a digital bookmark and a recipe stand with an egg timer. Or, it's some lovely, creative homemade sentiment like a scrap book of favorite family recipes and pictures. A gift that is likely months in the making with contributions of photos and letters, sent from family and friends the world over. It was lovingly pieced together in late night sessions following a long workday and gym attendance. The bride always gets teary-eyed, and so do the guests. This gift will keep on giving. And then the bride rips the foil off my bottle of Cava, smiles, cocks her head, and lets me know how thoughtful it was of me to bring this symbol of fleeting gratification that will remain longer in the recycling bin than the happy couples' actual memory of drinking it.
Then, let the games begin! By now, the bride is wearing a hat constructed of a paper plate with bits of the giftwrap carnage stuck to it. The maid of honor will clap her hands and pick teams. While sucking down sugary cocktails through penis straws, we will play charades acting out words associated with weddings that we've all written on slips of paper and tossed into a bowl. These are supposed to be joyous words, things like "celebration" or "honeymoon" or "forever." The happiest word I can come up with is "pedicure" and then I have "accountant" and "therapy."
The bachelorette night is another story. WHY do most bridesmaids feel it necessary to subject the bride to humiliating gauntlets of kitsch? I'm not sure how this evolved, but somehow, in the 21st century, Chippendales has been replaced with 80s nostalgia. There is usually some sort of kitschy 80s dance contest or veil-wearing mechanical bullride or an off Broadway play about high school proms or a boozy cruise (with 80s music) or worse yet, bowling. With veils. There is often an expensive meal involved, usually consumed at some theme restaurant none of us would ever choose on a normal night. Yet for our beloved friend or relative, we are expected to shell out hundreds of dollars on greasy egg rolls served up by Asian drag queens, sashaying to 80s tunes, natch. Stripping embarrasses me, but I'd still take a guy in a thong over this shit. At least it's more, well, genuine.
I am thrilled for my betrothed friends, knowing the stories of tortured heartbreak endured till they finally met the man who is worthy of their love. When all this has died down, I'll be happy to treat them to an expensive meal at a great restaurant with a fab wine list. They won't have to wear a veil while eating it, and nary a penis straw to be found.
*Manditory fun is a phrase that was coined in Northeast Music Camp during the summer of 1983. Used to describe the night time activities that were conceived for us, like "color wars" and song contests, in lieu of just hanging out. I have used it ever since.