Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Maid of Honoring in 28 Easy Steps ...

Two Friday's ago I stood on the uneven square of acreage on farmland outside of Minneapolis and looked at the spot beneath my phantom bouquet. A black cat. He'd wandered in from somewhere, a field probably, winding his way through the feet of the wedding party as we rehearsed. The 5-year-old next to me gave a little shriek, she didn't know this snaky creature was on the loose until the fur brushed her ankle. Now he'd moved on to terrorize me.

We went eyeball to eyeball.
I knew that cat's look.
I braced myself.
"No," I said mostly to myself, but also to him.
And he leapt up on my body (did he think I'd catch and cradle him?) and sunk his claws into the Ralph Lauren dress that had been discounted down to damn-near nada.
I screamed and bucked him off; He moved on to the next victim.

And that's how we kicked off my favorite friend Fannie's wedding weekend. Here is a list of other things that happened:

1. The rehearsal dinner was at Kieran's in Minneapolis and included drink tickets and a table of appetizers with fare ranging from celery to the richest of rich fish-something-yum-stomach ache-ouch-ate-too-many and pot roast sliders.

Princess Linda, Fannie, Me, Phantom Summer Sausage
2. At one point the happy couple collapsed into a super-intense private conversation that included a lot of nodding and eye contact. We imagined he was revealing the painful details of a super-secret second family he is keeping in Japan. Fannie seemed to take the news extraordinarily well. In actuality, someone forgot the gifts for the parents.

3. We drank, we mingled and complete strangers harassed me about my decision to cover my dress with a hooded sweatshirt (Forever 21, $17). Listen. I like layers upon layers. I'm working on it. I've recently showed toe in public. About a month ago I wore shorts and a tank top to the grocery store and said to Chuck, "Can you believe I'm just, like, wearing shorts and a tank top to the grocery store?"

4. Every time I burped, which was happening involuntarily, I'd blow a gust that smelled like Summer Sausage, though I'd eaten nothing Summer Sausage-like. Chuck would get a whiff and raise his eyebrows and mouth "Was that you?" and I'd nod sadly. Finally I went outside to let the wind take it away. As I deflated, I watched buskers drum on buckets for Twins' fans leaving Target Field.

5. We moved the party and closed down the hotel bar. Fannie ditched the future Mister and was like a freaking celebrity and we all cooed and cackled.

6. Chuck and I crept back to our hotel room where The Girl was asleep in a Pack 'n' Play, a successful night routine completed in a Doubletree by her grandparents, who were asleep in the adjoining room. Though there had been a text message earlier that hinted the Young Little Missy has a few "character flaws" -- strong words from a Grammy. "I bet that means she threw her bottle," Chuck predicted.

7. Chuck struggled with sleep. Our bed was the size of a Barbie Hammock. Every time he twisted, I felt like I was training for "American Ninja Warrior." Plus, we were keenly aware that we were a single cough or toilet flush from summoning the tot. None of this made for quality shut eye.

8. Chuck left for Duluth in the morning. He had to work. The Girl was given to the Parents Pista, who I'm assuming dressed her like a pilgrim and enrolled her at Benilde St. Margaret's.

Sweatshirt by Forever 21, $17
9. Hair was updid. Eyes were lined. Mimosas were drank. Underwear or no underwear convos were had. The bride expressed a quick regret about forgetting to put her breasts into her dress in a certain way -- but she quickly moved on to the next thing.

10. Saturday was gorg. Perfect weather, perfect kind of light, perfect everything. The kind of day that falls on someone who firmly believes in a religion called The Luck O' The Irish.

11. Fannie was so so so lovely and calm and collected and never once shrieked, sulked or sweated. And every time she asked her personal attendant to fetch or fix something, she did it with an amused smile -- like she was still getting used to this whole bride-as-co-boss-of-the-day thing. Later she'd get the same look when she realized she could ask the server for a bottle of wine for the head table. It was all very What Would Princess Di Do.

12. The photographer was a fellow long and triple jumper and I believe he anchored the LHS boys' 4x400 relay. I can picture him taking a handoff and cruising along the backstretch all those years ago. "I wasn't any good," he said when I told him this. "We just didn't have enough boys on the team."

13. I scratched notes for my toast on pieces of hotel stationery, sucking the pen cap and using my phone for a hard surface. "You look like a reporter," the triple jumper told me.

14. The bride's brother was the officiant and he talked about the examples of love who were sitting in the audience. Things got a little teary. The bride and the groom held hands and he kept breaking into huge grins. They vowed and kissed and then they were married. They reversed back up the aisle triumphantly. Did she raise her bouquet and shake it? I think so.

I have a daughter. Her face is just the best. 
15. I lazed in the grass with the Parents Pista and my shell-shocked child and drank a few G&Ts.

The Bride and Groom made a grand entry to the reception. 
16. Dinner was salmon and salad and wine-wine-wine.

17. I gave a toast, Maid of Honor and all that, and achieved all of my goals: One laugh per three sentences. No longer than 2 minutes. No drunken and overly sentimental gibberish filled with inside jokes. The speech had to be about the couple and not about the time my friend and I lit out for Santa Fe with a 1990s cell phone, a $20/day budget and NO FEAR when it came to strangers in strange places. Unfortunately I spilled a glass of white wine down the front of my dress while adjusting the microphone, conveying to the leader of the bluegrass band that I was far more hamboned than I actually was -- albeit less than I would ultimately be.

18. I spent probably an hour, more, talking to Princess Linda's mom and aunt, one of the funniest conversations I've been a part of for years. Eventually I was so cold that I had to go get a sweatshirt (Forever 21, $17). Those women need a podcast. Also, this was time I didn't spend drinking, which might have saved me from getting extra drunker.

19. I don't think I danced. I did try to book the band in Duluth and used "Hey, do you guys know Trampled By Turtles?" as my very agent-y opening line.

I think I read a super spooky short story about something like this
20. I crammed into a bus seat with Princess Linda and Z and we spent the 20 mile drive back to Minneapolis shouting out Duluth landmarks. "GRANDMA'S SPORTS GAR-DEN!" "MILLER HILL MAH-AL." "YOUNK-ERS!" "PROACTIVE KIOSK!"

21. Back at the hotel I changed into sensible shoes and traded out my contact lenses for glasses. Then we hit the streets.

22. Z paid for us all to get into Toby Keith's bar, though I'm not sure why. Then he slipped out the back door and went to bed. Duped.

My fashion sense was questioned. "But I live in Duluth" didn't seem to matter to anyone. 
23. Dong wanted to go to Jetset, but it seemed weird to leave the vicinity of the bride. Still, I found myself lifting Princess Linda into the back of an Uber and we were whisked away.

Dong and Princess Linda went to Homecoming, etc. together. 
24. Things get foggy.

25. Back at the hotel in a strange room with the bride and groom and friends and a kindly woman is heating up burritos, one at a time, in a portable microwave while we all stand around drinking beer and hearing tales of how great these burritos are going to be. I will say they were a success.

26. Crashed at 3:30 a.m.; Baby woke at 7 a.m. I lifted her from the crib, knocked on the adjoining door, handed her to her grandmother and returned to bed without ever opening my eyes. They took her to church while I performed the ritual cleansing required to make a 39 year old body not feel like asscakes after drinking for a double-digits amount of consecutive hours. Maid of Honor, and all that.


27. Fannie sent me nightly photos from her French honeymoon.

28. The next week I missed my high school friends so much that I didn't quite know what to do with myself.

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