To tell you the truth, I never planned on releasing that story. But with D's friend's wedding fast approaching I needed to give myself a pleasant distraction - and the tale of two girls, a guy, and a dream home seemed to work well. I felt great Friday, when I completed and published it. And Saturday, the day of the wedding, I was still in my story world.
That morning I started getting nervous about going to L's wedding. The weather was perfect, and so I planned to take a walk down the street, buy a 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew, and take my story (and my soda) to the park for a bit. But when I reached the intersection, I called an audible. Burger King.
I'd seen the commercial for the Rodeo King burger and I knew I wanted one. I also knew that D would not take us to BK, because I had mentioned our coupons four times and couldn't convince her. "I have more coupons." she said. I even used my daughter's sudden interest in BK to guilt my wife into taking us. "Pop used to take them every week, and I think she misses it." D understood... but still didn't budge.
Fuck it, I thought as I stood at the intersection. I'm doing something for myself. And apparently Pop approved of my decision, because on my way to BK I found a golf ball with SpongeBob on it. Two things he loved.
I got my burger, but I had ordered the full meal - including fries and a drink. I was neither charged for nor given these, and so I went to the store and the park, as planned. I re-read my story, sipped my soda, and enjoyed the beautiful weather.. for about five minutes.
The wedding was nigh.
|Generic product pic because I don't have a smart phone (source)|
We were supposed to drive to a hotel (where some of the wedding guests were staying) to pick up a shuttle to the wedding, which was at someone's house. Apparently L was not too clear on what the shuttle would be, or where it would wait for us. As we pulled in, there was a limousine circling the back of the hotel - and leaving. That was for the wedding guests. We didn't know that, and we missed it by about 30 seconds anyway. So we waited in the car.
I had been listening to Fall Out Boy for the whole ride, so I was surprisingly calm. Watching the limo drive away and hearing D's uncertainty was actually a relief; it bought me time. Maybe we wont be able to get to the wedding. Maybe we'll have to turn back and go home. Wishful thinking, of course.
This is what it's like to have social anxiety - finding comfort in having D's sister Jen (who I don't really like) and her husband Ant around because they're the only people I know besides the bride. Meeting the bride's twin sister and shaking her hand before she decided to pull me in for an awkward one-armed hug. Being spotted by the bride, standing idly by as the besties embrace, then having to quick-decide if I should kiss L on the cheek or just give her a hug (I chose hug only.) Then, congratulating L before quickly realizing she's not married yet, you dumbass. It got slightly better, when I met their chatty college friend Hillary, who lives in California. For a second I had something to say because two of my best friends have moved to California
I still don't know whose house we were at, but their backyard was incredible. (The inside of their house was kinda meh.) There was a large underground pool - which someone was bound to fall into, because the bar was set up nearby. There was a fire pit, and a pond with a circular brick ledge that would be my best friend for most of the night.
|It didn't quite look like this, but close enough (source)|
The "dance floor" was a small brick patio area in front of the food tent, and inside the tent
D and I stood by the pond with Jen and Ant. I began frequently checking my watch, when I realized that a) there's five incredibly long hours to go, and b) I've got teriyaki sauce on my shirt sleeve. That didn't take long. Jen and Ant were holding blue drinks, and Ant wanted another one. He offered to get D one, and before I knew what was happening I had somehow been convinced to tag along.
I do not drink. I do not order drinks. I don't even know if it's an open bar. But there I was, standing in line with Ant, talking about football, without any clue why I was there.
He orders two drinks. The bartender serves 'em up. He takes them both. I offer to take one off his hands. "No dude, I think you gotta get one for your wife."
Um...no, dude. You were getting one for my wife, remember?
Apparently I had not heard Jen ask for another drink. No one told me I had to order a damn thing. And it didn't help that Ant mentioned slipping the bartender a $20. Do I have to pay for this, or not? I don't have any money.
I looked so lost that the bartender (a female, thankfully) said to me. "You don't have to apologize for drinking." I mumbled something about not being prepared, sheepishly took my wife's drink, and snuck the fuck out of there. When I got back to my family I was even more enraged -- D already had a drink in her hand. What the fuck did I just do that for?
Night ruined. And it's only 5:30!
When I discussed this with D she tried to calm me down. "It's no big deal, don't worry." I tried to let it go, for her. I didn't want to ruin her night.
The ceremony started soon after. There were white chairs lined up on one side of the pool, and the wedding party took the place on the opposite side. D wanted me to save two seats for Jen and Ant, but we couldn't grab their attention in time. I put my drink on one, but Hillary claimed the other. Didn't bother me one bit. To hell with Jen and Ant.
Both the vows and the toast/speeches later in the evening were lovely and emotional. It was pretty obvious that the groom is a great guy - generous, adventurous, and beloved by those who know him well. I had met him twice before, years ago, and he seemed shy. In fact, I had forgotten what he looked like and probably would not have recognized him if he wasn't, you know, the groom.
When I wasn't eating or checking my watch or obsessing over awkward social situations, I was observing. As with any wedding, the bride was far too busy for chit-chat, and I didn't feel comfortable talking to anyone else. Not even my in-laws.
Here's another reason why I dread attending such social events - the odds are far too great that there will be attractive women in attendance. Early on I had noticed a short, dark-haired woman who was very tan and fit (I would have assumed she was the one from California) I nicknamed her 'Designer Shades' because she wore these dark sunglasses and looked all fashionable. But she wasn't my type. Too over the top. I need at least a whiff of approachability.
There was an abundance of tall blondes there; it seemed like everyone was at least 5' 8", heels or not (which made Designer Shades appear even shorter) but out of the dozen or so decent looking women, one stood out: Red Pony Tail. I have no idea who she was, or who she was there for... but she was the sort of woman that appears more attractive every time you see her. I'm a sucker for redheads, especially slender redheads with long, toned legs.
An hour later I was intentionally avoiding her, for two reasons. The simplest to explain is that she was there with her husband, who was not particularly attractive or built (though I'm not exactly the best judge of dudes) but he was tall. Like 6' 4" at least. And he was all over her because duh. The second reason is because I've become so used to wallowing in my own self-pity that seeing someone (or something) that is so obviously out of my reach reminds me that I failed at life and compounds my depression (I call this The Taryn Principle.)
This led me to sulk even more than I already was. I wanted to do nothing but sit on the ledge of that pond and stare at the ground, looking around only to track where Red Pony Tail was so that I knew where not to look. Unfortunately she seemed to be right behind my wife for most of the night. Get your pretty face and perfect body away from me. I'm trying not to hate myself over here.
It was unseasonably cool all day, but it got even colder at night - and D was not at all prepared. She wore a sleeveless dress and no jacket. I decided against wearing a jacket, but I had a long sleeved dress shirt and didn't mind being cold. Of course, Ant came prepared. He wore a jacket and offered it to Jen, but she wasn't cold. And so he offered it to D.
Meanwhile, Red Pony Tail and Tall Guy were cuddling by the fire pit. He had his arms all the way around her waist and she leaned back into him like I see in my dreams.
I stared into the crackling embers as the intro of that Fall Out Boy song echoed in my head:
Until your breathing stops, stops, stops... until your breathing stops, stops, stops... forever.
Whatever husband points I had earned by actually attending this affair had been obliterated. You are not a man. You're a lemon. A clunker. You're an old, beat up POS that barely runs and is way more trouble than it's worth. You belong in a scrap yard. You're nothing. You're garbage. Seagulls wouldn't even bother to shit on you.
This is not the first time I've seen an attractive woman and realized I could never be her man, but damn. My wife was wearing another man's jacket. I was already having panic attacks about coming to the wedding, and then when the DJ announced that he wanted all the happily married couples out on the dance floor I had another panic attack. What is happening? Am I going to have to dance? Oh shit, I can't dance. I can't even order a drink!
I tried to read D's mind, while catching a glimpse of Tall Guy dutifully leading Red Pony Tail out onto the dance floor (because duh.) Are we doing this? Do you want to? Do I have to? We did not move or speak - until the bride made a beeline for D and said "Come on, happily married couples. Let's go!" Um..you said 'happily'? Can we be dismissed on a technicality? "Not until I hear the song first." D replied. Yes! That's why I married you.
It ended up being some old 50's dirge which is meant to show how long every couple has been married. Anyone married five years or less gets dismissed first, then ten, then twenty, and so on until the oldest couple is left alone and gets a round of applause. We would have been out there for thirty seconds, tops. Wasn't worth it.
D stood by the fire for at least an hour, while i was going back and forth between the pond ledge and the fire pit. Didn't want to leave my wife, but didn't want to get burned by the hot red things, either. At about 9:30pm coffee and desserts were served (no wedding cake, but there were lots of delicious cupcakes and cookies.)
The shuttle was scheduled to arrive at 10pm, and return at 10:30pm for the last trip out. I knew D wanted to spend a little more time with the bride, so we stayed.They talked and danced for a minute and I gave her another hug (and a cheek kiss this time.) The DJ was packing up his stuff, but once the wedding was over he actually played a good song D and I couldn't figure out if it was Paramore or not because it was a really good rock/pop-punk song, and I stopped listening to them because they stopped sounding like that.
I finally saw the groom, and congratulated him. Even though I'd only met him twice before I gave him a hug because why not, everyone's toasted at this point anyway. He said "we should do game nights" or something and I agreed. Because I wouldn't mind doing that I knew we never would. (D told me later that she knew he was drunk when he said that.)
At about 10:20pm we said goodbye to the bride and groom. But the awkwardness was not over for me. D wanted to say goodbye to the bride's twin sister, who she hadn't seen in forever (apparently she lives in Kansas). Recalling my awkward encounter, I stood by the pool and did not follow D. Nope, no more. I am done.
And so, finally, we left. But on our way out we noticed a lemonade table. Hadn't seen that on our way in, and I was thirsty. So I took a plastic cup, filled it with some yellow sugar water, and took it with me to the front of the house, where we stood waiting for the shuttle. I finished my cup and put it down on a ledge. Immediately, some guy in front of me said (without turning to face me) "Is there a trash can anywhere?"
At this point I ran out of fucks to give. I replied (while facing my wife) "I wasn't gonna leave it there. I put it down for a second so I could put my hands in my pockets because I'm cold." Half of your crew are drunk off their ass, and you're worried about whether or not I'm going to pick up that cup?
Ugh. I am so glad that's over. I really don't want to think about any of it ever again. Not even Red Pony Tail.
Okay...maybe Red Pony Tail.