The wedding was for my sister’s husband’s older brother, so even though I assured her they would eat only appetizers, my mother still wouldn’t let me bring my friends. It was just me, The Girlfriend, my parents and my little sister (age 15). Of course my older sister was there too, but like I said before – she’s an Allen now. Not a Murphy. (I’m kidding, I’m kidding. She was just sitting with the wedding party. We still love her.)
The groom is 29 years old – a good-looking, clean-cut Irish Catholic. A couple of years ago, he broke it off with a serious girlfriend who his family loved (my sister says: “She's the one that helped Steve pick out my engagement ring. My mother-in-law still sends her Christmas cards.”) and started a new relationship with a new woman.
My sister knew this woman, but didn’t know she knew the woman until she met her . . . the second time. She recounts the story to me something like this:
“When Steve and I were looking at houses, her house was on the market and we actually went to look at it. This was before Steve’s brother had even met her! The place smelled.”
My sister is hyper-literate, reading multiple books a week and is prone to go on rants that Dickens might call “long-winded.” So it struck me as odd that her commentary on seeing the bride-to-be’s house was, “The place smelled.” What’s more, she never elaborated on how or why the house smelled, which, to me, is the most interesting part. But if I had to venture a guess, I would say that, in this woman’s defense, raising two children over the age of 18 doesn’t leave much time for cleaning.
Oh right, she has been married before. Three times. (And not “three times” like, “The first one was to gain citizenship, the second one was a drunk weekend in Vegas and the third one was tax related.” And not, “She’s a huge movie star in Hollywood and this is what they do there.” And she wasn’t a Mormon. We’re talking three legitimately failed marriages. All before the age of 45.)
Oh right, she’s 45. Years . . . old. (For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 45 years for the bride and 29 years for the groom. She’s winning by 16. Or losing, depending on how you look at it.)
Now, I like to think of myself as a romantic, as someone who can look past trivial characteristics like age, race and gender and see that when two people love each other, there is no rationale applied. Love is like Glaucoma: It will make you blind, and you might need medicine or even surgery to get better. And who knows? Maybe she’s like a Demi Moore 45, and then it’s all understandable.
(Note: She’s not a Demi Moore 45. She’s not a Demi Moore 65. But more on that later . . .)
The Girlfriend and I make it out to Long Island late on Friday night and, as usual, eat anything that’s uncovered in the kitchen and then get ready for bed. Incidentally, I’ve been going through an unexplainable bout of insomnia for a week or so at this point, so I’m planning on staying up for a while. Luckily, my friend Matt had hooked me up with “Arrested Development: Season 2” on DVD. And for that, I will always love him.
So I take a sleeping pill and get comfortable on the couch. Two episodes later, I decide to go to bed (this story is going somewhere, I promise) and sleep like a 10 month old child, waking up every couple of hours crying. Finally at 5:00am I get angry and take another sleeping pill, which isn’t recommended and in fact, is a quite a health problem. I wake up around 10:00 the next morning in what doctor’s might refer to as a “dangerous medicine induced haze,” meaning that I was a walking example of a person not fit to operate heavy machinery. This was my state as I got ready to go to the church for the wedding ceremony at 1:00.
After a large cup of coffee to try to counteract the medical coma, I’m in a weird mood that’s half giddy, half desperate for everyone around me to shut the hell up and leave me alone. We sit down at the church and The Girlfriend and I have this conversation:
Me: “I should have brought my Gameboy. You know, I could hold it in my lap and make pretend I’m acting all solemn by looking down when really I’d be playing it.” (Pretend to play with Gameboy.)
TG: (courteous smile)
Me: “You know, because we’re in church. It would look like I was praying. But really, I’d be playing the Gameboy.” (Do imitation of playing Gameboy again.)
TG: “Yeah . . . I know.”
My mother looks over and sees the glazed over, half-crazed look on my face and slides a little further down the pew.
The mass begins and the bride’s 20 year-old son walks her down the aisle. (I’m not sure of the chronology and history of the previous three marriages, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this isn’t his first time walking his mother down the aisle, the thought of which makes my head want to explode. I’m still not comfortable with the idea of slow-dancing with my mother let alone giving her away to a 29 year-old groom.)
Halfway through the ceremony I lean over to The Girlfriend and whisper, “I’ll give you $5 if you chuckle when the bride says, ‘as long as you both shall live.’” She turns down the bet, but it doesn’t matter because when the time comes for the vows, this happens:
Priest: (to bride) “. . . to love and honor you for all our years to come.”
Bride: (to groom) “. . . to love and honor you for all the rest of my years.”
Me: (To TG) “Are you kidding me? With all the practice you’d think she’d have it down by now.”
And then the priest pronounced them man and wife and, looking around at my brother-in-law’s side of the family, I couldn’t distinguish the tears of joy from the tears of grief. We got up, kissed and congratulated everyone on the way out and stopped on the way home to buy a pie to eat before we went to the reception.
(Next, the reception, which doesn’t start until 7:00. My mother screams: “Why would you have the reception five hours later?! That’s ridiculous, I’m going home to put my pajamas on.”)