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Rose Petals, Asti Spumante

By Chris Colcord

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-05-18


Like those tiny ants that scurry from the kitchen faucet, a mailbox full of wedding invitations is one of the surest signs of Spring we have here in Indiana. The calendar says that the season officially begins during March, but native Hoosiers know better we know that the true harbinger of Spring is the arrival of those fat, over-priced, gold-embossed wedding packets that routinely clog up the postal system every April and May. Once I receive my first batch of invites I know that the humid weather, weed-chocked lawns and wasps nests under the eaves are soon to follow.

You'd think that a deeply cynical sort like me wouldn't be caught dead at any tacky Indiana wedding, but actually, I attend almost every ceremony that I'm invited to. This year I've already marked off five Saturdays from my social calendar, and I've started updating my wardrobe with appropriate summer wedding wear items. I'd like to say I do this because I'm supportive and dutiful and loyal but the real reason is that I think most weddings are train wrecks and I happen to be a big fan of train wrecks.

I didn't always have this skeptical attitude, by the way I used to take weddings quite seriously, reverently, in fact, and as a bounding, charismatic young man I was a popular groomsman. I've gotten fitted for wedding tuxes 15 times in my life, and 15 times I've executed my groomsman's duties with gravity and respect. I've made the toasts, I've passed out the programs, I've smiled on cue, I've dragged the poor grannies up the aisle. I did everything required of me and I did it happily, a sentimental guy happy to be a part of the wedding day.

For a while, anyway. Something started to change for me, I don't know, after my sixth or seventh wedding. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something started to feel very wrong about the whole deal. Something dishonest. I started thinking, blasphemously, that my friends were more in love with the white dress and the three-layered cake and the day's drama than they were with each other. I started thinking, wrongly, I know, that what was supposed to be a religious occasion now looked more like community theatre, a vanity production starring two attention-deprived acquaintances who seemed less like man-and-wife and more like fanatical co-conspirators. I started thinking and I how know how completely off base this was that after the reception and the honeymoon and the opening of the gifts and the watching of the video there would be that moment, say, four months down the road, when the wife would look at the husband and wonder, Who the hell are you? And I started thinking about the fights, the pettiness, the sadness, the moving out, the disillusion, the dissolution. And I wondered, as the couple blinkered their way through the endless flashbulbs of the ceremony, if they had ever thought the same thoughts that I was thinking?

Of course, there was no justification for such mean-spiritedness, for such doom and gloom. Who was I to make such claims? I was always the bachelor at these events, after all, the unmarried one, the unmarriable one, the least credible authority on marriage imaginable. I realized how thoroughly wrong-headed my thinking was, how cynical I was, and I regretted how misanthropic my disposition had suddenly become. I should learn to be more humble, to not judge so harshly.

Of course, a few years later, when I counted and realized that only 5 of the 15 couples were still married, I decided to hell with humility, I was right in the first place. Any remaining reverence I might have had for the sacred wedding ceremonies vanished instantly. I go to weddings now purely for camp appeal, and rarely am I disappointed there's always something a little insane going on. You can count on one of the bridesmaids to be an absolute mess, a brittle, beautiful substance abuser with cigarette ashes on her dress, the girl who twitches her way through the ceremony and always seems on the verge of bolting. There's usually a deluded groomsman, too, a guy who thinks he looks like an Armani model because of the tux when in reality he looks like a landscaper who spruced up for the weekend, with a cummerbund that looks like it's going to explode and four inches of pants material puddling around his patent leather rentals. My favorite moment is always when the priest or reverend tells the couple to "Look at the ring. It has no beginning, it has no end." Men of the cloth can't seem to get enough of this metaphor, they really take their time with it, to make sure that everybody sees the wisdom of it. I've heard it at every wedding I've ever been to. I guess it symbolizes the eternal love of the married couple. Or God's love. Or something.

I realize that I'm completely unfair, here, about weddings, and a little dishonest. I should come clean and report that I do, indeed, have married friends who are happy. They are kind, decent people, who respect each other and truly seem to belong together, and I must say I cherish both of them.

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