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“Guess what?! Drew and I are getting married and I want you to-”

“No.”

“No?”

“I’m happy for you, I love you, but no.”

A big, fat, unequivocal “No”, mind you. I won’t do it and no amount of bribery, pleading, begging, crying or threats is going to make me a bridesmaid ever again in this lifetime. She should have known better, really, I said this 9 years ago and have been true to my word. Dammit, and I thought we were friends.

I have been in 13 weddings between the ages 18 and 26 and all I have to show for it are broken toes, battered egos, grabby-grabby groomsmen, and a collection of 12 of the ugliest dresses with matching shoes that I had to pay for!! Seriously, ladies, if you ever want revenge on a friend, bide your time, wait until you get married, have a big frilly to-do, and then pick out the most unattractive garment you can find. Insult to injury is making your friend buy the damn thing.

I’ve thought long and hard about what transgressions I might have perpetrated to have earned this, and except for the college party where I sewed one friend to her mattress (through her clothes) after she had passed out, I can’t really think of anything I did that was so terrible to merit such treatment in return.

My favorite of the ugly dresses has to be the one I wore to a high school chum’s wedding. It wasn’t so much that the blue-purple color made me look like a science experiment gone awry, or the terrible matching blue-purple kitten heels that tortured my feet, the piece de resistance! was the fact that all the other bridesmaids, friendships that had been made after high school, were all blond, tanned strippers with big ole’ fake boobs. To say I “stood out” was putting it lightly. Of course, I didn’t discover all this until four days before the wedding. Didn’t know my friend had picked up a part time job while going to grad school.

And as much as I hate big, obnoxious weddings, I used to daydream about having a ridiculous one of my own just so I could make every one of them be a bridesmaid and make them wear the dress they made me wear at their wedding. BUT since revenge is not truly complete without the financial penalty, I decided the ladies would have to wear a frilly, yellow, taffeta, organza, bridesmaid dress with brown, velvet ribbonry and brown, velvet heels to be worn in the height of summer. Outside.

Of course, I did no such thing. As even as a redhead, there’s just some levels even I won’t sink to.

I instead took all the dresses and had a quilt maker turn them into the World’s Fugliest Throw Blankets in December of 1999 and gave them out as presents. Back to the brides, of course.

Interestingly enough, my best friend, in whose wedding I was Maid of Honor, supplied the bridesmaid dresses free of charge, which were freakin’ beautiful. In fact, I still have mine AND have actually worn it again since. I decided that was the time to retire. On a high note.

And I haven’t been in a wedding since.

I’m sorry, sweetie. I love you, I am happy for you, but the answer is no.

1. 14 hours in a pair of heels is too damn long.

2. People planning all day weddings ought keep #1 in mind.

3. Copious amounts of whiskey makes #1 and #2 mighty bearable.

4. An observation really: isn’t it interesting that people go to such great lengths for “their special day” only to make it exactly like everyone else’s “special day”?

5. Going to seedy bars after weddings is fun.

6. When going to seedy bars: go en masse, and go to the first available.

7. Boozy broads in Anthropologie dresses in seedy bars tend to get away with a lot.

8. Playing pool in heels while inebriated is not a good idea.

9. Given #8, cheating at pool is always encouraged.

10. #9 is especially good when you find yourself playing a pool shark.

I have the last wedding of the year occuring in a few hours and I think the wedding planner and I are going to throw down.

She’s a “church appointed” wedding planner, so she’s the tradition nazi that makes sure you kneel, sit, stand, turn-your-head-and-cough when you’re supposed to. I can deal with all of that just fine, but she and I are butting heads over communion.

I’m an atheist, so in a million freakin’ years I would never dream of being so disrespectful as to take communion in a Catholic church. This somehow doesn’t jive with the perfect balance of couples doing everything in unision, so she’s kinda flipping out on me. This broad actually thinks I should go up to the priest and just kind of, you know, “fake it”. The bride and groom have even asked her to back off but she’s not having it. She’s begged, she’s pleaded, she’s threatened, and she’s bribed.

I’m not budging.

I was asked to do a reading, and I’m only doing that because these are my dearest friends and because the reading, for coming from the Bible, isn’t all that overtly religious in tonality, so I can justify it. But that’s it, anything else is where I draw the line. I will not do something simply because it fits in with this woman’s idea of design and what “looks good”.

And if she tries to force the issue any further, I will not hesitate to issue a smackdown, because, afterall, I never said I was a good Christian.

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We’ve all heard the joke about the difference between a good friend and a great friend, right? A good friend buys you a present and throws a party for you on your birthday. A great friend, however, is sitting in the jail cell next to yours saying “Now that  was a good time”.

You know, that  friend. That friend that seemingly lives without filter. That friend for whom the rule of law is a mere suggestion of right and proper living and makes up their own rules as they go. Like the rule where you have to hit 12 bars by midnight or do 12 shots. Or the ideology that holds occasional alcohol poisoning as more of a master cleansing diet than a serious health threat. That friend you don’t see terribly often but when you do, it’s with simultaneously great excitement and great fear. Fear of “Oh, s***, what the hell is going to happen this time?”.

For me, unfortunately, that friend comes in two. Those friends I affectionately refer to as The Sadist Twins: Most Evil and Evil-er Still. Actually, they are my cousins who live in London and I don’t know that it’s fair to call them inherently evil as I am sure that there’s something about the mixture of these two and their cousin, me, that just somehow makes them more volatile, like a Molotov cocktail thrown at a gas pump.  A human chemistry experiment run amok. Combustible elements that shouldn’t be in the universe together, let alone in the same bar. But I know I’ll always have a good time with them. And I have no doubt whatsoever that that one night we went drinking in London only to wake up in Belgium, if I could remember any of it, would go down as one of the best nights of my life.

You gotta love those friends. They break you out of the box you’ve built for yourself and shake things up in the most uncomfortable and delicious ways. They hold your hair while you puke and then use it as handle to pull you to the next bar. Like my cousins are to me, I know I am that way to others. Some people, for whatever reason, make you want to throw caution to the wind, dance on the bar, and pee in an alley as if that’s what all sensible and civilized persons do.  

Sailor Man’s friends come in a threesome. Three brothers who make up The Hellish Trinity of the Damned. There’s Apocalypto, Hell-Fire, and Devil-Incarnate. Around these guys, there’s never enough booze, fun, or time. A night with them is a guaranteed hangover the next day. And there’s no fighting it so you might as well pull out that extra $200 for bail money now before you forget.

And one of them is getting married this weekend.

I’m not as energetic as I was in my youth. I can maybe manage one these kinds of nights about every six months. If I go to a Rave now, I’m usually checking to see that my tetanus shots are up to date before I go crawling out a window when the cops arrive to break up the party. And I certainly don’t imbibe questionable liquids like I used to. I’m getting old. I admit it. But I certainly had my fun, that’s for damn sure.

Maybe I can find it in me to rally, but I doubt that a whole weekend of this type of unhinged chaos is the best thing for me before finals next week.

Dog help me.

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For all the things I love about Sailor Man, I did not marry him for his dancing.

As we are about to enter the home stretch of the Wedding Year From Hell (six wedding, six different states, all in one year), it will be time, once again, for Sailor Man to pull out his suit and tie and perform the mating dance of the Blue Footed Booby.

Not sure what a Blue Footed Booby dance is? You can see it here.

That’s my husband.

I went for years stupified by his moves on the dance floor. I mean, where the hell did that  come from? Until one night, with a raging case of insomnia, I was watching Animal Planet and a documentary on the birds of the Galapagos. On came this bird performing this oddly similar movement and voila! A moment of clarity befell me. And it makes sense, really, a “booby” is from the Spanish word “bobos” which means “stupid fellow” which is how the bird appear on land. Clumsy. I’ll let you draw the obvious dance comparison.   

I blame Sailor Man’s dance on his choice of music. Look at his musical library and it is full of sea chanteys, irish folk music, Eric Clapton and funk. Yes, funk. De La Soul, Del the Funky Homosapien, Cake, you name it. And let me tell you, you’ve never met a whiter white boy with no rythm in all your travels. I know I haven’t.

If I were really evil, I’d buy him a pair of blue suede shoes and complete the image, but what can I say? I’s in looooooove.

Another friend is getting divorced. I’m not surprised. I saw this one coming for sometime. It’s sad though, they are basically good people, lazy, but good people and the real reason they’re getting divorced is that it’s easier for them to walk away than to try to work on their problems. Problems they haven’t addressed, put on the perpetual back burner, and have now festered to the point of being gangrenous. Problems that weren’t insurmountable.

While I’m disappointed in and for these friends, I’m also pretty pissed off at them too. Sailor Man and I have been together over seven years and most of that time has been spent apart. He’s a sailor, so he goes off and sails. I’m a landlubber, so I stay on land and lub. We’ve missed special occasions together, holidays, anniversaries, illnesses, traumas, and a million small moments. We’ve spent, equally, the same amount of time apart as we have together.

And it’s not easy. The fondness for absence is occasionally quite a big amount of bullshit. Particularly when you move around like we do. Every few years it’s a new town, new job, new friends, no friends… I miss him when he’s gone, but I also make a point to enjoy the time by myself. I make sure I have a life with him but also a life away from from him. It’s how you cope. Before moving to Erie, we lived apart for 14 months, which royally sucked, but we got through it.  We did the work.

And Sailor Man coming home doesn’t automatically fix things either. I get so used to living as a singular person, it’s often pretty frustrating and damn difficult to plug back into that life-of-two-mode upon his return. I’ve established schedules and habits and systems that he doesn’t automatically follow or fit into and sometimes it’s like trying to push an elephant through a dog door. But we we make it work.

Consider Rudy Guiliani. 4 ex-spouses between he and his current  wife. And people want this man to run our country? While I’m not naive enough to believe that a flawed person can’t be a great leader, I’m also not gullible enough to believe that a man who can’t honor a commitment to one person-twice– is going to honor a commitment to 300 million people. He might as well be Liz Taylor at this point because she wouldn’t get my vote either.

I’ve seen people get divorced for a hell of a lot less than what Sailor Man and I have been through and I personally blame it on the wedding industry. All this ridiculous time and expense being placed on this one day in life with absolutely zero thought towards the life afterwards.

My friends were like that. I recognized it then. I stood up in their wedding wearing the ugliest gown I have ever had the misfortune of having to buy for the most expensive, overblown, and ridiculous event I have ever witnessed. They were so into the wedding and so not into talking about joint banking, life insurance, children, in laws, household chores, money and the millions of other things people have to fucking talk about before they get married.

The point I’m trying to make here is that a wedding does not automatically equal or amount to a marriage and it’s about damn time some people started realizing it.

This chick sums up everything that is wrong with the world in my mind. A bride is suing her florist for delivering the wrong color flowers to her wedding. The flowers cost about $27,000 and she somehow feels entitled to over $400,000.

Chicky-poo needs to get a life. In a world where women suffer genital mutilation, are sold in sexual slavery, are stoned to death for being the victim of rape, can be married off as child bride in an incestuous union with a cousin, and imprisoned for showing too much hair from beneath their ha-jib, every single damn day on this planet… if being delivered the wrong flower color is the worst thing that ever happens to her, she should consider herself lucky and call it a day.

A friend of mine promptly changed her name when she got married. In fact, she couldn’t wait. Her last name was Weed, her father, unbelievably, is named Richard and goes by “Dick” (needless to say, he is of a an older generation).  Not changing her name was, in her mind, a non issue. I didn’t think her name was so bad, but then I didn’t live with it.

When I was married four years ago, I had the obligatory talk with my husband-to-be over the matter. He was surprised I asked because he always assumed I would keep my name. He was right, of course, and I did. It never crossed my mind that I would ever change my monicker. I was 30 when we married, I already had a career well under way and I had lived what I hope is a full third of my life by that point, so why mess with a good thing? Besides, who would I be otherwise? My name is as much ingrained in my identity as a person as any man. Easy choice.

My husband is an only child of a fairly traditional family, so this was certainly something new. With only a female cousin and another uncle who will not be procreating in this lifetime, there came the concern about “The Family Name” and carrying on my family name apparently was of no great concern and it wasn’t an issue to to them until chose to make it one.

But why isn’t this something women think about? As I am in the middle of a wedding year from hell (6 weddings, all out of town, in six different states. Thanks Guys!) I am constantly floored by all this mindless wedding tradition that women are so eager to sign up for: the huge expense, the white dress, being given away, the lifting of the veil, changing your name, etc., if you truly consider where these traditions come from, it’s no wonder women only make 77 cents on the dollar, have not held higher office, and and are still largely second class citizens in this country.

Because we allow ourselves to be.

We outnumber men and vote in higher numbers, but we still seem to choose antiquated options for ourselves and part of that, I think, starts with how you begin your life a partnered person. Hey, if you want to pretend to be virginal property transfered by one man to another and labeled and branded as such, then, I guess, you have that right. Feminism is about choice. But make sure you understand that you are choosing something. The white dress has a meaning, as does the veil, as does being given away, as does changing your name.

I proposed to my husband, I wore an orange wedding dress (sans veil), my dad was present but not involved in the service, the whole affair cost us about 10 ten times less than the average amount (which is $25,000!), and I have kept my name. It’s a good question to ask why I bothered with any of it and the answer is simple: as a couple with mutual social and financial interests, being married gives you the greatest legal protection to secure those interests in this country.

And the wedding was a freakin’ blast! We had such a great time, but we also carefully removed many activites of the traditional cermony because to us, actions still hold meaning. In this “hey, lighten up, it’s just tradition” attitude about weddings in this country, it is important to us to be mindful of our actions and what they say. If and when we decide to start a family, our children will be taught that same mindfulness.

My decisions work for me. I won’t pretend they work for everyone. My husband reminds me that not every women is cut out to be a ultra-liberal feminist, and I hate to admit it, but he’s right.

But I like to believe it isn’t asking too much for people to think before they act.