my old friend Michele asked me if I would go to her
mom's wedding with her, of course I said yes. When
she asked if I would go in a dress, I had to think
for a second first.
known Michele since my freshman year of high school,
and she's always done right by me, so if it was that
important to her that I make an ass of myself at one
of the most precious days of her mother's life, I
was going to do it, for God's sake. So I borrowed
a nice frock from my housemate Rachael, and squeezed
myself into it. I have to say, I looked pretty good;
I've got a fine set of child-bearing hips and fill
out a dress well.
was supposed to come pick me and Tomas up at my old
house and then we would drive out to Issaquah for
the wedding, so I was well prepared ahead of time,
but when she called and told me that the dress was
out, I was caught by surprise and so was still pulling
on a reasonably formal outfit when her car pulled
up. I climbed into the back seat with Michele and
Tomas. Her mother and her new stepfather sat up front,
and I began to realize the true horror of the situation.
the man her mother was marrying, had been described
to me as a 40-year-old in the body of a 90-year-old,
and this was nothing but accurate. He twitched and
shifted around madly, his grey skin hanging off of
his bones, his white hair tufting crazily in patches
off of his head. His conversation was erratic; he
seemed fascinated by the fact that I played the banjo.
He talked about some ragtime band that he'd seen as
a child, straying off into quiet tangents as we sat
in the back seat, driving out to Issaquah.
wedding was being held at the Boehm's Candy Chapel.
Boehm's is a fairly famous local candy company, and
apparently the founder had some kind of mental breakdown
and built a replica of a Swiss chapel "in the shadows
of the Issaquah Alps." Needless to say, there's no
such thing as the Issaquah Alps. So the chapel is
just this bizarre little schlocky hut, next to a gift
shop selling chocolates and salt-water taffy. Michele,
Tomas and I split off and walked around, joined shortly
by her gangster little brother. Out in front of the
chapel, there was a small fountain with a plaque dedicating
it to Julius Boehm's first water safety instructor.
the wedding was ready to start and we filed into the
chapel, decorated with inept paintings of God reaching
down from Heaven and a huge, fake plastic rock where
the pulpit should be. I've never been much on churchery,
but I'm pretty sure what a chapel should look like,
and this wasn't it.
me, Michele, Tomas and her brother were seated in
the front pew, and the ceremony began. The minister
delivered a fairly generic, if long, New Agey service,
but the real action was in the wedding party. Michele's
mom looked fairly normal, keeping as calm as I imagine
she could. Her maid of honor, however, was a completely
different story. A woman in her 40s, clad in a too-tight
electric blue Lycra dress, her artificial red hair
piled high atop her head, as soon as the minister
began to speak, she was overcome with tears, and cried
throughout the entire thing, her mascara running in
thick black tracks down her face, her pot belly heaving
gently in time with her sobs. On the other side of
her was Gary, resplendent in his tuxedo. As soon as
he stood up in front of the 15 or so people assembled,
he began to frantically twitch his face. We hadn't
seen any evidence of a facial tic in him up to that
point, but once the ceremony had begun, his face was
Tomas and I grabbed each other's arms as we sat in
the pew, all thinking the same thing: don't start
laughing. We all knew that if one of us broke up,
the other two would too, and the wedding would be
completely and utterly ruined. So we sat, pinching
our arms and biting the insides of our cheeks, for
a half an hour. Blood started to pool inside my mouth.
Eventually, it was over, and the bride and the groom
didn't kiss. And we left.
reception was even worse. They had rented the Issaquah
Kiwanis hall, a faux log cabin painted a battleship
gray on the outside, decorated like a half-hearted
tearoom on the inside. There was a punchbowl full
of watery yellow punch, three small cakes (not even
wedding cakes, just white-frosted layer cakes), and
some Dixie cups full of nuts on the tables. That was
basically it. I regretted not eating before I left
home. As soon as we got into the Kiwanis hall we ran
into the bathroom and collapsed laughing on the floor
in a strange mix of hilarity, horror and disbelief
in what we had just seen. Our faces were red and tears
were running down our cheeks, it was like we had stepped
into some surreal Farrely Brothers universe where
human misfortune was the source of amazing comedy.
that's this universe.
then Tomas's dad got married in a traditional Buddhist
ceremony and my mom got married by a club-footed Texan
in Las Vegas but those are two completely different