Monday, November 7, 2011

Chapter 5 "You're Next Dear" - From: Grumblings of a Chronically Single Woman

“You’re next, dear”

Bridesmaid? Maid of Honor? Guest book attendant?  If you need one, I’m your gal. I’m practically a professional. I have extensive experience, work well with others, and own my own equipment. I am the proud owner of a rainbow of bridesmaid dresses that have only been worn once (four to six hours each). I’ve been in more weddings than an overworked white dove.

Most experienced bridesmaids are well aware of the purpose, and design of bridesmaid’s dresses. If, by chance, you are unfamiliar with its function allow me to enlighten you. The purpose of a bridesmaid’s dress, it is to insure that the bride looks better than any other woman within an hour’s drive.

Seafoam green is the color of the most recent acquisition to my bridesmaid dress collection.  No living, breathing human being looks good in seafoam green. My friend, Karen, the bride-to-be, had chosen the color of a polluted tide for her three best friends to not only wear but to be photographed in. A permanent record. She tried to minimize the damage by uttering the three obligatory Bridesmaid dress phrases. “It can be cut down and worn again.” “It really doesn’t look like a bridesmaid dress.” “Dye-ables (shoes) are the only way to go.”

Really now. Who would go to the expense of cutting down a dress that should, by all means, be cut up? With the exception of being cast in and supplying wardrobe for a Jackie Collin’s TV mini-series, I know of no other occasion to wear a floor-length, taffeta and velvet dress with poofy sleeves and a large bow positioned on the butt.

If the pain and embarrassment of wearing the dress once is ranked as high as falling down a flight of stairs, why repeat the performance? Wear it again? Who’s kidding whom? “Perfect for a garden party or cotillion,” the saleswoman may say. Sure, perhaps I’ll be invited to the inaugural ball.

Frankly, whether or not it looks like a bridesmaids’ dress, when two or more women, in the same room, are wearing noisy, pastel colored dresses, it is considered bridesmaid-wear.

Dye-ables are terribly uncomfortable cardboard-soled shoes that have been dyed to match any color dress, no matter how unattractive. If the three hundred dollar expense of the dress isn’t enough to cause a rift between the bride and her friends, add eighty bucks for the shoes and an additional two thousand dollars for the bunion surgery that will be necessary after spending an afternoon standing and dancing in them.

I stood in the reception hall desperately wishing that someone would spill something on the dress, preferably red. I was looking for a reason to shed the after-dinner mint that I was wearing as a dress. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and other unfamiliar faces were milling around. It seemed as if all eyes were focusing on me. I could read the expressions. “Who is that?  Is she in pain or just a miserable person?”

Then it happened. The one thing that I had dreaded most. The most annoying three-word combination that any one person could say to a chronic bridesmaid. “You’re next, dear.” It’s always someone’s pudgy, beige haired Aunt Ruth who waddles up to me, grabs my hand, draws it to her motherly bosom and with a pitying tone offers her condolences regarding my marital status. “I can’t imagine why a pretty girl like you isn’t married.” Someone please shoot me in the head before I have to hear those words again.

After listening to fifty choruses of:  “Have I got a nephew for you,” it was ironic that I was spared by the announcement of the ceremonial bouquet toss. I pretended not to hear the bandleader as he summoned all of the “single gals” to the center of the dance floor. I searched for a place to hide. Just as I was about to slip into the ladies room, I felt someone grab hold of my arm. It was Karen. She proceeded onto drag me to the dance floor. I smiled politely as I gave her arm a twisting pinch. 

Karen took the customary bouquet toss position then pivoted, pointed at me and announced, “This one’s for you. Get ready.”

 Okay, I thought.  Give me a gun.

So there I stood with five awkward giggling teenage girls, two very enthusiastic divorcees, a couple of widowed grandmothers and good ole’ Aunt Ruth. I would have preferred catching a virus than that bouquet. I took my standard bouquet catching stance: arms folded and eyes averted.  Then, as if in slow motion, the bouquet left the bride’s hands. It flew through the air, over the heads and flailing arms of the others and was headed directly at me. What could I do?  I half-heartedly reached out.  Swish!  I caught it.  Congratulatory cheers rang out. 

Karen rushed over, hugged me and shrilled, “You’re next!” 

“These don’t work,” I tried to explain. “Over the years I caught enough to fill an arboretum.”

So there I stood in my seafoam green ensemble realizing that the last of my single friends was married off.  You’re next. I laughed, By default.

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