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In which I have a meltdown in the middle of a Red Robin.

19 Dec

YummmaaarRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!! Source

If only I had just eaten the well-done burger.

Let me say this now: whichever one of you finds my body – oh, who am I kidding? When the neighbors complain about the smell and a rep from the condo board (yeah, I finally moved in to my grandpa’s old place, whoopee) has a maintenance man break down my door and finds me a.) naked and dead on the stairs, having fallen to my death because I put off getting a runner; b.) naked and dead in one of the upstairs bathrooms, having slipped to death on one of the many loose tiles that I can’t yet afford to replace; or c.) fully clothed and dead, having finally followed through on something in my miserable life, ending it all by my own hopefully exquisitely manicured hand, please see to it that my tombstone reads as follows:

Ambrosia Prudence Jones

19somethin’somethin’-20somethin’somethin’

“If only I had. . . “

Bury me in something chic, black, and tastefully (think Beyonce tasteful, not Jackie O tasteful) sequined. DO NOT let my mother make any decisions about my hair or makeup. Find a Fabulous Gay to do that. I want flowers, flowers, and more flowers, and completely inappropriate music at my funeral. The women in attendance should be wearing hats and heels, a la American Horror Story: Coven.  Send them away if they aren’t.

Enough about my funeral plans. And look, I get that it’s. . . macabre that I have a rough sketch of funeral plans at my age, but in the four months since we last met, dear reader, life has handed me no bright moment that has led me to plan, even prematurely, anything other than my eventual demise. It is the only thing I can count on happening. There are, as always, no men in my life, and I sadly have yet to discover or develop a taste for women. Though if I did, I’m sure I’d find that things would be just as dismal on the dating front.

Remember that whole thing about my probably not being able to have kids? Um, yeah, so I couldn’t get pregnant if I had sex with Shawty Lo. Or Kevin Federline, who may be more immediately familiar to white some readers. I am at the moment infertile, though I’m not supposed to use the term infertile. I was told in my sort of support group thing that I sometimes attend that we’re not to ever say we’re infertile until the doctors have taken away our uteri. We’re “reproductively  challenged” or some such nonsense. I have a giant fibroid inside my uterus AND a super fun thing called PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Not only can I not find a human male to have sex with me that isn’t homeless and/or over the age of 50, if I did and wanted to have a baby, chances are I wouldn’t ovulate. If I somehow did ovulate, there is no where for the baby egg thingamajig (yay, science) to go because my whole mother oven is blocked. Surgery is extremely risky, with hysterectomy being an unfortunate possible side effect. If the surgery was successful, the surgeons have no way of guaranteeing that I’d be left with enough healthy uterine tissue to successfully carry a pregnancy to term, in the event I were to ever meet a man and then, of course, ovulate. It’s a supremely jacked up Circle of Life. Despair and hope indeed.

For a number of weeks now, I’ve been getting shot up with a drug I won’t name in an effort to maintain one last sliver of privacy since I thought it was a FANTASTIC idea to post selfies (like three; I’m in my thirties and not that particular brand of ridiculous or beautiful) under this nom de plume on fucking tumblr in the hopes that someone, anyone (hopefully with a nice face and penis) would tell me I was beautiful and not a monstrosity of epic proportions. The drug is supposed to make me temporarily menopausal which is in turn supposed to shrink the fibroids and Jesus Christ I bet you’re all wondering what the hell my uterus has to do with Red Robin. I’m getting there, I swear, I’m getting there. This is what happens when I don’t write for four months. Sorry.

I’m not so sure about the menopausal part, considering the fact that I’ve been. . . um. . . bleeding (sorry, I know, so sorry) for almost two months, and the shrinking isn’t happening at a rate that my doctor is pleased with. What I’m certain of is the drug is causing me to feel sadder and angrier and far more emotionally raw than usual AND NOW WE’RE FINALLY GETTING TO THE TITLE OF THE POST I ALWAYS GET THERE WE MIGHT HAVE A LAYOVER IN DALLAS BUT WE ALWAYS GET TO OUR DESTINATION. And I’d like to think it’s because of my general unhappiness compounded by the goddamn holidays and the cold and the knowledge that I may never be able to have children and the ongoing pain and discomfort and blood and mood swings and loneliness and the unshakable feeling that I don’t really matter to anyone at the medical practice because I’m not there for IVF or egg extractions and the feeling that I don’t really matter to anyone at all anywhere and the worry that men can smell my defect on me and that’s why they stay away, between the no babies and the sociopath ex, I am Damaged Goods and now I may have lost my new friends all because of a burger.

We waited 29 minutes for someone to take our order. We watched the people next to us get served their meal, eat their meal, and get their check before one of my friends got up to find out what the heck was going on. They, the people at the next table, even asked us if anyone had come to take our drink order, and they were literally a middle school couple. They could not have been older than 14 years old and they knew things were bad. The hostess was kind enough to take our drink order and serve  us before a shiftless manchild came to take our food order. Here’s where things went downhill: I ordered guacamole bacon burger cooked “a little bit pink”, following Red Robin’s ordering instructions. I got an impeccably dressed hockey puck. I took two bites and decided I couldn’t enjoy the gristly meat husk masquerading as hamburger and waited 10 minutes or so for The Dude to wander back to our section so I could reluctantly send back my meal. He never came, but the on top of it and super apologetic hostess did.

At some point between my waiting to receive the meal I’d ordered in the first place and my eventual meltdown, The Dude appeared and attempted to give us our check. We all sort of looked at him as if he were insane; was he even remotely aware of our kind of shitty experience? Did he think that maybe we wanted that big ass ice cream pie crime against humanity that they serve, because um, yeah, we did? We  kindly mentioned that we wanted to order dessert; “Uhhh, I’m pretty sure we’re like, closed though” he replied. I think it was here that I lost it, but didn’t realize that I’d lost it. Everything happened so fast, like when a perfectly gently boiling pot all of sudden loses its ever loving shit and starts to barf all over the stove. That’s how it was with me. I didn’t even have a chance to turn down the flame or grab a lid or scream at my mom to do something while I played “Candy Crush Saga” in the bathroom.

If the kitchen was closed, what about my burger? I didn’t say this; I didn’t say anything. I just stared at him, at the neon “YUMMM” on the wall, at nothing in particular. My friends went from fierce warriors against dining injustice to sniveling diners worried about being nice to terrible service people. “Oh, you’re closed? Oh my god. We’re so sorry. Never mind. No dessert for us. Just the check.”

“No, wait. Why don’t you check to make sure that the kitchen is in fact closed. You know, since I’m waiting for my dinner and all.” I tried to say it kindly, but I was hungry and tired and annoyed and I hate people speaking and apologizing for me, and that’s what my friends were doing. Simultaneously, my friends said the following: “Oh my god, I feel so bad!” “Now I feel like such an asshole!” and that’s when I saw red. You feel like an asshole because they fucked up my food, made us wait more than 30 minutes before they even took our order, and I’d, no, we’d like to simply order dessert???? Moments later, the hostess came over to assure me that my burger was on its way out and began to loudly apologize. And wouldn’t stop apologizing. She offered dessert. Free dessert. All the dessert. To get her manager. To do my taxes. Find me a husband. Help me unpack. All the while, my friends are turning her down; her efforts are unnecessary because they’re fine. The restaurant is closed or going to close or something. Even though we’re surrounded by full tables. I am fucking fuming. It’s no longer about burgers. It’s about principle and fairness and me having a voice and getting what the hell I asked for for once.

So I snapped.

I took off my glasses (bad sign) and I stopped smiling and doing that stupid “no, it’s not you, it’s me, and it’s fine” bullshit that women feel they’re supposed to do when trying to get a service that they are paying for and it’s going wrong and I said in a voice that scared myself “What I want is the meal I ordered the way I ordered it. It’s not your fault. You’re the hostess. Thank you for trying. It should be the waiter doing all of this. But now my friends care more about the fact that you might be closed than your trying to make this right, so please, just get me my food so I can eat it and they can stop feeling like assholes.”

My friends got mad at me, but said they weren’t. I was mad at them and said I was. One of them wouldn’t speak to or look at me for the rest of the night and while the other made a big show of hugging it out with me afterwards, she stormed off to her car. So, I guess that’s done. A perfectly nice evening was fucked up because I couldn’t just shut up and eat burned meat. But I feel like my entire life is nothing but shutting up and eating burnt meat I didn’t order, a terrible analogy, I know.

Was I out of line? I don’t think so? I don’t even know. Am I just one big hormonal mess, incapable of any healthy, normal human relationships, destined to live and die bitter and alone? I think that’s pretty fucking clear. I wanted it to also be clear that in the four months since I last checked in with ya’ll, the only growth that’s occurred has been in my uterus. 

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I (think I might) hate Halloween.

2 Nov

Yup. Source

If you live in a part of the world that happened to piss off some West Indian chick named Sandy, you may not have even had a chance to hate Halloween this year. I’ve always been quite indifferent to the holiday myself, seeing as how it was off-limits during my formative years and I was too poor and timid as a thin, hot, late-teen-early-twenty-something to indulge in the debauchery, i.e. wear a really slutty costume, that apparently goes along with the day when one is too old to Trick-or-Treat. So when I was invited to a costumes-mandatory Halloween party in mid-October, I was pretty damn excited.

I acquired my first ever store bought costume, – I was a member of ancient Egyptian high society, but I just told people I was Cleopatra because that’s easier – researched the make-up and nail polish (actually, during that time period a nail stain made of henna and red hued berries was used), and even splurged on a wig.  I was really looking forward to a real Halloween experience for a change, filled with booze and laughter and apple-bobbing and making out with a mysterious man dressed as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or something. What can I say, I watch a lot of television.

Those things didn’t happen, of course. I mean, I laughed and drank booze, but I didn’t make out with anyone – SHOCKER – and I spent an awful lot of the night feeling SUPER uncomfortable. Oh, and hurt, confused, embarrassed, angry, disappointed. Lots of feels.

I was one of the last folks to arrive because putting on enough makeup to make it look like I have cheek bones takes a really long time. I started to panic a little because I initially didn’t see a lot of adults in costume and I felt sort of like an idiot because I had gone all out and with four-inch platform sandals on in addition to four inches of makeup, I felt very much like a beautiful reject from RuPaul’s Drag Race who hadn’t quite mastered the tuck.

A close friend had mentioned to me earlier that his particular top-secret costume choice would make me “pee [my] pants”, so I was on the look-out for him. He’s creative and irreverent and smart so I knew I was going to be in for a surprise. In talking to a mutual friend of ours a few hours before the party, we tossed around guesses on what he was going to be. I guessed Jesus or Lord Gaga, Lady Gaga’s long lost and imaginary male counterpart. “You know”, I said, “Part of me wonders if he’s going to come as Bill Cosby ’cause I’ve started calling him Uncle Bill. He just does so many things that scream Heathcliff Huxtable, it wouldn’t surprise me. But no, a convincing Dr. Huxtable/Bill Cosby would require blackface,” I joked. “He’d do a lot of things, but he’d never do that. God, I hope he wouldn’t do that.”

Le sigh.

I teetered along carefully, my robes gathered in my hands as regally as I could muster and scanned the room for anyone over the age of six in a costume, but for my friend in particular. I spotted the hostess decked out in her Disney princess best; a flapper; a gun moll; and a woman in all zebra print holding an umbrella covered in stuffed animals (She was raining cats and dogs. Cute, right?). I breathed a sigh of relief and relished in the compliments my costume and I received. And then I turned my head.

The first thing I saw was his strange, patchy, mud-colored skin. Whatever he’d used was either melting or smearing or just hadn’t been applied very well and made him look filthy rather than of African decent. But then, most people who attempt blackface don’t actually look black. They just look dirty or as if they’re suffering from some unfortunate skin disease and that is just one of the MANY reasons why blackface, REGARDLESS of the intent, is offensive to me, an actual black person whose skin doesn’t look that way. I don’t know any actual black person with skin that looks that way. Ahem. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, his face, neck, and hands were covered in whatever he’d used to darken his skin and he was wearing a dark blue suit and red, white, and blue tie and flag lapel pin. My nerves and shock had delayed my brain function so even though I was taking in all of this data with my kohl-rimmed eyeballs, I simply couldn’t process who or what he was supposed to be. My eyes fell to the sign in his hand that had letters on it that made up a word I would have normally and very quickly recognized under any other circumstances: a capital ‘O’ followed by a capital ‘B’ followed by a capital ‘A’-

Oh no. Oh NO.

I whipped my head around, my shiny synthetic wig hair sticking to my lipstick.  The people not in costume were wearing stickers that read ‘Re-elect Obama’. It was all starting to come together: I had walked into a time warp and had been sucked onto the set of a taping of “In Living Color” written by precogs. I mean, what else would explain what I was seeing? One of my closest, dearest, most racially sensitive friends couldn’t possibly be in motherfucking blackface as the motherfucking president unless he was also circa-1992 Jim Carrey rehearsing an episode that included an ill-conceived, never-to-air skit called “Oh my god, everybody, what if we had a black president with an African name someday? That’d be HELLA crazy, right?”, right? Right?!?

Wrong.

I wasn’t having some sort of flash-back-forward. I didn’t fall down a Time Slide. The Wayans Brothers were in no way responsible for this. My friend thought he picked an awesome Halloween costume. I thought he had lost his ever-loving mind.

“Oh my GOD!” I shrieked. People looked at me and started to nervously chuckle. Of course – OF COURSE –  I was the only black person in attendance. I felt as though all eyes were on me in a “Let’s see how the black person reacts!” moment of awkward silence. I felt my mouth twitch and spasm into what I suppose was a smile. “Hehehehehe. Look at you!” I said, or something like that. Something non-confrontational but that also didn’t give the appearance of my approval. My eyes briefly locked with the hostesses. Mine were screaming “WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?!?!? IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?!?”  but I don’t know if she caught all of that. Eye speech can be very difficult to decipher, especially when one has on tons of mascara.

I tried to avoid my friend without it looking like I was avoiding him all night. I know I spoke to him, but I don’t remember what either of us said. My brain turns to useless fluff during moments of high stress. I can’t remember details and that totally bums me out because I am a person who THRIVES on details.

He was excited and really proud of his costume. He had “researched” President Obama for days, maybe weeks. He did his best to not “break character” all night. I tried not to listen to any of the interactions he had with my friends or other guests while he was “being the president”. I didn’t want to learn that any of the people that I liked were racist, bigoted, birther asshats. Or Republicans. But I also tried to listen without listening so that I could squirrel away any nuggets of ignorance that dropped out of the mouths of people there and shoot them Looks of Doom made even more doomy by my kick-ass Pharaoh eyes. All of that covert non-listening made me sweat which would have made my beautiful make-up run, so I gave that up and just ate a lot, keeping my mouth perpetually full so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.

It took me three days to get up the nerve to say anything about my utter discomfort, to say the least, with his costume choice. And I couldn’t even say anything. I sent him a link via text to posts on blackface at Racialicious, a blog about “the intersection of race and pop culture.” I gave him the benefit of the doubt, assuming that he just didn’t know about things like white privilege or cultural appropriation or the harmful, hurtful, painful history of blackface in general.

Wrong. Again.

I was negative and afraid and discouraging his artistic expression. Didn’t I know that he’s an aspiring method actor? He said some other bullshit that floored me, so I gave him a piece of my mind and told him with my fanciest two-dollar words that I thought he was a dick, without ever calling him a dick. But I did tell him that he was ignorant, arrogant, and racially insensitive.

He wore blackface to at least one other Halloween party, and was even more unnaturally darkened and scary looking than before, like he’d rolled around in a coal bin. People, apparently, thought it was awesome and hilarious. They posed with him in pictures and posted them on that social networking site. The pictures of him got ‘likes’ in the double-digits. I deleted my account after I saw that (and for other reasons too, but I’m telling this story right now). I cried. Kind of a lot.

I haven’t talked about this with very many people because. . . like, how the hell do I even have that conversation? “Oh hey, it’s 2012 and one of my BFFs wore blackface and I’m super hurt and he thinks I’m the asshole. So anyway, did you catch last week’s episode of “New Girl”?” This is one of the many reasons why I’m going to be in therapy FOREVER because I have wacky, gut-punching shit happen on the regular and I need to pay a dude in a cardigan sweater to help me make sense of it all.

Other stuff happened related to this. Nothing as big, but certainly hurtful. I was invited out Trick-or-Treating by mutual friends of his but was told with a shrug “He’s gonna do his thing so. . .” So what?  “Suck it up, bitch”? “Get over yourself and 300+ years of fucked-up history”? “You’re our friend, but a ‘hilarious costume’ will always trump your feelings so what time should we pick you up”? Then there were the people who did the whole “OMG, they’re just costumes, why can’t minorities SHUT UP already and let us desecrate their stuff?” in response to respectful Halloween costume PSAs I posted on that social networking site. Oh, and an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in forever referred to her city as “N!ggertown” in conversation with me and when the look of horror I gave her registered said “Oh, no offense; you’re not like that.” Not like what? I’m not like what?

So, I think I might really hate Halloween. There are special experiences one has being black during all the seasons, but it seems that All Hallows’ Eve really brings out the fuckery and foolishness hidden in the hearts of so many well-meaning individuals. I also hate that my friend is, apparently, not as creative or respectful or possibly smart as Miley Cyrus. Case in point:

Hmm. I know she’s supposed to be someone famous but I just. Can’t. Put my fin- She’s Nicki Minaj. And that’s plainly clear without the use of a layer of shoe polish. Source.

I think one of the many things that bothered me about the whole thing that I’m struggling to articulate even though I’ve spent 2,000+ words on it is that President Obama, whom I adore, isn’t mud-coffee-coal colored and to my knowledge, my friend isn’t blind. The beautiful nuance of the complexion of black folk seems to be totally lost on him. Apparently, we all just look dirty or are literally black in his eyes. His natural olive complexion is closer to how the president actually looks than the shit-stain-brown makeup he used. Miley got-dang Cyrus had the brain power to figure that out for her costume and I’m not sure she can even read!

If he did so much “research” for this costume, why didn’t he just lose the jacket, roll up his sleeves, and loosen his tie? Why not wear prosthetic big ears? Work on the voice? Ask for cheeseburgers with spicy brown mustard instead of ketchup? Tuck a cigarette behind his ear? Carry a surf board? Why did he have to blacken his skin to imitate a person who’s skin ISN’T EVEN BLACK? I’ll pretend for a moment that the whole thing wasn’t inherently and deeply offensive and simply focus on the down-right laziness of someone claiming to be an aspiring method actor. You, dear sir, suck major ASS at your chosen craft.

I don’t know what all this means for our friendship and I don’t think this post is going to help matters. Or maybe it will because it has said pretty much everything I couldn’t have without crying. But for reals, I was worried that my dressing as Cleopatra/an ancient Egyptian might be potentially offensive because it is a not altogether accurate cultural costume belonging to others (that are mostly dead) and he never stopped to think that maybe his idea was a bad one? That’s not fair!

Just. . . I’m sad and tired. Maybe my parents had a point in keeping me from Halloween. Whatevs. All I know is I’m going as fat Bruno Mars next year. We have the same face, same complexion, same haircut, and until like two days ago, I thought he was black. And I won’t have to wear heels.

I’m also pretty sure that I already own that jacket. SCORE! Source.

Never a bride: the conclusion, or, Ambrosia alienates pretty much everyone.

25 Aug

I hope you’ll allow me to piss and moan for a bit before I get back to the story. Writing about this ridiculous, half-assed “wedding” has made me very angry. I am angry because this shit stain of a memory reminds me of all the times that I’ve said ‘yes’. Yes, I’ll drive an hour so you can get your stuff out of storage. Yes, I’ll watch your pets and/or kids. Yes, I’ll work those hours for you. Yes, I’ll reschedule/sit this one out. Yes, I’ll take the blame. Yes, you can borrow my car. Yes, Ill go with you to a nude resort. And of course, yes, I’ll be in your wedding/go to your bridal/baby shower/bachelorette party. I am a bitter, spiteful, sad, pitiful, possibly ungrateful bitch who will always say ‘yes’ but will always find myself with hurt feelings, alone on a Friday night, or panic-stricken as I try to figure out how the hell I’m going to move my life from one awful place to another without help*, while people like Wanda get to have second weddings. You read that right; Wanda will be getting married for the second time in a few short months.

I am not friends with Wanda anymore, if you couldn’t tell. The end of our “friendship” came when, displaying the reading comprehension of an artichoke, Wanda chose to publicly shame and humiliate me because she was insulted by something I wrote. It was actually a compliment, but like I said, the bitch can’t read. It’s pretty awesome when people accidentally react badly to neutral things because at least then you know where you really stand. I would be a liar if I said it didn’t burn me deep inside my black, hollow soul that “Lisa” from the story along with another friend of mine have chosen to remain loyal to a hateful, classless, pathological liar; they’ll be and have been attending Wanda’s wedding and marriage do-over and associated activities. But it’s not like it’s a fucking surprise. The title of this blog is based on my being shat upon by people I thought were supposed to at least politely tolerate me because of our shared genetics, if not human decency, so of course it is little surprise that some of my oldest friends would continue to hang out with and celebrate a person who’s most redeeming quality is that she can tell you where to get a bad weave for cheap. Anyway. I’m probably not making much sense and I’m digging a hole for myself, so I shall write no more about my roller coaster of emotions. You came here to read a funny story about a totally cracked-out wedding. I’ll keep my feelings of mild betrayal and seething anger where they belong: under a pile of hot wings and blue cheese sauce deep down in my rapidly expanding gut. On with the show!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Her facial expression just about sums it up. Source

So the ceremony was a disaster. When it was finally over, a handsome older gentleman came walking over with a professional camera, shaking his head and rounding us up to take pictures. He was eventually introduced to us as Wanda’s uncle. He cracked jokes to make us laugh so that all of the photos of the wedding weren’t of people who looked as though they had been forced at gunpoint to be there. As he took shot after shot, he said to Wanda “I still don’t understand why you didn’t let me help you! Girl, you know I’m a professional photographer! I have connections! I could have helped you out with this wedding! You let me know about everything so last minute that I can’t even go to the reception ’cause I’ve got another wedding to shoot in an hour. What were you thinking? Girl, call on your family next time! Uh, not that there’s gonna be a next time, of course. Err. . .  uh. . .  Congratulations, baby-girl.” I’m pretty sure we all had the same look of disbelief on our faces when we learned that her uncle was a wedding photographer. In other words, there was no need for us all to have been subjected to the ghetto bullshit that was her wedding. She could have had professional help! Not the kind she truly needed, of course, but the kind that would have at least had her not making a fool of herself and everyone she’d ever met! Noticing our shock at her uncle’s revelation, Wanda rolled her eyes and said “Anyway. He is too expensive and wouldn’t have given me a discount. He’s stingy.” Okay, bitch. Okay.

As we walked to our cars, some kind-hearted soul handed me, Lisa, and the baby warm cans of grape soda. “I know ya’ll are hot in those dresses. It’s not cold but it’s wet!” We were grateful for the first calorie source we’d consumed all day; I’m not sure whatever became of the breakfast we went out for, but it certainly wasn’t eaten by us. Just before we made our way to the VFW for the reception, Carmella, the smart friend of Wanda’s who’d declined to be a bridesmaid, came storming over. She angrily shoved a bouquet at Wanda, red-faced and fuming. “Here’s your f*cking flowers” she growled. Apparently, one of the many calls Wanda received back in the room was from Carmella. She had the bride’s bouquet, which she’d made, and the wedding cake, and no directions to either the wedding site or the VFW. She had been driving around in circles for hours, totally lost. Lisa’s bouquet had gone missing because it had been snatched from her hands and given to Wanda when someone realized that the bride’s bouquet had never arrived. Carmella had called and called, but because Wanda was too distraught to talk, Carmella had threatened to simply go home with the rapidly wilting bouquet and melting wedding cake. Oh, did I fail to mention that this wedding was on one of the hottest days of the year? It was the middle of autumn though, so no one was prepared for the sweltering, 90-plus degree weather. A family member of the bride’s finally snatched the phone, gave Carmella directions to the VFW so she could drop off the cake. . . but it was locked. The back seat of her car was slowly being covered in melted icing. Her hard work was rapidly disintegrating before her very eyes.

We were a sad caravan of idiots making our way to the VFW. The ushers were ready to eat. The guests were ready to drink. I was ready to continue my hunger strike if J.J.’s ass was the only one doing the cooking. There had been no sign of him at the wedding. Kelly shrugged her empty-headed shoulders when asked if she’d heard from him. We pulled into the parking lot of the VFW after the newlyweds and their families and were met with yet another show of ridiculous, yet somewhat understandable, behavior outside. Wanda was in tears again and her older brother was screaming at her like she’d stolen something from him. “I’ll ask you again Wanda: where is the goddamn food for all these people? There is NOTHING inside!! Give me the number to the restaurant you claim is catering this mess, ’cause they ain’t here!” Oh, snap. So Wanda never told her family that the restaurant wasn’t actually providing anything except for maybe a pan of mac and cheese? Her brother was losing his cool by the minute. His wife and mother tried to hold him back from throttling Wanda. It eventually took most of the groom’s ushers to restrain him when Wanda hiccuped out the truth: “J- J-J.J. is doing the cooking a-a-and he’s n-n-not answering his phone! He-he-he has my car and all the f-f-food and I don’t know where he is!” she wailed.

“You. Had. F*cking J.J. cook for this wedding?” her brother screamed. “What the hell is WRONG with you, Wanda? Give me his number and somebody get my car keys, ’cause I’m gonna find that motherf*cker and kick his ass!” The crazy justice of the peace eventually intervened, not with calm rationality, but with even louder screaming. That lady was nuttier than a fruit cake with her self-righteous ranting and raving about how mean everyone was being to poor Wanda on her most special day. I guess it was the ridiculousness of her statements that finally shut Wanda’s brother up, as he shook his head and stormed inside.

We all followed his lead and wandered in after him. The guests, the amount of which had magically doubled, were seated at the cafeteria tables covered in shoddily Scotch-taped lavender plastic table cloths like it was 1963 in Selma, AL. Wanda’s groom, a basically brain dead McDonald’s employee named Petey, was Latino. I haven’t mentioned him till now because his usual contribution to conversations consisted of one of the two following phrases: “Yo, I don’t even know!” and “Yeah, baby love, whatever you want!” Based on the looks on the faces of his family, none of them were too keen on the union or black folks in general as they segregated themselves throughout the entire reception. Sure, fine, whatever. Frankly, I sort of didn’t really blame them.

We all took our places at the bridal party table and just waited for the next absurd thing to take place. People were getting hungry and pissed. Wanda’s aunties, clearly well aware of their niece’s proclivity for utter foolishness, had take it upon themselves to make a few pans of side dishes: macaroni salad, coleslaw, green salad. There wasn’t a piece of cheese or a cracker in the place, so they started dishing out what they’d brought as appetizers. They rounded up little kids to pass out cans of orange soda, Coke, or tap water. Unbeknownst to anyone, Wanda has insisted that the wedding be a dry one. Once the guests discovered this, many of them disappeared to the bar next door. Another of Wanda’s uncles, ever the innovator, had filled the trunk of his classic car with ice and bottles of scotch and whiskey. Suddenly, some of the more frugal guests realized that they had left their car windows down or the wedding gift they’d brought sitting in the backseat. The VFW cleared out like someone had just bombed for roaches.

Wanda started to cry again, upset that most of the guests had peaced out of the reception. I told you, I’m an idiot who likes to help, so I agreed to find out where everybody was when Wanda begged. I went out to the parking lot and saw the impromptu party going on, and suddenly, someone grabbed my arm and pulled me behind the building. It was Wanda’s sister-in-law. She had taken a shine to Lisa and me, amazed that Wanda had friends that weren’t toothless or addicted to methadone. She shoved a plastic glass of amber colored liquid in my hand. “Here. Drink this.” Before I could say “But what is it?”, she’d brought my hand up to my mouth, held on to the the back of my neck and literally forced me to pour the booze down my gullet. That brought the total of things I’d consumed that day to two: half a can of warm grape soda and a glass of equally warm scotch.

I coughed and sputtered and tried to explain that Wanda was inside having yet another meltdown, but sister-in-law was too busy shaking it to the soul music Uncle Whiskey was blasting out of his car. Suddenly, the door to the VFW slammed open and out stormed the justice of the peace. Her hands were on the hips of her plaid mini skirt, her penny loafer clad foot impatiently tapping. She stormed over to the parking lot revelers, her white opaque tights making a soft swishing noise with each stride she took. “How dare you?” she started, and I knew that was my cue to be out. I sneaked past her and back inside the sad, half-empty hall.

Once inside, I shared the news of what was happening with the rest of the bridal party, which was a mistake as I had to then convince them all to stay inside and not go to the bar or to the party that was being broken up outside. Eventually, everyone trickled back in, higher and happier than when they’d left. Moments later, in walked J.J. and Betsy, balancing a number of aluminum foil wrapped trays between them, both still clad in the musty outfits they had on the night before. I gagged a bit at the sight while the rest of the guests cheered at the sight of the food. Lisa and I exchanged a knowing glance and tried to make the most of our coleslaw.

Everything was laid out buffet style, including the salvaged wedding cake, a lemon bundt cake, and neon pink cookies. Lisa and I declined the offers of plates of meatballs, ham, chicken wings, cabbage, rice and beans, and macaroni and cheese, knowing who was behind their creation. “You a vegetarian or something?” one of the ushers asked, a thick hunk of ham dangling from his fork. He bit into the glistening meat, certain it’s sheen came from a layer of sticky glaze, while I was sure it was a fine layer of mucus and armpit sweat that gave the meat it’s special glow. I covered my mouth as I gagged again. “No, not a vegetarian. Just not very hungry” I muttered.

Lisa’s daughter was in the midst of her Terrible Twos and a very picky eater. She managed to get only a couple of forkfuls of salad into the baby when she gave up and let her have dessert. The baby enjoyed the mystery cookies, the bride’s special request, which we later learned got their pink hue from Kool-Aid mix. They tasted like dry balls of flour rolled in cherry-flavored Fun Dip. After trying one of the monstrosities, Lisa asked for slices of the lemon cake, thinking that would be the slightly more nutritious and far less disgusting choice to feed her child.

The lemon cake was a natural shade of yellow and looked very moist. Lisa and I took a bite and looked at each other, puzzled and puckered. “Wow, this cake is really. . . lemony” she said, choking down what was in her mouth. “Yeah, it’s surprisingly strong and. . . bitter or something” I replied, struggling to find the appropriate adjective to describe the cake’s odd flavor. The baby loved it. She ate her slice and mine and Lisa’s. Lisa was just happy that the kid wasn’t going to starve. When the baby asked for a fourth slice, Lisa shrugged her shoulders. “What the heck, it’s a special occasion. I just can’t believe she can handle something so tart!”

As the baby started in on her fourth slice, sister-in-law happened to walk over to our table. She was smiling, about to make pleasant conversation, when she noticed the baby happily shoving a fistful of lemon cake into her mouth. “Oh my god, don’t let her eat that!” she shrieked, snatching the plate away. We looked at her like she was as crazy as the justice of the peace. “What’s wrong?” asked Lisa. “If it’s the sugar you’re worried about-” “No! Didn’t you guys hear me? I’ve been telling everyone about my famous Bacardi Limon cake!” “What?” said Lisa, a look of panic slowly growing on her face. “This is rum cake! I bake a lemon bundt cake and then I soak it over night with simple syrup and an entire bottle of Bacardi Limon! How couldn’t you know?” screamed sister-in-law. “Rum cakes are brown! I’ve never heard of a f*cking lemon rum cake! Oh my god, what do I do?” cried Lisa. We tried to get the baby to drink water, but she wasn’t having it. She was too busy giggling and clapping. She seemed like a pretty normal toddler, so we hoped for the best and kept an eye on her all night.

The baby loved to dance and was making quite the scene on the dance floor. We were still convinced she was fine, until like something from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, the strangest look came over her and she  started to furiously “tap dance”. She kept this up for a while, a stupid grin on her face, and then she started to stagger. She stumbled to her left and laughed. She stumbled to her right and laughed. She stumbled to her left again, let out a squeal of delight, and then her eyes rolled back in her head and she went crashing to the ground, face first.

Miraculously, the baby was fine, but apparently wasted. She was out cold, a smile on her chubby little face as she slept it off. Lisa, mortified and scared, grabbed my car keys and ran through the parking lot, crying hysterically. She locked herself in my car, weeping behind the steering wheel. It was time for the couple’s first dance and Wanda wanted us out on the floor too. The bridal party took turns trying to convince Lisa to come out of the car, but she’d only lift her head from where it lay on the steering wheel, cry out “I’m a bad mother!” and go back to weeping again. We eventually gave up, figuring she needed time to compose herself. She hadn’t had anything to eat nor had she slept, so a mental breakdown seemed appropriate.

The baby had woken up back inside and took turns dancing with everyone from the bridal party as we waited for the DJ to announce Wanda and Petey and put on their song. There was some commotion by the DJ’s table, and finally they motioned for me to come over. Again, why the hell I was the wedding police up in that mess I will never know. “J.J. was supposed to bring their first dance song! He didn’t and I don’t have it! I already told Wanda and she’s crying again. They won’t tell me what to play instead; what should I do?” the DJ asked, frantic. In his defense, he’d never done a wedding before. He was a club DJ and a friend of one of the ushers who’d agreed to do the wedding for cheap. He needed wedding experience and Wanda needed a DJ, so they made a deal.

“Um, um. . ” I said, racking my brain. “Uh, just play “My Girl”! That’s a good love song!” Luckily, the DJ had it and put it on. Wanda wept into Petey’s shoulder as he pathetically danced her around. The bridal party was in a half circle around the couple and suddenly, it just all became too much for me. Hungry and exhausted, I replayed all the awful things that had happened over the last day and a half. Seeing Wanda quietly weep as the The Temptations sang about sunshine on a cloudy day was just so sad. Her wedding was a joke. I felt my lower lip start to quiver and then I just lost it. I started to weep and wail like a professional funeral crier. I couldn’t control myself, but the music was pretty loud and I had my face covered and hoped no one would notice. I wanted the bride and groom to have their moment. The bridal party could see and hear me and they all gathered me into a group hug, taking turns consoling me and asking what was wrong. They had their backs to Wanda and Petey’s dance. They weren’t the focus anymore. I was. I felt even more awful than I already did and started to cry harder. “Leave me alone!” I shouted as I flailed my arms. “Watch Wanda and Petey! Don’t ruin their moment!” As I pushed against the group hug I was stuck in, the song and dance continued. I knew the guests weren’t watching the first dance either, considering the spectacle we were making. Eventually, the song ended. That moment had been ruined, too, thanks to me.

The only things left to do were the cake cutting, garter toss, and bouquet toss. These three things must have gone relatively smoothly as I have no memory of them. The bride and groom also did a dollar dance, which was actually fun and pretty cute. Even the Latino side of the family joined in for that! Lisa came back inside and apologized for her freak out. I laughed and told her not to worry; all the cool kids were having meltdowns, and told her about mine. The wedding cake was served and Wanda proudly told everyone that Carmella had used a recipe that she, Wanda, had picked out. It was a German chocolate cake with a vanilla butter-cream icing. It was Carmella’s first time baking a wedding cake and everyone oohed and aahed over how pretty it came out, even after partially melting.

I took a bite of the cake and immediately reached for a napkin. I spit it out as discreetly as I could. The cake was not sweet, nor did it taste like chocolate. It was both extremely moist yet unbelievably dry. It was what I imagine eating a wet sponge that had been baked in an oven must be like. Wanda’s wedding was cursed. Even the dessert was stank and wrong!

While the guests danced, we hugged and congratulated Wanda on her marriage, i.e., lied to that girl’s face. She was tired and putting money into envelopes to pay. . . honestly, I don’t know. I guess the DJ. If J.J. and Carmella charged for their “services”, they are both going to hell. Wanda let out a sigh and said “Well, it’s over. We made it through. Now we’ve got the honeymoon to look forward to. Oh, by the way: the VFW contract states that we’re responsible for cleaning up, so if you guys want to change out of your dresses, we can get started in a few minutes.”

Lisa and I looked at each other and said “Oh yeah, sure, sure. Just have to get our suitcases out of the car.” We said our good-byes to guests and the other folks in the bridal party. Once we were outside the VFW, we took off running through the parking lot, jumped in the car and sped away. “I’ll call her later and tell her the baby fell asleep” Lisa said. We toasted each other with our value size orange Hi-C drinks that we bought from a McDonald’s drive-thru and laughed as we drove away from the scene of an event that would haunt us for years to come.

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Epilogue:

Wanda and Petey ended up divorcing about three years after their wedding. He apparently “changed”, started being really mean to Wanda, and got somebody else pregnant. From what I gather, he is living happily ever after and now works at Burger King.

I haven’t seen or smelled J.J. in years. He’s still out there, somewhere. I’m sure of it. Last I heard, he and Betsey either broke up or got married. I can’t remember which. I don’t think either of them ever came to embrace soap, water, or deodorant.

As I mentioned in my angry rant above, Wanda and I are no longer friends. She is getting married this fall to a guy who seems very nice. He also seems to be about 600-lbs. Before the end of our friendship, she hadn’t asked me to be a bridesmaid.

Honestly, I was kind of disappointed.

 

 

*Yes, I know that many of you have offered to help, but because I am neurotic and mildly paranoid, I don’t believe you.

Never a bride: part the second.

22 Aug

I suppose it could have been worse. Source

When I last left you, dear reader, I was inside the piss-soaked room of a scary motor lodge, planning how I’d survive a wedding on no food and no sleep. Wanda had just broken the news that her odorous friend J.J. would be adding his pungency to the food served at the reception as he would be doing all of the cooking. Speak of the devil and he will appear! A knock at the door revealed J.J. and Betsy on the other side. It was about 1:00am and they were there to hang out. Um, shouldn’t J.J. be home applying deodorant prepping and cooking in preparation to serve a wedding of approximately 100 people?

J.J. was tall and large and seemed to take his fashion advice from Wanda. He had on a jersey from a long-defunct hip-hop clothing line that was straining to contain his rotund belly. The sleeves were too short in a way that was comical and we could smell him before he walked in the room. My favorite part about J.J. had to have been his flattop haircut. This was before hipsters and ironic hair and clothes and paying homage to the 90s. J.J. was being very literal with his look. Betsy was no better. She was a sweet girl who didn’t say much. What Wanda had against her I never really understood. Betsy was shaped like a boiled potato and had a goatee. A real-life, honest-to-god goatee. Her teeth were covered in what appeared to be a thin layer of cottage cheese and like J.J., she also ceased her hair grooming habits sometime around 1991. He hair was pulled into a jaunty side ponytail held in place by a jumbo scrunchie. If things weren’t already tragic, they were getting there.

Wanda was getting more irritated by the hour and J.J.’s “last night of being single” jokes weren’t helping. She eventually gave him the boot, but Betsy stayed behind. She curled up next to Kelly on the floor and went to sleep. I don’t. . . I just don’t know. Maybe a cat pee soaked carpet was a step up from what was waiting at home with J.J.? It wouldn’t surprise me if it was.

Eventually, Wanda decided that she had to get her beauty sleep and took her place on the floor. I could not understand why these three idiots chose the floor rather than sleeping on top of a towel on top of the comforter like a normal person spending the night in a motor lodge. I chose a straight back wooden chair, still wearing my jacket and holding my suitcase. Lisa was doing a variation on the towel trick, sitting on top of one on top of the bed while she rocked her baby to keep her asleep. There was nothing on TV other than free, frightening porn, so we just whispered to each other about the surreal experience we were having.

When the pounding on the door to our room started around 4:00am, at first we thought that it was the groom, ushers, and J.J. playing tricks on us. The ushers had decided to go out clubbing the night before the wedding; us bridesmaids and apparently the groom were not allowed per the bride. “It’s got to be the guys being stupid,” I whispered. “They’ll give up eventually.”

“Open this door, motherf*cker! Open this motherf*ckin’ door!” Lisa and I looked at each other in a panic. The Smelly Sisters on the floor began to stir, wondering what all the commotion was.

“I said open this door motherf*cker! Open this motherf*ckin’ door!” The banging was getting louder, as was the voice. It definitely wasn’t one of the guys from the wedding.

“Should we call 911? Oh god, the freaking window is unlocked!” Our whispers were frantic. The phone seemed so far away.We were certain that we were going to be killed. We held our breath, hoping that if us motherf*ckers just stayed quiet, whoever was on the other side of the door would simply lose interest and go away.

Moments later, we heard the door of the room next to ours open with a bang. Lisa and I grabbed hands, eyes wide in panic. Wanda, Kelly, and Betsy buried their faces in the rug, inhaling one last lungful of sweet, sweet pussycat pee before we were all snuffed out.

“Motherf*cker, you got the wrong room! We over here!” yelled the voice from next door. The five of us let out a collective sigh of relief, thankful to have been spared from. . . something.

The girls on the floor drifted back to dreamland while Lisa and I stayed in our respective positions. Around 6:00am, we offered to grab breakfast. Wanda produced a list of things she’d “forgotten” that she wanted us to pick up on the way. Her list included “white pumps” because hers were kind of tight. I couldn’t make this stuff up, I promise you. Lisa and I wandered around, delirious from lack of sleep, hunger, and the thought that we were about to have caps popped in our asses. We drove around in circles, laughing hysterically. We found a Stop & Shop and wandered up and down the aisles, finding absolutely everything amusing. After about 20 minutes of that I had a sudden realization: “Oh my god, the wedding’s in a few hours and we’re still at home! We have to drive all the way to the city for the wedding!” Seeing that all Stop & Shops are virtually identical, we thought we were in our hometown, an hour away. We ran frantically through the grocery store, losing our slippers every few feet. It wasn’t until we hit the parking lot that we realized we weren’t home at all. We lost it, shaking and crying with laughter.

We got back to our room to find everything in disarray. There was no hot water. Wanda’s hair wasn’t doing what she wanted and she’d promised various family members that she wouldn’t wear one of her $5.95 wigs. The M.O.H. had finally emerged, but wasn’t particularly helpful. Wanda’s phone was going crazy; J.J. had a million questions about what exactly he was supposed to cook. Wanda finally told him to just come back to the room, which was about 50 minutes away from the wedding, remember. Lisa and I tried our best to keep things together.

I don’t know in what order the following things happened, but they are so vivid in my mind I feel like they must have happened all at once. J.J. showed up in the clothes he had on the night before. He had a notepad and pencil with him, but before he was able to say a word, he let out five of the wettest, most snot-filled, sneezes deep from the crevices of his nasal passages. He sneezed his mucus and brains and bowels and whatever else was coming out of him into his already filthy hand. He made no effort to excuse or clean himself up; he blinked a few times, looked at Wanda and said “So whatchu want me to cook again?”

As Wanda was attempting to explain the difference between a head of iceberg lettuce and a head of cabbage to J.J. – these are REAL examples, folks – she squeezed her way into her wedding gown. After getting it on, she plopped herself down in front of the mirror and proceeded to do her makeup. One of us screamed out for her to stop or be careful, but it was too late: a glob of foundation the color of dark chocolate had made its way to the bodice of her gown.

Wanda blew a gasket. Finally the M.O.H. made herself useful and was able to contain the mighty force of Wanda’s rage and clean off most of the foundation. J.J. was kicked out again, blamed for distracting Wanda, and told to take Betsy with him. We helped Wanda finish dressing and she looked. . .okay! She was a bit calm and took in the rest of us.

We looked like a band of one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eaters in our ridiculous dresses, but Wanda loved them. Until her eyes landed on Lisa’s. “You didn’t get it altered? You didn’t even get it hemmed?” she screamed. Lisa reminded her that she told Wanda that she wouldn’t be able to afford it. “Ugh! Whatever. You just better find some safety pins or something because you look ridiculous” she spit.

The finishing touch of her look was to slip on her engagement ring. We had asked Wanda the night before why she had her engagement ring and both wedding bands. Wasn’t the best man supposed to have those? What I want to know is why we kept asking questions as if anything about this wedding was even remotely normal, traditional, and not total madness?

“You know I can’t trust Chill Rob with these rings, with his crackhead ass!” Chill Rob’s name is the only one I haven’t changed. I mean, how could I? How perfect is it that the best man’s name was Chill Rob?

Wanda reaches for her rings and finds the box empty. She doesn’t even try to remain calm and rational; this chick hulked out in 10 seconds flat. “Where. Are. My. F*cking. RINGS??? WHY IS EVERYTHING GOING WRONG??” She flipped over suitcases, punched the walls. We did our best to calm her down, emptying every purse, pocket, and pillow case in the search for her gumball machine jewelery.

Suddenly, Wanda’s eyes land on Lisa’s little daughter, the flower girl in her wedding. Her whole face changed. I backed up, afraid of what was going to happen next. “YOU!! YOU stole my rings!! You were playing around in the suitcases!! WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THEM?? Lisa, I TOLD you not to let her PLAY. IN. THE. SUITCASES!!!!!!” Lisa’s daughter was all of two years old. All the bridesmaids, other than the always oblivious Kelly, jumped between Wanda and the baby. The M.O.H. dragged her out of the room, gulping giant ugly tears, and put her in her car.

“Listen. This situation is totally f*cked up. You three stay behind and tear our rooms apart. Find those rings. If you don’t, stop at the Wal*Mart across the street and just get anything to use for the ceremony and we’ll figure it out later. I’ll explain what’s going on and delay the wedding.” This brilliant plan came from the M.O.H. and while we attempted to wrap our brains around it, she and Wanda were gone.

We did as we were told, tearing first our room apart from top to bottom, and then the M.O.H.’s. After pulling the dresser from against the wall, we made a discovery, but not the one we were hoping for. There, on the floor, was a crack pipe. We stood around it and stared at it. We wondered. . . Nah! But Wanda’s friends. . .  No way! It had to have been there before. We were afraid to touch it; crack is whack! We kicked it behind the dresser and moved it back into place, letting the next person to lose a Ring Pop in that room stumble across it as we had.

We were at a total loss. It was getting later and later. We were about to go to Wal*Mart when one of us said to search Wanda’s purse one more time. There, at the bottom, tucked in a velvet bag as if they were actually made of something, were the rings. We grabbed them, and the baby, and ran.

As soon as we got in the car, my cell phone started to ring. First caller? J.J.: “Hey, I’m supposed to bring the stereo for the music for the ceremony and I forgot that there wouldn’t be any plugs since it’s outside, so could ya’ll stop and get some batteries?” We did. Wanda wanted to walk down the aisle to her song and as bridesmaids, we had to help make that happen. J.J. called again and I wanted to know how the hell he got my number and why was I suddenly the wedding coordinator extraordinaire? I barely knew these people! “Hey, it’s me again. I can’t find that N*SYNC CD. Could you guys stop somewhere and buy a copy? I’ll pay ya’ll back.” This ninja had to be out of his mind!

Kelly handled him from there on out as they were friends (she liked smells, I guess), but my phone was by no means quiet. All the ushers from the wedding called, demanding to know where we were. Where we were? “Didn’t the M.O.H. tell everyone what happened?” I screeched. According to eyewitnesses, they pulled up in the M.O.H.’s car, Wanda alternating between hysteria and a state of catatonia. And the M.O.H.? Well, that bitch reverted to her useless ways, getting out of the car, lighting a cigarette, and when asked what the heck was happening, responded with the ever so helpful “F*ck if I know.”

The justice of the freaking peace was the last person to call me, and this lady was out of her damn mind. She was screaming at me like I was her stepchild and would not allow me to speak. I finally just hung up on her. She was completely unreasonable and we were almost there.

Maybe 30 people showed up to the wedding. Wanda hadn’t bothered to provide chairs, so everyone stood around in an awkward circle. Most of the freaks in the wedding party really needed that damn rehearsal, as none of them had, based on their behavior, ever been to a wedding in real life or seen one on TV. Kelly’s simple ass wandered around in a circle and stood behind the best man. Lisa’s baby was tired and screamed hysterically and refused to walk down the aisle. Lisa lost her bouquet in the commotion and had the skirt of her unhemmed dress balled up in her hands so she didn’t trip on it. Wanda was not calmed or comforted by her found rings. The look on her face as she walked down the aisle can only be described as “constipated in a 100-degree room”. She took one look at Lisa hanging on to her dress for dear life and snapped. “Put your dress down, Lisa! You look stupid!” she hissed. Oh, and J.J. and his missing N*SYNC CD didn’t show up to the ceremony and that stinking fool still owes me money for them batteries.

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I thought I could tell this story in two parts, but there is so much more to it that I’m going to have to keep you guys hanging for part three. Some of the best moments occurred during the reception at the VFW and I will never look at lemon cake in the same way again. Stay tuned. . .

Never a bride.

21 Aug

I wish. Source

It all started around 1983. I was probably four and was asked to be the flower girl in my mom’s friend’s second or third wedding. I remember quite a bit, considering that wedding was almost 30 years ago and I slept through a great portion of it. The adult females in the bridal party got to wear these awesome wide-brimmed hats, including the bride. The maid of honor this time around (my mom was the M.O.H. for one of the previous weddings and it’s probably tacky to repeat) was this down-ass white lady who would alternate between pinching me, blowing cigarette smoke in my face, and carrying me around while threatening to throw me in the duck pond. She was awesome and I loved her. I wore a crown of flowers around a high bun with tendrils of spiral curls dangling in my face. I had on all white everything before Jay-Z and Jeezy. My flower basket was filled with silk flowers; I knew that any respectable flower girl was supposed to throw her petals, but alas, mine were glued to the bottom of my wicker basket. L’horreur! Eh, it was the 80s. The idea of walking down the aisle was absolutely terrifying to me, but somehow I made it through. I think the M.O.H. threatening to burn me with her cigarette if I didn’t may have had something to do with it. The ring bearer and I were dating during the rehearsal and wedding. He was an older man, being in kindergarten or first grade, and told me that he’d be forcing me to drink champagne out of the lit up fountain that I thought was filled with Kool-Aid at the reception. He also repeatedly threatened to kiss me. I found his behavior distasteful, but liked that he thought he could break-dance.

Fast-forward a few thousand years and I was being fitted for a sea-foam green, corset-top monstrosity to be paired with mandatory white silk shoes. I hadn’t known the bride for very long, but found her propensity for eye-rolling and shit-talking endearing. I probably should have taken the fact that she had a revolving door of 19 bridesmaids as a warning, but I like to be helpful and like to be wanted even more. I spent exorbitant amounts of cash on a kick-ass surprise bachelorette party and so-so bridal shower and went to the cake tasting with the bride. I wasn’t even an M.O.H. and this chick had like three or four. Two hours before the rehearsal dinner that I would have been on time for I got a call from the bride telling me that the wedding was off and that she was going to kill herself. She was bluffing; last I heard she’s still alive. Oh, but yeah, the wedding was finito. Turns out little miss pink diamonds had been exchanging dirty emails with a police officer from the town where she worked for months and that they’d been doing the Kristen Stewart (focus specifically on the box-licking in the lower left hand corner) in her Mini-Cooper while her husband played WoW. Yes, I realize I typed “husband”. She demanded that the poor sucker marry her in a civil ceremony years before on some Romeo-and-Juliet-defy-thy-family type bullshit but had to have her church wedding complete with green and purple orchids and stupid-ass lopsided cake with Mickey and Minnie toppers. Le sigh. You don’t have to tell me that I was ignoring some nuclear fallout style alarms blaring in my ears; I know. I saw the husband recently and he’s prematurely gray. Didn’t have the heart to ask about her. I figured his hair and twitchy left eye said it all.

The last wedding I was in was perfectly normal and lovely. The bride was chill; we wore season-appropriate neutrals (navy and silver) in dresses and shoes we got to pick ourselves. We ate cupcakes and drank from the open bar and danced with her hilarious aunties to Prince and Michael Jackson. So why am I calling this post “Never a bride”? Aren’t I missing a third wedding incident to recount before I admit that I am either forever doomed or on a mad dash to make four new BFFs who just so happen to be getting married next year? I’m getting to it, I’m getting to it. And for those of you scoffing at my including a stint as a flower girl, technically I have been asked to be a bridesmaid a total of five times; one wedding was called off due to hoeing as I mentioned above. My other two opportunities to roll my eyes behind a tacky bouquet were revoked because for one wedding I was the wrong shade of brown for the groom’s family and I got into a fight with the bride at what used to be the China Club before the other. Both of those bitches got divorced, so there.

In between the vomit-inducing lavender and seaf0am and tasteful navy and silver, there was Wanda’s wedding. Wanda was at least 275-lbs. with a gap in her front teeth that would make Michael Strahan green with envy. She wore wigs so tacky Lil’ Kim would be tempted to pull her aside and beg her for the name of her stylist. She made Wesley Snipes look high yellow. The first time I met Wanda she had on a three-sizes two small, midriff-bearing Versace knock-off t-shirt emblazoned with what I guess was Donatella and Gianni’s step-cousin’s name – VERSAGE – across her enormous chest in iridescent glitter. Wanda was a damn hot-ass mess. If you think I’m awful for focusing on her unfortunate physical appearance, I welcome your prissy, don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover-ass to have several seats and listen to me describe her wretched personality.

Wanda was a pathological liar. She knowingly set up a twenty-year old friend to date a 16 year-old foster care runaway who’s age she continuously lied about because she thought it was funny. Jealous of maybe our friendship or looks or standing in the world – it was never made clear – she told her friends that a female friend and I were lesbian lovers, knowing her friends were a bunch of homophobic douche bags who would shun us every time we took pity on her and made an appearance at one of her awful parties. During one of those parties, a set of her stellar companions high on heroin tried to pressure us into buying Oxycontin by threatening to lock us in the house unless we agreed to at least try it and flew into a rage when we said we didn’t have time for any Afterschool Special shenanigans and to unlock the got-dang door. One month after her wedding, Wanda caused a scene at my birthday party by throwing her wedding rings across a crowded dance floor and screaming at the top of her lungs at her husband, alternating between threatening him with divorce and charging at him like a rabid hippopotamus because he ordered and consumed a drink. I bet you’re wondering why I agreed to be in this heifer’s wedding. Child, so am I.

I agreed out of pity, I guess, and probably curiosity, and because, at that time at least, despite all the reasons not to, I liked Wanda. Her other friends were awful. She needed someone with at least an ounce of class to help her with her wedding. In hindsight, I should have handed her ass a phone book so she could find one. But I was young and a sucker who genuinely cared about other people.

After bragging about buying her wedding gown for $99 at a discount bargain basement, she tried to get the bridal party to shell out $350 on bridesmaid dresses. All of her bridal party, including yours truly, was living at home with our parents. Most of us were still college students. Nobody had that kind of money! We gently talked her down and she chose a hideous Cinderella’s housecoat looking thing in that god-awful color: lavender. It was a couple of hundred bucks less, but needed major alterations. One bridesmaid couldn’t afford the less-expensive gown either, so Wanda generously bought it for her, but told her she was on her own for alterations. Pretty fair, right? Oh, just wait.

Wanda insisted on doing everything herself, from the decorations, to the bouquets, to the invitations. Quiet as it’s kept, Wanda wasn’t particularly talented at doing any of those things. The invitations to her wedding went out full of misspellings and grammar errors. I heard later that the wedding location information provided wasn’t even accurate. A friend who had had the good sense to drop out of the bridal party was still willing to help behind the scenes. She took on making the wedding cake, bride’s bouquet, and sweets Wanda had never tasted but wanted served at the wedding ’cause they looked-ed good in a magazine.

Her family took the reins for the shower, which was successful and actually quite nice. Lord, how I wish they had stepped in and taken over everything else. Supposedly, they tried and Wanda fought them at every step, so they gave up. Wanda claimed she had it all taken care of; she took us to the soul food restaurant that was going to cater the wedding so we could sample stuff in advance. She had a limo driver, a hairdresser, a make-up artist. She also apparently had access to the Hope Diamond; when she showed us the monstrosity on her left hand, it was all we could do to politely smile. The rock was so big it was obviously fake. Fine; personally, I don’t need a big or even real diamond, considering the cost to the environment and of human life (try not to roll your eyes so hard that they get stuck), but I certainly wouldn’t attempt to pass off  a lemon ice flavored Ring Pop as the real thing, either!

Fast forward to the “rehearsal dinner”. The wedding ceremony was never actually “rehearsed” because no one could make the 5:00pm start time she insisted on on a Friday night. Everyone, including the officiant, was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. It was an outdoor wedding and by the time we got to the site, it was pitch black. We all stood around and looked at it and each other. Wanda shrugged and said “It’ll be fine. We’ll practice in the banquet hall.”

The banquet hall was a local VFW who didn’t seem to be expecting Wanda or her wedding at all. There was a bingo game still going on when we walked in. The place reeked of smoke and despair. We did our best with the decorations she’d bought; none of the table cloths fit the tables, but luckily, someone brought a roll of tape. She put us to work, instructing us to sweep the floor and wipe down tables; she sent us on errands driving around the city picking up cans of soda and ice and favors. A few of us muttered “Wouldn’t the caterer handle the beverages, too?” Wanda wanted to be sure there would be enough.

She ordered pizza and we stood around eating it without plates or napkins before she put us back to work. Eventually, we made the place look as good as it was going to and Wanda called it a night. She told us that she’d booked a suite of hotel rooms and that the hairdresser would be meeting us that night to get started on our hair. “But Wanda, it’s already 11:00pm!”, someone cried. “I told you, I got it under control!” Wanda barked.

We were to follow her in our cars to the hotel. After seeing the VFW, we weren’t sure what to expect. We drove for about 20 minutes before Wanda pulled into the parking lot of a Sheraton Hotel. My car, packed to the brim with various bridesmaids, let out a collective cry of joy at Wanda so unexpectedly coming through for us. As I put the car in park, she ran over, frantically waving her arms. “I just wanted to pull over so I could let you all know we have another 30 minutes or so of driving”, she said, her eyes never quite meeting mine. “Everything in the city is booked up. This is the weekend of the annual small business owner association’s meeting. We’re gonna have to get a room in the next town over.”

We eventually ended up at a motor lodge well outside of the city. Wanda had some sort of arrangement with the manager which fell through despite her haggling and we all – all five of us – had to cough up $60 a piece. Yeah, a room with two twin beds at a motor lodge somehow cost $300. We drove through the parking lot to our room and on that short ride witnessed the following: a man stumbling out of his room and vomiting on the sidewalk; three men fighting in another section of the parking lot; a very large man with two very large pit bulls at the end of two very long chains screaming into his cell phone at someone who was going to get “f*cked up” later that night if he had his way. I pulled over so we could unload our luggage from the car and then parked it when we were done. As I made the treacherous walk from the car to our “suite”, I saw one of the bridesmaids, my friend Lisa, sitting on the steps with her toddler who was to be the flower girl asleep in her arms. “What’s up?” I asked, terrified to hear the answer. “Oh, you’ll see. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you” she cryptically replied.

The first thing I noticed was the window. It was wide open, which is strange for a hotel or motel. They usually don’t open at all. “Huh”, I said under my breath. “It doesn’t lock!” yelled one of the girls. “It doesn’t lock? The window doesn’t lock?” I repeated. “Nope!” I hadn’t even stepped foot inside the room yet and I was seriously considering sleeping in my car. Once I got inside, I didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night, but I knew there was no way in hell it would be in that room of evil and filth.

“Oh god, what is that smell?” I yelled as I tried to simultaneously cover my nose. “Oh that? That’s cat pee.” It was Lisa from the steps. That’s why she was out there with her daughter. Wanda had gone to get the manager. It was like being in a haunted house. You know it’s only going to get worse the further you walk in, but you’re compelled to keep going. The room itself was pretty nondescript other than the non-locking window and stench of feline urine. Then I got to the bathroom. The door was barely hanging on by its hinges. There was a hole that looked like it had been caused by someone’s head being repeatedly slammed into it. “My god, where are we?” I whispered.

Eventually, the manager showed up. Wanda angrily told him to take a deep breath. “Yeah, we get a lot of strays around here” he said without the slightest hint of outrage or disgust or irony or any feeling at all, for that matter. “Are you saying they get into the rooms?” one of us asked, incredulous. He shrugged. “How are you gonna make this right? I’m getting married tomorrow!” Wanda shrieked. He pulled out a can of industrial strength air freshener. “I’m all out of rooms and we have a no refund policy.” Wanda was at her wits end. She was the bride; we’d stay with her because we were her bridesmaids, dammit! Whatever she wanted to do was fine with us. A bunch of fools we were.

“Let’s just stay here. I’m stressed out” she mumbled. “Okay, Wanda, whatever you say. Is your hairdresser still showing up tonight?” I asked, trying to get her mind off of the crisis at hand. I hoped she hadn’t noticed that I hadn’t taken off my coat or set down my suitcase. “She’s not coming. She’s a lying bitch. Her and her husband.” Her husband would have been our “limo driver”. “Wh-what? What about our hair and make-up? What are we supposed to do? Wanda, I didn’t bring much with me because I thought it was going to be taken care of!” came the chorus of outrage from all except for weird Kelly, the lone bridesmaid who didn’t see what the big deal was about the room, was tired, and had made herself comfortable on the pissy-ass floor and was fast asleep. Just remembering the sight gives me the chills.

Wanda had brought a home relaxer kit and hot rollers. I had shampoo and conditioner and a blow dryer (see, part of me knew not to trust lyin’-ass Wanda). We made due. None of us had makeup, except for Wanda, and her color palette wasn’t exactly interchangeable with the various complexions in the room. No tea, no shade, just stating facts! Someone asked about the maid of honor who hadn’t shown up to the “rehearsal dinner”. Did she make it to town yet? “Yeah, she’s here. She’s mad ’cause of the room I got her, so she won’t come out and she’s not speaking to me” said Wanda nonchalantly as she greased her scalp. We were speechless.

Wanda also let it slip that a friend of hers, a very musty weirdo named J.J., would be doing the cooking for the reception. “But what about the soul food restaurant catering?” I asked. “Oh they were too expensive. And besides, I just like their macaroni and cheese, so I only ordered a tray of that.” Wanda was sure that J.J. could handle the cooking for about 100 people. He was a great cook! He was one of her best friends and very reliable. He would be bringing the stereo and CD so she could walk down the aisle to N*SYNC’s “This I promise you”. I wish I was kidding. She gave him lots of duties, actually, since she didn’t want him to be an usher in the wedding, as he would have insisted on his horrid girlfriend Betsy being a bridesmaid, but didn’t want him to feel left out. Having smelled J.J. on more than one occasion, I didn’t care if he cooked like he was the reincarnation of Betty Crocker herself: not only was I not going to be sleeping that night, I sure as hell wouldn’t be eating anything at the wedding the next day.

*******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

There’s more to the story, of course, but what kind of blogger would I be if I gave it to you all at once? Yeah, you’re right, probably a really good one. Anyway, stay tuned for the second installment of “Never a bride”. Believe me, the best is yet to come. . .

Fame.

14 Jul

It’s only a matter of time before I end up on “Hoarders”.

I was really hoping that my network television debut would be a feature on “Intervention”, but I can barely get a group of people together to go to Red Lobster on my birthday, so I think it’s pretty unlikely that anyone I know would be willing to sit in a hotel ballroom for a week on my behalf, even if it meant that all of their complaints concerns about me would be recorded, analyzed by professionals, and then aired to millions. Not to mention, I’m sure when the A&E producers got in touch with my parents they’d say something along the lines of “Intervention? Didn’t we already do that for her?” I’d love to be a fly on the wall in my parents’ house for that telephone conversation; my mom and dad holding the cordless phone between them as they shout into the mouthpiece, because that’s how you use the speaker phone feature: for optimum connectivity, one must be over the age of 60 and scream as loudly as possible.

When I tearfully told my parents about the incident that gave this blog its name and me my justification for holding a(nother) passive-aggressive grudge, my dad said “Well honey, now you know what people think of you and what changes you need to make.” Wait, what? “Dad. It was my BIRTHDAY. It wasn’t even my fault that I was late!” I cried. “Think of it as a wake up call, Ambrosia. It’s like when loved ones gather around a troubled person and tell them about themselves in an effort to help them,” he said. “You mean like an intervention?” I grumbled. “Exactly! Except this one was accidental!”

Since I have already been there and done that when it comes to being intervened (that’s right, right?), I figure my big break will come from my inability to use a closet or a washing machine or a shelving system or a garbage can. I used to say that I was too busy being smart and important to clean, but I’ve never been very good at lying. I now realize that I just don’t care. I’m not particularly bothered by the fact that I can’t use my stove because for some reason I’ve decided it’s a great place to store my plastic ware. I don’t mind climbing over mountains of laundry to get in and out of my bedroom. I haven’t batted an eyelash at the half-empty bag of hot dog buns that has been inexplicably sitting in my living room for weeks.

This may mean that I may not make a very good subject for “Hoarders”. Those nut jobs typically care about the fact that their home is overrun with rabbits and copies of Time magazine. They want someone to help them shovel their way out from under their classic Pez dispenser collection. They think they might have had a cat at some point; won’t someone help them find Mittens? And the ones that don’t care are so toothless and/or insane and/or irrecoverably damaged by horrific trauma that they will make for great television because they will scream at the intervenors (that I made up) and the cleaning crew; they will get into fist fights with concerned family members who attempt to throw away their jars of rancid mayonnaise; they will cry hysterically when the room full of headless Barbie dolls is finally emptied. “I was SAVING those! I NEED them!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I can make an argument for holding on to some crap. I’m pretty sure that’s an unfortunate genetic predisposition. But my main problem is simply one of maturity and motivation and good decision making skills. If it’s clean my apartment or write a blog post at 5:07am, you better believe I’m writing a blog post at dawn with my contacts fused to my corneas. If it’s fold/hang the clean laundry and put it away or just shove it into an already full hamper and hide it in the dining room, I’m a shovin’ and a hidin’. I will always take the easy way out. And being a slob is one more step towards doing whatever I can to keep people away even though I am desperately, frighteningly lonely. Let’s all pretend we didn’t read that last part.

I am probably making a better case for my being on “Hoarders” than I anticipated, but that’s okay! It was kind of the point! Being featured on that program kills two birds with one stone: get my apartment cleaned and some much deserved airtime. On a television show about lunatics who live in their own filth. Okay, I may need to rethink this.

Well, since that plan has been derailed, I need a new course of action for gaining celebrity while exuding the least amount of effort. I am a clear candidate for the “Basketball Wives” franchise, as I am a woman of color who has never been married to a basketball player, but that show’s not really my speed, mostly because it involves spending a great deal of time with horrible people. Since I like to think of myself as an intellectual, I think I’m best suited for those CNN specials with titles like “Black People Are Doomed, I Tell Ya, DOOMED!” and hosted by Soledad O’Brien, the ultimate undercover Negress. I’m everything they’re looking for: a black woman without kids, a shining example that there are 30% of us not having children out-of-wedlock; a black woman with multiple degrees, so they can place the blame directly on my bourgeoisie when they talk about the many ways that black women alienate black men; a black woman who is overweight and with natural hair, so they can analyze why we won’t exercise and why we’re not scared of diabetes and why on Earth we’d decide to do that to our hair, ’cause you know it’s just another way that we’re purposefully pushing away the brothers; a black woman with a daddy, ’cause remember, we’re just as rare as a white man’s steak; and finally, my favorite and theirs, a black woman who is unmarried with no prospects.

CNN loves to remind my mother that 45% of black women have never been married, compared to 23% of white women. My being featured on their next “You Will Die Alone, But At Least Your Hair Will Look Good” special will give her such hope. Maybe the segment producer will convince me to take out my nose ring! Maybe Don Lemon will ask me out on a date (I don’t think my mother has any idea)! Maybe the CNN hair stylists will convince me to press my hair! She will ring her hands as she watches me on TV, biting her lower lip and hoping that the camera doesn’t really add 10 pounds. She will have an elaborate fantasy involving the very handsome, brown-skinned yet ethnically ambiguous Comcast repair man who came to fix the cable that one time. He will be watching, make the connection that I am her daughter, and call her up to ask for my phone number. He will be a born-again Christian, and he will like me, and I will relax my hair, and have a church wedding, and give her cinnamon-colored grandchildren, and she will finally be able to forgive CNN for not talking Larry King into staying on the air.

However, there is a critical flaw in any of these methods for gaining free cleaning and organization of my things, or attention, or a husband who works for Comcast, or an opportunity to hear Don Lemon say “Gurl, please!” over cocktails. The flaw being that a camera would be involved and personal questions asked and people interviewed. It wouldn’t be just me revealing my failures and idiosyncrasies in what I hope is a charming and quirky way in a blog. My candy apple head and hound dog eyes would be broadcast into homes across the country. My Hilary Banks-esque voice would be heard in kitchens and living rooms from here to Duluth. It wouldn’t be just me telling self-depreciating yet comical mostly true tales about my life behind the safety of a computer screen. I would be vulnerable. I don’t do vulnerable. Unless it’s completely within my control and of my own making.

My greatest fear is obtaining any sort of success that would make me known outside of my immediate circle. There are those that I’d rather not remind of my existence. The last thing I need is He Who Shall Not Be Named being reminded that he dated me and attempting to look me up for old time’s sake. I already regret that The Person That I Used To Know is aware of this version of me, and he’s someone who I kind of like. Imagine the former teachers, people who went to my elementary school, kids I used to babysit crawling out of the woodwork to offer their unsolicited tales of how they knew me when. I find the whole thing distasteful and terrifying. Even more scary is if nobody cared enough to say a thing, even if it was just to offer their surprise or lack thereof at how chubby I’d become over the years. “She always did like to eat!”

Anyway, flaws and all, I think my “Hoarders” idea is one to hang on to, even if it’s just so I can get someone to come and load the dishwasher. Since I can’t “nominate” myself, here’s the casting link. Hang on to that and be ready to use it if you hear that I’ve been showering at the YMCA. According to the many episodes I’ve seen, that’s one of the warning signs. Pictures are required as part of the application package, so I ask that you just give me ample warning before you come by to take them.

It’ll give me a chance to clean up a little around here.