Recently Married People Like Me

This was the second time a bride has specifically handed me her bouquet after a wedding. It was, however, the first time I’ve ever suffered a personal injury as a result of dancing with the groom.

One of my friends recently commented that I attend more weddings than the average person. I’m not sure if that’s true. I think I just attend an interesting variety of weddings, from traditional Catholic weddings to ceremonies in public parks, to Hindu weddings to weddings of near strangers to weddings of close friends. This was my fifth wedding in about a year and a half. Is that a large average for people in their late twenties? I don’t think so. Lots of babies are being born and people are marrying off. It’s expensive, yes, but what are you gonna do.

I’m starting to realize that my favorite wedding is a Berkeley wedding. Why? Because there’s no way you’ll ever be the most inappropriately dressed one there. And you won’t be the fanciest dressed there. You think your skirt is a touch on the short side? Someone’s wearing a slip. You worry that maybe the colors you are wearing are a touch on the flashy side? The bride’s mother’s in a Kimono. Should you have on a nicer sweater? That guy over there is in jeans and a windbreaker. Everything’s groovy in Berkeley and I like it.

Also: it never stops being cold, no matter when we’re there. Using my What Not To Wear skills, I quickly assessed that the outfit I brought to the wedding wasn’t going to be warm enough to last through the night, and tore through a Gap in fifteen minutes with an outfit assembled that was entirely on sale and caused the clerk to comment on how cute it was. Success.

On a sidenote, my mom called while I was in the dressing room. I told her I was in the middle of trying on clothes during a quick stop to find an appropriate outfit for the wedding. In fact, my shirt was half-over my head. “Well, I won’t keep you long,” was her answer. I finished trying on the outfit with a cell phone attached to my head.

As we were driving to the wedding, my mom called again. I knew this time the news would be bad, indeed. My Uncle Kenny, who used to read this site and who often forwarded spam email that was of questionable taste (but I could imagine him laughing over it and then deciding to send it to me because I like funny things), passed away on Saturday. Because of distance, I never got to know him very well, but he was like a brother to my mom growing up. When I went to Connecticut a few years ago to clean out my grandmother’s house, we spent an evening at his place. You would never have known it was the first time I was there since I was a little girl. I felt very welcomed, and we joked and laughed all night. As I walked into the wedding, I thought about my mom, and wished I could be closer to her, because I know she’s very sad right now.

The wedding was in a backyard, and the ceremony was quite brief. The celebrating, however, went on for the next nine hours.

The friends on the groom’s side have all known each other since grade school (some pre-school), so they already talk in a shorthand, lots of nicknames and hand gestures that represent long stories that don’t need to be rehashed. They will have the same passion arguing over a recent poker game as they will recalling who won a certain Kick the Can game in 1978. I love it.

All of this is to say that when the groom cut in and swept me away for some kind of Swing Dance, according to the group of friends I should have already known that dancing with the groom was a dangerous affair. But since I don’t know everything my boyfriend knows through some kind of osmosis, I wasn’t prepared. When the groom dipped me, I did what most girls do after an extended, deep dip. I flipped back up. But the groom was apparently leaning forward, in mid-laugh or some kind of pose, perhaps for a photographer. The underside of my chin slammed into the upperside of his teeth. I got bit. I spent the rest of the song asking anybody nearby, “Am I bleeding?” The groom said he’d never had a girl ask that question after dancing with him before. His friends, however, begged to differ.

Being single at a wedding where you are, essentially, a plus one, is a tricky thing. Although I am friends with the bride, I may very well be her newest friend in the world. Some of the women at the wedding had flown in from New York, Jackson Hole, Atlanta, Tuscon. I wasn’t about to be the “some girl” who caught the bouquet. But because I’m single there’s this law where married women have to point at you and screech, “YOU AREN’T MARRIED! GET UP THERE!”

Then the single girls are slowly dragged out into a group, like the last picked for the dodge ball game, and forced to try to catch a bundle of flowers that says, “You’re going to marry someone soon. Hope you like him.”

I eased to the side, mostly because these women from out of town were getting a bit vicious about catching the bouquet, discussing strategy, pulling rank, giving the stink-eye to little kids and unidentifiable girls like me.

The bouquet was tossed, high and long, off the balcony. It landed in a bachelor’s arms. A woman jumped out of the crowd and threw herself at him, pawing the flowers out of his hand.

A do-over was declared.

The flowers flew up again, this time landing at the feet of one woman who quietly looked down at them. She was one of the women dragged into the circle, determined not to join in, but to stand there in order to make the bride happy. One of the fiercer single girls kicked her and lunged to the ground to snatch up the roses. She held them high in the air and yawlped her victory cry. Other girls took her picture, trying not to show their disappointment.

I have caught the bouquet once, years ago. I was handed the bouquet at Allison’s wedding. This time, I felt it was someone else’s turn.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” the bride asked as soon as I saw her again. “You ruined everything! We’ve been planning this for months. You were supposed to get the bouquet.”

The “we” was the bride and groom. How was I to know that?

“You’re such a pussy,” the groom said to me. “You were supposed to catch that shit. We had it all planned out!”

Had they taken it to a witch doctor who gave it a wedding chant? How much planning could to into, “Let’s give it to Pam”?

“I’m going to give you my bouquet. The one I carried. Because you were supposed to catch it. I had people up there telling me where you were standing.”

In my defense, it went nowhere near me both times. In their defense, I purposefully angled myself underneath a paper lantern so that the women wouldn’t slam an elbow into my eye. My chin was already bruised and a little swollen.

So as we were leaving, the bride and groom scampered off to fetch her bouquet, asking me to stall on our way out. I played a tiny game of “I Can’t Find Your Jacket/Do You Have Your Cell Phone In This Pocket Or This One?” until they returned. They hid the bouquet in my things, and we said our goodbyes.

He saw it when we got back to the car, just after asking me what exactly an “honest woman” is.

“Did you steal that? ”

“They gave it to me.”

“Huh.”

“I think people like us.”

“I guess so.”

“It’s pretty, isn’t it?”

“It is.”

“…”

“…”

And then in the dark of the front seat of the car, we said very nice things to each other. They were things we already knew, and things we have said to each other before, but somehow they always sound more important when you’re dressed up, when you’re holding a bundle of someone else’s flowers, when the sounds of cheering and another ABBA song are still floating through the neighborhood. Everything feels so promising; the future seems so perfect.

And then he asked those four perfect little words.

“Wanna stop for tacos?”

Our newest round of Cool Kids

From Caitlin:[readermail]
After months of meaning to, I’ve finally whipped out the credit card to send some books to Oakland.

Can I be a cool kid, can I, can I, please?

I’m feeling marginally less completely broke than usual, so now’s a good time. After perusing the wish lists, the Montclair branch is getting a coupla things: Dairy-Free Cookbook, Fully Revised 2nd Edition : Over 250 Recipes for People with Lactose Intolerance or Milk Allergy (trips nicely off the tongue, doesn’t it…) because I’m mostly dairy-free, and cookbooks are cool. Also- A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance because anyone who writes a personal ad saying “Before my 67th birthday next March, I’d like to have a lot of sex with a man I like”, then writes a book about the results, is ok by me!

Anyway, there’s 2 more for the running total.
[/readermail]

From Meeta:

[readermail]Hi Pam,

After weeks of grumbling about lack of envelopes and nearby post offices, I finally sent along my donation to the Lakeview Branch. The first three Princess Diaries books (1, 2, 3) were on their wish list and are apparently requested a lot there since they don’t have that many copies. Since people in the Gilmore Girls forums have been recommending these books, I decided I would read them before I sent them out. They were cute, very light books, and of course I was done with them in three days, but it has taken me a very long time to actually procure the right-sized padded envelope and send them along to their new home.

You might remember my earlier message about the library situation here in Pennsylvania. You were kind enough to post something about it on your site. Toward the end of July, I received this message from a representative at the Free Library of Philadelphia. I thought you might be interested.

Dear Meeta,

Thank you for your feedback as well as the link on [pamie.com]! I have passed your first email onto our collections department and others here at the Library. But needless to say, without full funding from our state we will still be in dire straits. So, as I mentioned before, with your support and hopefully the support of others, by writing letters or calling their legislators we may be able to convince the legislators to restore funding to all Libraries in PA. Thank you for your help during this budget crisis. I hope to get to meet you during one of our program events that take place throughout the year.

Thanks again,
Betty Fox

PS: I loved the site and will forward it onto my friends and family!

So not only have your good ideas for struggling libraries been passed on to another area of the country, but you probably have new fans in the form of Ms. Fox and her friends![/readermail]

From Stephanie, who was dreaming when she wrote this, forgive her if it goes astray:

[readermail]Pam,

I hope you are happy now. I think it’s great that you’ve written a book and gotten it published. Really. But you’ve gone way too far. I bought your book and started reading it right away. Y’know how the new book always looks better than the older, staler books? So it started out okay. Until I got hooked on the damned thing and it started cutting dramatically into my sleep. Sure, sure big deal you say, but there are people who suffered because I couldn’t put your book down. Suffered! Defenseless co-workers and dear friends who have already put up with all sorts of shit from me for years had to put up with me. Trust me, I am not the sort of person who you want to meet when I am sleep-deprived. So I just wanted you to know that I resent you and your well-written hooky little book. If you are lucky I’ll get some sleep this weekend and all will be forgiven.

On a more supportive note, I am sending some books to the Oakland Public Library. I spent many an unemployed day skulking around their stacks. I was going to send your book, but they seem to have a bunch. So I will just send your book to some friends who are too good to go to the library. Instead I am supporting another web journaller, Fred Anderson and sending a few copies of his book, From Chunk to Hunk to Oakland. Oakland has some great places to eat like Lois the Pie Queen, Doug’s Barbeque and Fenton’s Creamery. It’s only fair to give the good people of Oakland some no-BS support with Fred’s great story, because we all need a little help and the occasional kick in the ass from time to time.[/readermail]

Shannon wants to be a cool kid, too:

[readermail]Hi Pamie-

Please, please, may I be a cool kid?

Low on funds (read: credit cards are reaching astronomical highs) I raided my own bookshelf for the OPL. They’re getting about 5 various Calvin and Hobbes, 2 “Blue Mondays” graphic novels by Chynna Clugston-Major, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton, a couple Taste of Home cookbooks,an “Ice Age” DVD …. I didn’t count them all, I just hope they are enjoyed.[/readermail]

And with Shannon’s generous donations, we’ve hit over 600! Huzzah!

And as always, our letter from a librarian:

[readermail]Pamie:

I had another donation of two books from Sahira Khwaja in London, England! She noted that she was a reader from pamie.com.

I have become one of the readers of pamie.com, myself. I especially enjoyed the story of your Mars adventure. I have included your book on my Amazon.com wish list. I hope someone buys it for us.

Good luck with your career.

Vicki Selander
Castle Rock Public Library (OpenWebMail)
Castle Rock, Washington[/readermail]

Rick corrects the last entry, where I bragged about a twelve-inch lens:

<nerd alert> It was far more likely a twelve inch mirror. The bigger scopes use mirrors for the primary and secondary elements, and only use lenses for the eyepiece (ocular). Telescopes made completely of lenses (refractors) have some advantages, but size and cost are not among them, so once you get past a pretty small size, they’re almost always mirrors (reflectors). </nerd alert>

Grace Woman loves WGAW

How would I know that Allison would update twice in one week? That has never happened… ever. So here’s where she told the Griddle Cafe All-Time Celebrity Spotting story.

Wow, it’s fun to read your friends in print. This month’s Bust has Wendy and Erin as contributors. I’m as jealous as I am proud.

Chris describes the recent signing in Torrance. When I returned the money to Byron, I commented to stee that I saw he was updating a LiveJournal. “Do you think they’re here for you?” he asked. “Of course not. Nobody’s here for me,” I replied. But luckily, I was wrong.

Currently Reading

Finished

  • Word Freak. I was really impressed with how by the end of the book I had learned enough of the vernacular that I could follow tournament games and actually envision the board as the tiles were played. However, the question of “what’s the point” that the book ultimately asks does make the entire thing rather depressing. And like I said before, it reminded me of the year I spent surrounded in chess books, watching someone study old Karpov games. For what? I do not know.

And also

  • Lucky Girls: Stories, by Nell Freudenberger. I really enjoyed this short story collection, which mostly examines the differences in Western and Eastern cultures, and how we relate to one another.

Please donate a book to Oakland

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