“I just want one of those damn entries out there to just be called ‘Chris and Allison’s Wedding.’ Is that so hard? Can’t it just say that and then talk about how pretty the wedding was?”
I would have done that anyway, even if the bride hadn’t specifically requested it, because the wedding was perfect. I cannot wait for the pictures. For the first time ever, I can’t wait to look through someone’s wedding pictures — a wedding I attended, even.
So, I’ve said that it was perfect. Now I’ll have to tell the self-centered story that these journal entries dictate. Sorry, Allison. You were the queen of winter, but I’m the princess of pamie.com, so I have to do what I have to do.
I spent the entire day recapping the show that feels like I’m writing into a void: Boomtown. Don’t even tell me you’re reading the recaps, because I know you aren’t. Honestly, I got more email and forum activity over Popstars 2. I packed two suitcases with nine different outfits, as this wedding had a few “events” and I wasn’t sure what the proper attire was for any of them other than the one where my costume was already chosen for me. But everything got packed, cleaned, folded, pressed and purchased. AB and I had figured out the perfect wedding present — cell phones. Now, this was AB’s perfect idea (I’m not trying to steal credit), but we were still hesitant since:
- Chris has never lived in this century and has never owned a cell phone. We didn’t know if one would “take.”
- Allison had one and somehow broke it by yanking the antenna off, making us believe that perhaps she doesn’t know how to use one.
- Some people don’t like getting one-year contracts with their presents. “Happy Wedding. For sixty bucks a month, all of this is yours!”
- Cell phones can be a personal thing. What if the company we went with didn’t have good coverage in their area?
We decided to buy them once we got to Atlanta. AB had already picked out the place and everything. It was good to go. Yay, us. We’re good bridesmaids.
The entire day was spent getting to Atlanta.
While I was waiting in line for security, my cell phone rang.
Hey! We’re at the airport.
You’re at the airport right now? That’s so exciting.
What’s this thirty-six degrees thing? Do they mean Celsius?
I get it. LA is hot. You’re funny.
I mean, is it snowing?
You’ll be okay. You can borrow a coat.
Only if it’s Chris’ seven dollar jacket.
Guess where I’m calling from?
My cell phone.
My new cell phone! Yay!
That you got for the weekend?
That I got for forever. Me and Chris got cell phones! We made it to this century! Yay!
Does AB know about this?
Why? What’s wrong? No, I just called you. I’m standing out in front of the cell phone store, in fact.
If they had only waited one more day.
It’s not the shortest flight, but at least we were direct. We got moved from the very last row in the middle (the seats that didn’t recline) to the emergency row with lots of lovely leg room. I skipped The Crocodile Hunter to work on a pitch I had for a meeting on Monday. Listened to CD’s. Read half of a book that I couldn’t stand, but I hadn’t brought another book, assuming I’d just love this one. At 800 pages, I didn’t think I’d need another. After one hour in the air, I realized I’d made a tragic mistake.
The flight landed without a problem, and if you know anything about me, or my history of travel, you know this can’t be a good sign. I’ve never flown without the flight being late, cancelled, stranded, on fire, my seat messed up, the flight full of screaming children or my luggage getting lost. Something always happens every time I try to fly, and I don’t know why I can’t just get from point A to point B.
It seems that our luggage was lost. And by “our” I mean the entire plane. We stood in a group, looking like a pound of puppies, wondering why our things weren’t dropping from any chutes, why our flight wasn’t listed on any sign or screen, and why nobody seemed to care.
Here’s my impression of any service industry person that works in Atlanta: eyes half closed, a stare that goes through you and out past the wall on the other side of the room, a smirk on the left side of the lip caused from sucking on his or her own face as she leans her head back and barely says, “Whaaaaat?”
And it makes me become Ultra Nice Customer, overeager and beaming, face aching from smiling so hard, just wanting that person to know that I just want a little service, no trouble, no trouble at all. It’s like approaching a wild animal. I ask, “Do you know what happened to the luggage on Flight 166?”
“We’re RE-searchin’,” she said to the building a mile behind me.
The night before I had a dream that they lost the luggage that held my bridesmaid dress. I hadn’t dreamed that they’d lose both suitcases, leaving me naked and abandoned.
Then they just started lying to us, saying it was at carousel 7, when it wasn’t. It just wasn’t. We could all see nothing falling from the chute, but they insisted that luggage was there. Finally someone shouted to us that our luggage was on the other side of the building. We all ran over and waited.
I imagine this is what it feels to pick your kid up from school, to wait at the bus stop on the corner and see your child walk off the bus with a black eye and a swollen lip. My suitcase dropped — shredded. The entire top corner had been ripped open. A red sweater poured out of the top. I had visions of walking down the aisle barefoot, my hair in limp strands.
I carried the case to the Delta (remember: Delta. Never fly Delta.) complaint counter. I opened the case and found that nothing had fallen out, since my red sweater played superhero. My options were simple: carry around a ripped-up half-a-suitcase all weekend or take their door prize — a crappy $20 version of my Samsonite suitcase (a suitcase that was my father’s, but there’s nothing that would pull on a Delta heartstring, people). Apparently I can get Fed Ex to pick up this case and some suitcase place will replace this thing in seven to ten days. Good thing I’m not flying to Houston on Friday. Oh, wait. I am.
So it was with a heavily package-taped suitcase that we reunited with Allison and Chris thirty minutes later. AB’s flight was an hour and a half late, so I had a much-deserved beer and caught up with the bride and groom, who informed me that our hotel room was “retro.”
AB and Master V arrived, more bridesmaids were met at the airport and soon we were all driving back to Buckhead, AB in V’s lap, suitcases teetering over our heads. It was so good to see everybody again and the excitement for the weekend was quickly erasing any hassles Delta might have caused any of us.
If you live in Atlanta, perhaps you’ll have a good time checking out this “Historic” Downtown Days Inn across from the Fox Theater. Make sure you bring your prostitute with you, because those girls are way too classy to show up there on your own. Now, poor Allison was beating herself up about this place all weekend, but this isn’t her fault. The lobby had cookies. Cookies! How bad could it be if the big lobby had pretty cookies and couches and free coffee. They gave us gift bags when we checked in!
The first clue was the elevator sign: “Ice — Floors 6 and 8. Drinks: 2 and 4.”
The next was the single bulb hanging from the ceiling of our room, a room that looked like every place Britney and company inhabited in Crossroads. We laughed and laughed and laughed until I fell onto the bed in convulsions. “Get up! Get up!” AB screamed. “Don’t put your face near that blanket! What’s wrong with you?”
We decided to brave it for the night and move the next day. We didn’t unpack anything, not because we didn’t want to, but rather there was no room at all to put anything. The closet was filled with phone books and a safe. If you sat on the toilet in the bathroom, your knees were under the sink. There was no room to do anything. So, we went out to enjoy some good ol’ Atlanta nightlife.
We went bowling, which is the perfect place to meet people. It’s a no-pressure party, as you’re technically supposed to hang out in your own group, there’s something to stare at in front of you, there are pitchers of beer, and there’s friendly competition. A good time was had by all, even though Atlanta doesn’t like bowling after midnight.
Then there was another bar with darts and pool and a jukebox that took my money. More people met, friends made. When we got back to our hotel room, we were starving and nothing delivered. We ransacked the vending machine, opted not to travel between floors 4 and 6 for ice, and lived off Andy Capp Hot Fries and Doritos, laughing our asses off at the absurdity of our freezing hotel room. Did I mention the mother of the bride was staying in one of the rooms? The word “flophouse” was tossed about a bit in describing the place.
In the cruel light of day, the flophouse wasn’t as funny. When the measly coffee machine broke halfway through making a pot of decaf, it was damn unfunny. We opted to not even shower, as opening the suitcases made for a fire hazard, and attempting to shower in a room where the towels had actual bloodstains creeped us all out too much. That and the water was so cloudy it looked like salt water. We took a cab to the next place.
Let me tell you something about my friend Allison: she’s cool as a cucumber. Not cool like when Sars got her bag stolen and she just walked around looking for it and then went on with her life. Al’s cool in that Southern way: arms out in front of her, fingers outstretched, face turned to one side as her eyes close and she inhales and says, “God’s will.” You just watch it roll off her.
But not on this Friday, the thirteenth. My friends, Allison was tested on this day.
AB and I were ready in time for our bridesmaid luncheon, where I saw Allison lose her cool for the very first time. She saw one of her bridesmaids, and this bridesmaid is pregnant, and I think the reality and the stress hit her, and we all gathered around her and cooed while she cried for a well-deserved while.
I sat at a table with the bride, the bride’s mother, the bride’s grandmother and the groom’s mother. Yes, AB and I were the Patsy and Edina of the wedding party, complete with smudgy makeup, funky hair and the tendency to say the wrong thing just a little too loudly.
Case in point:
Would you like some tea?
Actually, do you have cranberry juice?
Squinty-eyed judgement-filled look from Allison, with a lowering of the head to give a small shake back and forth
Her tunie broke last week.
I’m better now. Antibiotics. Fine.
(I thought speaking in partial sentences would confuse the mothers, and maybe they wouldn’t know what I was talking about, and wouldn’t think I was some kind of diry girl.)
Then why the juice?
I’m a little dehydrated. And I’ve been travelling. You know, I’ve found that dehydration symptoms are very similar.
Good to know.
I worry about you, Pa-am.
Two mothers lower their heads in sympathetic shame and pity. I realize I’ll never have a real conversation with Chris’ mother ever.
This place is really unique.
It certainly is.
I watched AB eat her most hated of all things: eggs. Proving she wasn’t a real egg-hater, Allison consumed an entire quiche. I think that she actually hated it too, but after this conversation:
Quiche? I thought we were having chicken salads.ALLISON
(quietly, head turned towards her, trying to end the conversation with each syllable)
But we ordered the salads, I thought.
Didn’t we order the salads?
At one time.
You changed it?
Later, I did. Yes, Mother.
Because I thought we were having the salads, not the quiche.
We’re having quiche, Mother. It’s right in front of you.
Well, it’s delicious, but I just thought we were having chicken salad. But I guess you went ahead and changed the order after we had picked out the menu, and you changed it from the chicken salads that we had ordered, and you changed it to this quiche that we are sitting in front of right now.
That would be what happened.
Pam’s tunie’s broken.
So, I think Allison ate eggs like Cool Hand Luke just to prove Bridal Power.
After the lunch we drank a little champagne while Allison opened her bridal gifts. Then we ordered the boys into action and everybody got ready for the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner.
It was when they rehearsed Allison’s brother giving away her hand in marriage and I watched Allison’s face (I’m a groomsman, remember? I could see her face the entire time), and I saw everything that had come up to this point reflected in the way her forehead tensed up just slightly and the tears came to her eyes — I just lost it. They turned her to face Chris and she lost it, too. Crying at the rehearsal does not bode well for how things are going to turn out the next day, I guess, so everybody commented on the ample Kleenex supply that would be provided.
The rehearsal dinner was some of the heaviest, butteriest, greasiest, down and dirtiest, most wonderful Southern cooking I think I’ve ever had. Fried chicken! Chicken fried steak! Mashed potatoes! Turkey! Fried Green Tomatoes! Banana bread pudding! Starch coma!
There were toasts and speeches. The table full of LA people at one point were all on our cell phones, checking messages from our agents and managers. My Monday pitch meeting was cancelled. An actress dropped out of my show. Back at home, things were still going on, and we were on the other side of the country, surrounded in the soft sing-song of Southern lady voices.
We rolled ourselves out of there.
At one point I had to explain to someone who everyone in the room was attending this bachelor party/bachelorette party that involved much beer, pool, and AB spilling a White Russian on green felt. It was an impressive group of people that by any other definition shouldn’t really get along, but were all having a kick-ass time. Everyone was very funny and charming and let bygones be the bygones that they were, and Chris never paid for a drink and AB gave every single person there the low-down and the what-for.
She tried to close the evening with a back-handspring off the hotel bed. She was stopped when Master V got her to picture what she’d look like going down the aisle on crutches.
Let me say right here that it was a complete honor to be a groomsmaid. Yes, I made that word up, but I wasn’t exactly just with the groom and I wasn’t just with the bride. Some of you who have been reading here for a long time know that Chris and Allison met on these very pages, so this is like a real life “Squishy Wedding,” for those of you who did the fake ones. I love both of these people so much that I was happy to have the chance to help both of them out on this important day.
9:00 am. Shower. Make a pot of coffee for my sleepy roommates, who passed out only a couple of hours ago. Reserve nail appointment.
9:20 am. Visit the bride. Chat with maid of honor, mother-of-the-bride and bride about the day, the rehearsal, wedding things.
10:20 am. Nails. I take Allison’s cell phone and play Secretary, fielding the important calls like: “The caterer will be there at 4:30.” “I’m off to buy some candles.” “I’m the hair and makeup woman, and I’ll be there at 2:30.” “The hair and makeup lady will be there at 2:30. I’m just about ready to go buy some candles. Let me tell you why I have to go out and buy candles.” “Someone has to pick up the gift bags from the Days Sinn.” and “I’ve bought candles. They’re great.”
At one point I had to have my manicurist answer the cell phone for me. Yes, I’m that LA.
11:20 am: Off to buy snacks for the bridal room, even though we know those women aren’t going to eat a bite. Help the bride buy a gift for the groom and a card from the dog.
1:00 pm: Picked up by the best man to check into the honeymoon suite. Jaywalk across downtown Atlanta from concierge to concierge finding florist. Find one and buy a dozen roses from a florist who was already closed. Ask her to just snip the buds off the stems, as I’m just going to toss the petals all over the room. Check into honeymoon suite, hide lingerie in side drawer (turning Bible face-down). Champagne in fridge. Petals from hallway to bed. Good to go.
2:30 pm: Groomsman just getting into shower throwing everything into chaos. Groom must be at church in forty-five minutes.
3:00 pm: Best man and groom zoom off to church, leaving me with lazy groomsman.
3:15 pm: I get back to my hotel room and grab my dress, makeup, hair supply (good band), two pairs of shoes and a backpack. Scarf two pieces of pizza.
3:30 pm: Arrive at church. Drop my things off.
3:45 pm: Deliver groom’s gift to bride. The groom has perfect taste in gifts. The girls are crying. Makeup lady is trying to fix bride’s face.
4:00 pm: Get snacks for bride room out of the back of the car. Go back to get groom’s gift.
4:05 pm: Grandma Outlaw asks me, “Aren’t you in this wedding, honey? Shouldn’t you be getting ready?”
4:15 pm: Deliver groom’s gift. He opens it in his underwear and a pair of socks. Not the same reaction. Fewer tears.
4:30 pm: AB does my hair. I do my makeup and put on dress. Hey, hey.
4:45 pm: People are impressed at the transformation so quickly. I went from sweaty page to pretty girlie in just a few minutes. Allison has really good taste. Every girl in there looks so beautiful. She picked out very flattering bridesmaid outfits. That and they’ve got a group of good-looking friends.
5:00 pm: Freezing outside taking pictures with the groom. More photographs inside. The photogrpaher finds the idea of the groomsmaid to be more than amusing. Several photographs are taken of me as if I’m Roxie Hart and these are my boys and soon I’m gonna bust out with “All That Jazz.”
5:15 pm: Pictures with the bridal party. Our flowers are so pretty. We look like we’re from the past.
5:30 pm: Sitting in the coldest room I’ve ever been in, the groom room. It’s literally an abandoned classroom with tiny desks and the ever-present muted television in the background playing “The Game.” It’s quiet, and tense.
5:45 pm: The groom is led away. I do a last-minute fix of his hair, as other groomsmen have no idea he needs such a thing.
5:48 pm: The bridal parlor is much warmer, and filled with anxious women. At once we all feel like we’ve caught a stomach flu. We listen to the chorus singing as the mothers are being seated, and let it calm us down.
6:00 pm: Showtime. AB and I whisper a tearful, “I love you,” to each other before we walk down the aisle.
I’ve been to weddings where there was an obvious agenda. There are uncomfortable bridesmaids, or a groomsman did something inappropriate to someone in attendance. There’s someone in the audience that might jump up at any time and cause a fight. There are angry parents, or someone’s ill and this entire thing is to please someone who’s not getting married. In this case it was just friends and family gathered to watch two people get married. It was love and union in its purest form, and it was breathtaking.
I don’t think anyone could tell you what Allison looked like as she walked down the aisle on her brother’s arm because every person in that building was crying. The blast of the organ, the beautiful sounds of the choir, just the energy of the room made everything so emotional.
Luckily the choir was there to divert our attentions, to give us time to calm down and collect ourselves between each moment.
It was over so quickly. It all happened so fast. I wanted to stay in that room longer, to look at everybody and enjoy that moment for a few more minutes. It was such a beautiful thing to watch.
It was all just so classy. Even the children sat motionless, understanding the awesome moment that was happening, somehow able to realize that this time, this place was about these two people standing in the center of the room. Not even the groom could escape feeling that emotion.
And I’m not a religious person, but you could feel something powerful watching us, blessing us, crying above us in joy. There were many fathers in attendance up there, and you could tell they were all very proud.
The reception was cold, but the food was perfect and the speeches were wonderful and people had a great time. The booze started to loosen everyone up and since nobody can resist dancing to “Love Shack,” there was even a little bit of boogying. I may have done the bump with the mother of the bride. Even the kids started breakdancing.
I was trying to figure out how to hold two lit sparklers in my hand while holding a plastic cup of red wine when Allison was suddenly right in front of me. She was supposed to be running to her getaway car, so for a minute I was confused. It was dark and I was holding fire too close to alcohol and I had just said goodbye to them so I really couldn’t understand what was going on for a second. My sparklers were replaced with something firm and silky in the palm of my hand. Allison’s hands went over mine as she said, “Here.”
I was holding a bouquet. She looked at me and gave a quick nod, hitched her dress in her hands and ran away. I was speechless.
“She didn’t throw it!” someone said.
“She gave it to Pam.”
“Was that a blessing?” someone asked.
I answered: “I think it was an order.”
My only advice on the after-party: don’t let people party at your house when you aren’t home. You end up with fifty Post-it notes on your dresser and your downstairs neighbors think you’re best friends with Jane’s Addiction. Don’t let all of the leftover booze go to that place where twenty unchaperoned people are finally letting their guard down. And perhaps, even though it costs more, it should be at a bar, where there’s a last call and someone in charge of saying when it’s time to go home.
I pulled my sad-ass tattered suitcase into Allison and Chris’ apartment. They had stopped by on their way to their honeymoon and ended up staying the entire afternoon catching up with the lingering 24-hour party people. It was nice to see them away from the wedding pressure, but I felt bad that they were so late getting on the road to their mini-honeymoon.
I love those two people so much that it aches how far away they live. I’m so glad that they have each other, and I’m thrilled that they asked me to be a part of this celebration. It was certainly one of the best weddings I’d ever attended, and I wish we had the excuse to get together like that more often. I suppose that’s one of the reasons she shoved that bundle of roses into my hand like that. We don’t want the party to end.
And yes my ride home was horrible with my seran-wrapped suitcase. And yes, I still can’t quite feel my toes from the hypothermia I suffered from being barefoot in that weather. But you know who rode my plane back to Los Angeles? The Blowfish, minus Hootie. If that’s not a blessing for their alt-country love, I don’t know what is.
Congratulations, y’all. The world believes in you.
Allison and Chris
December 14th, 2002