At 9:50 a.m. on Friday, I park my convertible in front of a Ramada Inn on Route 1 in North Brunswick, where the water is ankle-deep and my ankles are perched atop water-resistant Italian summer scuffs, rendering my toes submarine. My clothes dangle precariously from hangers, wrapped together in plastic. The day’s itinerary dictates that I dry off and slap on some makeup, pull on my Miss Sasha-approved Mother Of the Bridewear and smile pretty in ten minutes’ time. I’m not worried. Members of my family are involved. You know how time is all relative? Get a load of mine: we meet in this hotel because every last member of the bride’s tribe uttered the same horrified exclamation.
Greek Chorus: Take pictures at my house? What kind of crack are you smoking?!
We’re insecure. My twelve-year-old niece Lois opens the door. Two days ago, she found herself in the path of Miss Sasha’s rampaging future mother-in-law. Lois appears unscathed. Lois always appears unscathed. She has the magical power to sit through the antics of her batty relatives with a patient smile on her face. She’s a beautiful girl. Her face may be frozen that way. Standing behind Lois is my thirteen-year-old half-sister Dara. They live 350 miles apart, have nothing in common and are two peas in one pod. Just beyond scurry my mother, Miss Sasha, the wedding planner, two cousins, the photographer and a cousin of the groom. The noise is deafening. Bob Barker pontificates on a television around a corner somewhere. I park my ovenight bag of makeup on the floor in front of a window. More than ten minutes pass before Miss Sasha notices I’m applying foundation with a spackle knife. The girls have returned from the hair salon on a rainy day with goo tacking up and down every last hair on all six heads; their hairstyles are a marvel of modern architecture. They’re wearing sweats and every surface in this suite is covered with girlie debris. The Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm) arrives and dresses in the twinkle of an eye.
Tata: So, what kind of mood is Daddy in?
Dara: Oh, he’s in a mood, all right.
Mom: What? What’s going on here?
Tata: Daddy’s been in a mood since last week. Or last month. Or last year…
Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm): …possibly since you’ve known him?
Tata: How was the ride up?
Dara: Well, he complained a lot, so I put on my headphones, and Darla was listening to a book on tape and he was still complaining.
Mom: What was he complaining about?
Tata: Dara’s missing finals. I told him odds were terrible she was paying attention anyway.
Mom: Nobody was listening and he complained anyway for six hours?
Tata: Didja tell him to zip it?
The Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm) and I are seated on a couch in the living room giggling when the photographer issues a signal only members of the bridal party hear. Suddenly, the girls are statuesque beauties in an improbable and dignified combination of navy and rayon. My mother bursts into tears when Miss Sasha zips her wedding dress. Everyone turns to see if I’m sobbing.
Tata: Um…nice togs?
Mom: You really were…raised by wolves…
I shrug. Miss Sasha is truly beautiful in an oversized t-shirt and jeans and though this wedding dress is very Audrey Hepburn it’s still a human sacrifice suit and I’m put off. The photographer peels up layers of girlie debris, rearranges furniture and makes a calm spot near a window. A carefully placed curtain hides the dumpster in the parking lot, below. I feel classier already.
Pictures of Miss Sasha with her dad. Pictures of Miss Sasha with me. Pictures of Miss Sasha applying lipstick. Pictures of Miss Sasha with earrings she’s not wearing. Pictures of Miss Sasha at the window. Pictures of Miss Sasha with the Maid of Honor. Pictures of Miss Sasha with her bridesmaids. I’ve been sitting on this couch for forty minutes when I finally notice my presence here is optional.
Tata: Can I go the hell home?
Photographer: You can go the hell home!
General Outcry: How’s she get to leave?
Tata: You have all mistaken me for a nice person, and after this educational moment, you’ll never make that mistake again. Adios!
I change out of my Mother Of the Bridewear and make a break for it. They’re all younger and quick, but I am wily and out the door before they catch me. It’s just before 11:30. I make lunch, send emails and set up the VCR. Erica Kane’s getting married again, you know, and a girl’s got to have her priorities.