Thursday, April 15, 2010

Target Practice

A friend of mine is getting married in a few weeks, and I'm desperately hoping against hope that she won't expect me to get out there with the other single women for the bouquet toss. Since I would likely be the most superannuated gal in the bunch, it wouldn't be fair to all the younger girls for whom it bears greater significance, and since I turn forty-one the week before, I'm just a little long in the tooth for it. Seriously, I've caught bridal bouquets more than once, and also on more than one occasion when my-friend-the-bride was deliberately aiming for yours truly, the resident spinster.

That's resulted in my being hit in the head with the bridal bouquet about four times. The worst one had irises in it that left streaks of pollen down my face, and the other girls were so angry that I'd caught it that they didn't tell me. A kindly older lady among the guests walked up with a Kleenex and said, gently, "Honey, I think you've got a little something on your face. Let me get that for you." It wasn't as if I pushed anyone out of the way- the thing literally beaned me on the top of the head and ricocheted into my hands- but that didn't mitigate the ill-will.

At one wedding back home the summer that I turned twenty, I was so drunk by the time the bride threw her bouquet that somebody had to prop me up during the toss. I was there with the groom's guests, so she didn't even know me; I managed some pleasantries until they could take our picture together. All I remember beyond that was our former vice principal sitting across the table giggling at me while I got even more drunk. My mother was horrified, and come to think of it, in retrospect, so am I. Ah, youth.

In grad school, a couple of my friends married one another in a modest formal ceremony at the Opryland Grand Hotel. That's the only time I was ever shoved out of the way by someone who was desperate to catch the bouquet- the bride's cousin literally tackled me to get to it. I'd heard stories of that happening, but I had never witnessed it in person. I was more than a little angry as I pulled myself up off the parquet floor of the reception hall...and I can honestly say that there is nothing in the world for which I'm willing to behave that way.

The last bouquet that I caught, once again because I couldn't really avoid it, was at my cousin Laura's wedding at Belle Meade Plantation down near Nashville. Laura was the other "brainy big-girl spinster" in our family, so she's always had an affinity for me in that regard. Because she knew I was unhappily single in the recent wake of a cheating fiance', she took it upon herself to cheer me up by deliberately aiming for me with her flowers. Yet again, I got hit in the head with the bouquet. It's been about eight years ago now; I confess that it was well-intentioned, but the whole "next to marry" superstition is a total bust.

I've been to a few weddings since then, including my cousin Molly's just a couple of years ago. I dutifully lined up with the other single women, albeit all the way at the back with a couple of divorcee' cousins who also felt obligated, and smiled for the birdie as a young, recently-engaged bridesmaid caught the bouquet. I felt really silly, but family duty demanded that I do it.

The wedding next month is at a marina near our hometown. If my friend insists, I suppose I'll roll out with the rest of 'em, but by gum, if that bouquet heads in my general direction, I think I'll jump in the lake before I let it hit me.

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