Archive for July, 2008

The Peanut Story That Makes Every Member of My Family Cry at Its Retelling

July 23, 2008

Before we get started it is important that you know that when I was 12, my big brother—home from his senior year of college—agreed to fall on the most painfully explosive of grenades and chaperon me and my two best friends at a New Kids on the Block concert. We desperately wanted to go but didn’t want to have our coolness handicapped by having to attend with (shudder) parents. For two+ hours he sat patiently while we and every other preteen in the greater Washington-Baltimore metro area screeched like banshees through opener Tommy Paige (oh yeah) and then the boys from Beantown. He would later say that it was the loudest concert he’d ever been to, and he’d seen Bowie, U2, Springsteen, and just about every New Wave band to come down the pike in the 80s. Moving on…

When my sister got engaged five years ago, my brother presented her and her fiancé with an unusual engagement present at our family’s annual summer gathering. It was a large bag of peanuts. Here’s why: When my sister was about six and my brother seven, they attended a neighborhood birthday party. At one point, all the kids are seated at a picnic table in the back yard gobbling cake and ice cream. Then the mother announces that they’re about to have a peanut hunt. She tosses a huge bag of peanuts into the air and all the kids immediately scramble to start grabbing peanuts and shoving them in their bags. Doing the same, my brother suddenly stops and looks around for his little sis—also his best buddy—to make sure she’s finding peanuts and having just as swell a time as he is.

Instead, he sees her still seated at the picnic table in her party dress, slowly and mournfully spooning in ice cream and cake, tears streaming down her cheeks. He runs over to her to see what’s going on and through sobs she tells him that she thought she had to be polite and finish her cake and ice cream before she could do the peanut hunt. My brother, wracked with guilt that he hadn’t noticed her in distress right away, took her hand and led her away from the table, threw his peanuts into the air and let her hunt for them with him.

As he presented my sister and her fiancé with the peanuts that day, he told them that for decades this incident had compelled him to be a constant protector for his little sister. But now it was her fiancé’s time to take over and become the one in charge of making sure she got her peanuts, he said.

This past weekend, our family got together for the annual summer trip. And this time I was the one who was engaged. My brother handed my fiancé and I a wrapped box as he reminded us about the peanut gift five years earlier. When I opened this box, I saw that there were two tickets inside. October 2. Verizon Center. New Kids on the Block reunion tour. “You’re in charge of taking her to New Kids on the Block now,” he told my fiancé.

I didn’t know whether to double over with laughter or shed a few tears. I settled on both, simultaneously. I’m fairly certain my fiancé was debating whether to laugh or punch my brother right in the peanuts.

You Can’t Spell ‘Love’ Without VDLR. Provided You Add the Letters D and R to Love.

July 18, 2008

Well we’re off to the mountains this weekend for a little lakeside R&R at my family’s annual canoe/kayak week, but not before rolling up our sleeves for the most romantic portion of the engagement: the blood test.

D.C. does indeed still require a blood test. (Vaccination without representation!) Specifically, couples have to get tested for syphilis (VDLR) — and only syphilis. I’m not sure why the D.C. government is so concerned about this particular pile of bacterial heebie jeebies when there are scads of other ways we could be damaging each other’s lives in the decades to come. Why not test for the Clap? Or the Herp? Or the likelihood that in a matter of years we’ll begin a long, slow slide into boredom and bitter resentment of one another eventually culminating in our respective affairs with the hired help? And if one or both of us has syphilis and we’re getting married to each other, isn’t this a win-win for the larger D.C. community? Also, I would also think that given D.C.’s string of spectacularly epic fails in the past year when it comes to keeping its adults and children safe through social services, our potential no-pants-dance disease need not sit atop their priority list. Given the town we’re in, I’m going to assume that it’s because there’s a vocal and deep-pocketed Syphilis Testers Association of America lobby tucked somewhere on K Street. (Motto: Changing the way America sees chancres.)

Assuming that we score better on this test than we did on the math portion of the SATs (writer couple humor FTW!!11!!!) we’re hitting the open road. Can’t blog because I’ll be too busy paddling the lake, toasting marshmallows, and singing camp songs. Like the classic Girl Scout ditty, “Alice the Camel Has Nine Humps.” Apparently they didn’t test for syphilis before Alice got married to Mr. The Camel.

“Time doth flit. Oh, shit.”*

July 17, 2008

The Scene
In bed, last night. Fiancé is reading, so I have a pillow over my eyes to block the light. The scalloped eyelet edge of it is hanging over my eyes, like a veil. Fiancé turns to me.

Fiancé: Aww, that’s how my beautiful bride is going to look on our wedding day.
Me: (contented sigh as I settle deeper into covers and prepare to doze off) Mmmhmm, only four months from now.
Fiancé: It’s three months away.
Me: Mmmh—WHAT?!
Fiancé: (counting out fingers) Mid-July, August, September, mid-October. Three months.
Me: Sweet mother of crap! How did I lose a month!? (spend next two hours staring at ceiling contemplating the 457 things I have to get done between now and Oct. 25)

The End

* It’s not really profanity if it comes from Dorothy Parker.

Ritual Sacrifice

July 16, 2008

In between eating a tremendous amount of beef (fiancé) and potato salad (me) and breakfast taquitos (both), we found time to attend the wedding of my fiancé’s cousin Friday night in Texas. The wedding was at a chapel perched high in Hill Country—simply breathtaking. Similarly breathtaking was the speed of the ceremony. It clocked in at under seven minutes. Short stroll down the aisle, quick reading from the officiant, he does, she does, bingo bango dunzo. In fact the officiant didn’t even read 1 Corinthians. He summarized it in a couple sentences. It will take longer for me to walk partway down the aisle, teeter on the verge of passing out, regain my composure, then finish walking down the aisle than it did for them to marry this weekend. We didn’t even have to sit down! Once my whiplash subsided and we made our way over the stone pathway to toward the reception, I thought, “Ruh roh. These folks are gonna be peeved when they have to sit through our hour-long Catholicpalooza.”

Brevity served this lovely couple well though and the wedding was perfectly fitting. The blushing young bride in this case was very low key. We all know that when I say I’m a laid-back bride that I’m totally full of crap, right? OK, yeah, well she was truly low key. Ditto her young Texas gentleman groom. Reflecting on the ceremony’s brevity, I thought of something a commenter had inquired about earlier this year when I was grumbling about having to attend pre-Cana classes. “Why are you doing a big church ceremony?” they’d asked.

Even though there is certainly appeal to a ceremony that takes less time than a frozen pizza requires to cook, it is not for me. For starters, I grew up with the Catholic Church. As huffy as I get over the portions of the catechism that I find troubling, the Church’s rituals still mean much to me. There is little in my week more calming than sinking into the rhythm of a ceremony that I could go through in my sleep. Secondly, my father, who is the one who raised us Catholic (Mom is agnostic), would most certainly enjoy seeing at least one of his children married in a Catholic church. My older brother got married in an Episcopalian church. (If that’s the one true faith, my father will eat his hat.) My older sister got married at a mansion in western Maryland. A Catholic priest presided at least, thanks to a donation that softened the edges of the requirement that priests can only perform weddings inside the sanctuary. But whoops! Turns out that priest was having a lot of edges softened. He was booted by the bishop after an audit revealed that he was grifting the diocese out of twice as much pay as priests are supposed to get. He hauled in a cool $68,000 in one year before getting busted. So that left me. Dad shall have his church wedding.

Finally, in what is the paramount reason for my unwavering desire to get married in the Church, you have the essential beauty of the marriage sacrament. Most people, if they give it any thought at all, assume that the priest marries a couple during the wedding ceremony. He does not. In exchanging their wedding vows, the bride and groom marry themselves to each other. The priest is just an observer as they bestow the sacrament of marriage on one another. For my money, that’s worth the full-service Catholic mass.

Provided I have a chair.

Where in the World is Bridal Bird?

July 10, 2008

Clue 1:

* Greatest future in-laws ever.

Clue 2:

Clue 3 (Thanks to Kent):

Clue 4:

Clue 5:

Clue 6:

If you guess correctly I’ll think of you most fondly while I’m eating a delicious egg, cheese, and potato taquito. Be back Tuesday.

Martha Sure as Heck Doesn’t Have This on Her Month-By-Month Wedding Planning Calendar

July 8, 2008

UPDATE: Apparently my readership encompasses a slightly wider range of personality than I’d previously realized. (Hey, we’re all about the Big Tent here at Bridal Bird.) I wasn’t aware just how far over on the scale I had to set the tab for “humorless, unintelligent, more-than-a-little-stalkerish.” Thanks to a comment received on 9/8/08, I’m now up to speed. So the following post has been modified to reflect that. Apologies to all my other readers, who are on the opposite side of the seesaw wondering when Porky’s going to stop weighing them down and go play in traffic.

My fiancé has a nickname for me: Busy Bee. Rare are the occasions when I can just sit quietly, doing nothing. Sunday mornings with the Times, vacations, and laying out are the exceptions. I like to have projects, a To Do list, something to occupy my time. My fiancé and my dog—who typically jockey to see which of them can do Teamster lazy the best in the evenings and weekend afternoons—regard me with bemusement and raised eyebrows as I carom around whipping up a stromboli for dinner, installing a new light fixture, and planting flower boxes on the balcony. I don’t mind. To the contrary, I thrive on it.

As such, you’d think that with having a wedding to plan I’d be all set. There are invites to stuff, cookies to bake, seating charts to arrange. My cup runneth over right through ’til Oct. 25, right? Yeahhhh, see the thing is…I’ve decided to relocate to North Carolina in August and September to campaign for Obama. My oddly circular life finds me returning to the South where I worked as a crime reporter in the early 2000s. Now it’s battleground territory and I’ll be there organizing rallies, recruiting volunteers, what have you. I’ll be back in D.C. the first week of October, three weeks before the wedding.

Most people’s reaction has been to instantly take umbrage on my behalf. “But that’s ridiculous! How can they make you do that?!” they’ll ask. Well, it is a little ridiculous, but they’re not making me do it. I asked for it. When I left newspapers three years ago it was for this exact reason. I wanted to be able campaign for the candidates I believe in. I find myself now at a job that affords me the luxury of being able to leave for two months to do just that. That it requires me to step away from wedding planning for two months just before the event isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it’s also not an insurmountable obstacle. As it turns out, most of the things that had to be done for the wedding needed to get finalized before Aug. 1 and then the last minute stuff is just that—last minute. Most important, my fiancé was totally supportive as we mulled this decision. He knows how pivotal I believe this particular presidential race is to the nation’s future and he knows that I want to be able to wake up on Nov. 5 and say that I did everything I could to get the person I believe is the best candidate elected. [It bears mentioning that it wasn’t until well after we made this decision that he realized I would be gone for the first two months of Aggie football season, leaving him free to wallow in it 24-7 without fearing I’d come in and ask him to like, go to Bed Bath & Beyond or say, shower.]

And really, is it the worst thing in the world to step away from the whole wedding planning process for a little while? To clear one’s noodle? To just focus on the excitement of the impending marriage rather than taking an obsessive number of trips over to the reception site to make sure the flower beds out front look healthy?

Not that I’m doing that. (eyes darting shiftily from side to side)