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January 04, 2003

Marrying off a Menead

I have seen things that no man was meant to see and live. What they were I cannot say, lest ye share my doom. Suffice to say I spent more of a Saturday afternoon in a southern bride's dressing room than would be considered safe or sane under any circumstances.

Your normal weddings are stressful enough, or so I hear. The only thing I normally notice about weddings is whether the reception has an open bar and a guy carving roast beef. The few times I've been in the wedding party it's a little different, but really all the groomsmen are there for is to walk little old ladies down the aisle, and if they can do that and not fart audibly during the service, then all's well.

This time was different. Normal weddings are stressful, but there's nothing like a series of formal family events tacked on to the end of an already long, chock full of family holiday to add an extra soupçon of extra-special primo stress to your life. Or your wife's life, which is really the same thing when it comes down to it.

This time I wasn't in the wedding party. Ngnat was. Apparently there was a shortage of younger female relatives, so the bride, may she live a thousand years, decided that Ngnat and another toddler would be absolutely darling substitutes. The Sainted Wife was dragooned into being a greeter or hostess or some such. I don't really know which title to pick out of the multitude available. It was her job to smile and hand out the wedding programs to the blue hairs and tipsy sorority sisters.

Sadly, this meant that my job was to keep my daughter on target throughout the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony, reception, and possibly the honeymoon night morning after breakfast. I didn't exactly realize when my formal responsibilities as flower-girl wrangler began or ended, or even that I had them. It's the kind of job that reveals its pitfalls slowly, lovingly, and with low, evil laughter.

The opening of the festivities began early on Friday, with the bridesmaid's luncheon, which the wife and her sister were required to attend, despite the fact that neither were bridesmaids. Possibly being related to the bride made them honorary bridesmaids for an hour or so. Ngnat and I drove up later in the day and met her at the Comfort Suites we and the rest of the wedding party out of towners were booked into.

Ahh, the Comfort Suites, the hotel with neither. The first, non-smoking, room smelled mightily of cigarettes. Once the SW arrived, I left her in charge of Ngnat and the various neon bits of Play-doh she was busily straying about the room, and went to beg the girl at the front desk to move us to a less carcinogenic room. Now, unbeknownst to me, the Sainted Wife's sister, Aspiring Actress, had arrived just after her, and had been initially refused lodging, as her name wasn't on the credit card that held the room. She was finally allowed to check in, but not until she was just this side of seething.

She got in an elevator and went up as I came down in another, went to the front desk, informed the girl that my room was less than acceptable in the aroma department, and begged for a new one.

The girl at the counter said cheerily "No problem!", gave me keys to another, then promptly checked us into the same room (412) she had just given the Aspiring Actress.

At this very moment, as close as I can tell, Aspiring Actress swipes her key card at the door to 412 and finds that it does not work. Neither does the extra one. They don't work because the second the cheery girl at the front desk gave me the key cards to my new room, Aspiring Actress's cards were invalidated.

So, I head back to my old room, new cards in hand, and pile four feet of luggage onto the "complimentary" luggage cart.

Aspiring Actress, having swiped both of her key cards a few dozen more times, gives up and returns to the front desk with her four feet of luggage, cursing audibly.

The sainted wife and I herd Ngnat and the balky, overloaded luggage cart into the elevator. Ngnat, who has loved riding the elevator all of her short life, freezes at the sight of the dark, bottomless crack between her and the elevator and must be lifted over it.

Aspiring Actress causes a minor scene at the front desk, and has her card keys re-validated, rendering the two I have invalid. I discover this, much to my annoyance, seconds later, as the door to room 412 now refuses both my key cards. I continue to swipe them nonetheless.

Stubbornness doesn't run in our family, it gallops.

Aspiring Actress steps out of the elevator and see us in front of her room.

"Did she check you into 412?" she asks, temples pulsing.

Why yes, yes she did, we inform her. Aspiring Actress silently hands me her keycards, dumps her luggage in the middle of the room once we open it, and departs for the front desk once more. We finally get Ngnat and the Play-doh settled at the coffee table, and I return the luggage cart to the front desk. Aspiring Actress is nowhere in sight, but the front desk girl is rubbing her eyes and sniffing.

Coming Soon: The wedding rehearsal, and why you don't give a toddler an entire Pepsi to drink at eight o'clock in the evening.

Posted by Bigwig at January 4, 2003 04:33 PM | TrackBack
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