I know I’ve mentioned my hetero life partner, Gwen, at least once or twice on this bad boy. Well that bitch went and got herself engaged. While I’m incredibly happy for her and grateful to her fiance for significantly decreasing the hours of Gwen maintenance required during an average week, I’m pretty anxious about this wedding. So let’s just cut to the chase and make one thing incredibly clear here.
I. WILL. NOT. WEAR. A. BUTT. BOW.
I don’t give Gwen enough credit. She was brilliant to wait for me to go first with the whole matrimonial mess. As the Maid of Honor she flitted about all young and maid-esque, nearly putting someone’s eye out when her spaghetti strap snapped as she attempted to clog to Devil Went Down to Georgia without adequate support. Five years later she’s looking for revenge.
Matron of Honor, my ass. I’m decidedly not honored to be matronly. The good news is I anticipate I’ll have a whole slew of traumatic (for me) side-splitting (for you) tales to share over the next eight and a half months. Good God, I hope there isn’t any Rod Stewart on the play list for the reception. Creamed Corn will be spinning so I’ll just have to buy him off with some more twist ties and squeeze bacon. (Apparently he’s suggesting this song for the first dance.)
All this wedding talk has me thinking about weddings (and pineapple farming – but that might just be a coincidence), and I realized I still haven’t written about the shindig I attended back home last October. The whole impetus for my trip home was to attend that damn wedding, but I spent the whole time talking about suicidal birds, crazy bitches, and my super cutie Grandpa.
Gwen’s little sister Kathy (who’s actually older than I am – which gives me endless ammunition for mocking Gwen’s aged decrepitude – and yet I’m a fucking Matron of Honor) got hitched that weekend in our hometown of Greensboro, NC. The service was tiny and adorable. Smack in the middle of Hagan Stone Park is a wee little one-room chapel that the couple packed to the rafters with friends and family. Rocco was working, so after discussing possible solutions with Gwen, I decided to ask our ex-boyfriend to be my date.
Yes I said “our ex boyfriend.” I’ve been told that’s weird, so here’s the abbreviated story: I met Shane in High School when we both had shows at a local college radio station. We dated briefly (he was my first kiss – bring on the awwws) but he was clearly hung up on some whackadoodle gal he’d dated previously. Apparently that whackadoodle girl traveled in the same circles and I distinctly remember her bringing her skanky ass to MY Dunkin Donuts and stepping on my turf repeatedly. When Shane ditched my ass and ran back to whackadoodle, I stuck around because I’d fallen in love with his group of adorable musical boys. I couldn’t bear to hit the shows without them. How could you ever abandon friend with names like Harry Lester Drew, IV? (THE FOURTH, GODDAMNIT!)
Then Shane had the balls to invite whackadoodle along on my Spring Break. Because I’m just that magnanimous a person, I said yes – fully intending to torment her gorgeous self and possibly induce a nervous breakdown. (Yes, I’m a giver.) Instead, I fell madly in love with her. Gwen and Shane were off and on again for another decade, but we’ve been together ever since. Jesus, that was more than fifteen years ago. This is not making me feel any less matronly.
Moral of the story – Shane was the perfect date. Not only was he local AND available on short notice, he also knew the entire family and a large chunk of the other wedding guests. He also had a strong history of amusing me and excellent taste in music. If there had been some sort of weird charity auction involved in the selection process, the bidding would have been a no brainer. SOLD!
After a string of confusing texts, we spoke on the phone and I flat out begged him to accompany me. In his typical southern gentleman style he answered succinctly in his beautiful drawl, “It would be my honor, Ms. Lonon.” There is nothing more buttery and calming that a subtle southern accent. I felt better about everything immediately. What is it about home that makes everyone say the absolute perfect thing at the absolute perfect time in the absolute perfect way?
Anyway the service was short, sweet, and absolutely perfect. While the bridal party snapped no less than four hundred and seventy two pictures, Shane worked his way to the reception hall. I zipped ahead to collect the bridal party’s bags and hide them in the trunk of my car. On my way back, I noticed one of the caterers leaning against a tree. She had a slightly haggard look about her that you see often in the South, but she was still beautiful. She exuded a confidence that completely captivated me.
As I came in ear shot she jerked her head in my direction and smoothly said, “Nice boots.”
“Thanks,” I responded. “You know, it’s hard to find boots to fit these fat calves of mine.”
“I hear ya girl,” she laughed. She took a long drag on her cigarette and continued, “Forty years old and you’d think I would have had enough time in life to find boots that fit.
“Girl, you don’t look a day over 30.”
“Well,” she laughed and slowly exhaled a steady stream of smoke, “Not bad for a cancer survivor, eh?”
I skipped a beat, surprised, then smiled. “Welcome to the club. What flavor?” We looked each other up and down with new eyes. The next few lines were delivered at a quick clip.
“Just chemo, you?”
“Chemo and radiation – internal and external on the radiation – just starting to get my hair back.”
“Ditto on the hair.”
“Mine used to be down to my butt.”
“Mine used to be a mohawk,” I slowed the rapid fire of responses and smiled, “But only after I found out I was going to loose it all.”
We sat in silence, and then simultaneously moved towards each other for a hug. The rest of the guests started to gather and the spell was broken. As she ground her cigarette butt into the asphalt with the toe of her practical black shoe, her confidence was gone and her vulnerability was even more beautiful. “I’m glad I was around to meet you.” She spoke quietly to not attract the attention of the other guests.
“Me, too,” I assured her. Then I added, “I’m glad I was around to be met.”
It’s a small, small, cancer-laden world, my friends. So let me go on record and say thanks, Kathy for the open bar at your reception.