So PROBABLY, if you’re reading this, you were at my wedding last weekend. In fact, if as I suspect, R is the only one that actually reads this, then I’m basically writing this for my new wife. But given she’s a demanding audience, I’ll write anyway… and maybe there’s one or two more sets of eyes that will enjoy me regaling about the best party of our lives.
Woke up Saturday morning, feeling fine. Got breakfast, said hello to a lot of our out-of-town guests, feeling fine. Got all the groomsmen dressed and collocated in the soon-to-be brother-in-law’s room, feeling fine. Got dressed myself, put on boutonnières with minimal trouble (and a little help from the Maid of Honor), all feeling fine. Went outside for our turn with the photog, went through all the poses we wanted and did a lot of joking around (knuckles in o-rings & everything), feeling fine (save for the knuckles).
Came back into the lobby of the hotel, and holy congregation were there a ton of people hanging out & waiting for the schindig to get underway. Lots of glad-handing, lots of hoping I remember people’s names, lots of “Are you ready?” ‘Yes I am / Put me in coach / If I see you at the reception, you’ll know I was ready’ routines.
NOT feeling fine. So much pressure. Even now, as I write on the train, I’m reliving it and feeling the tightness in my chest. Not like a fun Dolly Parton tightness either. The kind that makes you sweat. (In all fairness, I have no idea if Dolly Parton tightness induces the body’s cooling mechanism, but I also have like zero desire to find out.)
So after the 43rd handshake, and my good friend Sobotka telling me that ‘usually, the groom’s off hidden in secret somewhere but it’s really awesome that you’re out here saying hi to everyone’, I bolted. I grabbed my best man and told him I needed a minute.
We made our way out to the adjacent stairwell, and as that door to the lobby pushed back the voices and the sounds of skin on skin as hands are shaken, my head was buzzing. If you’ve ever been hit in the head in dodgeball, and the ball that hit you was thrown by the beefy surely-a-lesbian-or-Popeye-look-a-like girl in your gym class who proves her surliness at every possible opportunity, you’ve probably felt the same type of dull buzz that I was experiencing at that moment. Things were morgue quiet.
As Shorty & I talked for a while, my heart was gently coaxed into staying within my ribcage walls, but my head was buzzy. Couldn’t concentrate on anything. (If this is what kids with ADD/ADHD feel like, they should thank their deity of choice every day for Ritalin.)
Then Shorty tells me his wood-eye joke. It’s not a long joke, and it’s not a fantastic joke (relies heavily on the delivery, which Shorty of course nailed), but I was able to stop buzzing & focus on it. He hits the punch line, and I bust up. I immediately call out that it HAD to be an Ed joke (Shorty’s father), and all of a sudden am picturing Mr. Short delivering that joke in his yachting t-shirt & baseball cap. I forget where I am, and that I’ve just spent 30 minutes talking to people that obviously care about me and/or my soon-to-be wife but I still won’t remember faces & names after today is over – an example of being socially uncomfortable and feeling less-than-genuine in the worst way… and once again, comedy has saved my life.
I calmed down, I laughed it out, and I felt somewhat normal again. Shortly thereafter, the groomsmen and I are lined up in the hallway, awaiting our summons to appear in front of the same crowd (or gauntlet) I had just survived. If we hadn’t continued telling jokes in that hallway, and making fun of Seth for buying a lemon iced tea, I could’ve gone sour all over again. But the guys didn’t even give me a chance. My hands got a little sweaty, and it got slightly harder to breathe, but that was more akin to stage nerves than being something like the mother-of-all-anxiety-attacks I’d just conquered.
I was going out there, with five of the best friends anyone could ever have to back me up, and I’d walk away with the beautiful bride on my arm. Wouldn’t you be nervous?
To be continued…
Coming up next time on WYLT: will our valiant hero vow his love to his vivacious bride? Will dinner be as delicious as the dancing should be dazzling? Shall families find common foundations and finally ferment into fragrant friendships? Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.