Molly and I went to a wedding this past weekend. The bride was a friend of ours, a woman a couple years older than 1F, who is also a birth-mother of a six-year-old boy (her son, and his adoptive family, were at the wedding, and it was a personal highlight for me to meet them). Her willingness to share with us about her experience of birth-motherhood has been wonderfully helpful to us through 1F’s experience. And I think she has appreciated hearing about my experience with my birth-mother, as well.
Of course, I have many memories of our wedding day. I remember washing my car in the morning, more to kill a couple hours until I had to be at the church, than because my car was so dirty (this ‘what to do until you have to be at the church’ question is a major one for grooms; I’m given to understand that brides don’t typically find themselves at quite such a loss for how to fill their mornings. . .)
Once I arrived at the church, there really wasn’t all that much for me to do. All my groomsmen showed up in a timely manner, my brothers took their places as ushers, and I just took some chill time in the sacristy, as the guests started to arrive.
About a half-hour or so before the wedding was supposed to begin, my head-usher, a guy I’ll call ‘Tom’ for purposes of this story, with whom I’d shared a house while I was in grad school, came into the room where I was relaxing, a concerned look on his face. “Ummm. . .” he began. (I don’t know; it just seems to me that your head usher coming to you a half-hour before your wedding, saying “Ummm. . .” is probably not a good thing). “Ummm. . . there’s a retarded guy out in the parking lot, exposing himself to the guests as they arrive.”
I just stared at him, blankly.
“So, what do you want me to do?” he asked, as I contemplated the image of my grandmother being greeted in the church parking lot by a retarded flasher. The fact that it was a Catholic church parking lot is probably worth noting, because my family is not Catholic, and some of them, possibly including my grandmother, held less-than-flattering opinions of Catholics and Catholicism.
“Huh?” I replied, quickly grasping the gravity of the situation.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Tom,” I replied, with all the mellowness I could muster at that point, “I asked you to be my head-usher so I wouldn’t have to think about stuff like this. I’m sure you can figure something out.”
For a couple seconds, he stared back at me. “Right,” he finally said, and hustled off.
I’m told that the police were called, and our flasher friend was relocated away from the church parking lot before too many of our guests’ retinas were seared with images of his genitalia. The wedding proceeded without too many further glitches, Molly and I were well and thoroughly married to each other, and the rest, as they say, is history.
We like to tell young couples planning their weddings to not be too concerned that everything goes off perfectly, because every wedding has something that goes not-quite-according-to-plan. I was at a wedding once, where the bride’s veil accidentally caught fire when it brushed too close to the Unity Candle (a quick-thinking Maid of Honor averted catastrophe in that case). At another wedding we were at, the Best Man passed out cold, and spent most of the wedding being attended to by a doctor off to the side of the church. Those are both pretty good stories, and good examples of What Can Go Wrong at Your Wedding.
But our story of our wedding flasher always makes their eyes get real wide. “And besides,” we always tell them, “if things go really wrong, you’ll have a great story to tell. . .”