Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thoughts on Fleeing a Mormon Wedding

With a simple request — “Can I have the keys?” — and a quick lie — “I need to get something from the car” — I walked out, into a minivan- and SUV-strewn parking lot beneath a sky too dark to permit me to drive home without my glasses. Ultimately, pathetically, I spent the remainder of the evening in the car, with only “Bedtime With the Beatles” to pass the time.
Sheepdog, standing in the rain
Bullfrog, doing it again
Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles
What makes you think you're something special when you smile?
Of course, I didn’t initially know the song was by who it’s actually by. My first conscious memory of hearing it had nothing to do with my parents’ old records. (This, after all, emerged from the point in time after the Beatles became insane, in my parents’ estimation.) No, for me, the first instance of sheepdogs and bullfrogs and frightened wigwams came on the soundtrack of a certain slasher film, the name of which I’m declining to mention. The album featured a cover of “Hey Bulldog” by Toad the Wet Sprocket, who, by then, had ceased to matter. I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d ever waste another synapse on Toad the Wet Sprocket, but I moved to Santa Barbara — a beach town with a far less sinister coastline than a certain one in North Carolina and a profound love of its hometown band-done-good. Aside from sexy teenager murders, life presented a simpler set of obstacles before I found out covers were covers and before I moved away. It’s not a bad metaphor. Then: covers. Now: The originals, or at least what I believe to be originals until I learn otherwise.
Child-like — no one understands
Jack knife in your sweaty hands
Some kind of innocence is measured out in years
You don't know what it's like to listen to your fears.
Ironically, leaving the wedding didn’t allow me to feel any less conspicuous. A lesson: If you’re going to sneak away from a wedding, don’t linger in the parking lot, in the back seat of a car. The funny looks you felt like you got inside are nothing compared to the ones you get from people who see you outside, purposely not sharing the marital joy. They must assume either that you’re either rude or that you’re making some sort of statement. It wasn’t performance art, I’m sure, though I’m still somewhat unclear as to why I felt I had to leave. It wasn’t reluctance at sitting at a table with my parents’ tennis friends. It wasn’t some deep-seated hatred of the wedding couple or weddings in general. And it wasn’t the service, though I’ll say right now that I had a great deal of fun as a result of my mom’s instructions on the drive there: “Things might not be the way they’re been done at other wedding receptions. Don’t say anything. It might be a tradition or something.” This, of course, gave way to some golden comedy moments, with me asking if the presence of water pitchers on the dinner tables but no glasses might be some Mormon custom. “Maybe it’s like Passover. Maybe the water is for the prophet.”
Big man, walking in the park
Wigwam, frightened of the dark
Some kind of solitude is measured out in you
You think you know me but you haven't got a clue
Like I said, I’m not completely sure, but I feel like I’ve come up with as good a theory as any as to why I walked out and sat outside, like a petulant twelve-year-old. Let’s say I expected somebody to be there. Let’s call her Sally. And let’s say that a closeness that once existed between Sally and me, at least in my head, has dissipated as a result of time and geographic distance and the fact that both of us have serious issues with keeping appointments. Other reasons, too, but I don’t want to talk about those here. Sally didn’t show. Egotistically, I first wondered if the prospect of me attending might have been motivation enough for Sally to bypass the event. After all, we hadn’t seen each other recently. Perhaps for good reason? Had time and distance and those unspoken other reasons made me so objectionable? This thought process last for mere moments, however, and soon gave way to something worse: that I possibly hadn’t factored into Sally’s decision at all. That all those reasons had rendered me forgettable, not objectionable. It had never occurred to me before that this person might not think about me much anymore. I don’t know if it’s true, but the possibility that it was struck me pretty hard there, mid-reception, with my pressed shirt and white pants.
You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me
If you're lonely you can talk to me
And that’s how I missed the bulk of my first ever Mormon wedding reception. Now I’ll probably never see the part where the bride and groom get hats that give them magic powers. I didn’t even try the punch, which was purple. I’m not ready to call the evening a total loss, however. I heard a song I like for the first time in years, which is a good thing. And I got to put myself in my place before someone else had a chance to. I guess I have to count that as a good thing.


  1. I already emailed this to you, but let me just reiterate: I have so much sympathy for you for having survived that wedding (knowing whose wedding it was), that my sympathy would not fit inside a bread box.

    Wait, do people still use "bigger than a bread box" as units of measurement anymore? Then let me put it this way: my sympathy would not fit inside the bride.

    There, that's better.

  2. Maybe Sally would have gone if you had told her that you were going.