by syaffolee

What I Did Last Weekend: Part I

I was very surprised when my cousin mailed me an invitation to her wedding a little while ago. The last time I was at a wedding, I was about seven–and I only went because my parents were invited. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a Cynic in Many Things. In other words, I’m not the sort of person who gets invited for anything because I have no close friends and many of my relatives probably secretly consider me a Loser since I have not gone to medical school (or done something equally “impressive”) like everyone else.

After two different flights, but strangely both captained by the same lady pilot, I landed in the Dayton, Ohio airport feeling hungry since I hadn’t eaten since three in the morning. I met up with some friends of my uncle who were letting me hitch a ride to Cincinnati. I had a rather predictable conversation with them. They asked me what I wanted to do after I graduate. I said I don’t know even though I knew it made me sound like a wishy-washy ditz. They proceeded to tell me their family’s success rate at churning out offspring who went on to become medical doctors. I made suitably impressed comments. They also ranted about how universities are trying to change their admissions requirements so that Asians wouldn’t dominate and that whites and blacks could be more competitive. I made suitably sympathetic noises in hopes that this would keep the driver calm and more cognizant of the road.

They got me to the hotel without getting pulled over, and I met up with my uncle who was waiting at the front entrance. It was great seeing him, but I noticed he looked a bit older than what the intervening years would have suggested–my father is his older brother and he still mostly has black hair while my uncle’s hair had gone completely gray. I think, perhaps, it is the stress. On top of the wedding, he told me his worries about job security as he’s an engineer in the automotive industry. As my uncle and I were walking into the hotel, my aunt and two other cousins were walking out. I tried to hug my aunt, but she kind of freaked. Probably from the stress as well–because apparently they were late to a rehearsal at the church.

The subsequent fifteen to twenty minutes was a white-knuckled comedy of errors as my aunt, uncle, and cousins dragged me off with them. I tried to call my parents to tell them to meet me at the rehearsal dinner (which they did not have directions to–and I was not qualified to give them any since the last time I was in Ohio was when I was eleven). One of the cousins drove like a bat out of hell down I-75 while having anxious conversations with friends of the bride on her cell phone only to pause momentarily as we passed a Honda dealership to say, “Hey! That’s the place I got my car fixed after the first claim!” First?, I thought. There’s more than one?!!

We got to the church, in one piece, and the rehearsal was already underway. I didn’t pretend to understand any of it. I just figured I’d sit in this back pew and stay out of everyone’s way. But it was hot–humid hot–and the pastor’s wife shoved a fan into my hands even though I initially denied needing one, perhaps as an effort to avoid having a victim of the heat puddling to the floor and messing it up before the Big Day. The church itself was nice, but a little small with no air conditioning. After the rehearsal, I asked my aunt how many people were expected to come. “Two hundred from the groom’s side and about ninety-seven from our side.” I wondered if it was possible to cram three hundred guests into one uncooled space without having someone expiring. (The next day, after the ceremony, my sister and I discovered a sign declaring the maximum occupancy at 249.)

I had not seen my cousin (the bride) since she was in middle school. She’s grown up to be quite the sophisticated young woman–in many ways, very opposite of me. “Out of all of us [my father and uncle’s daughters], she’s the most traditional,” my sister had remarked. “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future she has the house with the white-picket fence and the two point five kids. Well, not the point five kid, but you know what I mean.” (However, I’m not sure if my cousin had the same impression. During the reception, she told us, “I never imagined that I would be the first to marry [because I’m the youngest].” I suppose she expected me to have gotten married first since I am the oldest, but I’m such a cynic that I’ll probably never end up tying the knot with anyone.) I had not met the groom before. He had gone to pharmacy school with my cousin so he has more than a few things in common with her, but it sort of seems a little odd now to think of him as family–mostly because I don’t really know him. If he ever manages to remember me, I will most certainly be the weird, socially inept cousin, the perpetual grad student piddling away in a state that everyone else thinks is full of potatoes.

The rehearsal dinner had been arranged by the groom’s father. I shook his hand, but I’m not quite sure if he was even pleased to see my parents and me since we hadn’t been formally invited to the dinner. After the dinner, my parents and I left for the Cincinnati airport to pick up my sister and grandmother. Then we headed back to the hotel where theoretically, we should have gone to sleep. Except both my sister and I were still on Pacific time and we ended up having a little adventure in the wee hours of the morning.