The proclamation that her first grandchild was getting married has reduced my mom to spasmodic fits of exultation. “It is so wonderful,” she gushes. “Finally getting married.” She says this as if her granddaughter were approaching her late seventies, and if not for this intervention from God, Wodin, and Mithras, she would have died a lonely, bitter, cat-food-eating spinster. Then the joy leaves her body like a balloon which has developed a slow leak, and she puts on her tragic face. “If only your brother would get married my happiness would be complete,” she cries piteously.
I groan. From the look on her face that is the exact reaction she was going for. My brother getting married, or not getting married, has been one of her favourite topics for the past twenty years.
It hasn’t been one of mine.
I am not a fan of weddings. I feel if someone really, really, really wants to get married they should do so in the privacy of a JP’s office and leave the rest of us out of it.
Not that I am against marriage altogether, I’ve had a pretty great one myself. But it’s the whole bullshit surrounding the wedding that I have issues with. Not to mention the gigantic waste of money for a day that is stress-filled for everyone except, possibly, crazy Uncle Bob, who is going to get so blitzed that he will accidentally take a pee in the caterer’s truck. Plus the reality is that most marriages these days are destined for the crapper, so I say why go through with the charade?
“That poor woman,” mom says. “Your brother has been stringing her along for years. Does he think she is going to wait around forever? Her youth is far behind her and she is running out of time to catch a husband.”
“Mother,” I say through clenched teeth. “They have been together for over twenty years. They live together – in their own house. They bank together, take vacations together, they tend their gardens together, take care of their million cats together, they hang out with mutual friends together, so to me, it looks suspiciously like what they are doing is being married.” This is my usual response in this particular repartee.
Then I list off the names of twenty couples I have known in my life, all of whom were legally married and are now legally divorced. Many of them more than once. Proving, I feel, that a legally recognized wedding does not guarantee a long marriage, in fact almost the opposite.
Mom is suddenly bored with this old argument so segues into the next topic. Another of her favourites. “What are you going to wear to the wedding?” she asks in all innocence.
I pause to take a breath in preparation for the blow-out. “Well, she is getting married on a beach in Cuba, so I was thinking a pair of shorts and a tank top.”
“Oh no! Gabika! How could you do that to your only daughter?” Mom is overcome by the horror of it all, and is only missing Mrs. Bennett’s nerves and smelling salts from Jane Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice. “She will be traumatized,” she exclaims. “Devastated! You will crush her on the most important day of her life.”
“First of all, it isn’t the most important day of her life, not even close. The most important day of her life was when I squeezed her out of my vagina. Without that day no other day would have mattered.”
“Gabika!” Mom exclaims. Her eyes bulge, and her mouth gapes wide. Oh, the horror. Oh, the humanity. I have said the “V” word in front of my husband. Who, as my mom has pointed out on many occasions, is an M.A.N.
“And B,” I continue, “what about the day she came in second place in the Apple Blossom 10K when she was twelve? She received a medal for that. I bet she doesn’t get a medal for getting married.”
Mom’s keen nose for sarcasm starts tingling; she can’t be sure, not completely, but she is beginning to suspect that I may be yanking her chain. “A race!” she exclaims. “What is a race compared to a wedding,” she says, acting all flabbergasted.
I like the word flabbergasted; it sounds kind of flabbery and gaspy at the same time. “Flabbergasted.” I let the word roll off my tongue, and picture it in a balloon hanging over my mom’s head with an arrow pointing at her.
Mom ignores me and continues to work herself into a tizzy. “Your only daughter getting married and you won’t even get dressed up for it. Why even bother to go?” she asks.
“Didn’t you hear what I said? The wedding is going to be on a beach…in Cuba. Of course I’m going to go,” I say.
After much caterwauling and carrying on, Mom straps on her motorcycle helmet, storms out of the house, with the help of me and my husband so she can get down the stairs, mounts her four-wheeled scooter and shoots off at the blinding speed of 5 KPH. She is on her way home to start working on her nefarious campaign to get her only daughter to dress up for her granddaughter’s wedding. Oh, and perhaps send an email to my brother telling him that she heard Cuba was a good place to get married. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Say no more.
I phone my daughter. “Hi,” I say. “Would you mind if I wore shorts to your wedding?”
“Knock yourself out,” she replies. “So guess what. I ran a 10K in 58 minutes this afternoon.”
That’s my girl.
Photo by Gab Halasz. All rights reserved.