I Guess I Like Weddings Now

B. Hoota

I’m the queen of eye rolling when it comes to baby’s breath, vow writing, and what ribbons to wrap on cakes. I hate spitsy snogging and scrolling through Pinterest boards of fake happiness. Therefore, I hate weddings. Marriage doesn’t much upset me; it’s the unnecessary hullabaloo that accompanies two lovers and their private business. Stacks of Vistaprint invitations—infinite dress fittings—and deliberation over red or yellow tulips are disgusting to me. Romance leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, probably because most boys I date are incompetent, druggy, or clingy. I guess it’s jealousy—or a jaded complacency—that makes me hate “Bride” and “Mother of the Bride” Tervis tumblers. However, all that furrowed-brow negativity changed on December 27th and 28th, two days that weren’t “magical” per say but the kind of remarkable I write into my short stories. My writing is my life. So here’s a snippet of 48 hours I won’t easily forget.

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The afternoon of the 27th, I was sweaty, unattractive, and bearing false smiles so my mom wouldn’t yell at me “Be happy for your sister’s wedding.” This whole romance gig was okay, but I hate being ordered around. “Bedrich, do this” or “Bedrich, tell me where you put this now” wasn’t my idea of a peachy-cream time of wedding love. Sylvia was getting married at the Garden Club, a shabby building whose cuteness lay in its 1970s disrepair. It was simple and unassuming, but I didn’t like it much. I had the glorious job of chair coverer, so I squatted down 98 times to put wrinkly, white sheets over 20-year-old chairs. My hair clung to my forehead like soaked noodles and my high school twirling shirt was smelly. The warden lady was blasting some awful opera music—the Italian wales filled the hall as everyone put sweat and effort into a four-hour event. I snuck to my car for an AUX cable, but my dad yelled at me as I stealthily tried to plug in my phone. Really? Who would prefer a knockoff Andre Botticelli to “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes”? My family is an uptight, stressful clan—except me. Some of the groomsmen were rearranging tables. One of them, Scott, had a tight body but unsettling face that reminded me of amphibians—in a really good way. It was attractive though, especially combined with his ironed dress shirt, navy pants, and blue eyes that briefly said hello to me. There wasn’t an automatic fancy between us. He was too frat for me, and I had learned my lesson that blond guys were overrated dicks with pretty faces and no substance. He was always kind to me though, albeit cheeky and sarcastic. The tea lights were glued, the droopy hydrangeas arranged, and the name cards thrown onto tablecloths. I was at table two with the white Strauss family—joy. I could already envision a graying night of Republican conversation with Grandpa, my father blubbering about me being his
“baby,” and my mom bitching me out because of her sadness. All the while being berated by someone as to why their nametags were wonky (My name is spelled Caitlynn, not Katelyn).

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Sylvia, Hannah, and I rushed home at four to slap makeup, dresses, and composure on before the rehearsal. It was boiling as hell outside, meaning my makeup would be a slip n’ slide of Maybelline and L’Oréal by 4:30 p.m. Clip chucked in unruly hair: Brown Eyeliner redrawn: tan wedges slipped onto scaly feet. We got to the garden club at 5, beautified and looking nothing like the ugly messes were an hour ago. Makeup—and time—are the godsends for frayed out females. I looked mildly hot, a 7.3 out of 10 on the sexy scale. At the garden club, I walked onto the patio into a pack of single, attractive, and 6’5 boys. It’s like some primal instinct clutched me, straightening my back and raising my chin. My body flipped into “mate mode” without my consent—I couldn’t curb the swaying hips or small smiles. One of the grooms who just showed up—Jax—greeted me enthusiastically like his whole body (not just his bearded face) was smiling. I’d met him before during Gator Football tailgates, but I was always my sister’s shadow, her orange and blue baby. *Spoiler Alert: This tale is ultimately about a boy, like most of my tales are. * Something was different this time; he was cuter, taller, and slightly debonair. It was the group effect, I’m positive (a school of tall men look hotter than an individual fish). I felt older, like these workforce mid-twenties were just overgrown college juniors—and by the way they binge drank, they definitely were. The rehearsal procession was high-heeled fun, especially with Rayen as my articulate and silly partner. His Indianism along with the proper British accent made him the cutest creature ever. That first step, in Sylvia’s wide-footed wedges and mosquito bath, was odd. Unsettling. An unexpected excitement crept through my teal dress, like I was genuinely happy for Sylvia and Jason’s marriage. There was nothing fake about that feeling of “Oh shit, I might get married one day too—and soon” that stole over me. I was a marriage disdainer since middle school, but I secretly think I’ll get married around 22 or 23 right out of college. This semester, I discovered I wasn’t a “player,” so I rather root out my male mate early and be done.

Jax was a glasses cutie beside Jason, John, and Scott [side note: Jax is such a dad, and I find that extremely attractive.] After the rehearsal, we went to Mamaw and Papaw’s house for the rehearsal dinner, a buffet of cheese overload, alcohol, and mini red velvet cupcakes. Jax and my dad sat together, two dorky electrical engineers that were best friends for two hours. I’ve never seen Daddy so animated with a young person (besides me) before—I found out later that Jax googled Daddy to see his engineering career. People say that girls marry men like their fathers, and I’m starting to think that’s true. After the wedding shebang was over, I couldn’t help but thinking Jesus Christ, I might marry Jax Ting one day. It was only 85% the wedding setting; the other 15% was his personality, dad dance moves, and genuine personality that was so happy and unpretentious. He’s not a dick. Which is fucking rare for me. My question is: why isn’t he already married? He’s marriage material to the hilt. At the very least, where’s the pretty girlfriend with floral dresses and a predictable day job? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After the rehearsal dinner, Jason’s uncle played guitar while a long-haired hippie crooned Jolene, Apollonia’s theme from The Godfather, and homemade songs. Under the humidity and insects, I was content; a Chocolate Porter played around my lips and Jason was rambunctiously loud. The lady’s voice was Dolly Parton mixed with Miranda Lambert, thin but rich. After a while, everyone was chatting against the background of Woody Guthrie and Indian baby cries. Scott was sitting next to Grandma and Grandpa, and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so amusing that an Atlanta yuppie was chilling with my 85-year-old Grandma. Her wine goblet and his beer mixed perfectly—I was only distracted when Jax walked over and sat next to me. He asked me questions about UF and was genuinely talking to me—I was confused at first and then flattered. Mom butted in with empty remarks, and I wished it was just me and him. On the way home, Sylvia asked “What do you think about Jax?” I grinned; I was waiting the entire car ride to talk about him, dissect him, blush over him. “He’s really cute.” I’m a writer, but my actual speech is quite flavorless. “Yeah?” “Yeah, he came over to talk to me tonight.” “I know. Jason and I were talking about you guys.” “You were?” “He told Jason he thought you were really hot one time.” Okay. Okay. Heart explodes. Lips Hurt. Fantasies write themselves. “Well I think he’s super attractive too.” “I told him to keep his hands off of you.” Of fucking course she did, as the overprotective sister she is. I dropped the subject, although Jax’s face swam dimly in my mind all night.

Jesus Christ. We’re not even at the actual wedding yet.

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Wedding Day: A 9 a.m. morning of bagels, full caffeine coffees, and nail varnish. Sylvia performed an Indian ceremony with a Publix coconut and turmeric; Aunty Anaya was glittering in a sari and she did not look 66. Thank goodness my chin acne cleared up; I’m a sucker for Important Day Zits (remember Prom? Graduation? Deloitte training in Boston?). And if I was sucking Jax’s lips later, my chin better be succulent too. Noontime brought on hair curling and preliminary makeup—the wedding didn’t begin until 3:30 p.m., but I was a setup girl with a million MOH duties. When Sylvia first asked me to be Maid of Honor, I wasn’t touched. I was annoyed, if anything, because the cutesy gifts were so Pinterest and sorority girl. I’m a plate of emotion mush now; I’m honored to be MOH, I’m excited for own wedding, and Sylvia will be my MOH as well. What with running around with caterers, liquor bottles, and buggy marigolds, I was POSITIVE a pretty pink hive would bloom on my face. I must be a histamine magnet because my skin is more sensitive than my Uncle Zayn’s. But everything was a creamy pale; even my acne was dead. I rushed out to see Emma in my Maid of Honor dress and LL Bean flip flops. I couldn’t be bothered with cuticle cutting heels just yet. She was talking with the groomsmen and my showy hug was secretly meant to herd her away from them. See? Jealousy! Emma would never cheat on Jack, but it’s female nature to guard successful male territory. [Side note: Emma’s violin was beautiful, and Sylvia was surprised how thoroughly I came in clutch.]

Jax was dashing and hot and classy and silly with his beard and beer. Oh god. Stop. Shut the fuck up Bedrich. At least my Shirley Temple curls were pretty (or juvenile). The next half an hour was a blur of processional music, sweat, and glancing at Jax under the Wisteria arch. I learned 1) wearing heels in rocks is dangerous, 2) Florida in December at 4 p.m. is sweltering, and 3) parents love to cry. The thought of tears never registered for me. I just enjoyed strutting down the aisle with Rayen, smiling like it was my wedding. Sylvia was stunning and so happy I was jealous. I’ve never been that happy. Their vows were hilarious as was Daddy’s message to Sylvia (which I wrote). They were quick minutes of beer, sketchy tales, and cheesy one liners that described Type A Sylvia and Lumberjack Jason perfectly. The heat was unbearable, especially with that ridiculous ruby Pashmina. The sweat rolled into my elbow crevices, down my crinoline thighs. I kept turning away from the sunlight, facing the arch more than Jason and Sylvia’s squinting eyes—Jax told me later he thought I was looking away to not cry. He doesn’t know me: I sincerely hope he gets to one day. The recessional walk melted in 45 minutes of photographs—there was a tussle with the {partially nonexistent} photographer, but smiles were forced and poses were orchestrated in the end. I felt pretty and flirtatious, a feeling only older, attractive men impress on me. I was a Barbie doll—a natural, navy blue one—but a doll nonetheless as I smiled, swayed, and blushed for the sake of testosterone.

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My poses with Sylvia were disgusting. The frumpy photographer made us touch foreheads, giggle our bad breaths onto each other, and hold hands. I was uncomfortable. The only redeeming part was Rayen fake laughing during every photo, although his grins were still adorably jacked. The rest of the wedding evaporated in a manicured snap. The bridal party was announced by DJ Cory; I spun twice through the entrance and threw up my hands like a 90s Wildcat cheerleader. Hannah said “I killed it,” but I really hope I just killed Jax with my teenage cuteness. Jesus Christ, he must feel like a pedophile if there’s even an ounce of liking on his part. There was Tussle Number Two with the table seating—after Britany, my bitch of a roommate, couldn’t go to the wedding, Sylvia plopped me at table one. I was the Lord of the Nametags, so I snuck my name in between Jax and Hannah—and someone had switched her and I! I don’t know who was petty enough for this middle school shit; I suspected it was Hannah, but she switched seats with me anyways. “I saw someone switched our names, but you can sit next to Jax if you want.” It was obvious: everyone and my relatives knew. I plunked more Indian chickpeas onto my naan. “No, it’s okay! I just think he’s cute.” “No problem, I’ll sit next to Chelsea.” I threw chitchat at random family friends to avoid table Number One until I couldn’t stall. Goddamnit. When I’m awkward, I’m really awkward. Chelsea jumped to get me a gin+tonic, and it wasn’t until Marielle talked to me that my mouth—and personality—untied themselves. I mentioned I was 19 and Jax arched backwards, stunned and probably embarrassed at my and/or his crush. I was a normal human after, tossing quips and queries across the mason jars and plastic candles from Target.

My Maid of Honor speech was four minutes of Executive Presence stances (Thanks Dr. Lemoni) and sweeping glances across mostly old people. Before starting, I remember staring at Jax, microphone, nervousness, and speech in hand. He gave me the widest, happiest smile, like listening to my speech was his ultimate pleasure. Maybe that’s why it sounded so seamless. My script went as follows:

Good evening everyone. My name is B. Hoota and I am the sister of the bride. Truthfully, I don’t remember the first time I ever met Jason—or Sylvia, to be fair. I’m sure I was taken aback by his skyscraper frame, lumberjack beard, and deep voice. He was such an oddity for the Hoota family, where everyone is under 5’5 and a racial soup of brown and white. But over the course of 4 years, I’ve gotten to know Jason very well—and I must say, he’s perfect for my sister in every respect. Jason and Sylvia are opposites in every fashion except their dedication to work, family, alcohol, and Gator football. For those who don’t know, Sylvia is 6 years older than me. It was the prime age gap, for we avoided high school cattiness and I learned from all of her mistakes, making plenty of new ones on my own. We lived together her last year and my first year of college—an interesting dynamic of my wild discovery and her 24-year-old complacency. I skipped the typical freshmen year, but it was worth it. Thanks to Sylvia for cooking for me so I didn’t starve, dragging me to the gym, and getting my naïve self drunk on wine after calculus exams. Summer in Atlanta was another adventure of bar prep afternoons and gin + tonics evenings—Sylvia passed the bar while I discovered Blackstreet and Biggie. I’m so proud of her for bagging a law degree, fantastic job in Atlanta, and husband all in the same year. As for Jason, thank you for making me the biggest and best dork ever. Because of you, I drool over Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and HBO Rome. And beer. Any guy that can quote Tyrion while sucking down 15 Midnight Oils is a keeper. It’s hilarious because I feel like Sylvia is basically marrying the male version of me. Both Jason and I are messy, have weird musical tastes, and love moving a stapler 3 centimeters to the left to annoy Sylvia. And we both love her, unconditionally. You are truly the Biggie to her Tupac <pre rivalry and homicide> and the Steve Spurrier to her Florida Field. I’m not very romantic, but this accountant/lawyer duo make me believe love—the real kind with no frills—does exist. You two have acted like a married couple for ages, but now it’s official. So congratulations to Sylvia and Jason—your union will and already is bringing happiness and love to you and all those around you. Have a wonderful life together.

John’s speech was meh, but he’s an awkward gangle of a boy. I sucked down my remaining gin+tonic after the smattering of hugs and tears after the speech. Food was impossible and I gossiped with Hannah instead, sucking and sucking and sucking silliness. Seeing as I was starved and impossibly little, the alcohol went right to brain. Hannah and I christened the dance floor to Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl, Shake it for Me,” and we shimmied like sober guests didn’t exist. My grandmother, my mom, my crotchety Grandpa, and my sentimental dad was all watching, but I didn’t care. It wasn’t long before the groomsmen stormed the terrazzo with us (although Hannah and I got. The. Party. Started.) The three of them—John, Scott, and Jax—were stringbean geeks with prom dance moves. Jax danced like a dad; he was a dad with his thrusting arms, hips, and head nods. I cannot describe his spaghetti limbs, but I adored the 80s golf dad vibes. Again, he is not a douchebag. Any guy that boogies like he owns a minivan (which he does) and transition glasses (his aren’t, thank god) can’t be a real asshole. We kindasorta danced together, and his too-long body was never far away from my falling curls.

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The evening dissolved in my glassy eyes and Sylvia’s mini meltdowns. Jason got wedding cake in her hair, so Hannah and I calmed down her psychotic outbreak in the powder room. Aunt Rey  stole me away for a slow dance, but I ditched her overflowing breasts and marched up to Jax. “Jax, do you want to dance.” “Sure, of course.” His hands were large on my waist and in my little girl hands. It was like dancing with one of those old fashioned lampposts in French B&W films. It was barely a minute long, but the feeling of a rough touch on my Aveeno one was different, exciting—like I’d known him my whole life. To be fair, I said the same thing about Boy #2, but he’s an asshole addicted to cunts and appearing cool.

Jax danced with mom at some point, but gin’s fingers had pickled my brain and I didn’t remember. The guests were old and weary (@Aunt Joani’s 89 years), so the party was dead by 8:30 p.m. Somebody—Hannah? —handed me a sparkler and I staked my pavement, ready for Sylvia’s Pinterest moment to unfold under the humidity. Jax sidled up to me, also with two sparklers and a distinctly undrunk slur. I guess when you’re 6’5 and 200 pounds, ten beers don’t make a dent in body mass. Sylvia and Jason drove off in a Nissan while the bridal party ubered downtown; I sulked in daddy’s car, knowing his overprotection would never let me leave the house. Until he did.

“You want to go out with them downtown?”

“Well yeah, I do.” Awaiting dejected no.

“Who’s going?”

“Hannah, Chelsea, Jax, and the others.” Awaiting hopeful maybe.

“Take Sheena  and Reshmi with you and you can go.”

So at 9 p.m., Daddy drove me, my 36-year-old cousin and 40-year-old one to MacDintons, a bar in downtown Saint Pete. As per usual, a teeny crop top and high wasted shorts clothed my Polly Pocket body (and garage flip flops). Sexy but casual, that’s what guys liked, right? Daddy dropped us off like high schoolers, going 2 miles an hour until we were inside. I barely glimpsed the boys and Hannah when the bouncer demanded “IDs” in a gruff shout. He kicked me out, the pimpshit. I know I look 13, but with a crowd of engineers, lawyers, and English moms, you’d think the law would wink me in. Hannah, Resh, and Sheena went outside with me as my smile trembled; they were debating what to do with my young ass when Jax appeared next to me.

“Hey.”

“Hi.”

“We can try the bar next door.”

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Cute dad smile that killed me. And he was still in his dress pants and loosened shirt (10/10). I walked straight into the bar next door, claiming a back table and seat faced away from the counter—not one bearded bloke stopped me or looked at me. I was with oldies, so they probably assumed I had stellar genes for a 30-year-old. Jax sat next to me as Sheena slid a Stella beer (the wife beater) towards my napkin. I glanced around shiftily; after all, this was illegal, but I gripped the glass like I had blown it personally and drank. My cousins, with kids and jobs and husbands, were getting me drunk. I aspire to have their domestic sensibility with a wild core. I hope Jax likes girls who drink because I adore men who drink. It’s an unhealthy reasoning, but drinking is equated with laughter and vitality—and I need that in an S/O. We mostly talked together—about his work, drunken nights, eyesight, tattoos, and pretty nothings Stella made me forget. But his hands were inches away from mine, solid and gripping a Yuengling. I placed them in his a few times, to get out from the table, to take a picture.

The beginnings of a “like” are fascinating—when was the exact moment his faceless name became my dominant thought? When did his unknown character suddenly feature in every midnight dream? Our mutual fancy was cute, but probably shallow and unfounded because it happened at a wedding. Everyone fancies everyone else at weddings; it’s a rule. If you don’t end the night batting eyes with someone, you wasted your youth on overpriced cake and party favors. It was the setting. It was the setting. I don’t recall what I said, but some jumbled sentence ended with “maybe if I had your number…” So Jax Ting, the Jack without the ‘ck’ is in my contacts as is his Snapchat account. And what were the others doing? Hannah and Scott were flirting, although Scott was complaining about Chelsesa being a tease. John was awkward in a corner. Sheena and Reshmi were speaking sister words. All the boys had their ties around their forehead, and it was so goddamn cute, innocent. I wanted to kiss Jax so many times that night, but I never had the opportunity. Plus, if last semester taught me anything, rushing is the death of me. Our goodbye was a faceplant into his linen chest, our heights being so mismatched. And I turned my back on the bar. With Sheena and tattooed Resh.

Thursday: Mom was a bitch. Hannah was hungover. I was dry mouthed and dirty haired. After picking up Hannah, we came home and Jax and John were standing in the living room. What? I was wearing my Walmart star shorts and highlighter sandals. I must’ve looked like a toddler in a Target ad. I grinned painfully, meeting Jax’s dad glasses for a second before fixating on my Starbucks cup. John had to sign the marriage license…so why the fuck was Jax there? They left three minutes later, but we saw Jax AGAIN at the gas station while dad was refilling. Really? He was driving away in his minivan (the “slam van” as he calls it), waving with a doggish grin as our eyes met through glass. So many signs, not enough time to derive their meaning. Britany’s toothache, the marriage license, the gas station—and the part about him saying I was “hot” to Tyler once. Fate, calm the fuck down.

“After the wedding shebang was over, I couldn’t help but thinking Jesus Christ, I might marry Jax Ting one day.”

I wrote that earlier. It’s still true, but an over exaggeration. I have no business thinking about marriage when finals remain untaken and single nights are unwritten. But Jax and I do snap each other, about once a day. Too bad he’s 26, lives four hours away, and is looking for a wife, not a childish girlfriend of 19. Our timing was off—whether it will correct itself, I have no clue. I don’t even know him.

One sentence summary: I like weddings because I get to wear a dress and crush hardcore on older men with jobs, dad moves, and no dickish airs.

~The Fucking End~

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