Is it small wonder that hurricane season and wedding season are one and the same? As a former bridal-page editor, I can honestly say that I've seen some category 5 wedding disasters.
Take the bride whose write-up included the delectable morsel that "She entered the church on the arm of her father while singing an a cappella rendition of 'All of Me' dedicated to her groom.
And then there was the infamous friend of a friend of mine who hired some silky singers to croon "Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady" as the processional for her third weddin'.
I adore weddings. The families, the emotion, the beautiful gowns, the sacredness, the little honey sesame chicken wings......
I fulfilled a lifelong dream last spring----directing a wedding---when a friend looked desperately into my eyes, and said, "I don't have a lot of money to waste on this so will you do it for free?" I was touched.
Because weddings make me bawl (in one friend's video, the only sound you can hear are my wailing and the sound of the groom's ninety-year-old mom's oxygen tank clicking away), I was a little hesitant. Only one thing would cure my jitters: power "har."
On the morning of the wedding, I had my har teased so high in front I looked like Jimmy Swaggert in a blue crepe sheath (which I suspect he owns and trots out just for "special friends").
With big har, you don't snivel and bawl, you say things one time and everyone scurries to do you bidding. It's fabulously empowing. ("Hey! Move that candelabrum two inches to the left. No? DO YOU SEE MY HAIR? That's better, asshole.")
When the groom's mother, a ferocious--looking woman with big har of her own, arrived a full forty-five minutes late (and wearing one of those god-awful glassy-eyed mink stoles where the little minks are chasing themselves around your throat), I was calm but firm.
"Hon," I said sweetly, "since we've already heard every song your thirteen-year-old nephew knows on the piano, including 'The Ballad of the Green Beret' and 'Drop Kick Me, Jesus (Through the Goalposts of Life),' what say you move your minks right on down the aisle and we'll get these two hitched sometime before we se the head."
Well, I didn't say she was a classy friend, now did I?
No one has asked me to direct a wedding since and I place the blame squarely on the taxidermied shoulders of the mother of the groom.
Or perhaps it's because couples aren't taking marriage as seriously as they used to.
Just the other day, I read about the trend of the "starter marriage." That's the catchy label for marriages that last less than five years, take place in your twenties or thirties, and end with no kids and little regret.
Starter marriages are all the rage these days, partly because you don't have to give back any of the wedding gifts. You stuck out holy matrimony for sixty months, for heaven's sake. Think of it as a typical car-payment coupon book and now you can, ahem, trade up.
Sure, you may have married a metaphorical drunk bike the first time, but a Lexus could be just around the corner, complete with global positioning system technology. Oh, I'm getting misty here!
According to the experts, the breakup of the typical starter marriage should be amicable. Aside from some predictable squabbling about who's gonna get the Krups retro toaster, everybody usually stays friends.
And that, darlins', is where it gets weird, if you ask me.
The amicable divorce is an urban legend. You believe there's such a thing? Then you also believe that some loser really did find a finger in her Wendy's meal.
Simply stated: Thou shalt not be friends with thy ex. It's, well, icky.
I know people who claim to be friends with their ex-spouses and I always tell'em that I'd rather eat my own eyeballs than be friends with my ex. It's nothing personal, it's just that you can't buddy up with somebody who has seen you slough the dead skin off your heels.
While there's certainly no need to be mean to an ex-spouse, there's also no need to invite them to your parties in some misguided attempt to show everybody how danged civilized you are.
Freak: "Oh, look, there's Joe! Yoo-hoo! Jo-e! I'm so glad you could make it tonight! And who's your friend? She's absolutely stunning!"
Normal Person; "Oh, look, there's Joe. That lying sack of shit. Who's that cheap Christmas trash hanging all over him? Wait a minute. I'll just go say hello. Hi, Joe. Have you told Lil' Kim here that you still wet the bed?"
Allow me to remind you that I'm not taking about people with children here. If you've made babies with somebody, you have to at least be civil during those drop-offs for the sake of the little puddins who didn't ask to be brought into any of your midlife angst crap.
But if you're both free and clear, I say move on and don't look back.
On a gut level, the whole starter marriage concept is a bit offensive, particularly to an aspiring professional wedding directress like me.
After all, you're supposed to be entering a sacred union with your partner for life. Getting married shouldn't be like checking another item off your postcollege to-do-list like taking up yoga or switching to Green Tea.
Remember how everybody wondered if Bill and Hillary would get a divorce?
While everybody else thought their problems were rooted in Bill's penchant for "trashy" women who wore too much makeup and could shoot pool with their toes, I knew there was something else wrong: too many house guest.
In fourteen months, the Clintons had 404 overnight guests. Now, as someone who believes in the adage that fish and houseguests should be tossed out after three days, I can see that this could ruin any marriage.
The good news was that the guests donated some $625,000 to Hillary's Senate campaign. Hey, I consider my self lucky if any of my deadbeat overnight guest show up with a box of Krispy Kremes for breakfast.
It's easy to see how having 404 overnight guest could strain a marriage. When my husband's middle-aged, un-married cousin (think Randy Quaid's character in National Lampoon's Vacation) showed up to stay with us recently, it was the longest fourteen hours of my life.
Sure, the Clintons lived in a big house but you're never quite yourself when there's a strange person flushing and unwrapping those little presidential-seal toothbrushes down the hall. It's unlikely that Bill and Hillary could have any time for amorous pursuits knowing that Steven Spielberg and the missus were in the next room probably making their bazillioneith kid together.
Money, along with overnight guests, is what trips up most marriages. The trouble can start as early as when the blissed-out couple goes to pick out the engagement ring.
Remember, gentlemen? After a nice spiel from the salesman about the four C's of diamond buying, she went straight for the he much pricier emerald cuts where you realized you were about to get acquainted with the one B of diamond buying: bankruptcy.
So keeping in mind that, to a diamond salesman, the only real C that's important is "commission," you discreetly managed to inform him that you rent your furniture. Crisis averted; return to the seven-chip cluster, which are "making a comeback!"
Later on, gents, the women will begin to whine for an "eternity band," which is the ring in the commercial that shows the husband renting a whole movie theater to show home movies of his wife chronicling their fabulous life together. He is hated by normal husbands everywhere. If you do give an eternity band, for heaven's sake, get he one with the diamonds all the way around, not just on top. What does that mean? "I'll be with you for, well, half an eternity, sugar booger?"
A recent poll found that 40 percent of Americans keep secrets from their spouses and, most of the time, it's about how much money they spend. What is wrong with you people? Don't you realize that the foundation of a successful, vibrant marriage is complete honesty? That anything less is demeaning and destructive to your relationship? I know, I know.
My standard answer to the straightforward "man" question of "How much did that cost?" is always the same: a quickly-muttered-while-leaving the room "Oh, not that much." To prevent a follow-up question---the dreaded "How much is 'not that much'?----it's a good idea to say something to immediately change the subject such as, "Lord! Is that beetle larvae in your ear?" Works every time.
According to the survey, men and women lie to each other in equal numbers about spending habits. Your coat is his fish finder. Women also tend to hid purchases, usually clothing, then bring it out weeks later, and say, "This? I've had this old thing for ages, you big silly! Now are you going to get that larvae checked out or not?"
More interesting findings of this survey of one thousand men and women: Only 2 percent of them said they lied to a spouse about having an affair and 16 percent admitted they wished they could wake up and not be married anymore.
Not me. But occasionally I do wish I could wake up and not be lactose intolerant anymore. Hey, you have your dreams, I'll have mine.