Diary of a Mad Bride: He Asked for Commitment. She'll End Up Committed....
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Diary of a Mad Bride: He Asked for Commitment. She'll End Up Committed....

by Laura Wolf
     
 

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Once I was a sane, levelheaded professional woman. Then I said “yes.” Now I am the lunatic bride I always made fun of!

What is it about getting married that turns normal people into total freaks?

A savvy, riotously funny novel, Diary of a Mad Bride is for anyone who has ever been a bride, is about to become a bride, yearned to be a bride, or

Overview

Once I was a sane, levelheaded professional woman. Then I said “yes.” Now I am the lunatic bride I always made fun of!

What is it about getting married that turns normal people into total freaks?

A savvy, riotously funny novel, Diary of a Mad Bride is for anyone who has ever been a bride, is about to become a bride, yearned to be a bride, or suffered the sheer indignity of appearing in public in the world’s ugliest bridesmaid dress....

My wedding was starting in less than twenty minutes, and I was stuck in a 7-Eleven parking lot with popcorn kernels wedged in my gums and vanilla ice cream melting on my dress. It was a disaster too large to comprehend. After an agonizing year spent planning my wedding, could it really end like this? The voices chronicling a year of wedding hysteria swirled in my head....

— My grandmother upon viewing my engagement ring:

“What do you mean he gave you an emerald! Diamonds are eternal, emeralds say, maybe five years.”

— My future father-in-law on the night of my engagement party:

“To a happy marriage and, if necessary, a painless divorce!”

— My best friend, Anita:

“Oh, screw congratulations. Of course I’m happy for you. Stephen’s a major piece of ass and he’s got a sense of humor. Just as long as you’re certain this is what you want.”

Would I survive this day after all....?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Breezy.”
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Amy Sarah Thomas, a magazine editor, is going to marry Stephen Stewart, a computer programmer that is, if planning the wedding doesn't kill the romance. Told in diary form over the course of a year, with many iterations of a 70-point Things-to-Do list, Wolf's first novel seems determined to provoke an epidemic of elopements. The pre-wedding jitters are endless: obscenely expensive shoes and humiliating dresses, in-laws even more upsetting than one's own parents and siblings, bitchy co-workers and a stoned caterer, and the inevitable onslaught of redundant kitchen gadgets. At moments, there's an antic charm at work here, and the narcissistic Gram is a deliciously insidious little old lady, but Amy's narrative voice is more predictable and less funny than she seems to think. She's absolutely, positively never going to get married and the next thing you know, she's engaged. She's absolutely, positively going to keep her name until she decides to change it. There won't be chicken on the wedding menu, no way and guess what? Punctuated by gift cards, thank-you notes and line drawings, this breezy novel emits plenty of hot air, but until the rhapsodic last scene, there's little bliss to enchant brides-to-be. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Labored debut offering a step-by-step guide to planning a wedding and losing your mind. Stephen pops the question while waiting in line for movie theater snacks. Amy say yes to him, no to nachos, and swings into action. No pastel bridesmaid gowns for this hip, sophisticated New Yorker. She's a fast-rising editor at a serious newsmagazine and not easily flustered. The amazing secret to her success: "lists!" So she starts her latest and greatest to-do countdown with enthusiasm, although she's never been involved in preparing a wedding before. First, everything has to be discussed over and over with her girlfriends and family, because it all costs so much and it's all so incredibly complicated. The inevitable squabbles ensue on account of Amy being so totally nervous and everything. Yes, she wants to marry Stephen, even though he's obsessed with sports to the point where he's delighted with her gag gift: the history of basketball printed on toilet paper. Still, he likes four out of five of her favorite things: laughing, eating, reading, and sex. (Not shopping.) He'll do. Amy can't believe she's acting just like every other dopey bride-to-be, obsessing-with the expensive help of a wedding planner-over centerpieces and invitations and bands. She's dreaming about sauna sex with strangers . . . is it possible that she's not ready to get married? There are other important questions. Why did her beleaguered secretary quit when Amy needed her most? Can her proud parents possibly be coaxed to spend more money? Is the right Upper East Side church available? Will her nutty grandma ever calm down? Her mother's ghastly wedding dress fits perfectly, but must she wear it? And ohmigod, whatabout shoes? Somewhere in the midst of all this chaos, Stephen sensibly disappears. Will he come back? Lots of lists, footnoted comments on the action, and not very funny screenplay-style dialogue: all of them bits and pieces that don't add up to much.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385335836
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/02/2002
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.17(h) x 0.81(d)

Read an Excerpt

PREFACE

june 26th

My best friend, Mandy, is getting married, and no one is suffering more than my secretary, Kate.

Kate

“I‘m an administrative assistant. Not a security guard.”

Me

“And I appreciate everything you do for me. Didn‘t I get you that gift certificate from Saks last Christmas?”

Kate

“Macy‘s.”

Don’t be fooled. The Macy’s in Manhattan is really nice. It’s their FLAGSHIP store. She was just angling for sympathy.

Me

“Whatever you say. But I can‘t talk to Mandy right now. Just take a message.”

Kate

“I already did that. Six times.”

Me

“What‘d she say?”

Kate

“Urgent Call me.”

Me

“It’s a bluff. Tell her I’m in a meeting.”

Kate

“That’s what I said the first time she called.”

Me

“I’m in the ladies’ room.”

Kate

“Used it twice. Once more and we’ll be saying urinary tract infection.”

Me

“Hey, that’s a..”

Kate

“Forget it. I have my pride.”

Me

“All right. Put her through. But if I’m not off the phone in three minutes call my other line.”

Kate

“You know, this wasn‘t in my job description.”

Technically an argument could be made against this comment. One of the nice things about working for a big corporation like Hind Publications is the way the employment contracts use broad, undefined terms such as “general support, , thus leading the way for grand abuses of power like the one you’re seeing here.

Kate struts out of my office. I wish I could go with her. Instead I pick up the phone.

Me

“Hi, Mandy. What’s going on?”

Mandy

“Just the usual bridal nightmares.”

Me

“What nightmares? You found the guy. He found you. In just three months it’ll be eternal bliss”

Mandy

“Three months and two days.”

Me

“Like I said . . . Now relax and enjoy yourself.”

Mandy

“Oh, you couldn’t possibly understand, Amy. You’ve never been married.”

Me

“Then why’d you call me?”

Mandy

“What?”

Me

“Never mind. Just tell your spinster friend what’s ailing you.”

Mandy

“You’re mocking me. Don’t mock me.”

Me

“I’m not mocking you.”

I was totally mocking her.

Suddenly there’s loud sniffling on the other end of the phone.

Me

“Don’t cry, Mandy. Everything’s going to be okay.”

That’s right. Throw me a huge party, buy me an expensive dress, make me the center of attention, and to top it all off, shower me with gifts of my choosing, and I’ll cry too.

Mandy

“I’m just so tired. Today the florist called to say that her original quote on Holland tulips was under by fifteen-point-seven-eight percent.”

Me

“Wow! Fifteen-point-seven-eight percent? How’d you even figure out how much that was?”

The sniffles become sobs. Did I say the wrong thing? My other phone begins to ring. Kate’s just earned a pay raise.

Me

“Oops, there’s my other line. I’ve gotta go. Just remember this is about you and Jon getting married. That’s all that matters.”

Mandy

“But the tulips are an integral part of our floral concept.”

Me

“We’ll talk soon!”

I hang up. I know I should feel guilty, but all I feel is relief. Moments later Kate returns to my office with a scowl.

Kate

“We both know she’s calling back in an hour.”

Kate So young. So wise.

Me

“You’re probably right. Now tell me why getting married turns normal people into total freaks?”

Kate

“Don’t ask me, Ms. Thomas. I’m not married.”

Me

“That’s why I like you, Kate.”

That, and the fact that I love being called “Ms. Thomas", even if it is by a twenty-one-year-old who has a Backstreet Boys screen saver on her computer.


It’s true and you know it. People who are about to be married magically transform into raging narcissists. They’re like those robot dolls we had as kids. The ones that transformed from a human to a car to a prehistoric animal. Well, put a veil and a string of pearls on one of those T-Rexes and you’ve got yourself a bride-to-be whose personal evolution is powerful enough to sweep every living man, woman, and child into its turmoil. And that’s not malicious. Just fact.

Trust me. I know.

Mandy’s asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding this September. On a certain level it’s flattering. She’s been one of my closest friends since sophomore year in college. Stunning, determined and extremely high maintenance she’s the only person I’ve ever known who arranged her clothes by season. It’s an odd mix of awe and incredulity that seals our friendship.

But now the terms of that friendship dictate that I appear at her nuptial soiree in a yellow satin dress with an empire waistline. Mandy has convinced herself that the “buttercup” color and the empire waistline are a subtle yet elegant interpretation of Camelot-era gowns.

That’s Camelot as in Sir Arthur, not Jackie O.

Yeah, right.

First off, the fabric may be called “buttercup,” but it’s really “pucker-mouth lemon ,” like cheap mustard at picnics and ballparks. Or New York City taxicabs. And only young girls with eating disorders look elegant in empire waistlines. The rest of us look pregnant and dumpy. So you can forget Camelot.

But I’ll wear it and smile. Because Mandy loves it and I love her.

Besides, I’m secure enough to appear in public as a livery vehicle. I’m an attractive twenty-nine-year-old brunette. I’ve even been told that I look like Julia Roberts. The Size 10 version. But shorter. With smaller boobs. So for one day I can endure the shame and humiliation of joining seven other women in pucker-mouth lemon dresses as we cruise down Mandy’s wedding aisle to the tune of three hundred bucks a pop.

Oh, did I forget to mention that part?

And the spewing wallet doesn’t stop there. There’s still the engagement gift, the shower gift, the wedding gift it all adds up. Then there are the eight groomsmen who have to buy suits or top hats or full-body armor (I’ve been too afraid to ask). Not to mention the 250 guests she’s invited to share in this intimate event, which she’s been painstakingly planning for twelve long and laborious months . . .

People always say you don’t have to bring a gift to the engagement party. They’re lying. They never forget who brought what and who showed up empty-handed. The first person who told me engagement gifts weren’t expected is still waiting by the mailbox for my present to arrive. That was four years ago. She stopped speaking to me after two. But I don’t care. I’m not sending it on principle: liars really tick me off.

I sound callous. I hate that, because I’m not. In fact, I try to be as patient and understanding as possible. I try to remember, as Mandy constantly reminds me, that I’ve never been through this. I really don’t know what it feels like to endure the tumultuous storms that mysteriously accompany weddings. I try to remember that all those insane brides used to be my thoughtful, intelligent, truly enjoyable friends. Women I loved being with. The whole “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” doo-doo.

But it’s difficult. It’s like they’ve been stricken with some Mad Bride Disease. And it’s not their fault”it’s the diet powder they’ve turned to in a desperate attempt to shed those extra ten pounds that they’ve failed to lose for the last thirty years.

Yet not for a second do I begrudge them their happiness or their hysteria. I’m thrilled they’ve found soul mates, partners, whipping boys, playthings . . . Heck, life’s hard. A spouse is an invaluable bonus. No one prepares us for the lonely weekends watching mediocre TV, wishing we had something better to do. Sure, I’ve got a great boyfriend and terrific friends. But boyfriends come and go and friends make other plans. A spouse is always on-call. You can stay at home and do nothing, because you’re doing it together.

But enough is enough. These days every time the phone rings it’s another person calling to say she’s getting married. They’re bursting with excitement, spewing from the mouth, as their joy overfloweth for hours and hours and hours . . . Wedding dates, seating charts, flowers, registries, hors d’oeuvres, and gifts. Next they’ll be calling about babies and twins and in-vitro fertilization. Hours of birthing details. Placentas, epidurals, and tearing. Do they have to talk about the tearing? Then it’ll be Little League and Cub Scouts and car pools and extramarital affairs and couples therapy and divorce court . . . Soon I’ll have to get a second phone just to order Chinese food!

Breathe. I must remember to breathe.

The thing that I really don’t understand is the whole desperation to marry. I wasn’t one of those little girls who sat around and fantasized about my wedding dress. I didn’t know how I’d wear my hair or what type of flowers I’d hold. And I certainly didn’t have visions of myself floating down the aisle as hundreds of guests quietly weep into handkerchiefs while whispering in hushed tones about my exquisite beauty. My remarkable poise. My stellar choice of veil.

In fact, I pretty much assumed I’d never get married. I mean, why bother? I’m not religious. My family doesn’t really care. And I have a sister who made it clear from infancy that she intended to lead the most June Cleaver existence possible, thereby assuring my family of at least one joyful nuptial.

I still remember the first week of college, when a girl in my literature class told me in all seriousness that college was our last chance to find a husband. According to her it was the last time we’d be in an environment with an abundance of men of the appropriate age, educational background, and financial strata. I was horrified. Here was an intelligent, good-looking, very young woman declaring that her main goal in college was to meet a mate. The degree she was getting in macrobiology? Merely a footnote. College was simply an episode of The Dating Game honed to its sharpest point.

By junior year she was engaged to a guy with chronic dandruff and a history of kleptomania. She liked his sense of humor and thought his love of tennis would make him a good dad. She stopped talking to her friends and socialized exclusively with his. They were married two years later. I’m no devil-worshiping Satanist, but I just don’t get it. Wasn’t the whole point about birth control to liberate us from these shackles of dependency? Isn’t that why we had the 1970s? Wasn’t that why halter tops were invented?

And it’s not like I’m “out of touch. As the Associate Features Editor of Round-Up magazine, it’s my job to know what people in New York are thinking and doing. And not just the Donald Trumps and models of the moment. But real people who worry about public school violence and look forward to eating hot zeppoli at the next street fair. In fact, I’m so “in touch” that I’ve been appointed editor of next year’s “Faces in the City” issue. So I know weddings are important and meaningful events. I just don’t understand why they diminish my girlfriends’ capacity for rational thought, increase their ability to cry tenfold, and entirely vanquish their fashion IQ. I mean, for God’s sake, I look like a taxicab with dyed-to-match shoes.

I think my sister, Nicole, innately understands my genetic inability to deal with marriage. Nicole, my vaguely younger sister, got married five years ago to her college sweetheart, Chet. A sincerely great guy. So storybook-touching it almost made me puke. But she was smart enough to plan the whole thing while I was backpacking through Europe. I returned just in time to slip into a pale pink spaghetti-strap dress and march down the aisle along with four of Nicole’s nearest and dearest girlfriends.

The photos from that day are beautiful. People are joyful and excited, and then there’s me. My eyeliner smeared into raccoon eyes and my pale pink dress so close to my skin tone that it looks like flesh.

Yeah, that’s me. I’m the haggard naked chick on the left.

Nicole knew what I’ve suspected for a very long time.

Weddings just aren’t my bag.

july 10th

We’re in Frutto di Sole, a little Italian restaurant in the West Village that we’ve been coming to since the day we graduated college. Small and cozy, it’s filled with checked tablecloths, cheap wine, and woven baskets of flour-dusted bread. Its owner, Rocco Marconi, a stocky old man with a Neapolitan accent, despite the fact that he’s from Bayside, Queens, calls our favorite table the one in the back near the fireplace the “Sirens” , table. He claims it’s because my girlfriends and I are so pretty. But I know it’s because we’re louder than most emergency vehicles. Which makes sense, because Frutto di Sole is where we toast promotions and curse unfaithful boyfriends. Where we celebrate birthdays and mourn birthdays. Depending on the year.

But tonight Mandy, Jon, Stephen, and I have come just to relax and spend time together. Something that’s been difficult to do since Mandy and Jon got engaged. Except it’s already 8:30 p.m. and Stephen’s late.

Mandy

“So we’ve decided that you and Stephen should get married.”

Here it comes. The international conspiracy of married people just itching to have you join their cult.

Me

“Like I’ve told you before, Stephen and I are happy with the way things are. Besides, I’m in no rush to get married. Maybe I’ll never get married.”

You should see them shudder when I use that one.

Jon

“Single women always say that.”

Did I mention that Jon’s a real ass? And that Mandy could have done a lot better if she hadn’t freaked out when she saw thirty approaching?

Me

“Well, some of us mean it.”

Mandy

“Of course you do. It’s just that you and Stephen have been going out for almost a year now. You guys are great together. He adores you and he’s gainfully employed. Why wouldn’t you get married?”

Me

“I’ve known the cashier at my dry cleaner for over a year now and he’s gainfully employed. Why don’t I marry him?”

Mandy

“Because Stephen’s in software development. It’s the plastics of the 21st century.”

Me

“You sound like your mother.”

Mandy

“Yes. And my mother’s a very smart woman. You’d be wise to follow her example.”

Mandy’s mother like her mother before her is a stickler for detail, a tyrant for tradition, and a devotee of Emily Post. Oh yeah, and she married the senior legal counsel for a huge conglomerate. Thankfully Mandy has broadened the example to include a career in real estate.

Me

“Well, you’re right about one thing. Stephen and I are happy. Things are perfect. So why screw it up by getting married?”

Jon

“It sounds like you’re in denial. No offense.”

Me

“Don’t be ridiculous. Why would your telling me I’m in denial offend me, Jon? On the contrary, it strengthens my belief that married people push single people to wed because they’re uncomfortable with their own decision to devote themselves exclusively to one person for the rest of their lives.”

That’s right, Jon. Smell the coffee. No more Winona Ryder fantasies for you, you little perv.

Mandy

“Well, it wouldn’t hurt you to at least consider marriage. Let’s face it, you’re not twenty-five anymore.”

Me

“So?”

Mandy

“So if you don’t want kids that come through a mail-order catalog, you’ll need to settle down soon.”

Why do people keep telling me to “settle down”? I am settled. I’m Associate Features Editor of Round-Up magazine. I have cable television. I get junk mail in my own name!

Jon

Plus, looks don’t last forever.

Jeez, I hate this guy.

Sure, I think about getting married. How could I not with all this badgering? But it doesn’t feel right yet. It’s not my time. It may never be my time. And that’s okay. I’m a well-educated, intelligent woman who loves her career and has plenty of friends. And yes, I have a terrific boyfriend. I’m really happy. So why do I need to get married?

The answer is, I don’t. And I certainly don’t need to be married in order to have kids. Anyone who’s ever played Doctor knows that. Besides, I can always offer sanctuary to Jon and Mandy’s devil offspring, who will undoubtedly grow to loathe and despise their father the minute they gain the ability to understand the English language.

Me

“Oh, Jon. You always know exactly what to say.”

july 12th

Stephen and I first met at a birthday party for our mutual friend James. In his birthday cheer it occurred to James that Stephen, recently split from his onerous ex-girlfriend Diane, and I, single for so long that I’d blocked it from my memory, might hit it off. We did.

I knew nothing about computer programming and he’d never read Round-Up. But we both liked Dick Francis novels, Chinese food, and having sex. I don’t exactly remember how that came up, but it did. So we did. Three nights later in his apartment. And for the record, it was really good.

But that night at James’s party I had no idea that the sex would be so good. All I knew was that this handsome, thirty-one-year-old guy with light brown hair, hazel eyes, and a smile that tilted to the left was single and didn’t seem like a stalker. Furthermore, he was intelligent (his knowledge of politics extended beyond sound bites), he was charming (he told me I had the prettiest blue eyes he’d ever seen), and he was endearingly awkward (after mistakenly calling me “Ann , he apologized profusely, then blushed for the next twenty minutes).

But what I remember most from our first meeting was his willingness to laugh.

Soulful and embracing, that laugh enveloped me. And I was gone. Lost in the euphoric haze that precedes first kisses and tells your heart to beat faster.

Four months later, after dating steadily, I happened to be searching Stephen’s wallet for change of a twenty. Instead I found a picture of myself. Lovingly protected in a clear plastic slip and tucked neatly behind his driver’s license there I was, asleep in a hammock during a trip we’d taken to Fire Island. The words “Amy takes a nap,” had been lightly inscribed on the reverse side with a pencil.

Right then, I fell in love.

july 15th

Stephen and I played hooky today. Instead of going to work we went to the beach.

It’s one of Stephen’s most attractive qualities, spontaneity.

Unlike the rest of us, when he gets an idea in his head he actually pursues it with gusto. So while my inner voice is telling me that I have to go to work and be a dutiful employee, Stephen’s inner voice is saying, “Mmmm . . . beach weather” And it’s not like he’s irresponsible. In fact, it’s his hyper sense of responsibility that keeps him at the office for twelve-hour days. But today he saw an opportunity and seized it. So who was I to be a party pooper? Besides, I may be a control freak, but even I recognize the value of occasionally cutting loose.

Or at least I did the minute my toes were wiggling through the sand and the ocean breeze was fluttering across my bare skin. And when my mind wandered back to work and deadlines and calls I had to make, Stephen gently calmed me with a kiss.

Mandy’s mother is wrong. A ring couldn’t possibly make this any better.

july 17th

On a superficial level, summer is pure fun. Concerts in the park, tons of daylight and iced tea. But the truth is that Memorial Day to Labor Day is like one big walk down the aisle.

It’s difficult not to feel a little disenfranchised.

Invitations fill your mailbox. Wedding dates thwart vacation plans. And television commercials use tearful fathers walking their “little girls , toward the altar in an effort to massage our heartstrings and awaken our fears so that multinational companies can sell us everything from expensive champagne to wedding insurance.

The business of marriage is being rammed down our throats and my gag reflex is working overtime.

For a person who’s not engaged, I find myself thinking about marriage a lot. Which can’t be healthy. It’s like thinking about an insulin shot when you’re not a diabetic. It’d be a fabulous boost but would ultimately kill you.

Why do we still assume fathers are paying for these events?

Not that marriage itself is bad. But the Cult of the Married is lethal. It annoys me, angers me, and, more often

than I care to admit, it makes me feel like utter crap. As if being single says more about me than the fact that I don’t have a husband.

Humiliating: When people want you to marry so they can stop “worrying , about you. So they won’t feel obligated to call you on the weekend or live in fear that when you’re old and alone you’ll expect them to entertain you.

The minute I expect Jon to entertain me is the minute I welcome anyone with a side arm to blow a bullet through my brain.

Frustrating: When the love bug bites married people so hard that it causes amnesia. Suddenly all their memories prior to marriage are erased and they’re unable to fathom another lifestyle.

This IS Mandy. Trust me, back when we were nineteen Mandy was not looking to get married. Sure, there were girls who were. But not Mandy. She wanted to lay anything that moved and wore a football jersey. Choosy she wasn’t. And marriage was certainly not on the agenda. But here she is years later, reincarnated as her mother, preaching to the Single on the evils of going it alone.

“Alone” being defined as any state other than legally married. As if Stephen is simply a sexy mirage.

And the Ultimate Nail in the Coffin of Decency: The fact that men are rarely badgered on the topic of marriage.

Sure, the times they are a-changin’ and the occasional homophobic parent will prod their son toward marriage. But parity on this subject? No way. When I’m with Stephen no one utters a word about our getting married. And if they do, they let it rest with our initial response that we’re not interested. None of the needling and shaming. And among men, forget about it. It’s rare that any man will turn to another man and say, “Hey, Joe, shit or get off the pot. , NO man wants the responsibility of pushing his friend to the altar.

It’s like aggressively advocating vasectomy to your best buds”there are certain regions of life you just don’t mess with.

july 18th

After a particularly taxing day at work Stephen came over to my apartment, where we went to bed early and played Connect the Dots.

With a can of whipped cream.

Anything that is vaguely round on your partner’s body qualifies as a dot. You’d be surprised how many portions of the male anatomy are round.

july 30th

Stephen’s been distracted and edgy these past two weeks and it’s starting to get on my nerves. Last night he became apoplectic because I made plans to see Anita on Saturday night when he and I had already agreed to see a movie. So I’ll reschedule with Anita, right? Wrong. It was like I’d told him I was planning on canceling his cable just before the playoffs. “How could you do that? What were you thinking?! ,

“I was thinking it’d be nice to see Anita. But it’s fine. I’ll just see her some other time. ,

“I certainly hope so, because we have plans. We’ve planned to go to the movies. ,

“Relax. You’re totally overreacting. ,

This is where he became defensive. “I’m not overreacting. I’m reacting in a manner that is perfectly acceptable, considering the fact that we made plans, days in advance, which you completely forgot about. Now tell me you honestly can’t understand what the problem is here. ,

“Okay. I honestly can’t understand what the problem is here. ,

It wasn’t the response Stephen was hoping for. But he was pissing me off. And I really didn’t appreciate him acting like I was the one with a problem. One thing I’m sure of I don’t have a problem.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think the end is near. Either he’s trying to precipitate a breakup or he’s getting really possessive. Either way, it’s a clear signal to bail. Which is depressing as hell. It’s not like I was planning on marrying the guy, but I was positive we’d last well into my thirties. He just seemed so right for me. He’s intelligent, he’s handsome, and he likes four of my five favorite things: laughing, eating, reading, and sex. So what if he’s not big on shopping?

And I was actually beginning to tolerate his fanatic love of sports!

Okay, fine. Maybe I wasn’t learning to tolerate his love of sports. But I was definitely learning to ignore it.

How could this not work out? Why are some people destined for good fortune in relationships while the rest

Maybe I should just break up with him tomorrow night and see Anita on Saturday. After all, I haven’t seen her since she started her new job at Teen Flair magazine. Maybe she knows someone I could go out with. Maybe there’s a cute sixteen-year-old in her “Acne Before the Prom , focus group. Or maybe I should find a really old guy who’s been divorced a couple of times. Someone who wants to subsidize our purely meaningless fun . . .

Ick.

What am I talking about? I can’t dump Stephen. I mean, I could, but I don’t want to. I love him. I was about to suggest we move in together. This is just my defense mechanism kicking in. But it’s always better to be the dumper than the dumpee. Right? And what if he’s about to give me the boot? Shouldn’t I spare myself the humiliation?

Absolutely!

Except I can’t imagine living without him.

august 1st

I’m getting married!!!!!!!!

august 1st—11 p.m.

Stephen’s been a pain in the ass because he was so nervous about ASKING ME TO MARRY HIM! Some jerk at his office told him this horrible story about proposing to a woman. Instead of saying yes the woman turned him down, told him off, then married his brother. No wonder Stephen was a mess. He hates his brother. But so do I! And now we’re getting married!

There I was at the movie theater concessions counter with Stephen, about to see the new Jackie Chan film, wishing that I were going to see the new Sandra Bullock movie instead, still deliberating whether or not I should break up with Stephen before he dumps me when Boom! Before I can ask for a medium Diet Coke and a bag of Gummi Bears, Stephen drops to one knee and asks me to marry him. In front of everyone. I couldn’t believe it. The next thing I know, the women on line are screaming for me to say yes and some guy at the back is yelling at us to hurry it up so he can get his nachos and Sprite before the previews start and all I can think is”

How much I love Stephen.

How this feels more right than anything else in the world.

How I wish I could stop crying long enough to say “YES! ,

And who the hell orders nachos at the movie theater?

august 2nd 3 a.m.

I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes the words “I’m getting married!” , roar through my head. It’s definitely surreal. But does it count if I haven’t told anyone yet? Is it like when a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it? Or is that “No one can hear you scream in space ,? I don’t know. I can’t think straight. My mind just keeps spinning and spinning like a ballerina pumped full of amphetamines.

Holy shit! “YES. ,

Just one word and my whole future has changed. I can’t handle this. I am going to explode.

august 2nd”4 a.m.

I had to wake Stephen up.

Me

“Do you realize that this is the only moment in our entire lives when only you and I know that we’re engaged? We should cherish this moment.”

Stephen’s eyes vaguely crack open.

Stephen

“You’re right, honey. I do cherish it.”

His hand reaches out limply to stroke my arm.

Stephen

“But could we talk about it tomorrow? I’ve got an 8 a.m. conference call and I really need to sleep.”

Puckering his lips, he manages a kissy sound before passing out.

Do I get annoyed that he won’t cherish this moment with me, or do I rejoice that even at 4 a.m. he’s considerate enough to call me “honey , before blowing me off to go back to sleep? I go with loving and responsible. After all, he does have an 8 a.m. meeting and he could have gone back to his apartment to sleep, but he wanted to spend our engagement night together.

I’m marrying a man who’s romantic AND gainfully employed. What a rush! Good-bye, losers!

Jonas the painter: An “abstract-impressionist ,?

Anthony the inventor: Who’s going to wear Velcro swimwear?

Rick the conga drum player: Constantly sweet-talked me into doing his laundry. What was I thinking?

It all seems like ages ago. As if my decision to marry has suddenly put decades of distance between my life before Stephen and now. Our commitment to each other has solidified our union and built this impregnable wall around us. This is forever.

august 2nd

Work was a complete waste today. I couldn’t stop smiling and I had the attention span of an A.D.D. poster child. I was certain that someone would figure it out. I mean, for Christ’s sake, I was glowing! All during the department meeting glow, smile, glow, smile, glow, smile . . .

But no one noticed. Which is strange, because I work at New York’s least read magazine. No one ever smiles. Or glows.

Further complicating matters was the fact that I couldn’t tell anyone about my engagement. I decided on my way to work that my mother should be the first person to know. After all, she gave me life, right? It’s a matter of respect. So here I was with the greatest news since control-top pantyhose and I’d sworn myself to silence.

Silence isn’t my style. Just ask my secretary, Kate, who pops Advil throughout the day and routinely complains of carpal tunnel syndrome when I dictate letters.

I decided to take the commuter train upstate this weekend and tell my mother in person. Face-to-face so we can embrace in this most intimate of mother-daughter moments. The minute I got to my office I called to tell her I’d be arriving on Friday night.

Unfortunately the woman who gave me life is too busy to see me for the next two weeks.

School starts in less than a month and she’s got to prepare a new curriculum for her fourth-grade class. So I’ll wait. I may have to staple my mouth shut, but I’ll wait so those lice-infested, snot-encrusted, nine-year-olds can have a shot at a decent education. But it’s worth it. After all, how many times does a girl get to tell her mother she’s getting married?

august 3rd

This silence thing is killing me. Stephen thinks I’m crazy. I think I’m driving him crazy. He’s the only one I can talk to about the engagement so I’ve called him forty-six times since yesterday morning. That’s approximately once every half hour. I’ve gotten no work done and he’s forwarded his phone to voice mail.

So in an effort to contain myself I channeled my exuberance toward a worthy cause: shoe shopping.

I pass the Kenneth Cole shoe store every day, and this was the first time I noticed the display of bridal shoes in the window. After work I tried on a pair of simple, classic, reasonably priced white satin sling-backs. I actually considered buying them before it occurred to me”

I’VE ONLY BEEN ENGAGED FOR SEVENTY-TWO HOURS AND ALREADY I’M BUYING FOOTWEAR?!

Talk about overzealous. It’s like preparing the spit before you’ve shot the pig. How Mandy of me! So I hurried out of the store and bought a low-fat blueberry muffin instead.

But not by choice. Trust me, delusion doesn’t live here. . . . She’s over at Jenny Craig’s house. They were sold out of my favorite full-fat chocolate chip muffins with the powder sugar top.

august 5th

I don’t understand why people have such trouble organizing weddings. All you need is a good list.

Luckily, I’m the list queen.

I’ve always made lists. That’s why I’m so good at my job. I’m organized and in control. I’m on top of the situation, always. As a fast-rising magazine editor I’ve overseen articles on housing scandals, crack babies, and boat shows. Not to mention a six-part series on yo-yo dieting. I think I can handle a wedding.

It drives me nuts to think that people like Mandy actually spend thousands of dollars to hire a wedding planner. Sure she wants everything done “just right, , but how about putting that money into something practical? Like an IRA. Or a new vacuum cleaner. Those are investments. But thousands of dollars on a wedding planner? Another couple thousand on flowers? Not to mention the million-dollar dress you only wear once. Forget it. I refuse to wake up in debt the day after my wedding.

LIST OF THINGS TO DO FOR WEDDING:

1. Choose wedding date

2. Tell boss wedding date

3. Vacation time for honeymoon

4. Decide on honeymoon

5. Get minister

6. Choose reception venue

7. Make guest list

8. Choose maid of honor

9. Choose best man

10. Register for gifts

11. Arrange for engagement party

12. Buy engagement ring

13. Buy wedding rings

14. Buy wedding dress

15. Choose maid of honor dress

16. Order wedding cake

17. Hire caterer

18. Hire band for reception

19. Order flowers for ceremony

20. Buy shoes

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