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Sunday, April 1, 200-
This can't be true.
But, of course, it is. And I am, therefore, by various connections, alliances, and accidents, happy and not, for one reason or another, hereby obligated to attend seventeen weddings in the next six months.
How I've managed to avoid confronting such a state of affairs, what with save-the-date cards and engagement party announcements and solicitations for bridal shower gifts fluttering down on me for months, a blizzard of tastefully engraved handmade paper collecting in heavy cream-colored drifts around the apartment--well, it's a testament to something. My capacity for denial, probably.
See, most rituals I hate. Which is not to say that I'm not a creature of habit, because I am, in the most profound of ways; I am a walking antonym for spontaneity. This, however, should not be confused with an affection for ceremony, and particularly not for the wedding ceremony.
This afternoon was given over to one of the few rituals I don't mind: the biannual transfer of my upcoming social and professional appointments from many, many small scraps of paper to the laminated six-month calendar that I keep on the wall above my desk at work, and which I have dragged home for this purpose. It usually gives me a sort of thrill, a bracing sense of victory over the forces of chaos. Not today, though. Today my study became the site of a psychic massacre, as I plucked wedding invitation after wedding invitation from the piles of paper around my desk, and felt my anxiety mount in spectacularly direct proportion to the number of ceremonies I have promised to attend.
"Goddamn," I tell the air around my desk.
"Goddamn," I tell Francis, the elderly and long-suffering dachshund asleep on my left foot.
"Goddamn, goddamn, goddamn," I tell the nearby photographs of my mother, my father, and my younger brother, Josh, whose third, second, and first marriages, respectively, are among those requiring my attendance. I blow a kiss at the photo of my elder brother, James, who in addition to being gay is also a certified, off-the-chart commitment-phobe, and unlikely to get hitched any time soon. I'm very fond of James.
"Goddamn," I add one more time, loudly, for good measure.
"Oh, don't stop." Gabriel pokes his head into the study. "I love it when you talk dirty, Joy. Don't stop." He has smudges on his face and a feather duster in his back pocket.
"Are you aware that we have seventeen weddings to go to between now and mid-September?" I wave a handful of the offending invitations at him.
"I hadn't counted, but it makes sense." Gabe slouches against the door frame.
"Beg to differ. It's totally senseless."
"Probably just a by-product of everyone you know turning thirty. Same thing happened to me a couple of years ago."
"To this extent?"
"Well, no. Seventeen? No." Gabe shrugs. "Something like five in a year. Guess that's not quite the same, is it?"
"Hey, maybe someone dosed the national water supply." He laughs. "A nation of brides. You remember that Cheever story where there's a costume party, and people are supposed to dress as they wish they were, and all the women come in their wedding dresses, and all the men come in their old football uniforms?"
"Gabe, I'm going to throw up."
"Don't do that. The bathroom is spotless." He assumes the Olympic victory pose, chest thrust out, arms raised above his head. "And the kitchen. I even defrosted the freezer."
"Truly uncommon valor. May I take you out for dinner?"
"Hero sandwiches? Veal medallions? Army bratwurst?" Gabe has an unredeemable fondness for puns, and the...