Lost Wedding

I had my first wedding anxiety dream a couple of nights ago. Our reception was taking place in a dark, clammy courtyard, sandwiched between six Mexican funerals, and I was eating a cold, dirty hot dog while looking for my mom.

People who get successful by telling you how to be successful will tell you that you shouldn't worry, that answers to problems bubble up effortlessly from the subconscious. Look at Elias Howe, they'll say: the answer to his problem—the sewing machine—came to him in a dream wherein he was being chased by African tribesmen with an eyelet in the tips of their spears.

So if you come to my wedding and it's a dark, clammy affair full of crying Mexicans and spear-threading tribesmen, don't blame me. I'm just coasting with the experts here.

My betrothed—Leslie Smith of Leslie's Head Quarters fame (motto: “Get a good fucking haircut”)—and I decided to organize our wedding ourselves, with the intent of getting the maximum bang for the buck for our guests. Those of you who have been married or have died know how expensive both states of passage can be when left to professionals. That's why I want to be buried by amateurs, preferably Girl Scouts.

Most wedding venues insist you use their caterer and—whammo!—you're suddenly paying $28 to $40 per head for food that deserves to be served on a tray attached to an airline seat. Add the cost of an event planner, a DJ, a florist, a photographer and sundry nuptial suckerfish, and you might as well be getting hitched on the Mir space station.

Now I know several DJs and photographers, and I would never say they're overpaid for what they go through. So many couples are so clueless about how to proceed on their wedding day that if the DJ or photographer weren't there to lead them through it, the nation would be experiencing a negative birthrate.

But not us. We're too together for that. That's why, a couple of weeks out, we're still arguing over what color napkins to get, while not quite coming to grips yet with such little things as not having written our vows, not being sure our minister can keep a straight face, and not knowing where to fit everybody we invited, or what role our parents are supposed to play, aside from reflexively shouting, “You're not my child!” when the ceremony dissolves into a shambles. That's assuming we've remembered to invite them.

Our minister? Why, Laguna Beach artist Jorg Dubin, of course, a man eminently qualified for the job, as he possesses a $20 mail-order certification from the Universal Life Church. Jorg insists it wasn't he who handed a rubber chicken to the principal at our high school graduation ceremony, but I'm unconvinced. All I know is that if he tries any monkeyshines with us, he certainly won't find me plugging his “New Paintings” exhibit in this column, the exhibit that's running until Aug. 18 at the Art Institute of Southern California at 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd., the one of which our own cyst-bustin' sistah Rebecca Schoenkopf said, “comprises,” “louche,” “smock” and “whiff.”

I'd sooner risk a whiff of rubber chicken than take a chance on a normal minister's bag of tricks—you know, the ones who hammer the wedding couple so much about their bond with Jesus that they practically expect the Nazarene to kick off his sandals and hop in the bridal bed with them.

You can hardly blame the ministers. Church attendance is down. Everyone's still hanging at Rodman's place come Sunday morning. And even if John Lennon isn't more popular than Jesus, he's probably getting more quality time with the Big Guy than they ever will. So when they get a captive audience full of sinners, they make the most of it.

We'd just as soon get on to the hats and horns part of the day. If the service is too deep or significant, I'll start getting all blubbery up there. I cry a lot at movies, and I'm an absolute sucker for deep, significant speeches, particularly ones that I wrote. If you think Jerry Lewis is shameless just because he weeps like an infant every time someone on his telethon tells him how wonderful he is, you should see me tearing up at home while rereading my pithy little missives. Heck, a little tear is rolling down my cheek right now just over my being so fearless in revealing how shallow I am.

But I'd rather not cry all over my shiny silk suit—I look like a silver Crayola in this thing—so we'll probably avoid the telethon-length proceedings, though I do like the idea of having an electronic Big Board to tally up the cash we're raking in. At our advanced stage of life, we already have a toaster oven, and we couldn't see the point of registering somewhere just so people could pay more than they should for things we don't want. We'd rather they pay more than they should directly to us.

Is that gauche? Should I call Schoenkopf and ask her what “louche” means? Is it asking too much to expect people to drink champagne and wine out of the same glass? Is it bad luck to serve Chocolate Suicide Cake at a wedding? Just because other weddings don't have a section titled “Uncle Bob Whistles His Ass Off,” does that mean we shouldn't? Did I invite Uncle Bob?

These are the things I worry about, not the bit about being hitched for life to another individual. It'll be nice having someone around who can color coordinate.

Some of my old friends recently took me out on a bachelor party camping trip. Like our previous bachelor party outings, this involved none of the typical stripper or stag movie stuff. How does getting your wiener worked by some jaded professional fit in with the vows you're about to take? Instead, my friends and I take trips where there's the vow-impeding possibility of the groom being ripped asunder by some creature's ravening jaws, such as one tequila-fueled bachelor party where we went skinny-dipping 15 miles out in the shark-infested Catalina Channel at 3 a.m.

This time, we went to the sequoias, where there be bears. And marmots, which are actually more dangerous because they'll gnaw through your car's brake lines like they've seen too many Mannix episodes.

I lived, but should I have? Since I am by far the last of us to marry, my pals were full of sage wisdom about what I should expect. First, they said, the interesting sex stops. Then the sex stops entirely, with the energy thus conserved instead going into endless bickering. Not that they were complaining; they just felt I needed hints on developing the communication skills to deal with this.

Acting as if you're paying attention can be a big help, they said. Utter capitulation can work pretty well, too, but don't count on it. If a wife's got a full head of steam, she'll just get madder if you cave in before she's had a chance to vent fully. Don't expect logic or being right to win any points. Choose your battles because you won't win any of them. Suffer nobly, and someday you will enter Valhalla—after the Girl Scouts dump your body in the woods.

Is this the way of it, Dear Readers? Is that what my bride and I have to look forward to? Many of you have been down the aisle. Write in and let me know how marriage is working for you. That way I can run your letters in a column instead of having to write one on my honeymoon. I'll be getting paid for it, so it will be like your wedding gift to me—maybe the one that puts us over the top on the Big Board. Thanks!

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