The names and some details have been changed to keep people from having to have uncomfortable moments.
The kid was at sports and my friend, Laurie, was shopping near the athletic field so a spontaneous tea-date happened. I arrived a few minutes late and found Laurie sitting next to a very large package with a fetching and expensive bow on top. She wore a decidedly glum expression. I pointed to the box and asked “Is it ‘Buy a friend farm equipment day’ again? Already?”
She patted it unaffectionately. “I can’t read German," she muttered. "It’s either an espresso maker or a trash can. This was the cheapest thing they registered for. I’d have paid another fifty dollars to feign my own death and avoid the whole thing.”
“Not too excited about the wedding, are we?” I asked. We were not. Here, in sum, are the details:
The groom, “Chad”, is her nephew, a man in his early twenties who has ADD or depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder or Creeping Malaise. His symptoms have included dropping out of high school, a disinclination to work and a deft hand with making a bong out of nearly anything. He lives with his parents who are now paying for classes for their son to become a sound engineer, the tenth or maybe eleventh career he has considered. Classes would be going better if he were to attend.
He has been dating the bride-to-be, “Brittany”, since high school. Laurie reports she is a sweet girl if you like talking about Taylor Lautner. The family owns restaurants. Brittany works up to eleven hours a week at one restaurant or another, usually until she breaks something. She also lives at home. Her purses and shoes are adorable. A year ago, the bride’s older sister got married with much spectacle and many parties. Within a month, Brittany was agitating Chad to make it official. No one expected anything to come of this, because the only long-term goal Chad had ever stated was moving to Amsterdam and becoming a pot reviewer, but for Brittany’s birthday, Chad got down on one knee and proposed, using a ring Brittany had bought for him. There are nine bridesmaids, eight groomsmen (two of whom work at Chad’s favorite pot dispensary) a meal of either salmon or steak and a long registry of things which are either espresso makers or trash cans. Chad’s mother estimates the wedding is costing Brittany’s parents somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty thousand dollars, even with restaurants at their disposal. Neither bride nor groom has five hundred dollars to their name.
After the honeymoon, they will move into Brittany’s room. We assume the espresso maker/trashcan will look nice in her parents' kitchen.
“Maybe I’m old-fashioned,” Laurie concluded, sipping her tea, “but isn’t the point of being married that you’re an adult? And doesn’t being an adult have something to do with going to work or to school or not paying your rent in hugs?” She glared at her croissant and finally said, “I blame reality television.”
Usually, she and I are on the same page about reality television being the source of our nation’s downfall, but this time I shook my head. “Sorry, not this time. Groom is a cute do-nothing pothead, bride is a pampered princess who wants to be the focus of attention for a year? I went to this wedding at least twice in my twenties. The marriage lasts until his hair falls out, which it always does. Two years later, she marries an orthodontist in Woodland Hills.”
Laurie looked thoughtful and said, “Yes, of course, that wedding. She’s bossy, he’s passive and they make each other nuts before the year is out.”
I continued, “The only people who benefit from those marriages are lawyers, Williams-Sonoma, cover bands and those people who make Jordan almonds. You know,” I said, warming to my subject and pointing with my scone, “we as a culture need to create a new ritual; a wedding to allow certain young women to be princesses for a day without creating a bond which will take many billable hours to undo. Think marriage-lite. Wait, I’ve got it!”
I gasped in delight, coughed out a bit of scone, then framed my fingers around my idea.
“Not a marriage, but a mirage
. We, as a community, will spend many hours listening to the bride dither over flower colors and Empire waist versus dropped waist and we’ll care to the same degree we would have cared before, but now we won’t have a single moment of sorrow about how this marriage is probably a very bad idea. Because it won’t be a marriage, it’ll be a mirage
! And if after the event, the groom suddenly grows up and stops thinking he’ll make his first million in hand-painted skateboards and, I don’t know, gets a job and the bride stops referring to her Kate Spade purses as “My retirement fund,” then after a few years, we’ll call it a marriage. If, as history has shown, no one changes and eventually they get tired of each other, there are no hurt feelings because it was a mirage!”
I leaned back and smiled. Laurie nodded slowly and said, “I like it. But what about wedding presents?”
“I’m guessing for these women, the thrill is in creating the registry and opening the presents, not the owning of the stuff. How often do you use a bread-maker? If you participate in a mirage
, you’d get to open the presents and then the Le Creuset pots and the flatware goes back to the mirage store. Cheaper for everyone. Very 2010.”
“What about babies? Once the novelty of the wedding wears off, you know these couples have kids.”
I stopped, stumped. I stared at the three women across the room, at their Bugaboos and Orbit strollers slung with Burberry diaper bags, at their small well-dressed accessories -- I mean, children -- cooing attractively. As if from the marketing God, it flashed to me.
“Not babies..." I announced. "...Maybies
!" Temporary toddlers for holidays and mall trips. Pre-verbal, not teething, preselected for attractiveness and passivity.”
You heard it here first.