Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ah Yes, 'Tis Something By Your Side to Stand

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 thought.

“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.


Blogger Cat Connor said...

By crikey I think you have something there!

Mirages and maybies. Very catchy.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Marie Green said...

Everything about these ideas is awesome. You definitely better get a patent on this shit or someone will steal it! =) Genius!

3:32 PM  
Blogger Thumper said...

I totally want a Maybe... I think I have to get mine in the Grandchild version.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Char said...

i vote they start this the freshman year of college so they can get it out of their system. i sat across from an otherwise smart girl at dinner the other night who is planning to get her masters - she's 21...and talking about her biological clock ticking. what? she needs a maybie and a mirage to wake her up.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

Maybes... like the rent-a-puppy booth in that commercial for something or other, with men hitting on girls because of the cuteness at the other end of the (rented) leash.

You're definitely on to something.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous MidLifeMama said...

I read this out loud to my husband, the one I married in my early 40's and had a real baby with because that is what you do when you are adults. I LOVE the idea.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Excellent. Every week I look at the local paper and I guess which of the engagement and wedding announcements are for couples exactly like the one you describe. There's always at least one.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I so love the way you think

Every wedding I have been invited to in the last two years have been second weddings of people who I had also attended their FIRST wedding. In the case of a family member, the wedding location, rehearsal dinner location AND menu and then the reception were all the same...only the bride standing next to him had changed. I'm already bemoaning an April wedding in San Francisco of a friend whose last marriage lasted all of nine months. It's way too hard to get excited about buying for THESE people either. I get it, divorce happens, but I feel like every wedding is a rerun of the last one....with just a few changes in cast members. And for the record, I've been married 19, going on 20 years so I know it's not easy. But seriously....don't I get credit for the last wedding gift I bought for this person?!?!

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Elise said...

Mirages and Maybies...you are SO onto something there! :)

4:58 PM  
Blogger Another Joan said...

Screenplay. Just saying.

ps: word verif: coldlimp - makes one wonder, eh?

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Amy G. said...

I blame the Wedding Industry for these weddings, and think your alternative is brilliant. Then, when these lovelies grow up and become adults (in their 40s? 50s?) they can go have a reasonable, quiet civil ceremony and a nice dinner out with the orthodontist, who won't be any the wiser. Excellent!

5:20 PM  
Blogger susie said...

You are awesome. That is all.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Cid said...

So scary in a "I can almost see it working" sense. You are good and just a teeny bit evil.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Love it! Love every, single word!

I had the unfortunate experience to be a bridesmaid in one of those weddings. The only two things I took away from it were (a) apparently "Empire" is pronounced "ahm-PEER" when referring to dress style, not, you know, like the building in NYC and (b) there is an unfortunate Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of requiring any older sister of the bride who is unmarried to dance in a pig trough at the reception. A specially painted and decorated to match the wedding colors pig trough.

I would say I took a third thing away from the wedding, but the bridesmaid's dress was horrid and I donated it to a local high school to be used as a costume in their theater dept as soon as we got home from the lavish affair. So really, that doesn't count.

(That wedding lasted alllllmost 3 years. She's now on her second marriage - to a college professor - and he's on his third. Oh, and he's an, ahem, professional musician now. An *unemployed* professional musician, but a "professional" nonetheless.)

A mirage definitely would've been the better option for these two. Absolutely.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Juli said...

This is the origin of the Southern custom of debutante balls. Just sayin'.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Cyndi B. said...

You know, you could combine the whole mirage with a reality TV show, sell "product placements" and make a killing!

12:03 PM  
Anonymous holly said...

Love it! I am going to a wedding in March that it seems like the bride just wants to be a princess for a day too. Except she is older, so trying to prove something I guess. My husband, son, and daughter are also in the wedding. It makes it hard to swallow the expense it will cost us for tuxes, hotel, flower girl dress, gift, etc. just so that she can show out!

12:08 PM  
Blogger Quirky said...

Oh my word, you certainly make the dysfunctional fun! I love love love your idea! (I might even be in the market for a maybe...good for the even days when I decide I want a baby and then back to the baby store for those odd days when I decide that I don't). I think that we should also having wedding guest contracts...if your marriage doesn't last the year, you return my gift to me and reimburse me the cost of that hideous bridesmaids dress you made me wear. Two years is 50% of my cost, 3 is 25%, etc. I bet divorce rates would plummet.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Leta said...

I've never walked down the aisle because. as I told my friends, I wanted a *wedding*, I just didn't want to be *married*. I hoped someone would create a system where I could wear a pretty dress and have parties starring me and such but is null and void after the honeymoon. Sign me up for a mirage!

4:21 PM  
Blogger dkaz said...

Mirage and Maybies - perfect! I do think that all of these 'perfect wedding/wedding planner/bridezilla/say yes to the dress' shows con younger women into thinking that unless they (or more likely their parents) spend a year's salary on their one 'big' day, they are being cheated.
I guess I am more 'sense' than 'sensibility' on this matter, but I am older and have had my 'big day' - good post!

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brill. I. Ant.

3:06 AM  
Anonymous Goslyn said...

This is possibly the best idea I've ever heard. Fabulous. You could make a mint if you can somehow trademark this idea ... Maybies! Ha.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Earnest English said...

This is truly brilliant. Really you have to write a book with this or trademark this in some way because it's totally worth stealing. Awesome.

And Heather's comment above about unmarried older sister's in a pig trough scares the bejesus out of me, since I am the unmarried older sister of a bride (second marriage) in May. That kid better not get any ideas!

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Lydie said...

I love the way your mind works!

1:04 PM  

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