Friday, September 21, 2007

New Additions to Lists That Already Exist in My Head:

List: Things About Women I Don't Understand, Despite the Fact that I Am One
New Addition: Bridal Showers

Until last weekend, I had a very generic understanding of weddings and the traditions that surround them. I understood, for example, that weddings include a willing bride and groom, an impressive number of inebriated guests, and a sizeable, yet delicious cake. I enjoyed these things from the safety of a banquet table, knowing that what I ate and drank would more than make up for what little I could afford to spend on a present. Essentially, as a wedding guest, a wedding is AWESOME. However, as I found out this past Saturday, as a Maid of Honor, a wedding SUCKS.

Although I ended up spending upwards of $750 to throw a shower for the bride and 34 guests of her choice, at the end of the evening, there wasn't much to show for it. Sure, several old ladies praised my venue of choice, or commented on how lovely the cake was, but the only physical aftermath was a pile of tacky gifts that I had to catalog during the present-opening portion of the evening. It pained me to look at dueling sets of tropical fish decor for their bathrooms, but it was more difficult to understand the bizarre folklore that surrounds brides and bridal showers. As the bride opened her gifts, the crowd jokingly warned her not to break a ribbon, an action that (allegedly) means a baby shower is in your future. When I asked one of the bridesmaids why people were discouraging her to rip open her gifts, she answered me as if I'd asked her what time it was. *"A broken ribbon means you'll get pregnant."

I nodded stupidly while another bridesmaid interrupted my follow-up question with "Does anyone have a paper plate?" I was about to point out that we didn't have the shower at Pizza Hut when another girl cut in. "Yeah! She needs a plate for the ribbon bouquet!" Again, I nodded stupidly, and again Bridesmaid Number 1 answered the question accompanying my confused expression. "You put all the ribbons in a paper plate and make a little bouquet that she throws at the rehearsal."

Both of these things made me feel like an idiot. Here I had done everything possible to make sure she had a nice shower, and I failed miserably as a woman.

It reminded me of something from grade school, a stupid question one of the more popular girls had asked me at the peak of my awkwardness. "Look at your nails," Stephanie Bell instructed, after randomly confronting me during lunch. Simultaneously worried and flattered, I curled my fingers into my palm, looking into a row of ugly, stubby nails. "That's not how girls look at their nails!" she giggled. "Do it like this." She spread her fingers widely, moving her hand far from her face, as if preparing to lower it to greet a royal suitor or lift the hem of a ballgown. Her nails were bright pink, painted sloppily, but stood out at the end of her long fingers, mocking me.

"How could you not know this?" they seemed to say, joining the growing collective of Things Kelly Should Know. I imagined the pink nails corralled with my other insecurities, namely a poor attempt at a french braid and a pair of my mother's high heels--two things that every sleepover guest seemed to know more about than I did. "That's how boys look at their nails," Stephanie snorted. Before I could ask why boys would want to look at their nails, she was gone, relaying her findings to another table.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that last weekend's bridal shower was an entire evening of "How could you not know this?" and it made me feel like a bad hostess and maid of honor, despite the fact that I didn't want to be either. **I know it's a long jump from "ew, that's an ugly duvet cover" to "I think marriage is a waste of time and money", but what I've always suspected to be true was magnified at the epicenter of the pre-wedding celebrations. Last Saturday made me feel like something in me was missing. I wasn't excited about the crockpots or interested in the details of her color scheme. All I could do was look at the clock and avoid my naked fingernails.

*For some reason, this kind of angered me. I felt like because she was already in the process of fulfilling one of the archaic goals still assigned to women (marriage), she was expected to get a head start on another (children). I imagined what expectations the groom was held to, and realized that all he really has to do is get it up during their honeymoon.

**I'm sure you're reading this and thinking, "Well, she's just bitter." Actually, I'm not. I would go so far as to say that I am the least bitter I've ever been on the relationship front.

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