Oral Hygiene Queen

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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Job Here Is Done

The wedding weekend is over. My Old Man and I survived. And yesterday, we were rewarded by the Jersey grandparents taking O. on an impromptu trip to the recently reopened Liberty Science Museum, allowing us to spend the entire day alone together. It poured rain outside all day, but we were happy indoors, watching a movie, reading, and having long, uninterrupted conversations.

The weather during the entire wedding weekend, from the rehearsal dinner Friday night, to the post-wedding brunch Sunday morning, was gorgeous - sunny and warm, but not at all humid. And that was especially lovely since every wedding-related event took place near water. The wedding ceremony was quite beautiful and moving, and as I stood on the altar and watched my sister-in-law's eyes filling with tears and her face exuding pure joy, I myself became quite verklempt. But, remembering my mascara, I kept myself from spilling by looking at the lobster-red face of the very sunburned best man.

Overall, my feelings about this wedding are positive. We all had fun, enjoyed the weather and the view, and most importantly took part in the uniting of two people who love each other very much. But, needless to say, there were many trying moments and many absurd details. I can't catalogue them all here, but I will share one of my favorite scenes from the hours-long preparation session I took part in at the bride's house before the wedding.

I was the only bridesmaid who chose to do both my own make-up and my own hair, but in a spirit of sisterly solidarity, I was there for much of the preparation party. I watched my sister-in-law and my fellow bridesmaids get their hair high and crunchy, and watched the makeup artist work her magic on their mugs. I was upstairs attempting to manage my own makeup when the photographer arrived, and was a little confused when he said he and his assistant needed some time alone in the bride's bedroom with her wedding clothes. Sounded pretty kinky to me, but my sister-in-law waved them upstairs from her spot in the makeup chair, so I figured it was legit. It was only later that I learned what they were doing in there. They were taking pictures of her clothes, without her in them. Pictures of the dress, pictures of the veil, pictures of her shoes artfully balanced on the doorknob of her closet. What? And she paid them to do this. Has anyone ever heard of this practice? I learned of many arcane wedding traditions this weekend. (Including the bridesmaids and groomsmen forming an arch on the dance floor for the bride and groom to run through as the emcee announced their arrival at the reception. I wanted to go a step further and do a spanking machine, but was voted down by the rest of the wedding party. Damn.) But this was perhaps the strangest.

I was also struck by how the photographer, who I came to like more and more as the day went on, managed to be a married guy with a baby and yet be so culturally gay. He not only gushed over the wedding dress and the mother-of-the-bride dress and talked knowledgably about designers, but was able to identify the various fragrances the women getting ready were applying. He complimented my mother-in-law on her scent, effortlessly pegging it as Dolce and Gabbana's Light Blue. She was impressed. "It's new!" she said "Would anyone care to try some?"

I had to pipe up, "I would, but I don't like to mix fragrances. I'm currently wearing Tom's of Maine."

The photographer bent at the waist and smiled rakishly in my direction. "Tom's of Maine," he said, "You slay me."

I do what I can.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Give me my medal, now.

I officially consider myself a hero for my role in this past weekend's bachelorette night out in honor of my sister-in-law, A. Parts of the marathon bachelorette weekend were enjoyable. Saturday afternoon and early evening we hung out at A's place and ate food, and the non-pregnant among us (i.e. everyone but me) drank cocktails. I liked spending time with a couple of A's friends who I've heard about over the years but haven't gotten to meet, very cool women I was glad to chill with. There was this thing called a "pamper party" going on upstairs (no, it did not involve adult diapers, alas), and various of the women present would drift off to have certain feminine rites administered to them, such as facials and pedicures and whatnot. I chose not to participate in the pampering, mostly because the pampering came at a price and I'm cheap, but also because I have a thing about people touching my face (I don't let anyone touch my face except my Old Man, my son, and my mom). But I felt no pressure to get pampered, so that was cool. The "going out" part of the night, however, was for me a certain kind of hell.

When I got to my sister-in-law's house, I was relieved to find everyone else dressed as casually as me. I took a risk by assuming that the night out would not be a dress-up kind of thing, but it seemed that my outfit choice of jeans, a low-key blouse, and black lowtop Chuck Taylors was not going to be an anomaly. As the upstairs pampering and downstairs eating started to wind down, however, all the other women began as if on cue to bring forth make-up bags and various articles of evening wear they'd brought along to change into. Thus began an hour or more of dressing and making up, during which time I sat around and watched everyone else transform themselves into party-ready hotties. I took my Burt's Bee's tinted lip balm out of my purse and put some on, which left me plenty of time to observe other women's making-up techniques. Normally I'd have found this mind-numbingly boring, but these days I'm actually looking for make-up tips, because I am the only one of the bridesmaids in this wedding who has chosen not to have my face professionally made up for the event. So I'm on my own, and with very little making-up experience to fall back on, badly in need of some tips to help insure that I don't end up looking like Caspar the Tiny-Eyed Ghost standing next to the other bridesmaids in the wedding pictures. So I honed in on one of A's coolest friends, a working musician who routinely makes up for nightclub gigs, and whose mom happens to be a professional make-up artist, and got some sage advice from her. (Sample tip: you can use cheap make-up if you have good brushes, but if you use cheap brushes, even the best make-up will look shitty.)

So, by the time we're ready to head out, I officially look like the schlub of the bunch. Plus I'm big pregnant, which will make for a fun night at whatever meat market bar we end up dancing at. And on the Jersey Shore, it seems that if you want to dance, you have to go to a meat market bar. If there are any amazing lesbian bars or gay nightclubs around here where you can gyrate the night away with impunity, I don't know about them. (If you do, please share!) And, lo and behold, we end up at bar that is clearly not only a meat market, but where every single man seems to be a muscle-bound meathead, where all the women are self-parodies of Jersey Shore skanks, and where the techno music is pumping at a blaring level that makes me fear for the health of my unborn child. The music was one thing that made this place seem a burning pit of hell to me. I won't burden you with the set list, but suffice to say that Young MC and Vanilla Ice were the bright spots. Everything else sucked completely and was nearly impossible to dance to.

But we were out to have fun, so dance we did. And I danced, despite feeling much less than comfortable with drunk people inadvertently nudging my pregnant belly as they staggered toward the bar, and despite the fact that one of the other bridesmaids had dressed A. up in a tiara, fake veil, and "Miss Bride-To-Be" banner, and the sight of my lovely and usually tasteful sister-in-law thus compromised kind of made my eyes hurt. (There was also a bouquet of condom balloons A. was required to hold, but I'm trying to repress that detail, especially since the more drinks she got in her, the more often she christened my pregnant belly with her bunch of buoyant condoms.) I stayed out 'til 1 AM, way past my current preferred bedtime. And all of this without a single drop of alcohol passing my lips. Now you tell me, am I not worthy of some sort of medal connoting great bravery and gameness-beyond-the-call-of-sisterly-duty?

I went home and went to bed, skipping the sleepover part of the bachelorette weekend. I also took a pass on the beach day planned for the next day, since my idea of a beach day mostly involves hiding from the sun under a big umbrella while reading a book, an activity best undertaken alone or with my immediate family, who know not to talk to me while I'm trying to read.

That evening, the bachelorette bash had one last gasp, an impromptu dinner at A's house to finish up the leftovers of the food from the night before. My Old Man, O, and I, A. and her fiance, my other sister-in-law and her husband, and my in-laws all ate from small, pink "girls' night out" plates. (I have to admit, I was impressed the plate maker managed to get the apostrophe in the correct place.)

As we were leaving, I borrowed some eye shadow and several very high-quality brushes from A. to enable me to practice my making-up skills before the wedding. In the car on the way home, O. asked me what this strange stuff was. "Well, it's make-up." I explained to my four-year-old son, "Remember I'm a bridesmaid in A's wedding? And you have to wear make-up when you're a bridesmaid."

"What kind of make-up?" O. wondered, "Like cat make-up?"

Oh, O. Wouldn't that be great? It gave me immense delight to realize that when O. thinks of make-up he has no frame of reference aside from Halloween and playing dress up. It also tickled me to imagine showing up in my flowing, elegant bridesmaid's gown with my face done up in cat whiskers, like the Peter Criss of wedding parties. If only I could actually do it.

But I will continue to be good. I promise. I don't want to have to give back my medal.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Chez In-Laws

A few days ago my Old Man, O, and I made the two-day car trip to the Jersey Shore, where we spend a month every summer visiting my in-laws. If you're curious about why I consent to spend a month with my in-laws every year, refer to last summer's explanatory post. The salient things to note about this visit are that 1. it's harder for my husband than for me, 2. it's great for O., 3. it's actually pretty great for all three of us in a lot of ways, even thought it can be tough in other ways.

This summer, however, I think it may be harder for me than for my Old Man for a couple of reasons. One, I am pregnant and thus cannot drink much wine, and as I've mentioned, my in-laws' excellent taste in wine is one of the things that greases the workings of the extended summer visit. Two, my Old Man's youngest sister is getting married in two and a half weeks, and I am a bridesmaid in the wedding.

If you know me, then you know how ill-suited I am to being a bridesmaid in a big, traditional wedding. And this is a big, traditional wedding. If you know me, you've heard one of my many rants about why I so dislike the conventional, cookie-cutter, poofy-white-dress, spend-tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-because-you're-in-thrall-to-Bride-magazine wedding. I have dear friends who've had weddings that fall into this category, and I don't judge them for it. But I probably gritted my teeth through parts of their weddings.

When my Old Man and I got married, I felt lucky that neither of our families really cared what our wedding looked like. No one on either side had been dreaming of a big white wedding for either of us, and we wisely moved in together a couple years before our nuptials, so any family members with a shred of conventionality were so relieved we were making it official that they weren't so much worried about how we went about it. We did what we wanted. We got married in a forest preserve, in a ceremony presided over by my best friend, who had been recently empowered to marry us via a ten-minute process on the internet. I wore a red dress. We had it catered, but served only vegetarian food. We hired our friend's amazing four piece band (ukulele, trombone, stand-up base, and percussive suitcase), which played tunes ranging from mid-century swing hits to their own rendition of Prince's "Dance, Music, Sex, Romance," rendered as James Brown's band might play it. We had a great time.

And my sister-in-law was there and participated in the ceremony, and danced her ass off at the reception, and helped to make it the wonderful event it was. And I want to help make her wedding day as joyful for her and her beau as mine was for me and my Old Man. But it will be a trial. I've actually never been a full-on bridesmaid before. I've stood up in three weddings, but all were unconventional weddings where I got to wear my own clothes and didn't have to deal with any of the many bizarre rituals that accompany being an actual bridesmaid.

This is the real thing. I've already begun experiencing it. Among my fellow bridesmaids, I feel like I'm part of a little cult, and I'm the only member that isn't buying into the tenets of the faith. I was privy to the planning of the shower, which involved approximately three hundred emails sailing back and forth, each one full of more exclamation points than I've used in my entire email life (most often appended to the words "fun!" and "yummy!"), though I was unable to attend the actual shower, being the only out-of-state bridesmaid. More recently I've been a reluctant part of the planning of "the bachelorette night," which has morphed into a bachelorette weekend. I won't detail all the aspects of this nearly-48-hour marathon of girl fun right now, but suffice to say that it will involve a number of activities (pedicures, whimsical pre-wedding games) that are very, very "un-me," and a couple (drinking, dancing) that would be pretty damned "me" if I weren't seven months pregnant.

Tomorrow I have the fitting for my bridesmaid's dress. In normal circumstances, because my sister-in-law has elegant (and expensive) taste, I would be paying around two hundred and fifty clams for this stunning dress that I'd be very unlikely ever to wear again. Because I'm seven months pregnant, and thus require a special maternity bridesmaid's dress, I'll be paying closer to three hundred clams for a dress I know I'll never wear again. Unless someone invites me to a very formal event during the month of August of this year.

The thing is, despite all of the above, I am actually very honored that my sister-in-law asked me to be her bridesmaid, because I know how much this all means to her. There are very few people I would actually do this for - I have gently said no before, when friends I was less close to invited me to be their bridesmaid - but I said yes without hesitation when she asked. In a real sense, I'm glad to be part of the wedding despite the fact that I'll have to participate in some estranging pre-wedding rituals in the process. I really like the guy my sister-in-law is marrying; I think he's worthy of her, and I think they'll be happy together. I'm sure the day itself will be joyful and enjoyable (parts of it anyway). I'm just hoping I can be a good bridesmaid through all the stuff that comes before.

So, pray that I can remain cheerful and cooperative during the wedding-related stuff that I'll be enduring in upcoming weeks. (And if you're hosting a very formal event in August and you live somewhere in the Midwest, please invite me. I already know what I'd wear.)