Alarm Bells

August 8, 2011
Once upon a time…

“Jimmy when are the fireworks being shipped?” A lady said into her earpiece as she rushed by on precariously high heels. Everyone was talking on their phones.

“Linda, I don’t accept excuses! Tell them we need the wine shipped from Spain by tonight.”

“Brandy that shipment of seashell dust better by laid by tomorrow morning 7am. I don’t care who you have to call.”

I clutched my purse tighter around me as a shield. People were everywhere. So many of them just for one wedding.

“Oh Erin, you made it finally.” My great-aunt Stephanie exclaimed. She emerged from a huddle of women who looked just like her. All early to middle sixties. Short blonde hair, fit and tone bodies, tan aged skin. You could’ve swore they all were related.

Which reminded me of why I wasn’t supposed to be here. Normal teenagers girls don’t get invited to there great-aunt neighbors daughter wedding. Let alone asked to be a bridesmaid. Something my aunt insisted I should feel honored by. (Yeah, go ahead - roll your eyes.)

My aunt floated over nearly tripping the poor man carrying an oversized dry-cleaning bag. I figured it was the bride’s dress since it took 3 people to carry the entire garment.

“Oh Erin you look beautiful.” Stephanie sighed and made or show of giving me air kisses, so as not to smudge her way-to-bright lipstick.

“Hi Aunt Stephanie.” I replied hesitantly. My aunt was one of those relatives you see twice a year to be displayed to her latest batch of coworkers and neighbors.

Aunt Stephanie reminds you of the Queen of Hearts from Alice on Wonderland. You know she’s not real but he power in never questioned.

She skillfully positioned me in front of the crowd. 12 or so women looked down their noses at me. One looked particularly scrutinizing; right I realized she was the brides mother.

“Ladies this my nephew’s daughter. Erin Craig.” I put on my most charming smile. I was prepared to curtsy if need be. Aunt Stephanie’s presence alone was enough to make you stay on your toes. My main focus was get out of here ASAP. Good behavior seemed like only way to go.

Finally, the mother spoke up.

“It must be very hard living with a boy’s name. I surely hope you’re not a tomboy. Renee always was feminine child. Do you have any siblings dear?”

Forget good behavior…

“Yes, I have an older brother. His name’s Cary, after the actor.”

I had her that speech before about how my name scanned my feminine character. (Oh about good behavior -only relatives count.) besides it was worth it to see 12 women get flustered with synchronized precision. Only the mother narrowed her eyes at me momentarily.

“Mother!” Someone scheduled. I turned to see a heavily dolled up diva with raven hair standing at the top of the stairs. She looked like she stepped off a runway (in a bad way). Heavily on the makeup, excessive rhinestones complete with accessorized dog.

“Mother, I told you to get me a replacement bridesmaid. Or will have to go back to Shelby and she will ruin everything and it will be all you your fault.” Renee didn’t seem to mind speaking to her mom like that and gloated in uncomfortably silence afterward. I wouldn’t still be standing afterward if I tried that.

“Well, Renee dear,” my aunt coughed and shoved me forward. Whoa this girl made my aunt uncomfortable .

“She’s here, this is uh my grand-niece Erin. She’ll be…filling in for Shelby.”

“Oh. Good.” Was the reply. Hey I didn’t expect her to love me. But if she didn’t want her mother’s neighbor’s grand-niece to be in her wedding - how do you thing the grand niece felt?

“Well, I’m Renee. And this-” She caught the sleeve of a passerby. “Is my fiancé. Ryan.” She skillfully turned him to face the crowd. Let me preface this by saying: In this type of situation you come to expect one of two types of scenarios: 1. Ryan is some extremely famous superstar bachelor that suddenly decides to marry his long-time girlfriend. 2. Ryan is the guy down the street that you’d have a crush on since 2nd grade.

But no, Ryan was just Ryan…I had never seen him before. Ryan and Renee were just some other couple, that I knew nothing about. Which is exactly why I wasn’t supposed to be here. Thankfully I had enough sense to ask:

“Where did you to meet?”

“Oh we met at a party, but he was dating someone else. But he finally dumped her when he realized what he was missing.” Renee gushed proudly she was beaming as linked her arm through her trophy. Did Ryan looked embarrassed? Can’t say I blame the guy.

“It’s like Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me.” I blurted out. (Reality horror remix.)

“Oh you’re just adorable.” Renee said, letting go of her prize and linking her arm through mine. She walked be forward a few paces. Obviously I struck a chord. “I have a feeling we going to get along great.”

“Yeah.” I replied hesitantly.

“But now you have meet the rest of the girls.” Renee declared. She marched me up the stairs. I refused to give my aunt a pleading look. Pull yourself together Erin. You’re not a baby - you’ll be 17 soon for crying out loud!

During my own mental pep talk Renee had let go of my arm and strode purposefully through two more hallways leading to a reclusive wing of the building. It used to be a hotel and now is a gathering place for the social elite with deep pockets. Needless to say I have never been here before.

Renee opened oak double pocket doors revealing a luxurious suite. The clamor of voices silenced as the doors slid open. 12 or so girls sat on the various plush pink and cream pieces of furniture. They themselves looking like an art display in their lavish outfits. Presumably, these were the daughters of the women downstairs.

Their gaze was a mixture of revered awe and stern scrutiny. I could guess which one was aimed at me. It soon became apparent who the queen bee was in the troupe. Even though it would only be a week it wasn’t the mothers good opinions that dictated me survival it was Renee’s.

I won’t go into the gory details of the formal introduction, however I will say there was a lot of silence. Renee announced my name, and they politely did too. Then Renee seated herself by the window and they all went back to their activities. Talking-not so-discreetly among themselves (about me), face booking (about me), tweeting (about me) and texting (about me). Hey look I’m not conceited but I’m not dumb either. Thankfully, since cell-phones were aloud I pulled out mine for little update of my own.

To Cary:
Introduced to queens’ court. Bridezilla vs. Brideslave - phase 1.

The next morning, boot camp began. Yesterday I had observed Renee in all her courtly glory. Though I didn’t know she obtained such status though as a brutal taskmaster. By using the megaphone App on her iPhone (yes there’s a app for that too…) she was all too comfortable with getting everybody’s attention.

Day 1:
-Brutal yoga class
-Dress fitting (girls mortified I’m not Shelby’s size 0. I’m a size 6. And since when did that qualify me for Slim Fast!)
-Lunch (coconut crusted tofu and beet salad…need I say more?)
-Shoe fitting - seriously?
-Isle classes - practicing for big day
-Dinner ¾ revelation that I have vast reservoirs of endurance, commitment and…self-control

To Cary:
I hate the person who invented the megaphone app!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry explain later.

Only six more days to go…

Day 2:
I am now officially on the verge of tears. The blister on my right big toe ripped open and was being rubbed raw again. Renee seemed to be on the rinse and repeat mode. She didn’t seem to mind that all of us were limping, shuffling and practically dragging ourselves up and down the isle for the past two hours.

Thankfully, the torture proved toe be beneficial became it made me realize that the other girls were not better off than me! We were all brideslaves.

Day 3:
Final dress fitting for everyone. I must have greater bone density and muscle mass than the other girls, because they were drowning in their own dresses. Their shrinking. I understand the food served here is not great but I thin other factors may be at play. The tailor loved me, I’m still the same size.

Day 4:
Rest!!! Renee is arguing with (no scratch that) yelling at everyone. Everything has come to a stand still. Something about her poodle not being her flower-girl er…dog.

To Cary:
Can be in weddings?

Day 5: Isle practice…yes again.

“We need to get back on track ladies.” Renee barked, “We lost on entire day yesterday.” WE!! I screamed inside. But I managed to totter my round and successful stop in front of her. She barely noticed me while she reapplied lip-gloss for the umpteenth time this morning.

“Renee,” I paused not readily wanting and acknowledgement. “Does everything have to be so rehearsed?” I asked. Her eyes narrowed but stayed on her little mirror. She couldn’t say anything or she’d mess up her O.

“I mean I didn’t realize so much work went into a wedding. I knew there was rehearsal dinner. But I thought it was more spontaneous and memorable?” Renee finished, put her makeup artist away and looked at me very composedly.

“You can do that at your wedding, dear.” Renee replied, “But when you’re spending $40,000 on one day, you work it to be just right.”
Point taken.

To Cary:
$40,000 on a wedding!!!

Day 6: Actual Rehearsal Dinner
New blisters and a revelation. There are no be men. Ryan doesn’t have any of his friends in the wedding. No one is escorting the girls down the isle. Poor Ryan, hopefully Renee will allow her family to attend.

Day 7: Wedding Day
Now in this point in time you’re probably expecting some horrific catfight. Cheating scandal, dramatic meltdowns, or a runaway groom. Basically a Taylor Swift song worthy moment. But no, they said their vows and now in route to their honeymoon. I write this final report from the safety of my plane ride home. The sad reality is romantic comedies are made into movies for a reason.

However to give Renee credit, everything was spectacular. The photos look breathtaking and so did she. Of course she had help - all morning at the beauty salon. She was even pretty nice to be during the ceremony. Maybe it was just pre-wedding nerves.

So I deposit with a renewed sense of reality of the wonderful time distance between me and matrimony. Aunt Stephanie had the nerve to suggest plans for my own wedding. I would’ve stomped off dramatically if my feet didn’t hurt so bad.

And so they lived happily ever after…

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