Petticoats, Parrots and Other Tales
By Reagan McDonald
Weddings are funny things. Not that I believe that getting married is a unique idea – just that it is a unique and new experience for every brave soul who embarks upon that journey. And…as I stand at the brink of my own, in full bridal regalia (because, let’s face it, if you’re gonna do it, do it all the way), no one looking back in my direction can tell that underneath layers of tulle and satin – under all of those damn crystals I had to have – I have sweat rolling down the backs of my legs in torrents. In fact, even as my father and I step down the aisle, my ridiculous petticoat has twisted around each thigh and scrunched all the way up to my waist. Sexy, right?
I forget to look forward towards Joe the whole way down the aisle. In fact, I forget he’s the actual “end game” until my father stops and passes me off to him. I’ve been waiting for countless months to see his expression when he finally sees me coming down the aisle, and I missed it. We kneel in front of the priest, and he says, “We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?” And the answer is yes. Yes, we certainly have.
Not that Joe and I have been together so long that it’s been such a journey. On the contrary, we dated a respectable year and a half before he proposed. Fourteen months after that, and here we are. Joe doesn’t like to waste anyone’s time, and I appreciate that, because I’ve wasted too much already.
While my darling husband focused entirely on school, and then his career, he really never sweat the relationship thing. I, however, have been sweating it since Michael Tomayo bestowed my very first kiss upon me at the age of thirteen, upstairs, in my bedroom, with the door open, our pre-algebra books on the floor in front of us. I thought it was a defining moment in our “relationship.” He defined it further later on that afternoon when he chose to bike over to my friend Christin’s house to share algebraic moments with her as well. Thus began two patterns that would remain steadfast throughout my life – first, a passionate hatred of all things math-related. The second was relationships that just wouldn’t last.
Don’t get me wrong. Some seemed to be interminable. In college I dated a really nice guy for four years. Four years, as it turns out, of wasted time. By the time I got out of college, I became too busy to pursue much, and that is when my mother (as always, full of bright ideas) suggested I join an online dating site. She even paid for it, believing it to be an investment. She invested in my love life for three years. That’s right, three years of a few one- to two-month relationships, but mostly just a bunch of really bad dates. Looking back on it now, I consider it all to have been a social experiment. The mortifying anecdotes that I could tell the ladies at lunch about, in outrage, had to be kept to myself around my mother. Let’s face it, my mom didn’t need to hear about the coffee date who asked me to go back to his place and give him a spanking. She doesn’t need to know about the man who told me he’d been in prison for eight years over an icy frappaccino as innocuously as if he were discussing the weather. Apparently, Dr. Whatshisface never considered adding those kinds of issues to his “27 Points of Compatibility.”
The last straw was a guy who had suggested we go to a happy hour to meet. He pounded drinks down and told me that if he got too wasted, he was always responsible. His idea of “responsibility” was to call a tow truck to come haul him inside of his vehicle to his driveway. He said he did this “all the time.” While that was enough of a turn-off for me, the fact that he had two Macaw parrots was the real clincher.
“Wow,” I found myself saying. I felt my eyebrows furrowing, and tried to iron out my expression. “So, those things live like, forever, don’t they?”
“Yeah, I’ll have to will them to someone when I die.” He said this like it was the coolest thing in the world, but all I could think of was beaks and claws scratching around in cages. I thought about the commitment this man had already made to these birds, and the fact that they would not just be his pets, but that he would then, in turn, thrust them upon someone else when he died. I thought it was really inconsiderate. It was like, Hey, I’ve got two toddlers that will never grow up, and when I die, they get to be yours! What a jerk. Needless to say, when I “closed” the relationship after the date, there was no reason under “Closure” for “parrot-loving drunk,” I just had to improvise and select “other.”
The day I decided to pull the plug on the ridiculous farce that had become my love life, I had one last guy who had eked through to the email phase on my profile. It was Joe. I went on our first date with no expectations whatsoever; I was jaded. He told me to meet him at the zoo, which was a huge chunk of time to be potentially around someone you didn’t know. I mean, coffee or drinks can be done in forty-five minutes, but there’s no way you’re getting out of the zoo in less than a couple hours without being rude. I was leery, to say the least. My brain buzzed with all of the potentially awful things a person could say or do when confronted with zoo animals and an audience. I made a mental note to avoid the talking bird section at all costs. However, Joe wasn’t disgusting or crass, and he certainly didn’t own any parrots, which was a huge checkmark on my mental list of pros and cons. I cleared him for another date that same night. I was hooked.
Not to say that Joe doesn’t have his faults. He watches Bill O’Reilly every day, he rants at the news, and he literally turns purple over getting cut off on the freeway. He is so tightly wound that if something happens to his routine, it will ruin his day completely. I, on the other hand, like the variety of doing different things. I’m so flexible with my schedule that I really don’t know what I’d do without him to remind me about where we need to be. I don’t like conflict, and I don’t like worrying about anything. Somehow this works for us.
So, as we grab the flowers to bestow upon the Blessed Virgin (because Joe is uber-Catholic, and I respect him enough to just go with it), and I walk with him to the statue to the far right, I feel as though my petticoat is literally trailing out behind me from underneath my gown. However, I’m not worried about the fact that I didn’t see his expression. I don’t even think about the fact that Fox news is the new soundtrack of my life. I don’t have any reservations about having my schedule locked down for eternity. I’m content to know that while my journey to this point was as twisted as my undergarments, this man was my destination the whole time.