Saturday, June 28, 2014

Curlers, a Bra, and an Airplane Ride

I was a best man years before I was a bride.

And before that, I had been just about everything else in a wedding except the candle lighter, the musician, and the preacher.

After attending a wedding this month, I reflected on my own siblings’ weddings, one of which was in June. Why is June the month for weddings anyway? I prefer October.

My role as best man came at the spur of the moment for my sister Brenda’s small backyard nuptials. In fact, I wasn’t even planning on attending, but my plans changed as did the groom's son's. So, ta-da! I got to sign on the dotted line.

For Brenda's first wedding back in 1973, I was a flower girl. Oh, how I hated sleeping on curlers the night before—probably because we had been practicing my hairdo all week.

The planning of that wedding put me around kids my own age, something that rarely happened since I am the late comer in the family. And I loved it.

Nancy, my fellow flower girl and groom’s sister, taught me the word fart. I don’t know what our family called it before that. Dad still scolds me when I say the word around him. He doesn’t mind that act of it—just hates the word. Go figure. 

And Cameron, Nancy’s older brother, taught me how to cure hiccups by drinking backwards and bending over. Any student of mine knows that trick, and that it works.

I'm in the middle between Cameron and Nancy.

My oldest sister, Priscilla, married when I was in sixth grade. She asked me to be a bridesmaid and then added, “But Mel, will you wear a bra for my wedding?”

Back then, girls didn’t seem to develop as early as they do now, and in fact, I don’t think I even wore the thing after the wedding until Mom made me. Wearing the bra was no big deal, really, but having to stand up there for the entire ceremony was. 

And that night, when my Sissy was gone and I realized the house would never be the same without her, I turned to the wall and cried myself to sleep.

That's me on the far left.
Years prior to either of my sisters’ ceremonies, the family boarded an airplane to Detroit where my brother was marrying a city girl. This was only a couple days after my fourth birthday, so it is one of my earliest memories. A trip of a lifetime.

The stewardesses allowed my cousin Gordie and me to run up and down the aisle. They served us kiddy martinis: 7-Up in a clear cup with a maraschino cherry stuck in a fancy toothpick. 

And I still have my wings, the little airplane pin tokens they gave us. After this adventure, playing airplane became my favorite make-believe activity for years.

Cousin Gordie, my martini partner, escorted me over to my sister-in-law, Doris.

The funny thing about Doris and Elliott’s wedding? The pictures. Or lack thereof. The bride’s brother forgot to take off the lens cover, so the only photographs of the occasion are snapshots.

That picture fiasco is probably why I spent more on the photographer than anything else when I got married. Our six-guest wedding in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, was simple and quick. Just like our engagement period: three months. Just like our dating period: two weeks.

Now I would not encourage that for young people, but I think the man I picked has turned out to impress everyone. And soon it will be eight years already that I wore my little black dress to get married in. It still fits too—a little snug, but it fits.

My hairdo was not fancy. My bra was built into my dress. And the road driving there, with signs warning crooked and steep, scarier than any airplane ride.

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