Imagine if you will a landscape. A beautiful, pristine meadow, for instance, populated by whatever woodland creatures are your fav atm, and they’re gathered around you just sighing their little sighs and taking it all in. Or, should you be so inclined, a lake at dawn, with the sun rising above the horizon through a bucolic mist or whatever. Now imagine someone drops a nuclear bomb on that scene. Imagine that. And all those little woodland creatures you befriended are turned into smoldering corpses, deformed, grotesque reminders of that horrific woodland holocaust. And of course they still want to hug and nuzzle you but you’re like: no thanks cancer. Now, are you imagining that? That’s literally what I felt like when I saw how horribly the event planner laid out the East Room for my wedding recepsh.
I was like: ok? Are you serious or is this your actual interpretation of a “mystic woodland theme?” But no. Not a joke apparently. No, apparently she thought little dead twigs with fuzzy things on them would make perfect centerpieces for a family like Danielle’s that is allergic to literally everything. Did she even look at our (my) Pinterest board?
Great. So now I’m like: ok? Do we have any other options for the centerpieces or should we just hand out antihistamines with the champagne toast? And she’s like, actually there is no champagne toast, Danielle had to cut it for budgetary reasons. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok, I’m going, breathe, and now I’m saying to her: this is a joke, I knew it. Had to be. Nope. Not a joke? Okay, literally kill me.
Me: Hi Danielle, Angela is saying we cut the champagne toast for budgetary reasons and I’m just wondering if you’re trying to shock me into a massive heart attack a day before our wedding for an insurance payout or if you just lack the decency to share major “big day” decisions with your future husband?
Her: Blah, blah, blah, unrecoverable debt.
Me: Ok we won’t have a champagne toast and why don’t we move the ceremony to the church’s multipurpose room where people like you are much more comfortable? Or we could have a cookout in Springbank Park and serve our guests hot dogs?
Her: That’s mean or something.
Right. So that’s cleared up and I’m like: Hey Ange (the planner, multiple 5-star reviews on WeddingWire), got a quick sec? Champ toast’s back on and get rid of those twigs and replace them with oh I don’t know big glass vases full of sand and seashells? We’ll go under the sea with this shit. Or maybe we could make little ecosystems in jars and bring this place back to life? I dunno. You guys are the professionals, I completely trust you, just remember this is seriously the most important day of my life. Money’s no object. Make this room sparkle.
Now, again, I want you to do the imagine thing. Imagine a wedding gown so beautiful you’d literally want to be beheaded out of jealousy. Imagine that you could not even envision another dress because the one you’re looking at has completely occupied your whole brain and you no longer have the ability to remember other garments. Now picture a three-year-old who just got potty trained but it doesn’t quite know what it’s doing and so it runs out of the bathroom with poopy hands and smears the beautiful dress and rips off the fringes because it’s a ragey toddler. Imagine all of that except the smears, in reality, are frilly shoulder pads.
I mean, I know I’m not supposed to see the dress until she’s walking down the aisle but I mean, I heard rumblings of things and now I’m looking at the dress and I just can’t.
Hey Ange, I’m like, I can’t even with those frilly shoulder pads. And she audibly gasped because it was also the first time she’d seen the dress. Ohmygod, she whispered. And I’m like, right? RIGHT?
Sooooo how does one even? One does whatever it takes and calls one’s future wife back to inform them that their wedding dress is total barf (not in those words exactly) and needs to be brought up to the same standard as the rest of the wonderful ceremony of love we plan to share with over 200 friends, family and potential clients. One then inquires about any other “big day” decisions he’s been left in the dark about and one makes it clear that any further surprises will not be handled with such good-natured aplomb. One makes it clear that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself, and therefore, HE will handle the last-minute dress alterations despite protestations centered on tradition and bad luck. One makes sure to make a kissy noise into the phone before hanging up, as always.
Standing there at the altar. Honestly? Never been that nervous. Like my hands were shaking. And I’m just thinking smile, smile, smile, this will all be over with soon and hey, enjoy it up here. This is a major experience on your overall journey, right? So try and enjoy it instead of going into the negative vortex.
But looking out over the audience I was just aghast at how many fuckin’ fugly people I know. Like not to be mean, but get it together. Holy shit my dad was also wearing white socks and doing nothing to conceal it and my mom looked as anxious as ever, not even catching on at my pantomimes for dad to cover up his rid-icu-lous socks. That man has been a constant embarrassment to us since like, forever, and so it’s pretty unforgivable that my mom couldn’t check his socks before getting out the door. She had literally one job.
And, like, great, now during that moment, as Danielle’s shuffling towards me, I’m thinking about family outings to the public pool with dad in his Brooks and bunched-up socks and cargo shorts and a sun-bleached hat with no discernible color and faded T-shirt with a computer repair company logo on it, and mom in her sun hat from that spinning restaurant at Disney World and perma-bruised, veiny thighs and one-piece bathing suit that may or may not be concealing all of her pubes. And me: over 200 lbs and unaware that I should be wearing a T-shirt like the rest of the fat kids.
And then she was all right in front of me awkwardly kissing her dad and mom, adjusting her (now strapless, #winning) dress and not smiling with her eyes. Ugh, why did we practice smizing if you’re not gonna smize? So I smized at her and she kind of gets it, I’ll give her that, and I’d say half-smized back. She also looked truly radiant, I have to say that, truly, truly radiant…Probably could’ve used one more Total Juice Cleanse but there are only so many weekends in a year, right?
It seemed like we both snapped into focus at the exact same moment and it was like, ok, we’re actually doing this, holy shit. Amazing, amazing experience and the only time I actually stayed in the moment that day was when I was saying “I do,” because it was just so visceral and her earrings finally looked right and that was, believe it or not, a major battleground at one point because she, again, wanted to wear her grandma’s earrings or something, which, totally get it, totally understand that sentiment, but WE’RE getting married, not you and your grandma, so if things don’t look exactly right people are going to remember that. Not that you wore your dead grandma’s jewelry. And you’re already wearing your mom’s dress, which you basically destroyed before I saved it, so people get the whole homage to the fam thing. They get it, believe me, so like why not wear the best possible earrings on OUR day, right? Which she totally did and totally rocked it, as predicted.
Wedding dress fiasco notwithstanding, Danielle has honestly come such a long way from a putting-an-outfit-together standpoint. Like when we met she was this frumpy little... but sweet, super sweet, little thing…well not so little but we took care of that together. And speaking of which: one of the best, but also saddest moments of the whole day was when I was looking into Dannie’s eyes, trying to extract her best possible smile, and literally right over her shoulder was my ex Amanda, who just did not look….Hmm how do I put this kindly? She was not her best self that day, let’s just say that.
But it was such a poignant moment for me because I’m literally looking at my future and my past, and just seeing how I could’ve been if I didn’t move on from that and start cleansing and just taking full control of my body and my life. That doesn’t even seem like me, someone who would be that person and date Amanda, but like full disclosure, she’s still one of my besties. She was So. Much. Fun. Like, she was (and still is) the best. And ultimately that was her biggest flaw. If you want someone to eat pizza with and tickle in bed and roll boogers between your thumb and index finger with, she’s totally your girl. If that’s your speed then you’ll be hard pressed to find someone better. But, like, I had to get out of that negativity. I wasn’t the person I wanted to be. I wasn’t the person I saw in my head when I looked in the mirror. And all of the despair and heartache and loneliness I was feeling within that relationship was contributing to my total lack of self control and ultimately my inability to hit certain life goals in the allotted time I’d given myself. So.
So many people told me they cried during the ceremony. Like, so many people. Even Amanda! She was all like, “omg, I totally cried when you were saying your vows. I totally identified with what you were saying and so wanted to be up there with you, in a way, you know, I mean, like as in: support. You guys are so meant for each other, where’s the honeymoon?”
But it’s so strange, there’s like this rush of people wanting to talk to you on your wedding day and the line’s growing and growing as Amanda is going on about her new boyfriend she met online (yuck) who couldn’t be there but “so wanted to be because she’d told him so many amazing things about me.” Eventually I just had to cut her off and be like, cool, email me or something because I got about a million people to talk to today. She was cool, she totally gets it, although I don’t think she stayed for the reception? Ouch.
Better that she did leave because I could totally tell she was heading for hot mess territory. Like food, booze, smokes, anything she could get her little hands on. And her dress was not a good fit for her body, shape-wise, let’s say, so who knows what would’ve happened after a few gin and tonnies. She’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s like are you gonna slip a nip in front of my aunts, because that won’t be cool.
I remember when I did my first juice cleanse she was not fully on board, all like, I think I heard cleansing isn’t actually the best thing for your overall health. And looking back I can see that she could see I was ready to take off from her. I mean, our lives were just on different trajectories because, like, actually, no bitch, being a fat piece of shit isn’t the best thing for my overall health!
ANYWAYS, we make it to the speeches and Danielle’s sister did this fun little rap set to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song and it was like: “This is a story all about how Mike’s life got flipped-turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how he dragged my sister out of total despair.”
So funny. She’s really talented. But in reality, as this super special moment is going on around me and Dannie’s laughing and finally smizing perfectly—the pictures were absolutely gorgeous—I’m realizing, no: fuck Amanda. Like she couldn’t even stay for the reception. What? She’s got a Skype date planned with whoever the fuck? It’s just another example of why we couldn’t be together. She’s SO SELFISH. On my second cleanse, the one she was actually supposed to join me for, she backed out after the first night and ordered all this Domino’s pizza and ate it right in front of me. Forget the fact that any cleanse worth its salt is not cheap, but to completely undermine the person you supposedly love with their favorite meal deal at the same time? Uncalled for. But she kept insisting she never agreed to do a full cleanse, she only agreed to try it and okay, whatever, that’s true but I knew then we didn’t have a future and it’s like my best friend Rachel says, if you know you don’t have a future with someone, why waste everyone’s time and continue on? So true, that’s why she was my best maid. It took, like two years for me to put that advice into practice, but I pretty much knew then. And when I started losing tons of weight and getting all this attention on Facebook and Instagram, guess who wasn’t supportive? Yup, Amanda once again.
The day I got the call to be a brand ambassador for Cleanseaze she was like: what about your career? Hunny, there will be HR professionals at mid-size advertising agencies until the sun dies out, but how often do you get to become a product rep for the thing that completely changed your life? That’s when things really went south and of course as I’m untangling my life from Amanda’s, who shows up in my DMs? Danielle. Looking for more than just advice on how to best maximize a mid-week cleanse while still putting in 40 hours at work.
So it’s your wedding night and you’re sitting in your legit incredible suite not making love to your bride but instead going through someone’s Snapchat enraged by the way they think it’s cute to stick their tongue out in every picture.
And the thing with Amanda is that ok, it’s kind of a cute look for her and one that I actually encouraged on a number of occasions during our relaish, but in EVERY Snapchat? Like what is she even doing? OMG she was snapping during my vows, like what the actual fuck. I feel super bad for her, but also it’s like: your vibe is kind of ruining my life.
And now Danielle is leaning against the door asking me if I’m “gonna perform my matrimonial duties” in a mock husky voice and I’m forced to ignore her! I’m quite certain no woman wants to hear the phrase “gimme a quick sec” on their wedding night but if I don’t get this email off now I know I’ll just forget about it.
Subject: Being Inappropriate
Cc: Every effing psychiatrist!
First of all...
So, ok, was the timing of this email ideal? No, absolutely not, and any credible etiquette expert would tell you the same, but I’m also a firm believer in, like, the idea that standing up for yourself is the single most important act of self love there is.
But, also, although my initial instinct was to eviscerate her about how nasty she looked at my wedding and the stupid face she makes during every pic she takes and the weight that needs to come off her body if she hopes to live past 50, I kept my arguments proffesh, because the last thing I want is her to dismiss the merits of my points because she can’t handle some harsh criticism.
So over four well-constructed paragraphs I outlined all of the negative behavior I observed not just on my wedding day, but over the course of our relationship, and made sure to include how these behaviors have had an adverse affect on me personally.
But guess what? During the time it took for me to draw a bath for myself, I get a response, subject line: “heartbroken.”
And it’s typical manipulative schlock about how “disappointed she was that I was displaying so much hostility on a day that’s supposed to be a celebration of love.” Then she’s like “it’s pretty sad you’re focusing all of your attention on me as opposed to your wife.” And that’s the one thing she said I actually agreed with because, ya, it is pretty sad that I have to deal with this kind of nonsense instead of showering Danielle with the physical affection she deserves. It is sad. Really sad. But not as sad as responding to an email (from the guy that dumped you) in 2.3 seconds with a literal essay of bullshit because you’re incapable of hearing even one second of criticism without twisting it around and claiming the person making astute observations about your inappropriate behavior is themselves being inappropriate.
Also, I could accept all of the ridiculous statements she made if she hadn’t responded in such a short period of time, the obvs implication being: she never even read the full contents of my message!
And now? Guess who barrels into the room like a bull in a frickin’ china shop? It’s Danielle screaming “how dare you” like Dianne Wiest in some melodrama. I guess Amanda thought it was appropriate to text my wife on our wedding night? Typical. She always had a tattletale complex. But whatever, Danielle still said a number of things that I felt were pretty not okay. That I was selfish and disgusting. That the email I had just sent to Amanda was so inappropriate she could spit. The word unconscionable was thrown around. The word cunt was muttered. The words whoa, whoa and whoa were screamed. This is not how I envisioned my wedding night going. Legit. Disaster.
So for, like, an hour Danielle and I are going at it and she’s crying and I’m crying and we’re really laying it all out on the table. And she never directly accused me of still being in love with Amanda but she kept saying: why would you be emailing HER now? Why now, let’s unpack that. And I wanted to say, why were you a frumpy bitch before me? Why can’t you remember you’re nothing without me. Let’s unpack that. But I’m not going to be that guy on my wedding night, I’m just not, so I gently closed the French doors to our sitting room (while she continued screaming), pulled out the couch, realized I had no blankets or pillows, gently knocked on the door, calmly asked for a few of the pillows and a comforter and went to bed after eating literally every fucking thing in the minibar.
Picture a bride sobbing alone in her marital bed (and this is def not a pretty crier), head aching from all the smiling and crying she’d done in the past 24 hours. Think about that. This sweet, albeit emotionally misguided at times, person, alone and crying before she even had a chance to unpeel the makeup caked on her face (FYI, I pushed for a more natural look.) And in the next room here’s this guy, this great, in-shape guy, the guy of her dreams, who just wants what’s best for her, but cannot get over the blind rage he’s feeling and so calls his ex and explains how hurtful her actions have been and how unacceptable her email was, then quickly apologizes, apologizes for everything and begs for her friendship only to be told a continual “dialogue” would not be “appropriate” given the circumstances of their latest argument. That his controlling nature had actually limited her personal growth, strangling what little self esteem she had left, making meaningful personal relationships with others all but impossible, forcing her to question every step she takes throughout the day. That not only have the things he’s done caused irrevocable damage, but his literal entire existence is abusive to her. That she actually feels bad for Danielle and anyone else who is forced to tolerate his almost comically deranged approach to interpersonal communication. That he would debase anyone he came in contact with. That he degraded women. That his “hateful words” now allowed her to “let all of that go.”
Imagine a man who takes all of this in and is only concerned with the problematic seating arrangement for tomorrow’s brunch.
Joe Thomson is a Canadian writer living in Toronto.