This evening I am heading out to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for the Indian wedding extravaganza. I'm really looking forward to it. Tonight is the mehndi ceremony. Beautiful! Fun!
One of my colleagues is driving, which is great. I was dreading the Bay bridge and all the traffic. Plus it's always more fun to not have to drive alone.
What I realized, though, is that I'm a little twitchy about not having my own car, not having control. Really, it's the idea of being stranded out on the Eastern Shore. And the thing is, I'm not stranded. If I really want to go somewhere, I can borrow a car.
This is the wedding of a really good friend of mine, whose family and (some) friends I know and like. A wedding I am really excited about.
In other words, this time is different.
I don't know if you are a Coen brothers fan, or if you've ever seen Barton Fink. We'd watched it right before the day I'm about to describe.
My only experience at a wedding out there took place years ago, when Maude and I were living together in DC after college. We were both part of a big group of friends, one of whom was getting married. Now, the groom was friend of Maude's but not mine, and so I wasn't invited to the wedding.
It was a mid-day Catholic wedding, either July or August, out on the Eastern Shore. Maude was going with our friend Stu, who I saw not that long ago in NY, and our friend Mac, a childhood friend of mine, asked me to go as his date. So the four of us would head out there together. Just for the day. Fun!
Except that Mac and Stu went off for vacation the week before the wedding. And that Saturday rolled around and nobody had heard from them. Neither Maude nor I had cars; we didn't even know how to drive. And so we wouldn't have gone to the wedding, but for their friend Julie. Who I found mildly annoying even under the best circumstances.
Now, that weekend Maude had college friends in town, two of whom were going to a Navy formal in Annapolis. So Maude wanted to get to this wedding, hang out as long as was polite, and then come back to DC and see her friends. This suited me fine. Julie said she was absolutely coming back that afternoon.
We were certain that Stu and Mac would join us out there. They would get back in the nick of time, we'd have a great day, then head back to DC. Ha.
So Julie drove her car, which had no AC. So we kept the windows open, sweating all the way. We changed when we arrived.
We went to the wedding. We went to the reception. Which was perfectly nice, if a little dull. And then we wanted to go. And Julie met a guy and decided whee! she was having so much fun! she wanted to spend the night! She was going to really start drinking! This was at two in the afternoon at the latest.
And so we spent the afternoon calling Maude's college friends, trying to direct them out to this remote location to collect us. And feeling more stranded and bitter by the moment.
Finally, finally they turned up. We got in the car. And they said we needed to head up to Baltimore to join the other friends, who were staying up there for the night.
So there we are. We've gotten up early in the morning and gotten all dressed up and driven way the hell somewhere to go to a wedding and then had a couple drinks early afternoon. We are tired in that post-daytime drink way. At least we'd been able to change back to casual. But not the kind of casual we wanted anyone else to see. Casual car ride in a car with no AC so the windows would be open casual. And I want to brush my teeth and wash my face and start over. Ha again.
And so we get to this big hotel in Baltimore where the Navy formal people are staying. We skulk through the lobby in our grubby shorts and T-shirts. We get dragged along to someone's room where people are sitting around drinking. They are all dressed up. And nobody really talks to us except a couple of the guys. In fact, the women visibly hate us.
And we want to say to the women, oh fuck off. At least you're clean. And in an outfit you want to be wearing. And you probably want to be here. And it's not our fucking fault that your date would rather talk to us, although god knows why, because, one, look at us, and two we probably smell.
Instead, we say nothing. We swill drinks.
We are tired. We are cranky. We are Not Having Any Fun. And we are definitely not, at this moment in time, in control of our own destiny.
Finally it is decided that we will stay in the room of one of Maude's friends, whose date is just a friend. They are ready to go to sleep. We follow them back to their room. Thank goodness. Finally.
It's very, very cold. Maude and I curl up on the floor together in a hotel bedspread. We're so tired and we both just want this day to end.
We can't brush our teeth or change. We have the day of summer sweat and dust and post-drinking tiredness sunk deep into our pores. We feel disgusting. But at this point we're thankful to have pillows and a cover and be in a dark room with no mean Navy girlfriends glowering at us.
We are silent for a moment. And then Maude turns to me and says, "We're Barton Fink."