Scanning a long list of writing prompts the other day, I saw one that jumped off the page and rattled my memory.
“Have you ever crashed a wedding?” it asked.
Well, yes, as a matter of fact I have.
And it was memorable.
Oh, the crashing was not like a head on collision, but more like a fender bender, but it was a wedding crash nevertheless.
My sophomore year in college, a high school friend was getting married. My neighbor, Mary Ann and I decided that, although we were not invited, going to a wedding might be the very thing to make us feel better after our recent breakups with long time boyfriends. The logic was off, but remember we were young.
We sat breathless in the sanctuary as the bride—a vision in silk and tulle and a whispy veil—glided by, candle light softening the vision that she was. There was a trace of honeysuckle in the air as she passed.
At that moment, we looked at each other and knew we had made a mistake and needed to leave…but how to salvage the catastrophe our evening was rapidly becoming? After a brief discussion we lit on the perfect plan.
We dashed home, grabbed treasures from our recently ditched loves and some hot dogs and graham crackers from the pantry, and headed for the picnic area at Riverside park. Since it was Fall, the evening was dark and chilly (scary too), but we were young and stupid, and ignored our fears. We spent the next half hour gathering wood and sticks and building a beautiful wonderful bonfire near the picnic area.
As the flames danced skyward, we cooked our hot dogs and happily munched away as— piece by piece— we placed the souviners of our last romances in the fire.
The love notes, the dance cards, the programs from band contests we had attended, the scarf with Itasca State Park printed on it in garish yellows and greens. Sparks flew into the air and we saw our problems flying into the air with them.
It was particular fun to throw in the picture and dried up corsage from our senior prom and watch it curl in the fire. Who needed memories of love lost anyway?
Mary Ann parted with pictures of her boyfriend as a baby…and burned a woolen sweater he had bought her for Christmas. The fire was satisfying and our enthusiasm grew as each memory became just a charred remain.
Out came the marshmallows and soon we were stuffing our faces with s’mores as we piled the last of the former treasures into the dying fire. We told stories about each item, laughed, cried, and tried to imagine walking down the aisle in tulle and silk to a future faceless groom. Marcia may have gotten married, but life goes on.
Then came the lights from the police car that was cruising through the park.
Oh, my, gosh. Could it really be 11 o’clock and past curfew?
We piled dirt on the fire as fast as we could and ran for the trees. Mary Ann’s car was parked behind the bath house, and we dashed for the safety of the front seat as the police car slowly came around the curve. Mary Ann didn’t even turn on the car lights as we made our way out of the park and back toward home. Mercifully we missed the fire hydrant in our mad dash.
Oh, the elation. We were safe and sound, in high spirits, and on our way to Dairy Queen for a final course of hot fudge sundae with pecans and whipped cream.
Oh, sure, it was stupid. And we were juvenile. But we purged ourselves of old boyfriends, had a great picnic, escaped from the police and made a terrific memory.
Crashing weddings isn’t ALL bad.