For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with being a bridesmaid. I love the idea of wearing a floofy dress, walking down an aisle, and serving as a backdrop when someone else makes a dramatic, life-changing commitment to someone else. Unfortunately, I have almost no female friends and, the few I do have, always have other friends they like better than me. So, it came as a total surprise recently when my friend Kathy asked me to be in her wedding.
I must preface this by saying that Kathy picked someone else to be her bridesmaid first. Luckily for me, however, the Original Bridesmaid snapped her Achilles tendon while playing tennis and was not able to fulfill her bridesmaid duties. So, just three weeks before the wedding, Kathy asked me to step in as her replacement.
After jumping up and down, screaming, I demurely said yes. Finally, I was called up to the Big Show.
I spent three weeks preparing for this wedding. I cut down on my cheese and ice cream consumption, and I embarked on a personal grooming blitz, attempting to make up for years of feminine neglect. I scrubbed my knees and elbows morning and night, trying to slough off decades of elephant skin. I applied super-strength antiperspirant every night in hopes that it would stop me from ruining my bubblegum pink dress with copious armpit sweat. I also applied self-tanner to my upper arms morning and night to diminish the accumulated damage of five years worth of farmers’ tans.
By the wedding day, I was feeling pretty good. The dress zipped up easily and I felt thinner, tanner, and less crusty than before. I enjoyed the day and had a great time. During the ceremony, I gave a reading and got choked up, but I wasn’t too embarrassed (though several people did come up to me later to tell me how sweet it was….grrr).
I really had fun and I felt not a stitch of self-consciousness…until I scanned through some photos later than night. Though I had felt tan and thin(ner), after consulting the photographic evidence, I realized that I was, in fact, neither tan nor thin. I looked more like a Beluga whale than I’d imagined, and suddenly an event that felt so positive in the experience of it became ugly and tainted.
I haven’t looked at the photos since and, when anyone asks me about them (there are people dying to see me in a bubblegum pink dress, apparently), I simply say that I can’t handle the truth. That’s the truth. I can’t. Occasionally, denial is the only strategy I can muster. Well, denial with an ice cream chaser.