As we all know, there is the lovely side of a story, such as my wedding society column three weeks ago, and then there are the humorous, often less lovely, details that surround an event. I covered the lovely, so let’s not leave out some of the humorous and awkward moments. As you recall, Bill and I were driving to Grand Marais the morning of February 13 to get married at 3:15 p.m. in a very civil ceremony.
Just prior to leaving our house, I decided to put on my nylons so I would not have to wrestle with them in the courthouse. As I eased them on using the backs of my jewelry-free hands, I soon realized they were substandard hose with that crummy elastic that wants to roll off and away. Once in place, I noted the ankles were a bit saggy, foreshadowing it was going to be a day filled with tugging and stroking to keep them in place. I had ordered some fashionable hose with the seam up the back, however they didn’t arrive on time, so I found a stand-by pair rolled in a ball in my dressing room in the red dilapidated hat box reserved for things like this.
When Bill and I had collected the wedding necessities and props, we headed out of Ely down Highway 1 with me at the wheel. I had an expired driver’s license-did I mention that? My banker had pointed that out to me the previous day, but with a name change ahead I opted to wait. I had been distracted by my health scare at Thanksgiving, then with festivities of the holidays, and did not renew. Bill cannot drive at this time, but that’s another story. We made sure my license plates were swept clear of snow and used the cruise control to lessen any chance of being pulled over and having a brush with the law on our wedding day.
The weather that day was a gift in itself, no ice on the roads, clear skies, plus there was no traffic. On approach to the north shore, we were delighted as always catching our first glimpse of shimmering Lake Superior. Soon, Bill mentioned he was a bit hungry so we decided to stop at a gas station. Wandering around inside, I was having a tough time making decisions, but that’ll happen to a gal on her wedding day. I opted for a snack of fruited yogurt, healthier than a glazed donut. A glance in Bill’s direction revealed his hand was encircling a large pre-packaged burrito. I winced and wandered away as my eyes caught some Valentine’s Day fresh flower bundles in a tub on the floor. There was a decorative cabbage, a delicate pink rose and other lovelies wrapped in pretty foil paper so I bought them for myself. Bill met me back at the car and we sat in the sun eating our snacks. A side glance at the burrito revealed it was either moist or greasy; I couldn’t decide. Bill tore it apart ignoring a comment or two from his intended, then soon it was gone.
We drove to Grand Marais, finding the courthouse with ease and parked on the east side. The intense Lake Superior wind greeted us like an invasive mother-in-law poking her nose in before the Jeep doors were fully open. We were busy gathering hangers of clothing and totes to carry inside, having chatty exchange, when Bill spoke a bit “abruptly” to me in response to something. He then expressed his growing need for a bathroom so we brisked across a parking lot toward a double door. Bill went up the stairs, pulled the handle and it was locked. I thought, “Oh geez.” He reaffirmed he needed to make haste. We hurried around to the front, up the long marble steps, past the massive columns to see a sign taped on the glass doors,”Use doors in west parking lot.” Poor Bill was growing quiet, I sensed he was trying to shut down the tsunami that was welling to his shores. There was no doubt in my mind he was feeling the charge of that gas-station burrito.
He spun quickly with hangered clothes flung over his shoulder and moved rapid-fire down the marble steps, bolting towards the west entrance. Even in peril, I noted how handsome and agile he was as he lept through knee-high snow in desperate search of a throne! He brushed past our photographer, Jess, with a quick hello so as not to appear rude, then disappeared around the side of the courthouse. I waved and shouted hello to Jess and stayed near the doors to wait for her to go inside and let me in.
Soon she arrived and we laughed and visited as we made our way to the main lobby. We were halted by an officer in uniform who scolded Jess for letting me in the side entrance. We had violated protocol. I felt like I was back at JFK International Airport when I saw the conveyor belt, scanners and security set-up they had in place. I felt bad for Jess and took the rap as the officer processed me and my belongings through the scanners. Bill was nowhere in sight but his wedding articles were on a side table. I was hoping he’d secured the throne. As my large black tote moved through the scanner it aroused suspicion. Well of course it did! “I see something long and sharp,” the officer said firmly. I replied “I don’t know, maybe my curling iron?” “You can dig in there if you’d like.” I was annoyed now, then added, “We’re here to get married, not kill anyone.” He dug, he found nothing and after a bit of continued search, waved his hands in embarrassment and said, “Ya know what, have a great day!”
Jess and I were directed upstairs. It was a very nice interior, remodeled with fresh vanilla painted walls, ceiling lights that resembled skylights and beautiful golden maple woodwork with mauve decorative metal railings. I headed off, lugging my gear towards the women’s restroom to begin transformation. The nylons were desperately in need of repositioning. Once dressed, I was fussing with the old clasp on mom’s pearl necklace when a middle-aged woman with a mullet haircut came in to brush her teeth. She moved slowly, like it was the first time she’d seen the light. A secretary came in soon after and handed me two scripts of vows to choose from. I told her we had our own, thanked her and she left.
By this time I’d broken the old necklace clasp, was frustrated with my wild, wind-blown hair and was feeling kind of sweaty. My feet were booing the Goodwill shoes, and the hose had decided hours prior they needed to relax. I pulled it together; I had to. It all reminded me of being in the theater dressing room, flying through a costume change in a mad dash to avoid missing an entrance! Jess came in like a star, rigged the necklace clasp in a temporary hold and we were ready. I brushed past a few folks seated in the hall. Felons or first timers, they too were waiting for their court appearances. They seemed to enjoy the cheery distraction we brought them, some smiled and offered congratulations.
Our wait wasn’t too long and soon we entered the courtroom. In an instant it changed from a place of severe outcomes to a warm space, filled with joyous anticipation. There were greetings and sincere expressions from the court employee who would serve as our witness, the bailiff and the judge.
And so, with saggy nylons, crummy shoes, unclasped pearls ready to slide down my dress and a bad hair day, I got married. Bill had a few challenges as well but all in all it was a beautiful event in our lives that will be remembered for much more than a broken necklace or gas station burrito.
Scarlet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org