If I knew that updating a .plan file was this entertaining, I would have started doing semi-regular updates a long time ago. Oh well. My web space is located at http://nuthouse.org/~hendersa and I can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Archived .plan entries can be seen at http://nuthouse.org/~hendersa/finger. *************************************** *10 March 2001 - The Wedding Reception* *************************************** While I prefer the "Kurt Vonnegut/Empire Strikes Back" method of storytelling that involves multiple substories going on at once and occasionally criss-crossing each other, you people don't. In fact, dozens of you have very emphatically told me via e-mail that you want to know how the whole wedding thing turned out before I do anything else. Never let it be said that I don't listen to all of you. Without further ado, here is another segment of my matrimonial misadventure. Hallelujah! When last we left things, I was sitting in the front seat of Leslie's car out in front of the church. I had just done a mad scramble to get out of the church a few moments before, and then I had promptly found out that the bridal party was getting their pictures taken immediately following the wedding. Since Leslie was a bridesmaid in the wedding, that meant that she was going to be tied up with pictures for a little while. That, of course, left me sitting in a car in a parking lot in front of a church filled with people I'd rather not deal with. Leslie was rapidly losing points with me over this whole affair. I scrunched down low in the driver's seat so that no one approaching the car in the parking lot would spot me. I peeked at my watch, and then reclined the drivers seat back and closed my eyes. With any luck, I'd fall asleep or something and jolt awake to find that this whole thing had been a bad dream about fear of commitment. I ended up sitting in that car seat for about 45 minutes before Leslie finally wandered over and tapped on the window of the car. I snapped the seat up to the upright position and popped the car door open so that nothing other than air was between Leslie and I. "So THIS is where you've been. Were you even in the church during the wedding? I never saw you!" Leslie said while she eyed me. A hint of irritation was in her face. Apparently, she had never spotted me way in the back of the church, so she must have thought that I had ditched the ceremony and camped out in the car. I just glared up at her for a moment. "You didn't see me because I was surrounded by religious FRUITCAKES. They boxed me in and then tried to convert me the whole damn time!" was my somewhat sour reply. Leslie's face instantly went from irritated to somewhat bemused. As I was climbing out of the driver's seat, Leslie's less-than-concerned response to me was "Were you now? Did you kill any?" I shot her a cold glare before responding with, "I SERIOUSLY thought about it." I slid off my suit jacket and slid it around Leslie's shoulders since it was starting to get a little cold outside and her bridesmaids dress didn't cover her shoulders. I expressed that I DID NOT WANT to go to the reception after the treatment I had received from the 17 apostles prior to the wedding ceremony. Leslie, however, wasn't about to let me get away with that. She made it quite clear that I was to go to the reception, sit there, and play nice... or else she was going to be "very, very, VERY upset" with me. Any ladies in the audience will understand exactly what Leslie's feelings were towards this whole affair and will completely agree that Leslie's feelings are more important than me feeling at ease for a few hours. In fact, I should have toughed out this whole thing without complaining at all, since I was making Leslie happy by being there. Being there for each other is the important thing, right? And, all of you would be correct. We'll call this "plan A". Any gentlemen in the audience will understand exactly what my feelings were towards this whole affair and will completely agree that running like hell is a viable gameplan for such an occasion. There doesn't even have to be any planning involved... you just wait until the girl has her head turned and you run like hell until you find a McDonalds that you can sit in for a few hours. And, all of you would be correct. We'll call this "plan B". During the fifteen minute drive to the reception hall, I kept flip-flopping between these two alternatives in my mind. On one hand, those religious yahoos had only been battering me for about ten minutes before the wedding had started, and now they were going to have the opportunity to let me have it for a whopping three hours. On the other hand, I probably had been sitting next to a batch of real nutbars at the wedding, and my chances of sitting next to people as pushy as they had been was going to be somewhat slimmer at the reception. For the entirety of the drive, Leslie kept assuring me and reassuring me that the reception wouldn't be that bad. She kept telling me that I had been sitting next to some real wingnuts that had no business forcing a guest to a wedding to endure an inquisition. She kept telling me that I had better suck it up and go into the reception with her or things were going to get very ugly between us. Quite clearly, plan A was the only acceptable way to keep the peace once this evening was over. When we arrived at the reception hall, I noticed that a McDonalds was right across the street. Plan B just pulled ahead in the ratings. Against my better judgement, I walked inside with Leslie. Once we entered the front hall, I noticed that the entire bridal party was sitting there, waiting for Leslie to show up. Due to Leslie's personal policy of being about 30 minutes late for everything, the bride looked very relieved that Leslie had showed up more or less on time. Leslie and I peered into the dining hall and looked at the people in there. She had a pretty firm grip on my hand, which I guess was pretty good insurance against me bolting for freedom. She told me that the people in there didn't look that bad to her, and that I should just go in and find my assigned seat. "C'mon, Leslie! Hurry up and get paired up! We need to get this started," the bride directed as she grabbed Leslie's wrist and yanked her over towards a double file formation of groomsmen and bridesmaids. I just stood there and pondered the situation. I was going to have to make my fight or flight decision momentarily. I peered around the door in the hallway and looked into the dining hall again. There were people. A lot of people. Weird people. People that were folding crosses out of the napkins on the tables. McDonalds was starting to look really damn good right about then. I peered over at Leslie, and she was standing there in formation and staring at me. She began snapping her head towards the dining hall with an expression on her face that meant "get the hell in there, buster". After she did that a few times, she just looked at me with a disappointed look on her face. Then, the whole formation began to move into the dining hall while the MC inside began his introduction of the bridal party. And I stood there. For at least a good five minutes. Actually, I didn't just stand there. I nervously paced back and forth. In fact, I probably would have paced there another five minutes and then bolted if there hadn't been some intervention. "Excuse me... are you Andrew?" a pretty older woman in a very nice dress asked me as she walked towards me from the dining hall's back entrance. I was rather suprised by this, and I told her that I was. She smiled a genuine smile as she walked up to me, took my hand in hers, and introduced herself as the mother of the bride. "I just want to thank you so very much for letting Leslie be in the wedding. It was really a godsend that she was able to fill in on such short notice!" she said as clasped her other hand around my hand as well. I shrugged as I said, "Trust me, ma'am... I couldn't get Leslie NOT to do anything that she wanted to do if my life depended on it. She did this because she wanted to... I'm just kinda along for the ride." She smiled at me for a moment before her hands shifted from a clasping position to a wrist grab. "Leslie also told me that you hadn't come in and sat down yet because you didn't know where to sit!" she cheerfully exclaimed. "Here, let me take you to your seat!" she chirped as she began tugging on my wrist. I just opened and closed my mouth a few times before I just gave in and walked behind her in dejected defeat. Beyond a doubt, women are sneaky. The two of us walked from the hallway to the dining hall through the hall's back entrance. As we weaved in and out between tables and people on the way to the table, I noted that a lot of people were watching me with some interest. I imagine that the interest came from the fact that the mother of the bride was towing some unfamiliar guy in a suit by his wrist. The mother of the bride pointed to a table that looked like it would have seated eight people. Curiously, it only had four positions of the table set with namecards. I glanced around and saw that every other table was pretty much at its full capacity of eight people. I appeared to be sitting at the only half-empty table in the entire place. In fact, at the moment it was completely empty, since no one was sitting there at all. The mother of the bride smiled at me and said that she would introduce me to the other people sitting at the table, but they had "all seemed to have disappeared to somewhere". She shrugged and said, "Well, they're all young people like you, so I'm sure you'll be just fine." I wondered in the back of my mind whether my tablemates had all decided to make a break for McDonalds. The mother of the bride smiled at me once more before she headed back over to her table. I sat down, sighed, and peered over at the head table where the bridal party was seated. Leslie had been watching me from the moment I stepped foot into the dining hall. Our eyes met for a moment, and she gave me a sheepish smile and a small wave with her hand. Had I known who was going to be sitting at that table with me, I probably would have used that five minutes of pacing in the hallway to give myself a good head start out the front door of the reception hall. But I'm getting ahead of myself again, aren't I? Next Wedding Update: The table of misfit toys.