The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wedding in the Ashes

On Sunday, 21 October, I went to a wedding.

This wedding was interesting for two reasons.

a) It was my first wedding where kids aren't invited, and

b) I caused a glorious scene by coughing through the bride's maids' entrances.

I'm serious about a. I've never been invited to a wedding where my wonderful, so well-behaved, absolutelythecutestkidontheplanet son hasn't been welcomed with open arms. Apparently, childless weddings are all the rage. And who can blame people? I love dancing a sober jig with my darling boy, but I love dancing a slightly buzzed jig without him all the more. Leaving baby behind does have a touch of that date night, devil-may-care excitement--except I am still waking up at 6am to a whiny toddler.

What is so odd about this childless wedding is that apparently the bride and groom didn't realize they didn't want rug rats cutting capers until after the invitations had been sent and RSVPs had been returned. In short, we were given a two-week (Lynn Truss, eat your heart out) notice to find a sitter for this wedding via a slightly abashed call from the groom, clarifying that the RSVP was for two not three.

At first my motherly ire rose and I railed about how my gift to this blessed couple would be the $10-an-hour sitter I would have to find. However, I was quickly set straight by all of my more wedding savvy friends about the normality and propriety of this exclusion by my son. And more importantly, my grandparents came down that weekend and watched my sweetest one for a whopping free dollars.

Lucky couple. They still got their gift certificate to Crate and Barrel (to which I had happily found out at the wedding they had actually registered at).

Now on to part b. As many of you already know, I am prone to ridiculous coughing fits. However, no matter how ridiculous they are, these fits are no laughing matter. These moments of extreme cough-dom can last for as long as 30 minutes, in which I am literally gasping and retching. I simply can't control them.

They've happen when I've been teaching. All I could do was wave a weak hand at my horrified students as they watch me hack up a lung with horrified expressions on their faces. Happily, they've all left the classroom with minimal fuss (since I am in no shape to argue with them), and I've recovered after agonizing minutes of searing explosions and possibly a little pee leakage (I'll never tell . . . but I did have a baby. Mommies everywhere can attest that your bladder is never the same).

They've also happened during important interviews. One of which I failed to mention was when I interviewed to be in the lab I currently am performing research in. Yes indeed, I did begin a coughing fit. For about five or six awful minutes, I frantically scanned my no PI's desk for any type of device to swab my watering eyes and running nose with. To no avail. He finally noticed my plight and gave me permission to flee to the ladies' room where I proceeded to streak my linen shirt with tears and snot. Oh yes, I walked back into my no PI's office to continue that interview, red nose, eyes, face, and all.

However, in both of the above situations, I have had the option to flee when such fits start. Not so with this wedding. The fit started when the ash from the then unremarkable southern fire (Harris for all of you in the know now) became lodged in my throat. The air was already bad because of the smoke, and this particular ash was merely the straw that broke my civilized throat's back.

I erupted into hacks and gasps . . . just as the bride's maids began their sssssssssssllllllllllllloooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwww march down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon. Now this bride and groom are very lovable which was evident by the mass of people who attended their wedding. Seating was at a premium and very cramped. I happened to be four rows from the front of the action and two seats from the center aisle, crammed in so tight that to exit right then would have entailed a mess of "excuse me's" and chair shifting (we were outdoors) and people standing and calling a lot of attention to myself.

I was faced with a quandary: which is the greater disturbance? Poorly suppressed coughs or clumsy evacuation of wedding. I choose the former as being the most discrete. My thoughts were that if I didn't breathe for a bit, I could refrain from coughing too loudly until people stood for the bride and then in the jubilant confusion I could make my escape.

Unfortunately for my plan, I didn't have enough breath for the bride's TEN FREAKING BRIDESMAIDS! All marching as slowing and inexorably as time does to tasteful classical music. These lovely ladies (and they were lovely) were followed by TWO ring bearers and a flower girl.

I was in agony. My breath-holding had turned into a sort of beached whale gasping, snot and tears soaking my newlypurchasedforthisevent sassy dress.

Finally, the bride appeared, and I booked it for the nearest watering hole. I ended up watching the wedding from a discreet distance. The bride was indeed beautiful. The wedding indeed touching. And ultimately, I am thankful for the kid ban. I don't know how I would have wrestled my kid along with my errant bronchi.

So, what do you serve grandparents (also great-grandparents) when they are watching your kid for free? Goat-cheese stuffed burgers.

hamburger meat
goat cheese


Roll hamburger meat into small balls (about half the size you would for a regular patty). Pat the small balls flat (yes, I know how that sounds . . . you think of a better way to say it). Place goat cheese slices on top of one flat patty. Top with another. Seal. Repeat.


Assemble a burger.

Enjoy a wedding without your kid.


  1. the visual on this is too much! How you control your bladder from that much coughing and hacking is beyond me!

  2. omigod...the coughing fit is even better than you told me. Except I really wish you included the snobby guest story! Another blog, another time.

    P.S. Have made the cheese-stuffed burgers. Delish.

    P.P.S. Love the Lynne Truss shot-out!