The ‘And Guest’ at table 29
Just like other events in New York, weddings in the Big Apple bring together a diverse group of people and anything can happen. But with the expected updos, strappy sandals, and magnums of champagne, unexpected disasters may crash the party. Although seating arrangements and place cards are nuisances for the blushing bride, these nuptial necessities may avoid awkward situations on the big day. No one wants to sit at a table with an ex, a frenemy, or worse — the most boring guests of the night.
I guess I’ve been pretty lucky thus far. Of all the weddings I’ve attended, I’ve yet to get seated at a crappy table. I’ve heard those horror stories though — thirty-something singles stuck at the kid’s table, or one unattached woman left sitting alone while four perfectly matched pairs take to the dance floor and sway to Celine Dion.
This brings me to the question, “Should the dateless have the option of inviting anyone to fill the role of their wedding date? Or, should only married, engaged, or cohabitants be invited as couples, and the rest be singles with no plus-ones permitted?
I remember the left-out feeling as a loner attendant in a God-awful, hip-accentuating bridesmaid dress. Ugh! It’s one thing to be willed to wear a hideous gown and be forced to dye uglier shoes to match that hideous gown. But to suffer through the experience like a reject not in a relationship serious enough to receive an “And Guest” on your wedding invitation is mortifying. That spells loser with a capital “L”.
But from the bride’s perspective, it’s not practical footing the bill for a complete stranger, while some drunken person off the street could ruin your long-anticipated moment. As once a bride-to-be, I certainly agree with that. Sorry single people.
Case in point — the New York wedding that I recently attended could have been an utter catastrophe. Sadly, my husband and I were seated at the reject table — the table with the empty seats, the couple who had been married forever, the odd couple, and us. What made it worse? We knew 15-20 people sitting in the corner across the ballroom. These were the fun tables, the rowdy, everyone-wants-to-sit-there tables, and Michael and I were seated with the duds.
I decided to make the most of it and chat with the odd couple next to us who seemed a little strange, but interesting. She was a young stylish girl from Beijing who appeared to be about 25-30. She looked like a model. Her beau was a bit older, probably mid-forties, German, not so stylish or handsome, and knew the groom through “business.” (That was the one-word answer that I received when I asked the question, “How do you know the groom?”)
I noticed the tiny young lady was quite the drinker. We offered her a glass of red wine from the bottles already on the table. She accepted, so we filled her stem with merlot. But less than five minutes later, the glass was empty and she’d just chugged an Amstel Light. She poured more wine and then finished off the bottle. I observed closely as she drank both the beer and wine as shots. She was also quite tactile and touchy-feely with her date, Mr. Business.
She expressed no interest in the first few plates of the delicious four-course dinner that she was served either, probably because she was preoccupied with drinking beer and wine, and as a model, she carefully chose her calories. Perhaps she was saving them for the steak. All the while, I couldn’t understand how she was still conscious.
Then suddenly, in her skin-tight dress and 6” platform pumps, stylish model girl sashayed to the dance floor and began grinding with one of the female lead singers, while her long straight jet-black hair bounced back and forth to the queen of bounce—Beyoncé. When she returned to the table, she hugged me, and rubbed my shoulders, as if she’d missed me. But we just met? Between the loud dance music and her accent, I could barely understand anything she said except three words. “I love America,” she shouted.
Michael and I responded simultaneously, “We love it too!” We rolled our eyes at one another, and gave the signal that married people do when something is happening that is unbelievable, uncontrollable, or just downright hysterical. Her date had gone to the bar to get more beer. Meanwhile, she began massaging my husband’s shoulders next. We both sat there in disbelief, and wondered, “Is she a professional masseuse?” She continued to imbibe and had yet to eat one morsel of food. Mike rose and went to the men’s room.
“Tracy, I want you my friend. We go somewhere and I pay!” She pulled and tugged at me repeatedly until Mr. Business returned. Now? Did she want me to be her friend and go somewhere now —before I’d eaten my steak? That wasn’t going to happen.
I suddenly realized the magnitude of this loser table situation. My husband and I needed to get away from this odd couple as soon as possible, before the situation escalated. Was she an escort or a mail-order bride? Was he her pimp? I didn’t want to know.
Mike was back. We patiently awaited the final and main course —filet mignon, while keeping one eye on the drama seated next to us. I glanced over and her head was back and her eyes closed—she’d passed out at the table. This escort required escorting — right out of that reception before she caused a huge scene and ruined an otherwise spectacular wedding.
The music was blaring with Pink in the background. Our entrees appeared and we ate quickly. Michael got up and went to the bar. “I’ll be right back.” After about five minutes more of head bobbing, eye rolling, and moaning in half English/half Mandarin, I left the table and joined my hubby. I was shocked this pomp and circumstance was actually happening, and discreetly too. Besides the couple who had been together forever and the odd couple themselves, Michael and I were the only guests who knew what was going on at table 29. Thank God.
Shortly thereafter, we ran into the couple who had been married forever and they filled us in. Apparently, our table scene got more interesting right after we left. The well-done mail-order bride tore the medium-rare beef tenderloin apart with her bare hands and ravaged it like a cave woman. This was before one of the staff escorted the odd couple out of the reception and through the side door. The spectacles slipped away and no one noticed.
I couldn’t help but wonder what the relationship between Mr. Business and Ms. Model really was, or if anyone told the bride and groom about the debacle that evening at table 29. But more than anything, I know for sure that strangers shouldn’t be invited to weddings — period. And as for sitting at a loser table? Rather than be groped by an escort or watch anyone get wrecked and land face-first in their consommé, I’d rather just send a gift.
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