I hate going to weddings.
Fair warning: this is a narcissistic, depression-soaked and introspective node. Move on immediately unless this doesn't bother you.
The problem, though, is that I keep getting invited to the weddings of people I love, and what do I do then? Other than those few times where I can legitimately claim it's a physical impossibility for me to be there (Um, er, I'm going to be in Scotland that week and I've already bought tickets and it's a trip with four other people) then there's not much choice. I have to go.
Then I have to face The Question. The card is usually simple and neat, and asks the question for purely logistical reasons. Will you be bringing a guest? The words vary, naturally. Sometimes it's politely done with checkboxes or blank lines to fill out, but it's there. In that moment, the form becomes every hideous parody of (some of my) older Jewish relatives, down to vulture-toned cigarette voices and too-eager faces: Have you found a nice girl yet? Do we get to meet her?
Every time, I sigh and check the box. I would be delighted to attend. No, I will be attending alone. I'd like the beef entree, thank you so very much.
Once, I could almost buy into the whole story that "Oh, weddings are where you want to go to find a nice girl!" Yeah. Really? The problem is that I'm of an age where I'm having to look long and far to find other single people at the tables around me, and those that I do see are many years younger if they're there at all. If there are one or two people there, then the second act of the danse macabre begins.
I don't dance.
There are a myriad reasons for this. There are technical ones, which make the best excuses when I'm pressed (and have the advantage of being perfectly true). Top of that list: I have a reconstructed left ankle, and weigh a fair amount; if I try to perform physical activity that involves lateral ankle stresses when I'm not wearing very supportive, tightly-laced footwear - such as dancing in dress shoes - then, while I might be able to do it, I will certainly spend many hours the next day icing the ankle, or (if I don't) many many more hours wishing I had. Given how much time I seem to spend on airplanes and trains these days, that's suboptimal.
There are the less technical reasons, which I don't trot out except in self-loathing little critiques like this. I have a horrible self-image; I suffer from having less self-confidence in and acceptance of my physical form than Helen Keller would in her ability to drive Formula 1, and by the time the dancing has rolled around I'm usually sunk fairly far down into my Wedding Depressive Mode anyway.
So what to do?
It takes an enormous amount of energy to attend these events and not be a psychic anvil in the emotional waterbed. I have discovered there is very little that is more work than feigning ease or relative happiness well enough to avoid triggering a response in people around me who really want (and deserve) nothing more than to have a good time at an event that many people seem to think exists to serve that purpose.
I did warn you this was a snivelling writeup.
So I don't know. I feel it's my duty as a friend to help those I care for celebrate a day which, after all, should be theirs to craft and remember. On the other hand, I have come to realize I have to be careful, very careful, about the associations and moods I carry into these things. I'm not really in wonderful shape, and holding up that facade - threadbare though it might be to those who know me - brings this home all too clearly.