In Honor of Bad Days

In honor of bad days, I recount for you, in full, one of my worst days ever. In response to this MetaFilter thread, in which we were asked to dish up our worst wedding stories, I have decided that the scars have healed enough for me to revisit my awful pre-wedding day, in the name of posterity.

When my husband and I met, it was more or less, "Phew! Thank GOD! Where the hell have you been all this time? I've been sitting here kissing toads for years; you miss your train or something?" It was, to us, a foregone conclusion that our meeting would end with a race down the aisle.

So, eight months after we met, after I had been in school for a while and he had just come off of a tour, we looked at each other and said, "Hey, I'm free, you wanna get married?" It was my spring break, and he had a couple of weeks before he went back out on the road, so it seemed perfectly reasonable to take the opportunity to get some nuptials.

We spent the next week getting some vintage clothes that weren't appalling (we were completely broke, after all), bought a couple of white gold wedding bands, got a ticket to fly to San Francisco, and then rented a car to drive to Reno (all on credit, of course). A perfect, perfect plan. He was from San Francisco, and we had a couple of errands to run before THE BIG DAY, and so we were going to stay with his best friend overnight, and drive to Reno the following morning.

Curiously, I was at this time besieged by one of the worst bladder infections that has ever benighted me and was almost crippled in pain. But, being a trooper, as long as I got treatment for it I didn't see it making a hitch in our plans. We trundled into a clinic in Haight-Ashbury, land of social conscience and grooviness (and junkies galore) to get some rather run-of-the-mill antibiotics.

And there I met the medical assistant delivered straight from the loins of Satan. After I had filled out my paperwork and handed it back to her, she read it over, and then began eyeballing me. "What's your area code?" It was right in front of her; I repeated it. "I've never heard of an area code ending in a zero." So? I'm sorry? Is a part of your job to be an expert in area codes? And why would I lie about my area code?

She proceeded with more questions: "When did you come to San Francisco? Who are you visiting? How long are you staying?" Apparently the Gestapo was in charge of the Haight clinic, and I was completely confused. I had a garden-variety infection, and wasn't asking for a prescription for morphine with a chaser of dilaudid or anything. Finally, I broke. I started to cry. "I have a terrible bladder infection, I don't know what you're asking of me or why, and I'm getting married tomorrow. All I want is some antibiotics...."

That got her attention. She didn't exactly apologize, but all the sudden she's as nice as can be, and gets much speedier in her delivery of stupid drugs into my desperate little hands. Dazed, we left, a psychically-scarred patient and her confused fiance.

One errand down, one to go.

As I squirmed in pain, we traipsed into the Haight again, land of consignment stores, to sell one of the two suits that my husband had bought for the big event. We toodled into the best store, and he pointed to the counter where I presumed that he was going to sell the suit. I wandered off into the store to gaze at clothes we couldn't afford.

After I had perused virtually all of the racks, I notice my hubs-to-be in a discussion at the front of the store. He knew tons of people in SF, so I continued meandering. Then he walked up to me, looking frozen in terror, and pulled me behind a rack. "My ex is here. Didn't you see me pointing at her? She's been yelling at me since we got here." I looked up. I had never met her, having basically stolen her beau (long story), and did not relish this as the optimal moment to hold out an olive branch. He suggested that I wait outside, so I crept along the back wall, ducking behind racks all along the way, practically racing out the door where I proceeded to smoke my brains out. He came out, and we wandered shell-shocked to a restaurant to collect ourselves. Amazingly, despite being in the store with a suit (completely out of character) and with his new fiancee, his ex didn't put the pieces together and was merely berating him for past transgressions, not the more obvious and overt gaff of getting married the following day. I'm sure the store would have exploded had she figured it out.

Happy that the nightmare was concluded, we packed it in and went back to his best friend's apartment to share the news. We told one friend, and after she was sort of confused for a moment, gave us her well-wishes. The storm had subsided. The afternoon past into evening, and we spent an calm dinner with his old friend.

Then his best friend came home.

After telling him the good news, he settled into a silent gloom, staring at us in disbelief. Then he let fly. We were idiots, we didn't know what we were doing, why were we eager to get married when everyone knew that the institution of marriage was a sham? Were we ready to throw away our lives?

One might ask themselves how my husband could be best friends with someone who felt so compelled to be a complete ass, but I swear, he was momentarily possessed. This is the only reasonable explanation. Nothing else makes sense. However, we were still forced to sit through two straight hours of this, with a few stunned interjections from us every now and then. Eventually, he wound down like a spring-toy. He paused, glaring into the middle-distance. "Well, I suppose you could always get it annulled."

Silence fell. This was the signal that the discussion was closed, and we all began to make absurdly polite chit-chat. "Did you guys get rings?" he asked. I was a quivering mass of lumpen protoplasm at this point, but my husband pulled the rings out and handed them to his friend, still in the little teeny ziploc bag from the jewelry store. He turned them over in his hands and scrutinized them like gemologist. "When are you going to get real rings?" he asked.

The rings, bright shiny 18k white gold, couldn't have been more real. He had, as his final blow, made a perfectly laughable mistake into a shocking insult. I couldn't believe that one human being could both so flagrantly disrespectful and then inadvertently trample upon one of the greatest decisions his friend had ever made. Had I not felt like the scum of the earth, I would have dragged him into the street and shot him like a rabid dog, but alas, I was, as I said, hardly more than gelatinous goo at this point.

The only luck we had that day was that after the ring comment, his friend decided to go to bed.

I sobbed. I don't think I have ever sobbed so hard in my adult life. Bloodshot-eyeballed, puffy-faced, snot-nosed, oxygen-depleted, choking, completely unattractive, very un-Hollywood sobs. Bawl-ing. Like a baby.

And then we got married the next day.

There's a photo of us in our Reno hotel room before the chapel's strange limo came to pick us up (baby blue Lincoln Towne Car, of course). I'm not dressed or made-up yet, and I look like I've been dragged through the trenches of World War I and survived the mustard gas. My expression is wistful, looking up through my eyelashes as though they might protect me, and I'm holding a beer in one hand, and a ringless hand in the air to show the "before and after." It's a touching photo because I'm wearing all the horror of the previous day on my face, but behind it is the obvious hope that I knew what I was doing.

Our ultimate revenge was that my husband was his best friend's best man at his wedding a couple of years ago. That, and we've had a long, happy marriage.

With very few bladder infections.