Weddings are one of those occasions that seem to make everyone either really happy or really sad. On this particular night, Melody looks like she is radiating light as she twirls around the dance floor with her new husband, Paul. The room is beautifully decorated and filled with the best food and a very large number of their family and friends. Their parents stand in the corner receiving gifts and acknowledging guests. This party is as much for the parents as it is for the couple - perhaps moreso.
The pair of them look so happy it’s almost contagious, but I still feel a bit of sadness over my current lack of success finding a husband of my own. I am also acutely aware that I am now the last of my friends to be husbandless. It’s impossible NOT to be happy for her when she looks like that, but it is also impossible not to be sad for ME. It’s a very conflicting feeling.
Why can’t I be one of those normal people who is just happy for others? Why have I never been able to figure out how to just be kind? Everyone else does it all the time and in my nearly twenty-five years of life, I have never found any success with it. My mother is very disappointed in me. A fact I know because she keeps telling me about it.
I am pulled out of my melancholic moment by Melody dragging me onto the dance floor.
“Come on last maid of honour!” she shouts into my ear, “I need to dance with you!”
“Oh thank you for reminding me!” I shout back, resisting the urge to roll my eyes only because it is her wedding day.
“You know what I meant! This is the last time you’ll be a maid of honour. Like, ever. And I want to celebrate it!”
“Oh yes, I just love not having found someone to marry. I’m so excited for my parents to start having a say in . . .” I look at the watch on my arm, “just over twelve hours.”
She looks at me sadly, “Marriage isn’t all bad.”
“You say that from all of your experience?” I tease, before continuing more seriously, “But no, I think marriage is probably great if it’s something you want to do with someone you want to do it with. But I -”
I am cut off by the change in song and the return of Melody’s new husband, Paul. If anything could convince me to get married to someone my parents would choose, it was these two looking at each other as if they were the center of the universe. But then, I remind myself, these two married by choice, not necessity. Not only does that sound a lot more romantic, but it also sounds like a lot better plan for a happy life.
Maybe if I play my cards right, I can find someone in this room who can be the love of my life, if I believe in that sort of thing. Maybe the next twelve hours will result in me finding someone. Maybe that will hold off my parents for a little while. Maybe they won’t make a choice for me if they think I’m about to make a choice for myself. That could buy me a little time, at least.
I look around the room. I have to admit, not much love of my life potential. Of the unmarried men in the room, maybe three look like they might be desperate enough to pretend to date me in hopes that I’d marry them in the end. That seems really mean, though, so I decide to settle on the one man who looks just as unimpressed to be there as I am.
I make my way across the floor and straight towards him.
“Hello,” I smile and offer my hand, “I’m Aubrey.”
He looks over at me and then back at the room. Cool, I caught a rude one.
I try again, “I don’t want to be here either.”
He actually laughs at that one, “Aren’t you the maid of honour?”
I smile, “Glad to see you were paying attention. Yes, I am the maid of honour.”
“So why aren’t you excited to be here?”
“Because I turn twenty five in exactly eleven hours and fifty-two minutes and you know what that means.”
He looks at me and his stare intensifies, “What are you trying to say?”
“I’m trying to figure out a way out of this ‘my parents get a say’ thing. Take it for what you want.”
His eyes pierce mine, as though he is searching to find out what I’m trying to say. I don’t know what I’m trying to say, so I don’t know what he thinks he will find.
“So, you want to marry me so your parents don’t get to pick?” He raises his eyebrows in confusion, “No offence, but that sounds like a very bad idea. You don’t even know me.”
“I was thinking more like casually go on a date so hopefully my parents won’t set me up with someone, like, tomorrow.”
He put his glass down and turned away, “I do not date strangers.”
Why am I so bad at this? I search the room again. No, he really is my only hope. Maybe if I just tell my parents I’m going on a date with him?
I decide to give it a try. Final, absolute, last-ditch attempt to avoid getting a marriage match tomorrow when I wake up.
I make the long walk across the room to where my parents are sitting with the grandparents of the bride, “Ma? May I have a word?”
She stands up and excuses herself, her light silver gown flowing down effortlessly as she moves.
“What would you like, dear?” She looks interested, but her voice is irritated.
“I was wondering if, maybe, you and papa might consider holding off my marriage match for a week or two,” I pause for a breath and then we both speak at once:
“I was hoping to go out on a date with-”
“You know that is quite out of the question, dear. We have discussed this. The law allows it and society demands it. I’m sorry you don’t like it, but your father and I will be deciding. You’ve had ample time to find someone yourself, I don’t see what two more weeks will do. I’ll discuss it with your father before we make any decisions.”
“Okay, I was just-”
“That will be all, Aubrey. Go rejoin your friends and enjoy the party. Maybe you can get some ideas for your own wedding,” she smiles at me like she really thinks my own wedding is an exciting prospect.