Instead, we decided to ditch. Lily went "out of town." I sent my regrets and agreed to a date with a guy who was certainly not marriage material. As I flirted and sipped my vodka soda, I thought of the double-faced satin strapless fit-to-flair gown that was surely being discussed uptown. I ordered another cocktail and drank it, fast.
The following book club meeting had a scheduling snafu. Last minute cancellations started popping up at 3 o'clock, so I thought it would be rude not to go. The summer heat had forced us to abandon our apartments entirely. When I arrived at the chosen restaurant, it was down to three: two brides-to-be and me.
Dutifully, I played the single person, entertaining the girls with my standard dating disaster stories. At the time, the problem I liked to exaggerate most was the banker. He adored playing games and was never going to settle down, never going to be my boyfriend.
Anyone, everyone, knew this… which meant he had me on a string—pulling me in, driving me crazy, letting me out, hurting my pride. Just generally a bad idea. Everyone thought so. Except, as it turned out, the fiancées. Why Married Women Envy Single Women
"Ooooh. The lost cause. I remember how fun that was," one of them said.
"There's nothing like that feeling of falling, really falling, for someone," the other added.
"Can you believe we're never going to do that again?"
I had to do a double take. A person's memory is a cagey thing. While I clearly recalled comforting the fiancées when they rejected the Wrong Ones and found the Right Ones, they'd now deluded themselves into thinking they'd had fun. And one day—if I managed to reprogram my Pavlovian nausea for certain ex-boyfriends' names—I might feel the same. Regardless, I would pretend to feel the same.
Later that week, I had lunch with a college friend, my first to get married. I gasped when she told me that she was also going to be the first to leave her husband. I thought of the term that describes this phenomenon: starter marriage. In Defense Of Starter Marriage
But listening to her quietly explain her decision, it seemed bigger than a starter, more than a main course—an entire buffet laced with salmonella. She was surviving a great loss, certainly the greatest of anyone I'd ever known.
That day I wasn't in such a rush to get married, to trust my happiness to someone else. I may not be perfect, but at least I'm familiar with my deficiencies. My flaws rarely blindside me; I've been hiding them for years.
I returned to book club thinking about the upside of watching my friends dive in first, toe the squishy bottom, invent swimming. I might get a sunburn, but they could drown.
Full of apologies, I arrived with a bottle of wine as my olive branch. It was as if I'd never left. (Since I never announced my departure, I suppose I hadn't.) And within five minutes, we were back to color schemes and location fees.
Nothing had changed. One hour of tulle-draped conversation later, in a well-intentioned attempt to include me, a fiancée turned and said, "What do you want your ring to look like?" I had no idea. "Where will you get married?" I was equally stumped. 5 Things Single Women Hate To Hear
The fiancée changed the subject. She had an appointment on Saturday at a fancy Fifth Avenue bridal boutique and was 99 percent sure she was going to purchase the gown. It was antique white with a draped neckline and ruched skirt. (Ruched?) The only problem was that her sister, mom, and eight bridesmaids lived out of town. What was she going to do?
This was a question I knew how to answer. "Well," I said, gazing down at my unadorned finger, "I'm not doing anything Saturday. I could go with you." When I finally looked up, she was smiling so wide I had to grin back. And just like that, I joined Marriage Club.
*Name has been changed.