Three weeks after our bridal shower the day arrived for Bridal Shower number two, hosted by the Bride’s mother, which was the bridal shower I thought would adhere to proper wedding etiquette as all showers I had been to at that point had been hosted by the Mother of the Bride. This one of course was the first I had attended that had been usurped by the Mother in Law of the Bride. I decided to look it up just to be sure, and where else would I go but to my mother’s idol’s website: www.marthastewartliving.com. As it turns out, I was wrong, but my mother was not right either. To Quote directly “ According to tradition, a shower should not be thrown by the bride’s immediate relatives such as her mother, future mother in law or sister since it would appear that they were asking for gifts. The maid of honor usually hosts. “ Well we all got that one wrong, but the gifts had already been bought and accepted so we were all, already offending common proper practice. To Hell with Rules! Bring on the presents, or parcels as it would turn out.
As anticipation mounted for the big Saturday night festivities, the uninvited male members of the family started to tease those of us who had cast our busy social lives aside, our usual Saturday night rendezvous to attend a teetotal dinner come shower, come Moroccan game night. It was exciting for me, as my Saturday nights usually consisted of putting a toddler to bed, cooking dinner and watching TV, the only difference from any other day of the week was that I didn’t have to pack a lunch for the next day, clean up, set my alarm, and I could enjoy a nice glass or more of red wine. Giving up the red wine and getting a toddler free evening and not having to cook dinner seemed like an even trade for me. But for my mother, alas, she would be missing a party somewhere, an invite turned down out of familial duty, a vodka tonic turned down with pure will power. This was not going to be easy for her. She promised she would be on her best behavior, a voluntary contribution tempered by the fact that she had already outdone the mother of the bride with her over the top lavish bridal shower number 1 three weeks before.
See blog posts Meet the Fockers part 1:
And Meet the Fockers part 2:
She had recovered from her party and had convinced us all she was going to put her most gracious foot forward, it turns out on the gas pedal.
“ I will be the designated driver.” She volunteered while batting her eyes and coyly smiling.
“Mom, it’s a teetotal party, we can’t drink too much lemonade.”
“Think of what could happen if your sister drank too many sugary drinks.”
Visions of the game Nazi flashed through my head.
“I’ll drive.” My mother insisted.
This was mom’s attempt at generosity and grace. Then next week she would say it was someone else’s turn to drive home from the raging party, so she could swig a wine with out fear or inhibition.
On the night of the shower, Mom put her best face forward, got decked out in her Moroccan clothes she had purchased on a reluctant trip there several years ago. My Dad giggled as she sighed, without knowing what the girly night ahead of her had in store. Mom was not much of a girly girl, despite the makeup, the walk in closet and hefty credit card bill, she loved to shop, go to the spa, and entertain but if she was invited to a girly trip or a dinner party without men, she would decline. I don’t think she could think of anything worse than spending a weekend with her two daughters and now she was about to get a third one by marriage. Mom only really preformed for men and so an estrogen filled evening untempered by booze was going to be hard. I figured she would be uncharacteristically quiet the entire time. I wasn’t all wrong.
She pulled her car around to the front of the house and honked the horn. Chris kissed me goodbye.
“Before you go, give this to your mom.” He handed me a flask, which he had filled with gin and three cans of Perrier.
“Tell your mom to have a roadie on me.”
This is a reference to two years ago when I climbed into the passenger seat of their car to attend our Easter brunch, and found a discarded roadie- a plastic cocktail glass with red cocktail straw and slice of lime fermenting on the floor mat from the night before. At the time I was still expressing breast milk for Eva and was struck with both jealousy and amazement. To be nearly 70 and still be drinking roadies, ah that’s the life. And to this day I do not know how she convinces my father to drive home from every single event.
When I climbed in, I offered her a gin and soda. She laughed.
“We aren’t really going to drink it are we?” She asked.
“No of course not! Unless you think they will just think it’s mouthwash?”
“No, we better not.”
I put the flask and Perrier cans on the floor of the car, and laid back to enjoy the thirty minute drive to Paget, without worrying about a toddler or stop signs or traffic, that’s the life for a busy mother, thirty minutes of uninterrupted looking out the window.
Then it started, the continual pestering.
“What do you think they will have for dinner?”
“I don’t know, maybe a Moroccan dish!’
“Oh No, I hate Moroccan food.”
“Why do you have to be obsessed by food.”
“I hate Morocco.”
“What do you think she will be wearing?”
and on and on and on.
We picked up my sister and twenty minutes later we finally arrived. We were the first ones there. Rich, Danielle the bride to be’s step dad directed us around the back to secretly park as the party was supposed to be a surprise, but my mother had already blown that too. Maybe on purpose? Maybe by accident?
“Why did you tell Giles?”
“I felt he needed to know?”
“So that he could bring her a little bit late, in case we were late.”
“Mom, that defeats the purpose.”
“I don’t like surprises, and he is just like me, and anyway Danielle doesn’t know.”
“But you know, and I know that if Giles knows he will give it away.”
“As long as he doesn’t bring her on time then it will be okay.”
“Mom we are early. We are never early.”
“Great, it’s just going to be awkward without anyone else around.”
I open the door to exit the car. Mom yells,
“Aren’t you going to cover up the flask?”
“You didn’t cover up your roadie in 2012. No one is going to see it.”
“You never know! “ Mom said.
So we got back in and put the flask on its side underneath the floor matt.
“There no one will ever know.”
“It’s not like we drank it anyway.”
“Yeah but no one would believe you.”
We are ushered into the house through the back door by Christine, the mother of the bride.
“Hi Jane, thanks for coming” Christine says.
My mother grins and without any hesitation responds,
“Christine, are those eyelashes FAKE?”
Christine blinks several times trying to take in my mother’s version of “Hello, How are you.”
“Yes,” she admits blinking vigorously already defeated.
Mother in Law -0
Anna Laura and I look at each other too bad we weren’t wearing black and white stripes as we may have some refereeing to do tonight. Thank god my mom hadn’t touched the flask, it could be worse.
Next, Christine said,
“What would you like to drink?”
I ushered my first prayer of the evening. “Please mom, don’t say wine, please don’t say wine.”
The dog barked and I thought, thank god someone else, and so the other women began to arrive, parking behind us in the backyard. Company at last.
And then finally, DING DONG. The doorbell rang. The Bride and Groom arrived, and we all conspicuously hid in the lounge before jumping out and yelling “SURPRISE!”
Danielle’s mouth dropped she feigned surprise. They were perfectly late, I am sure my brother had let it slip but I could not be sure.
Rich ushered Giles out the door as they were taking him to his own special stag party, an AA meeting, and dinner at Specialty Inn. I am sure my long suffering husband would have given up beer to join in but he was babysitting a toddler and a few Coors Lights at the time.
The men disappeared and Christine put her party hat on.
“Let the games begin!”
“Oh no, I hate games I thought.” I would rather watch my ice cube melt.
I had visions of passing life savers on toothpicks and playing pyramid but I would be spared, THOSE games from my youth.
Oh that’s not so bad I thought. Christine began passing out tests and pencils. She was once a teacher, and somehow that doesn’t surprise me. I had a feeling the family was about to gain another game Nazi.
I could hear my mother sharpening her pencil in the background, she was quiet but it might have just been the Iced Tea, or maybe it was her game plan.
“Our first game this evening is Guess the Bride.”
I flipped through the fifty page document of wedding photos where someone had painstakingly cut the faces out of each bride’s picture, and then photocopied masses of copies. I supposed she needed something to do last Saturday, but maybe cutting out famous brides faces gave her some sort of passive aggressive pleasure, I know it probably would for me. Maybe when Dani and Giles are expecting their first born, I will recreate the game with famous new moms, and cut the faces out of the likes of Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the rest of those skinny bitches who spend maternity leave in the gym. Ahhh just the thought gives me passive aggressive satisfaction.
I was always good at fantasying and by some miracle I won the guess the bride game, although I have never picked up an issue of BRIDE in my entire life. Full of pride and surprise I accepted my gift of scented bamboo reed diffusers.
“Thanks, just what I wanted, bamboo sticks.”
Cocky and self assured I started the next game, name the movie, the actress and the year of the bride pictured.
“I am really good at this game.” I said.
I was too big for my britches and came in an underperforming second or third. But then I realized I was not much into bride movies anyway, and Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride had been the stumper for me, not that I am running out to see it now or anytime soon.
“That was fun,” I announced.
“Next” Christine stood up to move on proceedings.
I looked over at my mother, she gave me a smug half smile, I looked down at her test sheets, 2 out of 50 and 10 out of 32. I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t trying or she really didn’t know.
“I am too old for this game.” She said with regality.
“Next,” Christine called the class of women to order.
“Next, we are going to play Pass the Parcel.”
All of the women already gathered in a circle looked around at each other with a pretend excitement.
I whispered to mom, “If you are too old for the quiz, then you must be about to be reincarnated for Pass the Parcel.” And I made a sign of the cross like the good catholic I was not.
Christine launched ITunes on her laptop and started the music, we were to pass the parcel until the music stopped. She admitted freely herself that she was attempting to recreate Danielle’s birthday parties when she was growing up, but I am thankful that she did not go as far as to play nursery rhymes. I had no need to relive my childhood as I was living Eva’s right now.
I wondered if Pass the Parcel was a passive aggressive way of pretending her daughter wasn’t really old enough to get married, or maybe she was just desperate for grandchildren. That would be a good thing, as my mother was not, she already had three and was struggling to come up with creative excuses not to babysit. If this was what Christine wanted to do on a Saturday night, then my mom’s future Saturday nights were going to be free to partake in many roadies to come.
As Pass the Parcel progressed the person it stopped on had to unwrap a layer and then could take the lollipop or present that was on that layer, but they would also have to read the poem and do the dare.
The dare, sounded risqué, but the poems certainly were not. As each parcel unwrapper read off their sentimental poem about mothers and daughters, my mother’s lip curled in distaste.
I could read her mind, “Cheesy” she was thinking.
Her secret hope that my brother might be gay so that she could get another son-in-law to outnumber the women in the family was not going to happen, but as long as there weren’t any more sober bridal showers in her future, she might just make it through the night. My sister and I weren’t sure. My mother was in denial, she was marrying off her son, getting a third daughter and god forbid more grandchildren, and now Pass the Parcel. We were all having flashbacks to 1985 or maybe it was just withdrawal symptoms.
Our side of the family had been neglected by the music wizard, but when it stopped on one of Danielle’s bridesmaids and her dare was “Share your most embarrassing moment.” The three of us looked at each other with a sigh of relief that the parcel had not landed gracefully within our grasp, for fear one of us caught off guard would answer honestly. Of course all of those stories probably contain a roadie or two and Pass the Parcel was not really the venue.
By the end of Pass the Parcel we were all worried that Musical Chairs would be next and my mother would end up with her ample derriere wedged on top of a younger, quicker Christine in a chair but it was not time for more games, it was finally time to eat.
My mother and Christine have one similarity they both are amazing hostesses, and Christine had a spread of Moroccan food that was twice as much as all of us could eat, all of us of course except for my mother.
Never reluctant to grab a dinner plate, my mother uncharacteristically hung back, then gave herself several ungenerous portions while Christine introduced each food group,
“ We have roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, Chicken and prunes, and a kale and chickpea salad.”
My mother looked like she was choking on a digestive enzyme as she chewed on a piece of butternut squash wishing it was a roast potato. And Kale, she never touched super foods unless it was a Smirnoff raspberry martini, and she could have used one of those right about now to make up in calories, what she was loosing in appetite.
The rest of us thought it was delicious. As we were finishing up dinner, the boys arrived back. I could sense my mother’s relief for male company. She began picking on my brother within two minutes.
“Why are you wearing that shirt?”
“You need some new clothes for your honeymoon, which reminds me.”
“What mom?” Giles answered.
“I have forgotten to give you, your Trousseau. Do you know what a Trousseau is?”
“No” he said.
People were milling about getting ready to leave.
I was thinking mom would be the first one out the door if it was going to get her home quicker and closer to that raspberry martini, but now that my brother was back she had threshold paralysis.
“Come on mom I said, every one is getting ready to leave,” as the other girls said their thank yous and goodbyes. I was desperate not to be the last ones here in case my mother tried to touch one of Christine’s falsie eyelashes.
My sister and I gathered her bags, and as I put them at her feet, she asked
“Do you know what a Trousseau is?”
“Isn’t it like some sort of hope chest?” was my answer.
“Wrong” she said. I was actually right.
And then proudly like she had won a game of jeopardy after loosing at pass the parcel, announced. “A trousseau is gift of clothing for the honeymoon.”
“Isn’t that for the bride?” I asked. Right again.
“It doesn’t matter, I can give one to the groom if I want.”
“Of course mom can do what ever you want.”
“A Trousseau is a gift of lingerie for the bride to use on the honeymoon.”
“You bought Giles lingerie for his honeymoon?” I had visions of Giles running around Venice Italy in a Chippendales outfit.
“I bought him clothes for his honeymoon.”
“Then stop calling it a Trousseau.” I said.
By this time the family squabble had distracted my sister and I from our mission to leave. My mother would not stop talking so we ended up outside with step dad Rich who was directing traffic exiting the back yard.
“I think I better back your car out of the yard for you because it’s tight getting out.”
“Oh that’s nice of you.” I said.
“Or would you like to do it, I can direct you.”
“Oh no, that’s okay you can move the car if that’s easier,” I said, looking forward to a snooze on the way home and not wanting to volunteer to be the driver as mom had already gracious offered to stay sober.
“Oh we don’t have the keys,” I said looking through moms purse.
“I’ll go and get them from her.” Rich said
He came back dangling mothers keys as mom stood in the entry way still talking about Giles’ Trousseau to his mortification.
Anna Laura and I follow Rich around the house to the backyard, as we walked into the lawn area, I suddenly remembered our drive to the party. My stomached turned and it was not the butternut squash, I had remembered, THE FLASK. My first thought was “Thank God mom put it under the floor matt and on the passenger side.” But it was too late, Rich was steps away. As he was turning the key in the door, I thought about yelling something about a shooting star or a meteorite but it was cloudy and he would have thought I was crazy, so I just watched it happen.
Anna Laura climbed into the back seat and I returned to the passenger seat. As I opened the door treading very lightly on the floor matt while getting in, I was hit with a waft of something so pungent it was unmistakable, GIN.
Rich didn’t seem to blink an eye, he got in and turned the key and began backing us out of the yard. My mind was racing… Mom had laid the flask on its side under the floor matt and it had clearly leaked- proof perhaps that we had not in fact consumed the Gin, but would that matter in this situation? I think not. As Rich backed up the Perrier cans started to rattle around, I slipped my foot out of my shoe and tried to contain them as the little car made tight turns backwards and forwards out of their driveway. Finally brilliance struck,
“Smells like Windex” I said.
“Hmmm” Rich said.
“I think he bought it.” I thought.
Rich put the parking break on outside the front door, there was a slight tinkle of aluminum can on titanium flask but I was betting Rich was going deaf. I rattled my bamboo diffuser reeds hoping to mask the sound.
Mom climbed in and as she was driving home we told her about the flask. I fetched it from underneath the floor matt and sure enough it had leaked. I read the engraving on it.
“Awarded to Chris Worsick for outstanding athletic achievement September 1980.”
“They gave him a flask for athletic achievement?”
“It was England in 1980. It probably hasn’t been used since 1982.” I said.
“Shouldn’t have married an older man.”
“You tell Chris, he could have ruined the wedding!”
“No mom, that’s your job.”
“So what’s really in Giles’s trousseau- did you get him a thong too?”
Meanwhile, Anna Laura looked up Trousseau on her blackberry,
“A trousseau is a wine grape also known as Bastardo, it is also a syndrome- a migratory thrombophlebitis.”
“An over mothering syndrome or under grandmothering syndrome.” I said.
“Migratory Thrombophlebitis sounds bad.” Mom said.
“It is bad, you probably get it from drinking too much Gin.”
“Or from playing Pass the Parcel.”
We topped the night off with a night cap when we got home and celebrated what was just a precursor to the main affair. The wedding was only weeks away…..
Stay tuned for the wedding series of blogs: “Two weddings and a funeral.”