Assortment of Dolls at a Flea Market in White Cloud, Kansas near Troy...09/1974

Image via The Commons on Flickr.

There is a circle of Hell where the tormented plan weddings for all eternity.

Sure, I’m exaggerating, but planning a wedding makes most folks want to cut out their own heart with a rubber ducky—myself included.

Bridal Show: Beyond Thunderdome

There was a bridal show downtown last weekend, and Stephanie wanted to go. Being a good sport, I tagged along.

“You sure you are ready for this?” Stephanie asked.

“I’m a veteran of many comicons and fandom conventions,” I said. “Nothing scares me anymore. I can handle a mere bridal show.”

After three seconds inside the bridal show, I ate those words.

The fast-talking salespeople got me on edge right away, and the congested aisles did not help. It was like trying to move through an army of terracotta soldiers in a tar pit.

In fairness to the bridal show vendors: I get it. It is their job, and in some cases, the person’s own business. I don’t fault them for wanting to make a buck. I’ve been in their shoes, selling copies of my book at conventions and shows.

But, Batman-on-a-crutch, some of them could at least take No for an answer.

“Need to rent a tuxedo?” a young man asked.
“We’re not having tuxedos,” I said without so much as a look back.

He fired a verbal tractor beam. “What? No tuxedos? Why?”
“I don’t want a tux,” I said.
“Everyone wants a tux,” he answered. “Don’t you want to look good?”

Stephanie, thankfully, dragged me away.

Bridal Show Rules of Survival

The rest of the afternoon, I stuck to a few simple rules:

  • Let Stephanie lead the way.
  • Keep my head down.
  • Don’t make eye contact with vendors.
  • Smile and nod, but keep moving. Stopping, even for a second, shows a sign of interest.

This helped. Mostly.

Bridal Show Curios

One bridal show vendor offered live doves for a wedding. They had a pair of doves in a cage, sporting what looked like feather perms.

And two words: Chair covers. What a racket. Not only can you rent fancy covers for chairs, but you can also get a fancy bow tied around the cover. I imagine, for a fee, you could also have the chairs put on a pedestal and hire someone to fan your guests with palm leaves.

If I could get away with it, everyone at my wedding would sit on three-legged milking stools if it meant I could save a few bucks.

Another vendor had attendees stand in a glass case and grab as many coupons as possible.

“Want to give it a try?” Stephanie asked.

I watched a man snatch at whirling pieces of paper, and a vision filled my head: my hands covered with the tell-tale red slashes of paper cuts. My daydream didn’t stop there: the papers continued their spiral assault, and sliced my face like a knife through butter.

“Well?” Stephanie asked.
“…No…”

We picked up a catalog for a fancy resort vacation, and after flipping through the pages, I realized I had this marriage thing all wrong. Apparently, I need to wait about 20 years, and marry a woman half my age. That is what the scores of photos of gray-haired gents with twenty-something wives told me.

Salvation

Then, in the midst of this commercial wasteland, I spotted an oasis.

I noticed a woman standing next to a row of bottles. “Is that…” I began, “…A bar?”

Stephanie was in line to sign up for a wedding dress consolation. “Go check it out.”  The sluggish crowd parted before me like the Red Sea as I bolted for the cash bar.

“How much for the bottle of whiskey?” I only slightly joked.
“Sorry, can’t do that,” the bartender answered with a smile.

With beers in hand, I returned to Stephanie, who had barely moved in line. We each took a sip. “I needed this,” I said post-sip. “I was feeling stabby.”

The only downside was, the beers made us stand out like Sparty at a University of Michigan homecoming parade.

“People are staring,” Stephanie whispered.
“Let them stare,” I said with Gollum tonality. “They’re just jealous. They wants it.

When I broke into a wild eyed song about fishies, Stephanie decided it was time to leave.

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Daniel J. Hogan is a geek living in Michigan.
Follow him on Twitter, @danieljhogan. Follow Clattertron on Facebook too.