Jan 19 2011
CHAPTER 1: ANOTHER WEDDING
Three weddings ago, when my best girlfriend, Claudia Porter-Bellman, got married, I swore it would be the last one I would ever attend until I was the bride. Claudia Porter-Bellman — and people tell me I’ve got baggage.
I didn’t, however, count on my mother’s long-divorced best friend, Susan Decker, getting married again. Having tried every trick in and out of vogue to find a husband, Susan was ripe for success. But despite the odds being on her side, I figured Murphy’s law would sabotage her efforts.
Cynical? Nah. It wasn’t just Murphy or the fact that his law had wreaked so much havoc in my own life. It was simply that Susan just seemed too desperate, as opposed to my own state of being: nonchalantly desperate.
Back to Susan. One night, an insistent neighbor dragged her to a local community center for a fun night of number calling, and bingo, six months later, she was engaged to a widower of two years.
He was a nice enough man, quite handsome, and seemed to truly care about her happiness. Luckily for me, Susan’s good fortune veered far enough away from my own romantic hallucinations that I was able to attend the wedding without insane pangs of envy stabbing my chest like daggers.
I’ll admit it: watching Susan and her new husband take their vows did fill me with a bit of “why the hell isn’t that me up there?” but having to deal with the busybodies at the country club reception proved to be the real pebble in my Jimmy Choos. Although I had been wise enough to bring Tony Lostanza, my dear friend from high school who was estranged from his wife, my mom had already told a few friends (translation: it was broadcast to the world) that Tony was just an escort of sorts. As if that weren’t bad enough, the ones who didn’t know, but who knew Tony, were horrified that I was attending a wedding, of all occasions, with a married man.
That night, I was forced to fend off several not-so-subtle dirty looks, glances of pity accompanied by sad head shaking, and, once again, comments from those near and dear who felt compelled to remind me that if I weren’t so darn picky, if I would just give a nice man a chance, I wouldn’t have to bring another woman’s husband to my mother’s best friend’s wedding.
If you think I just took all of this in stride, think again. I had no problem letting each and every person know that my business was just that —†my business. With some people, I find the best way to deal with unwanted questions is to ask a few of my own. For example, when my aunt Pauline asked me why a pretty girl like me couldn’t have brought a man who wasn’t attached to someone else, I asked the thrice-divorced sister of my mother to explain to me how settling for three Mr. Wrongs had enhanced her life, and I inquired as to the price of divorce and whether her legal fees had been worth the paltry settlements she had received.
“Smart ass; stay single, Miss Picky,” she snapped, and headed off to articulate her discontent to any random guest with ears willing to be mangled by a wart-nosed barfly.
I knew Pauline would shake off my admonishment the same way my cat shakes off my kisses. She had more important things to concern herself with: after all, a wedding was a perfect place to scour the crowd for Mr. Wrong number four. Pauline had a way of bypassing any man who didn’t have one elbow on the bar and who was able to make it through an evening without slurring his words. Perhaps this had something to do with her less-than-stellar track record. I’m babbling. I need to refocus.
Twice that day, Tony had been asked to temporarily excuse himself so that the presiding snoop could have her way with me. Each time, he looked at me for the green light to do so, which, regrettably, I gave him. I don’t understand why I should be polite to people who I know are about to say or do something rude. I know I said I had “no trouble” standing up to people, and for the most part I don’t, but I should have told them that whatever they wanted to say could have been said in Tony’s presence. In hindsight, I always have some pesky little regret; it’s a bad habit, and I need to work on it.
“Molly, you’re such a pretty woman,” Naomi Hall-Benchley began. “And you’re smart. But smart women often make foolish choices (blah, blah, clichÈ, blah) and being with a married man, even if he’s ‘just a friend,’ is not a good choice. I’ve got great news for you. I’ve arranged a dinner for next week. Art has a new marketing VP who just moved here from Dallas. He’s single, and he’s looking. Great guy and quite the avid golfer.”
I had never picked up a golf club in my life, but suddenly, looking at Naomi, it felt like an excellent idea. She was the town’s premier socialite and often looked more like a wax museum replica of herself than a real person. For years, I harbored fantasies of finding a wick on top of her head, lighting it, and watching her slowly burn to the ground. Just imagining the flame licking every inch of her skintight Herve Leger cocktail dress as her mascara kissed her melting pearls made me tingle with delight.
“And he makes oodles of money,” she jabbered on, subtly glancing from side to side in hopes of being photographed. “What time is good for you? Shall we say seven p.m. next Friday?”
“You know, I’m busy that night. Sorry.”
“No problem, we can reschedule!” She laughed. “Rescheduling is the least of our worries.”
“How about the twelfth?” I asked, as I noticed Tony watching intently from the bar.
“But today is the twenty-seventh…the twelfth is two weeks away!”
“And the twelfth of never is even further away,” I informed her, taking delight as her jaw dropped. I saw Tony laughing now; I knew he couldn’t wait for a recap with his nightcap.
“You’re ungrateful, Molly,” she said, taking a swig of her vodka martini. “I have a perfectly fine man for you, and you refuse to give him a chance.”
Now I was angry. “Have you ever met him?” I challenged her.
“Well, no…” she said sheepishly. “Not yet.”
“But he makes a good salary and loves golf. Those are your criteria for a hot prospect? Does he have a sense of humor? Is he sensitive? Does he do anything but play golf in his free time?”
“Well, I, I don’t know…”
“No, you don’t,” I scolded. “You don’t care about my happiness at all. You just want to be ‘the one’ who set up ‘Picky Molly Hacker’ and simultaneously score points with Art by playing matchmaker for his new vice president.”
“Now, that’s just silly—”
“Do you think if I were to meet someone new that I would want to do it with people watching, listening to our conversation, butting in to try and push us together? Do you realize this is the twenty-first century?”
“You’re too picky, Molly Hacker. And if you don’t wise up while you’ve still got something to offer a man, if indeed you do, you won’t have all the things that life has to offer. Not to mention that children are best had while one is still fertile.”
I started to roar fire but stopped myself. Tony was approaching, and I didn’t know if his clothing was flame retardant.
I was thirty-two, and Naomi was only eight years older than I was. I wondered if she considered herself to be “old.” But I chose a different question.
“Are you and Art in love?”
“How utterly inappropriate of you,” Naomi said, reeling in feigned horror. “Of course we are. Besides, I live very well. I have a beautiful home, beautiful children, and a full life.”
“But are you in love with him? Is he in love with you?”
“Of course and of course! You’re too picky, Molly Hacker, and deflecting the seriousness of your situation to me will not help you. I’m surprised you haven’t found someone at the Herald. It’s a fine newspaper with some very smart men working there.”
By this time, Tony had arrived and put his arm around me, smiling at Naomi just to rattle her.
“If you don’t mind, Naomi, I’ll do things my own way. Call me funny, quirky, picky, or whatever you like, but I kind of had my heart set on love being part of the equation. Not that it’s any of your business!”
Naomi finished her martini and put it on the tray of a passing waiter.
Tony smiled at her again, this time more broadly. Naomi and I took one last opportunity to scowl at one another, and I swore, no matter whose it was, I would never attend another wedding again†until I attended my own. And I meant it. I sailed through the next year without attending one wedding — despite being invited to three.
So here I sit today, August twenty-seventh, just about a year after Susan’s wedding, on a bright and beautiful summer day, glammed up in my dress, as I watch my younger sister, Hannah, get her hair pinned up with flowers for her big day. Hannah is bursting with joy. She’s only twenty-six and is marrying her longtime guy, Matthew. Nobody ever told Hannah she was too picky.
Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! on Amazon.com