I attended a wedding

What I saw:  my cousin’s wedding at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City, Missouri. 

What I wore: black Fluevog stranger-friendly heels, new blue abstract-patterned Brooks Brothers dress that I may, on reflection, have purchased in a size too large, pantyhose  that makes my pale legs look so pale they glow in the dark, gold jewelry given to me by the Bacon Provider and my mother, eye-makeup, and, briefly, lipstick.

What I did beforehand: drove to Jeff City in a rented Cadillac, with my brothers first complaining that it smelled like cigarettes (it did), then navigating with only occasional input from technology, and everywhere urging me to back into parking spaces or to go faster.

Who went with me: my brothers and a hundred others.

How I got invited: I received a “Save the Date” card last summer, and an invitation in the mail this winter. In the End Times, will wedding invitations be the last items sent via U.S. Mail? 

Why I went: I think my mother would have wanted us to go.

Where I sat: in the third row of pews, on the bride’s side.

Things that were sad: my mother would have been there, in a flowy floral dress or maybe a navy skirt and a crisp white blouse with interesting buttons and a long jacket with just enough unusual silver jewelry (but never too much) showing off the gleam of her now snowy-white hair. She died in 2004.

Things that were funny: a six-year old relative, whose mom was the bride, did his part in the procession, holding a baby by the hand and leading her down the aisle in her peach tulle skirt only to fall deeply asleep himself in the pew ahead of us, and there he remained, silent and still, until roused to leave during the recessional organ music, Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

Things that were not funny: one of the readings during the wedding mass was from the Letter to the Ephesians, and I laughed audibly when the brides aunties, recruited to go to the podium, read the words, “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.”  I am one of those radical feminists that thinks women are actually people. What can I say?

What it is: I mean. What even is a wedding? Now we have gay marriage in America, so everyone can make an expensive, bad life choice. 

Who should see it: go to your cousins’ weddings, people. Read books about feminism on the plane on the way there, and essays about the failure of the American Peace Movement on the way home. 

What I saw on the way home: the air above America was a great, green-gray spill, the color of industrial waste, flecked with the white foam of real clouds.

How Pluto Lost a Piece of His Ear

One day, my brother and I both had relatives visiting, and we decided to take the whole group on an easy hike on Cougar Mountain.  As I remember it, I had all three of my kids with us, both dogs (Pluto and Wheatie) plus my half-brother, Tony, who was 10 or 11.  My brother also had his daughter, his mother-in-law, and his father-in-law along.  The hike had the flavor of what my children still call a “forced march,” in that they weren’t altogether so keen to go for a walk in the woods and might actually complain the whole way.  Tony was pretty excited to go, and asked for the chance to walk Pluto.  Pluto was very strong on leash, and wore a prong training collar.
We were on our way down and almost back to the parking lot when we encountered a Dalmatian off-leash. Whether it actually bit off the bottom of Pluto’s ear, or the ear was trapped under the prong collar and was ripped off by the force of Pluto’s lunging at the other dog we can never know.
My brother was far enough behind to actually notice the piece of ear lying on the gravel path (I am sure of this detail, because later he wrote a haiku about it).  Someone did go back for the piece of ear before we loaded everyone up in the car to find the emergency vet. I don’t know if we thought it could be sewn back on. I think we folded it in a tissue and I put it in my pocket.  A dog’s ear is a blood-rich thing, and Pluto reacted to the bleeding by flapping his ears vigorously. To transport him without being showered in blood, we wrapped his head in disposable diapers and a cold compress from the minivan’s first-aid kit.
Despite these efforts, the car interior and the children and my brother’s in-laws were showered in dog blood, especially Tony who was visiting without his parents. Tony came from a home where he was an only child and did not grow up with pets.  He was very agitated, and complained the whole way to the vet’s office that he was going to catch a disease from the dog blood. I had a vet technician tell him that he could not get AIDS from a dog. Pluto had some stitches put in, and we all drove home.
For many years, the piece of Pluto’s ear sat forgotten on a bookshelf in our computer room. It dried into a nice little triangle, covered in short red-brown hair.