This piece appears in I Find Myself Charmed. It’s the very first eBook I published, and I’ve just given it a make-over.
This particular story is actually based on real events, but names have been changed to protect the cursed. It was written in 2011 (before I had a blog), so hopefully a few have had their curses overturned. Sadly, I’m not one of them. May you never be cursed by a wedding bouquet…
I don’t often go to weddings. It’s not that I don’t really like them…It’s just that…Well, they can be so melodramatic! And all that time and money spent seems such a waste. Not that I haven’t dreamt of my own. I mean, which female (old or young) doesn’t look hopefully at a bridal boutique shop-front. All those gorgeous dresses and bouquets…But it’s just my luck to have been cursed by a bouquet! It happened eleven years ago. I wasn’t the only one…And we probably brought it on ourselves.
It was at Janet’s wedding that we cursed ourselves. She had been a workmate and close friend. We had been part of a strange bunch of misfits back then, in Johannesburg. Night-shifters and studio staff tend to be so: independent, different, fiercely protective of identity or desperately searching for one. Except for Janet. She and Martin had been going out since high school and now that he had a good steady job, the lure of the white dress and tux had proved to be too strong. She was four years younger than me. I didn’t know if I envied her or pitied her.
It was a gorgeous poolside wedding, small and intimate on a perfect October afternoon. Janet was radiant. All us night-owls had been invited. She hadn’t much family, just her parents and sister and us. You could spot us night owls immediately. We all wore sunglasses and dresses (except for Zee who’s lesbian).
It seemed the perfect wedding ceremony with decently short speeches marred only by a semi-drunk speech by the groom’s father, who mentioned the fact he was glad that none of his children had turned out to be gay. Zee had snickered as we all shifted uncomfortably. Janet had frowned. Then had come the throwing of the bouquet.
Now this is the part I’ve always felt ambivalent about. All us single, hopeful females have to push and shove and scramble for this blessing; abandoning our dignity for this public display of a wish that will miraculously be fulfilled—but only if you catch the bouquet. Then you can look smugly at the losers and feign pity for those less fortunate, who now have to wait and pray that they get invited to another wedding in order to have their wish fulfilled.
So there we stood, that beautiful October afternoon, six of us night-owls along with Janet’s sister and Martin’s little 6-year old niece (the only child present) who had insisted on taking part in this game. Zee was trying not to laugh, but stood protectively close to Kim, her partner, anyway.
I stood there bemused. I’d never been in the running to catch a bouquet before; my culture’s approach to marriage wish fulfillment being rather more direct: either one parent approached the other after seeing you decked out in your shimmering sari, or you went to the temple and petitioned the gods for a good marriage soon.
I was half excited, half apprehensive. Should I catch it? Did I really want to get married that much? After all, I was only twenty-five with the whole world to explore, people to meet, things to do…Did catching the bouquet mean you had to get married next from all the other singles in the running?
Janet turned away from us, grinning. “You ready?” she called.
“Ready,” we assured her, standing in a ragged line; Janet’s sister and the little girl at the front.
“Alright, here it comes!” Her arm swung.
The pretty little bouquet flew in an arc. Tinted a blushing pink by the late afternoon light, it began its descent to us. Janet’s sister bounced on her feet like a tennis player. The little girl squealed in excitement. And in uncanny unison, all us night-owls took one step…back.
The bouquet hit the empty ground, bouncing once on the grass. The little girl and Janet’s sister dived. The little girl stood up first, holding the bouquet victoriously. There was a moment of stunned silence. Then: “Give it to her,” all the attached ladies were saying, removing the precious bouquet from the little girl’s hand and presenting it to Janet’s happy sister. All us night-owls tried not catch each other’s eyes, shaking with guilty conspiratorial mirth.
“Well…!” It was Zee who had said it. Well indeed!
None of us six have been married since. We have all hoped for that perfect partner, someone to share our lives with, but that’s all it remains—a wish. As I said before, I don’t go to many weddings. The last one I’ve been to (three years ago) had just two of us singles. I knew that Karen desperately wanted to get married even though we all knew her boyfriend was a no-good scaly rat! And as that bouquet flew through the air towards us two, I was once again paralysed by the thoughts: Did I really want to get married? What if it holds me back from my dreams? What if I only thought I was ready for marriage, but wasn’t really?
Karen dived forward, making a beautiful, easy catch.
Beaming, she held the bouquet close, then encouraged her sister to throw it again: “So we both can get married soon.”
I caught the bouquet awkwardly, certain it didn’t count if thrown a second time.
Last year, Karen got married, having broken up with the no-good scaly rat more than two years ago. She had almost immediately met, and fell in love, with the perfect guy for her.
So here I am, one of six, with bouquet throwing wedding invites getting as rare as non-hail damaged cars in Johannesburg… I have this crazy plan of gate-crushing a wedding, catching the bouquet and fleeing with the prize before anyone else can react. I’ve even considered special training for ‘Operation Get Bouquet’. It’s such a tempting thought, but I doubt I shall be able to escape the wrath of the legitimate bouquet-catchers. There’s bound to be someone quicker and then there’s the aggressive ones that steal it out of your hands…
So all I can really do is hope, and pray I’ll be invited to a wedding where I’ll be able to successfully lay my hands on that prize bouquet. At a geriatric wedding, perhaps…One day…