Reality Truck: My Best Friend's Wedding

"You may find yourself in a beautiful house. And you may find yourself with a beautiful wife. And you may say, 'Well...how did I get here?'"--David ByrneSome people will do anything to get presents. Forget perpetuation of the species--that's why people really get married. Living together may offer a certain anachronistic 60s charm and illusory sense of freedom, but friends will not shower you with Calphalon and that Dualit Williams-Sonoma toaster just because you decide to shack up and split utilities with someone on a more or less sexually exclusive basis for an indefinite period of time. But when my best friend recently announced her impending nuptials, it was sans engagement ring--a detail that nearly went unnoticed when she then announced that they had selected the palatial Reeves manse and grounds as the location for the blessed event.Not that I wasn't delighted to play such an integral role in their special day. BUT if I'm going to remodel my house, call in caterers, meet with florists, consult Martha Stewart and Miss Manners, and book a band, I'm going to at least require some tangible token of her young man's intentions--even if the bride doesn't. Accordingly, I specified an acceptable time frame and budget, and volunteered to go along for the ride to ensure that something appropriate would be procured. I even suggested a venue-an upcoming arts fair where I'd seen some talented gold- and silversmiths in past years.The big shopping day arrived and the prospective groom showed up at my door at the appointed time for our momentous adventure. He seemed a little nervous. Possibly because he had gotten wind of how good I am at spending other people's money. We walked around for awhile, a little dazed by the amazing surfeit of tackiness-a veritable bounty of fake floral arrangements, pig motifs, crocheted pot holders, and hand-crafted toilet paper covers. His estimation of my shopping skills was obviously plummeting by the second, his faith in me visibly shaken.Eventually, we hit pay dirt-a goldsmith with several lovely items on display. At this point, we realized how ill-prepared we were-gold? silver? favorite stone? size? At least on this last one, he had brought along a sample for us to go by. "Her knuckles are kinda big," he volunteers to no one in particular.A quick phone consultation with the bride was undertaken, and armed with better information, we returned to the fair. We re-examined the tourmaline I favored, and then visited a more, shall we say, budget-minded booth, mostly for the sake of comparison. There, he suddenly came across a ring that had his intended's name all over it as far as he was concerned.I was dubious. It was nice and all, but...it's what my mother might call...subtle. Demure, even. I expressed my reservations as delicately as I could. Mindful of his male ego, I said, "Well I kind of like the other one better because of the stone; it looks more engagement-ish." He stared at me blankly, his vacant gaze clearly indicating, "Yeah, and...?" He then responded with a statement of guilelessness so profound that I could only interpret it as an indication that he'd been raised by wolves, "Ehhhh, she said she doesn't realy care about all this anyway." I immediately realized that we had much bigger problems than ring selection ahead of us. I debated whether or not to undertake Lecture Number 101B, "What women say versus what women mean." I decided with the wedding a few months away, plenty of time remained for that.

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