Have you ever watched a wedding salute at a distance of hundreds of meters with an open bottle of champagne in your hands, sitting on a bench by the city embankment?
A beautiful sight! Only if you are not a bride, and your betrothed did not stay to witness this expensive event there, at the restaurant, next to his «maman». That’s exactly what happened at my wedding. There was a faithful girlfriend nearby, a part–time witness — we poured sparkling wine over the mountain, and thought: how, interestingly, can a wedding go on without one of the main characters, and who took it into his head to give the go-ahead for a wedding salute when the bride has been on the run for twenty minutes.
They, in fact, were initially against the fireworks! Zhenya resisted with half his strength, but his mother made such a fuss when she found out about the pyrotechnic show «Flaming Heart» in the key stage of the wedding program:
— God forbid – such money is wasted! Who needs it?! What a stupid idea!
It was a shame, because it was «necessary» for me, and the «stupid idea» was also mine. But I endured it–at that moment I still believed that we would get along. But, about everything in order!
I want to apologize to my mom, whom I suspended from preparing for the wedding event. She was sympathetic to my embarrassment, and left all the troubles to my mother–in-law, and even more — she was ill and did not come to the wedding itself.
The fact is that I was born and raised in a rural area, and my mother for her whole life got out of the village except to the market for seeds. Zhenya’s family, on the contrary, consisted of urban mothers and fathers in the farthest generation, who probably believed that cows bring milk from the pasture immediately in cans, and hay grows in «hay» fields and is independently collected in bales.
It is no coincidence that my mother experienced some embarrassment when meeting my new relatives. They saw each other only once, when Zhenya’s relatives staged a hit-and-run on my village, trying to impress someone with their expensive SUVs and bright clothes. Although, they succeeded in this – in the village, the grannies are still chirping about which groom Polinka «snatched» for herself. In general, my mother did not come: neither to the wedding itself, nor to prepare for it. And I was grateful to her, although now I am insanely ashamed in front of my mother.
The mother-in-law probably rubbed her hands when she found out that she was to rule the ball. Out of politeness, I tried to agree with her in everything, except, of course, that ill-fated salute. And it’s hard not to agree with a person who pays all the wedding expenses in full. And also – we were still friends then. She made a good impression on me from the first minute of our acquaintance: she looked like a woman who only cared about one thing – that her son was happy. She even took my hand on the day we met, and, looking into my eyes, whispered:
— Don’t be afraid, if something happens, I will always be there.
Unfortunately, she’s around now even when nothing happens. And it is really important to her that her son is happy. At the same time, she doesn’t care if others are happy, including me.
I noticed that there were too many mothers-in-law when we started preparing for the wedding, but I still continued to believe in the temporary nature of this importunity. The first harbinger of the storm was the guest list. How could it happen that none of my friends and girlfriends got on the list? When I was indignant, my mother-in-law answered me:
— It’s your own fault – why did you wait until the last?
Until the last one?! Is she out of her mind?! Maybe I should have given her this list before I met her son? With great difficulty, I negotiated six places from her for my girlfriends and friends. I had to choose which of them I want to see at my wedding more than the others. And this despite the fact that I practically invited no one from my relatives. And who should I invite? Almost all the relatives live far away, and in the city there is only a second cousin Venya with his young silent wife — they just came from my side.
But there were so many of his wife’s relatives that it seemed he didn’t know half of it himself. What can I say: they flocked to such events like pigeons to crumbs. In many ways, I am to blame myself – I should not have shown my mother-in-law that I somehow have a complex about my village origin.
By the way, my mother-in-law’s name is Elizabeth Petrovna, otherwise I’m still «mother-in-law» and «mother-in-law», as if we are talking about an inanimate object (although you can still discuss it here).
So, as soon as I blurted out that I was nothing in wedding matters, my mother-in-law lost all desire to discuss organizational issues with me. I was just telling the truth: the first wedding I’m lucky enough to attend is my own future wedding. When I found out that most of the decisions are made behind my back, I called Elizabeth Petrovna, and politely hinted that, they say, I would like to learn about the nuances of my wedding a little earlier than never! She didn’t appreciate my wit. She counted me out like a schoolgirl for my ingratitude, then told an informative story about her own wedding, which, coincidentally, was also organized by her mother-in-law. So she, unlike me, «is still immensely grateful to this woman for getting rid of the most unpleasant troubles associated with the organization of the wedding.» Then she added:
— If, of course, you understand what I’m talking about!
Of course, I understood, but I decided to check the information from Zhenya in between:
— And at your parents’ wedding, did your mother-in-law also deal with all the issues? I asked Zhenya in the evening of the same day, as if by chance.
He blushed a little, and then reluctantly told me that his mother never had a chance to try on a wedding dress: Zhenya’s father disappeared in an unknown direction as soon as he learned about the pregnancy of my precious mother-in-law, and all subsequent men in her life, as I understood, were morally destroyed by Elizabeth Petrovna in the first months of acquaintance.
Wonderful! Why is she lying to me, making up stories about her mother-in-law, whom she probably never saw in her eyes?! Did she not think that I could find out the truth? For myself, I concluded that Elizabeth Petrovna is a pathological liar! On the other hand, I felt humanly sorry for this woman — the poor thing was left alone in such a difficult period as pregnancy, and if it weren’t for her steely character, there wouldn’t be such a wonderful guy like Zhenya in the world and I wouldn’t be fluttering now with joyful anticipation of the wedding.
In general, I decided not to be angry with my mother-in-law, at least to restrain myself. Let’s see what happens after the wedding!
The morning didn’t start with coffee. I don’t know what came over her! Of course, I really hope that she didn’t do it intentionally, but it’s hard to believe.
In the morning, on the wedding day, Elizabeth Petrovna called her Wife and said that because of the hassle of our wedding, she forgot to buy a dress. I heard Zhenya, having retired to the bathroom, trying to convince my mother that she had a whole wardrobe of suitable clothes, which, in general, was true. But the mother-in-law was relentless. Zhenya always went on about his own mother, so it happened this time. I looked at him with round eyes from shock.
— Today is the wedding! I squeaked.
— We’ll just buy a dress, and I’ll fly back in a jiffy! – Zhenya was justifying himself, but he also clearly had a condition close to hysteria – there wasn’t much time before registration, and he had to go to the other end of the city, and even go shopping in search of a dress that his mother would like, and he knew her pickiness about shopping remarkably well.
When the door slammed behind Zhenya, I just sat down on a stool and didn’t know what to do. There was a terrible desire to give up all these wedding ideas, order a taxi to the bus station and buy a ticket to his native village. Go home to my mom, lock myself in a room and lie there until everyone forgets about this stupid story. But, I forced myself to be strong. After all, I’m marrying Zhenya, not his mother! However, now I believed it with great difficulty.
Lenka, my friend, who had the honor to be a witness at the wedding, saved the situation. Lenka came by our agreement with her. We decided to abandon the ransom and all other wedding traditions: neither Zhenya nor I liked to be in the zone of increased attention. Therefore, Lenka and I set about putting me in order. My friend worked in a beauty salon, so we agreed that her wedding gift would be my gorgeous look at today’s event. My friend was not surprised by my state of shock. Probably, a bride sitting on a stool with empty eyes is a typical attribute of the pre–wedding state.
Zhenya came angry, but it was not in his habits to discuss Elizabeth Petrovna’s quirks with me. And there was no time for that at all. After hastily taking a shower, Zhenya pulled on a suit, called friends who were supposed to take us to the registry office, and silently jumped out into the street. I felt sorry for him – he and his mom, frankly, were unlucky. But I didn’t dare to start a conversation on this topic with him – I really didn’t want to get between mother and son, so I felt like a bone in the throat of this family.
We drove to the registry office in silence. This is not how I imagined this magical day. It seemed to me to be decorated exclusively in pink tones, all decorated with balloons and colorful postcards with short, but very capacious congratulations. And also, there should be a lot of champagne – everyone drinks it, without exception, throughout the day: in the registry office, on the street and even in cars.
The reality was catastrophically different from the pictures drawn in my head: a boring ceremony at the registry office, hastily drunk champagne in the corridor where repairs were being carried out, so there were not many congratulating people behind the noise of the punchers. Therefore, we hurried to the street, where, without thinking twice, we loaded into cars and rushed to the restaurant. From registration to the start of the event in the restaurant there was just enough time for its participants to get to the place of celebration. No skating and walking around the city, and all because Elizabeth Petrovna can’t stand these «useless fermentations with stupid faces.»
I must admit, I am also not a great expert at posing for the camera, but on this day I really wanted it, because a wedding dress is something that happens once in a lifetime. Yes, girls, my advice to you is to participate in the organization of your wedding yourself, so that you do not get such a gray despondency that I observed on the day of my wedding.
I forgot to tell you the most important thing: imagine my surprise when I saw my mother-in-law in a dress that I had seen her wearing before. Zhenya noticed my furious look, and hurried to justify himself:
— Imagine, we haven’t chosen anything! Oh, those women!
I wanted to tell him that his mother–in-law is not a woman, but a real sheep, but, of course, I kept these thoughts to myself. Although, I think Zhenya himself read them from my facial expression.
It was bitter to realize myself at a wedding, absolutely devoid of a support group. Not only was there only my mother’s cousin Benjamin with his young passion, but my friends, Elizabeth Petrovna, were not «deprived of attention». They were seated at different tables among complete strangers to them. My request for a joint landing was clearly ignored. Thus, my mother-in-law completely disarmed my support group, forcing me to watch my few guests gradually leave the banquet hall building, citing urgent matters and other sudden reasons. They did not wait for the congratulatory words to be given to them, and guiltily dropped envelopes with money into a golden box standing near our table before imperceptibly disappearing from the event, which was supposed to be called my wedding.
But Zhenya’s relatives felt like obvious hosts at the wedding. After drinking a fair amount of alcohol, they began to behave rudely with Zhenya’s colleagues at work. Those, in turn, did not reciprocate because of their innate intelligence and because of respect for the groom, to whom these people were relatives.
But Elizabeth Petrovna triumphed most of all. It seemed to me that the main reason for her joy was my sad face, as well as the never-ending stream of eulogies addressed to her. All the relatives vied with each other, in their introductory words, extolled her role in raising her son – a real man. Occasionally they remembered me, mainly in the context of how grateful I should be to my mother-in-law for Zhenya, and for this «wonderful» wedding, and for everything she has done for us and is going to do in the future. Judging by the wishes of the guests, I had to spend my entire wedding in a low bow position.
The big surprise for me was that no one shouted «bitterly». Elizaveta Petrovna forbade the guests to shout this word: you see, it hurts her to watch her son being kissed. I felt that I was slowly boiling, and I could only wait for all this steam to break out. Thanks to Lenka – she smoothed the situation as best she could with her incessant jokes. Lenka’s partner, that is, a witness, somehow did not inspire her, so her friend spent all her time on me. But even Lenka’s charisma did not allow her to completely distract from what was happening in the banquet hall.
In the midst of dancing, the presenter asked to turn off the music, and then solemnly announced:
— And now, attention, let’s move on to the most emotional moment of the evening! It’s going to be a dance!
I hurried to put on my shoes, which I threw off from my swollen feet right under the table, but my haste was in vain. The center of the hall turned out to be free, the guests parted and let Elizabeth Petrovna strutting with an important gait to the microphone held out by the presenter. My mother-in-law took the microphone and under the stormy applause of the guests took the floor:
— Yes, a tick, — she turned to the presenter, — this is really the most emotional moment of the evening, and, of course, the saddest moment in my life, so I will call this dance the «Dance of Blessing»!
Then she went up to her Wife, held out her hand, and in a moment the mother and son were already spinning in a slow dance to the deftly turned on music, incredibly beautiful, but terribly sad. The music suited my facial expression perfectly.
I almost fainted when I realized that I had been completely humiliated at my own wedding. While the guests, heated up with alcoholic drinks, watched with emotion as mom and son circled in a dance that was supposed to be called the «First Dance of the Newlyweds», I approached the presenter and asked to show me the action plan. You won’t believe it, but there was no dancing bride and groom on the list. This woman stole my first mating dance from me! How cleverly the mother-in-law turned our wedding with Zhenya into her farewell to her son. Now it is clear why she is wearing a robe that looks more like mourning.
It’s a holiday for me, but my mother–in-law did everything so that no one could see the joy on my face. I returned to my seat, trying to collect my thoughts in a heap, but they persistently scattered, and did not want to come back to me. Lenka tried to shout to me, but it was as if I was in a huge glass jar, behind the thick glass of which it was impossible to hear others. And the dance did not end – it seemed eternal, and all this was done with one single purpose – to finally pull out of me the remnants of vitality, and with them pride, self-respect and other personal qualities of mine, which previously did not allow my mother-in-law to fully establish control over me.
The nightmarish dance was finally over. Close relatives gathered for a family photo. Only then, remembering, as if in a fog, this monstrous day, I thought that no one tried to drag me into this frame. Apparently, they were fine without me. But at that moment I didn’t think about it, I just moved my legs towards the exit, dragging this stupid bouquet behind me, as if taped to my hand.
Lenka, my witness, seeing my inadequate condition, grabbed two bottles of champagne from the table and hurried after me. A few minutes later, we were sitting with her on a bench by the embankment, and watched our pyrotechnic show – the wedding fireworks — begin on the square near the restaurant. It’s funny that the fireworks in honor of the newlyweds were given a start, without bothering to make sure whether the culprits of the celebration were in place. We greedily poured champagne straight from the bottle into ourselves, looking at how multicolored stars with a slight crackle blossomed across the sky, now and then accompanied by intermittent shots and charges cutting the night sky along an unpredictable spiral trajectory.
During the whole evening I didn’t eat anything, only occasionally drank water, so the effect of champagne didn’t take long to wait. I had never tried alcohol in such quantities before, so this condition was new and frightening for me. At the same time, some courage appeared, and I began to say everything that had accumulated in my soul during this crazy preparation for the wedding. I told Lenka. She spoke emotionally, did not skimp on abusive words addressed to her mother-in-law. Lenka listened, nodded her head. And I thought, I wish I could tell my wife everything now.
Suddenly I felt someone’s eyes on me, turned around: Zhenya was standing a few meters away from us and watched his drunken bride, standing with bare feet on the cobblestones, emotionally pouring mud on his own mother.
«Zhenya, I want to…,» I started, but he stopped me:
— Don’t, I heard everything.
Behind Zhenya, I saw Elizabeth Petrovna approach unnoticed. I don’t know how long she stood there and what part of the conversation she managed to hear, but it didn’t matter to me. However, I stopped talking, allowing my mother-in-law to insert her remark into the conversation, and she inserted it, addressing her son:
— Look, she’s also a drunk! Are you sure she’s not walking?
That was the last straw.
— Choose: it’s either her or me! I nodded in the direction of my mother–in-law, addressing my Wife.
I was sure of the answer of my loved one, so a smile appeared on my face by itself as soon as Zhenya opened his mouth to answer. But, I was in a hurry.
— How mean of you! Zhenya replied, and his expression betrayed a desire to move me somewhere underground.
For some reason I felt ashamed, but I pushed these thoughts away, and answered loudly:
— What are you talking about? This woman humiliates me, and you don’t say a word to her! Do you think this is normal? In that case, I don’t want to see you!
With shaking hands, I took off my wedding ring from my finger and threw it at my already legitimate husband. The ring hit the shoulder of a man with whom, not so long ago, I wanted to connect my life, to whom I wanted to give birth to children and give all the feelings that I had kept to myself for many years. But now these feelings were splashed here, along the embankment, and there was no longer any desire to collect them. I just walked as far away from this cursed place as possible, barefoot, not letting go of this stupid bouquet, which I never had a chance to throw into the crowd eager to become the next bride. I just wanted to go home to my mom and never come back to this cruel city that played such a cruel joke on me.