Don’t ever drive to Cincinnati, Ohio. There’s more scenery to admire from the back of a camel crossing the Sahara than you will ever see driving from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. And the camel probably smells better too. I wish we had been driving just from Pittsburgh, but we started in Philadelphia and that just made our drive, and our already bad moods, worse.
Me, my husband, and brother-in-law were on our way to the wedding of Benny Hill and The Ice Princess. Benny is my husband’s best friend from high school. And yes, he kinda does look and act like Benny Hill. The Ice Princess, his future bride to be, we had the unfortunate displeasure to meet previously. Driving down that God-forsaken, barren highway on the way to the official "file-closing" on Benny’s heretofore happy life, none of us were in good spirits.
The Ice Princess was dubbed so due to her personality. Or, I should say, lack thereof. In the few times we’d all been together, she spoke little, grumped a lot, and acted highly possessive of Benny. She whispered in his ear. In front of everyone. She didn’t like hanging out with his high school chums. I think she just didn’t like the fact that there were people who knew Benny better than she. Including me. And she usually ignored me completely. But at least I wasn’t imaging things. No one else liked her either. My husband said that he thought Benny proposed probably because The Ice Princess was Benny’s first ride on the carnal carousel.
After our miserable ten hour drive we finally arrived in Cincinnati. Ten hours in the dead of summer in a Ford Festiva with down-forty air conditioning.(You know, roll-the-windows-down-and-go-forty-miles-an-hour air conditioning. Except we were doing more like 85 mph.) We caught up with the gang, and traded jokes and bets about the length of the upcoming marriage, until Benny and The Ice Princess arrived. She greeted everyone, for the most part. Except me, again. Out at lunch, she basically ignored everyone, and only spoke in whispers in Benny’s ear. My feelings, as well as others’, weren’t much improved.
The rehearsal went fine. The rehearsal dinner went fine. I had this enormous dessert, this chocolate mousse pie thing that was no shit, like ten inches tall. Me and a groomsman, seated together, had both ordered this monstrosity and we had an awesome time laughing and being silly while eating it. Most fun I had THAT night. Benny had even less. He hadn’t had a bachelor’s party, and that night the guys wanted to throw him one. And that’s where all the fun, and trouble, began.
I was hanging out with all the guys and groomsmen because hubby and brother-in-law were in the wedding. Besides that fact, I’d rather be around guys and trade dirty jokes than discuss fashion tips with "the girls." The guys wanted to take Benny out to a strip club and bar. (I volunteered to pop out of a cake, but hubby spoiled that idea!) The wedding was a day and a half away, but The Ice Princess said, No way. Well, then how about just going to a bar and hanging out? Again vetoed. (She didn’t approve of drinking.) Finally, What about going for sodas and playing videogames (one of Benny’s favorite activities as a kid.) Nothing doing. The Ice Princess wasn’t about to let her future hubby have any fun, especially before Her Big Day arrived. We were all miserable, including Benny, sitting around in someone’s hotel room.
A voice spoke up. "Benny, you get a ten second head start before we throw you into the pool." A glint appeared in Benny’s eye, a spark of an old fire that still burned somewhere within that poor broken man. He jumped up and shot out of the room, closely followed by eight crazed men, and me.
We chased him all over that hotel that had two elevators, two stairwells and ten floors. Singly and in groups we hunted him down. Shouts and occasional glimpses of his fleeing figure alerted us to his whereabouts. I caught him in a stairwell, and body-slammed him into the concrete wall, but he escaped and disappeared again. The chase lasted about twenty minutes before the Brother of The Bride appeared and chastised us all. Apparently The Ice Princess had caught wind of our little game, and fearing that Benny might get hurt, or, heavens!, drown in the pool, she’d sent Big Brother to put a stop to it. The best man phoned her room to apologize, and she curtly sobbed at him that we’d ruined her wedding. We changed our bets on how long this marriage would last. We’d been too generous before.
The happy day arrived at last. At the Last Breakfast, I had to urge Benny to eat a big meal. His usual eggs-bacon-hash browns-pancakes-coffee breakfast had been simplified by IP to merely a bagel. That wasn’t gonna cut it with me today; I knew Benny’d need all his strength to get through this day.
At the church I helped where I could, pinning a boutonniere here, fixing a tux vest there. Two shocks awaited me. Alone with the groom, pinning his rose to the lapel, he looked me in the eye and said something horrible. Something no one should say on their wedding day. "Maitri, I wish [The Ice Princess] was more like you." I said nothing. I didn’t know what TO say.
Sprawled in the pews, we waited for the bride and guests to arrive. Benny’s mother, seated in front of me, turned around and gave me my second shock that day. "Do you think anyone would notice if we just walked out and left?"
Well, everyone made it through the wedding. The face of IP looked liked it was chiseled from granite, and her basilisk glare seemed as though it could turn you to stone as well. There were two receptions. The IP’s reception, which didn’t have any alcohol and where people did the Chicken Dance. And my father-in-law’s reception, in the nearby bar, where he charged rounds and rounds of drinks for everyone and we told stupid jokes. I was wearing black that night, my favorite wedding color. I kept running around to the guys, pointing to the Ice Princess and then to myself. "Look, it’s the Bride, and the Anti-Bride!"
It’s been over two years now and Benny and The Ice Princess are actually still married. No one won the bet. Over the last couple of years The Ice Princess has thawed somewhat. After the hubby and I visited once, she was upgraded. To Benign Growth. Since then, she’s been upgraded further, no label attached. She still has her flair ups occasionally, but I think we understand her better, and vice versa. Now they’ve moved out to Wisconsin or somewhere equally remote. If we visit, there’s no way in hell I’m driving there.