If Your Number’s Up (#56)

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About a month before I was to marry my Chinese-American fiancé, the first groomsman bailed. This was Andy’s friend from high school, nicknamed “Salad.” Despite the fact that we’d been at Salad’s wedding in Hawaii the previous year, Salad wilted in the face of his new wife’s worries over the lengthy flight from Hawaii to New Hampshire. I figured Baby Greens were on the way.

Salad wasn’t Andy’s best buddy, so Andy shrugged it off. Since we had to have 8 attendants in order to make Andy’s superstitious mother happy, Andy’s cousin was pressed into service. I harassed the cousin until I could finally send the tux rental shop the new groomsman’s measurements.

But Salad’s wilting merely foreshadowed major friend crop failure. Next up was Pumpkin. Andy had flown to Pumpkin’s wedding in Seattle the year before, but suddenly Pumpkin couldn’t make it to ours. Fear of air travel, he said.

Again, Andy didn’t seem fazed. “It’s okay. String Bean will be there,” Andy insisted. String Bean was Andy’s best friend and the best man. Andy had been String Bean’s best man the year before. We’d flown to Hawaii a second time so Andy could wear a pink tux and get up at dawn to take pictures at historic places for 4 hours before the actual ceremony. String Bean also lived the closest to New Hampshire, in Minneapolis.

Two weeks before the wedding, I answered the phone at Andy’s place:

Me: “Hello?”

String Bean: “Hi, Autumn.”

Me: “No! Are you kidding me? You can’t!”

String Bean: “I’m so, so sorry, but—”

Me: “I cannot listen to this. Do you know what he’s been saying? I was upset about Salad and Pumpkin, but Andy stayed calm. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘String Bean will be there. He’ll be there. I just know it.’”

String Bean: “I’m so sorry—”

I couldn’t listen any more. I gave the phone to Andy. I heard him tell String Bean that he understood.

But Andy didn’t understand. And neither did I. He had gone to all of their weddings the year before. I had gone to two of those weddings, and airfare to Hawaii wasn’t cheap. The bachelor parties weren’t cheap, either. The contents of multiple red envelopes were also definitely not cheap.

In case it was Andy’s friends just being cheap, I emailed them privately and offered to pay for their airfare and hotel rooms. They never emailed me back.

String Bean could have taken a bus, the fucker.

On my side, my dad’s brother canceled when he lost his job. Since I saw my uncle about once every five years, his cancellation wasn’t a major blow. It was more like, “Oh, cool, two less guests buying booze at the open bar!”

My best friend from high school suffered financial reverses. She left her family at home, but at least she came herself, despite being five months pregnant. (When she got home, her daughters demonstrated a new joy in burping, farting, and eating nude at the dinner table. I don’t think she’s left her husband in charge again since.)

My friend KL was petrified of planes.  She flew on two to get to the wedding.  She only whined about it once to me.

Another friend, the one who made the jewelry for my attendants, came despite having major surgery less than a month before. She nearly passed out in the security line and used a wheelchair the rest of the trip, but she and her husband made it.

I told Andy, “If we ever have to go on the run, we’re calling my friends for help, not yours.”

Andy agreed. We speculated on the differences, but only came up with one:

All Andy’s people who canceled were Asian. They had all gotten married the previous year. I don’t know if it was the money, or the hassle in a post-wedding year, or if they didn’t approve of our mixed race marriage. Maybe the recent spate of air disasters scared them. Hell, maybe the thought of moose scared them.

Then Andy’s sister called. Mindy was a doctor. Her husband was also a doctor. Her husband had to work our wedding weekend, she said. She was nervous about flying alone with her daughter, she said.

“Your daughter is supposed to be our flower girl and Andy adores her and if you don’t come it will break his fucking heart,” I said.

“I guess we’ll come,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said. And honestly, I was mad I even HAD to say it.

Seriously. What was wrong with these people? I had been to the wedding of every parent, every sibling, every ex-stepparent, every step-sibling, every ex-step sibling, and almost every friend who ever invited me. (And, yeah, I wore black to my father’s last wedding, but I was THERE for chrissakes.) When a friend or sister asked me to be an attendant, I said yes, and I spent a fortune on ugly dresses and flying across the country. My parents, despite MANY other failings, raised me to honor my commitments. The most popular kid in class could invite you to an all-day party at King’s Dominion, and if you had already told the kid who picked his butt you were going to his house for cake and tag, you sucked it up and played tag. (And you washed your hands a lot.)

If you said you were gonna be somewhere, by God, you got there. (Usually five minutes early. Cuz our family is super anal.)

Less than two weeks before the wedding, Andy’s parents called as I rejiggered reception tables and the tux measurements for replacement groomsmen.

I caught snatches of Andy’s half of the conversation:

Andy: “Yeah…no, Salad isn’t coming…no, not Pumpkin, either…and String Bean can’t make it after all. Yeah, Denny will be the best man now, he’s still coming… Yeah, she’s coming, Autumn talked to her… Oh, okay. Hold on.”

Andy handed me the phone. While I found my future in-laws somewhat…difficult, my stomach knotted in dread. His parents had never wanted us to get married in New Hampshire. Poor Andy. Were there ONLY going to be white people at this wedding? A hundred whites and two Wongs was just wrong.

I braced myself for the next Asian cancellation and took the phone. “Hi, Sunny. How are you?”

Andy’s mom was as abrupt as ever. “Did Mindy call you?”

“Yes.”

“Did you tell her she had to come to the wedding even though she was scared and did you use a bad word?”

Mindy was a goddamned tattle-tale. “Um…maybe?”

“Huh! Why she even think of missing her own brother’s wedding! What wrong with her?! What is wrong with all these people?! Why they scared to fly?” Sunny launched into an angry, semi-inarticulate tirade.

I waited until she paused for breath. “So…you and Jay are still coming?”

“Of course we are coming! I tell everybody, why be scared to fly? Your number’s up, your number’s up! Get on the plane!”

Sunny said a few other things, but I don’t remember them. I only remember how much, in that moment, I loved her and how much I loved Chinese fatalism.

Sunny’s sister also came, with her entire family. So did two other cousins. We didn’t have a white wedding after all. In fact, our wedding briefly increased the Asian population of rural New Hampshire by 1300%.

The locals couldn’t tell any of Andy’s family members apart, though.

But that’s another story.

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

28 thoughts on “If Your Number’s Up (#56)”

  1. I have to agree with Kate. Sunny sounds like the kind who will use very little words but somehow through that will be able to put someone in their places. Maybe they haven’t seen you and Andy for a long time and that was one of the reasons some of them were hesitant to come. It really is odd indeed, but in this situation the plane ride seems like the most logical explanation.

    If I ever do get married someday, I only want no more than fifty guests at my wedding. And hopefully the reception will be nice as the one in your photo.

    1. Oh, absolutely. Don’t mess with Sunny. She is ruthless.

      I think your wedding plan sounds awesome. If you decide on a destination wedding in the wilds of New England, I know of a few with barns…

        1. You know, a lot of barns in the Northeast just became picturesque storage places, or dance/ meeting halls. The one in this picture is only used for weddings. Completely safe for allergies, especially if you get married in the fall. (Which I, of course, recommend. If you have never seen a fall in New England, put it on your bucket list.)

          But it seems other old barns are returning to actual use, with the rise of animal husbandry once again.

          1. Never seen a fall in the States. In fact, have yet to take a trip up to the States. One day.

            Summer is always my kind of season. Plenty of ice-creams to go round for the guests…

  2. Hi Autumn!

    I am sorry for these desertions, it must suck. I mean, once you married with a big event and someone made it all the way to be there, you have a freaking moral obligation to show up at this person’s wedding. Period.

    That is on the reasons why I plan (in a very very VERY remote future) to get married with as little of an event as possible. No fuss, just families and maybe one or two friends each. No big money, no expensive dress, no fancy cake. Who knows, maybe even an elopement! I would like to spend all the money we would save this way with a long awesome honeymoon trip to some amazing country on the other side of the world.

    I know this is just me and I am no trying to say everyone should do it. The way someone chooses to celebrate his/her wedding is extremely personal after all!

    All these complications during the wedding preparation would frankly make me feel like I don’t want to get married anymore 🙂

    1. Yeah, I hear you. If I had to do it all again, there are many things I would do differently. I think I would please myself more and other people less! So that is my advice to everyone, and it sounds like you already took it, Marghini.

      I look forward to reading about your remote wedding someday.

      1. ahah you will have to wait a long time for that to happen Autumn! I warned Mr. B not to dare to propose until I turn 30 at least (I am 26 now), possibly even later than that. I really have no interest in getting married at the moment 😀

  3. Those friends are such a disappointment. What’s this about not wanting to fly? I’ve done so much flying in my lifetime that I’m surprised at anyone who’s afraid of it. I just got back from visiting my kids in Maryland and Indiana, and some of them will be visiting me in August. They’ve been flying back and forth to Asia and then across the United States since they were babies. If Mindy’s daughter is old enough to be a flower girl, she couldn’t be that hard to fly with. Sorry if I don’t sound sympathetic about your guests problems. But I do agree with you about keeping one’s commitments.

    1. Well, I wasn’t exactly sympathetic about the groomsmens’ issues. I’m still not. I got all riled up just writing that post!

      Our perspective is a little different, I guess, after crisscrossing multiple continents. And you, Nicki, you’ve crossed the ocean as well. More than once!

      I’m far more likely to die on the car trip to Los Angeles International Airport than I am to die on a plane leaving that same airport.

      Honestly, I think it was an excuse to avoid travel and expenses. And I hope they look back on their wussiness and their lack of character and feel shame. Forever. (I could forgive them if they were my friends, but these guys hurt ANDY. I suspect I will bear a lifetime grudge.)

  4. Autumn, this is so sad!! Do these people place any value on friendship or responsibly or obligation? I am so sorry to hear that people would not return the favor. Some people….!

    Remember that the day is all about you and Andy. Stuff like this is not worth stressing out about!

    That was one of the reasons why I chose to have two on each side and let them pick their dresses. I planned the wedding from Taiwan and I didn’t want to deal with the necessary stress. The day was all about us after all and I made sure it was that way.

  5. Well… those kinds of “friends” sound pretty familiar to me. ._.

    But you did have a nice wedding in the end, haven’t you? 😀 I bet things picked up and everything went well.

    (I’m the same, obligation wise. I try to honour all of my promises. And I thought Asians were the same? Apparently, I was wrong. -Whispers.- You go Sunny!)

  6. Omg Autumn. I reread this and died laughing… but I am also amazed that you put up with not one, but THREE groomsmen canceling!!! I am just beside myself that the best man canceled–that is insane. How were you able to find replacements!?! It must have been tough!!!

    Honestly, I think you summed it up best here:
    “Seriously. What was wrong with these people? … My parents raised me to honor my commitments.”

    I was thinking the exact same thing when a lot of people canceled. I had people RSVP and cancel last minute: SO RUDE. And don’t get me started on the bridesmaid and groomsmen… My bridesmaid threw out her back because she got shitfaced a mere few days before flying (so stupid…) and then we still, to this day, have no idea why Richard’s childhood friend just up and canceled a week before the wedding. Flake.

    Weddings really weed out your real friends, man. Although my wedding was great, I’m still in disbelief over how people I thought were really good friends either didn’t come, or didn’t even congratulate me after the wedding.

    You’re a trooper Autumn, and thank god Andy’s mom agreed with you. Our wedding also upped the population of Salt Lake City by about 1000%, haha.

    1. Andy’s cousin and his other cousins’ husbands stepped up as groomsmen, which was very good of them — especially since the tux shop never did get the switched measurements correct. Thanks God Andy picked long jackets, because one of the groomsmen had to pull his tux practically down to his crotch to make the pants look right for photos.

      I never forgave Andy’s friends and I never will. Neither will he. I do send a “fuck you” kind of Christmas card every year though.

      I totally understand not coming — weddings are expensive. But at least freakin’ RSVP. Send a card. Something.

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