Monday, April 27, 2009

The Lawnmower Dance




The ceremony was as nice as a backyard wedding could be. Julie came over and said hello, giving me a dramatic kiss, wrapping her right leg around me like a stripper pole. Julie liked having a good time and was prone to giving the “Ozzy” (the universal sign of Metal) and saying “Par-tay!” Oddly, for almost everyone in the world, this would be annoying and grounds for dismissal, but it very natural and endearing for Julie...at least for now.

Because it was a backyard wedding on a budget, Julie had recruited her friends’ metal band to play the reception. They were a “real” band by night, playing in the clubs of SF, so they had to learn lots of covers for the event. I’m sure there were longs talk about the integrity of the band and “respect” and shit like that; however, they agreed to play and got paid, the latter probably being the deciding factor.

They opened with “When a Man Loves a Woman,” the Otis Redding classic for the newlywed’s first dance. Because they were a metal band and used to screeching more than singing, they enlisted a friend with a beautiful voice to handle vocals. As she sang, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that she listened to the Michael Bolton version of the song, not the Redding version.

They played everything from Journey to Billy Ray Cyrus. While playing Acky Breaky Heart, Julie ruled the grass dance floor, leading a gaggle of guests in what she called the Lawnmower Dance. In unison, 12 people in 3 rows of 4, walked forward like they were pushing a lawn mower and then walked backward with one hand pulling back the lawn mower while the other hand waved at a non-existent neighbor across the fence. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and a good boyfriend would’ve been out there supporting his lady, but I was somewhat mortified. Not necessarily by the dance (yes, it was lame but so was the Macarena, the Funky Chicken and all those other types of uniformed dances) but by Julie’s expression. While walking back and waving she had a crazed look on her face and her jaw moved slightly up and down like chattering teeth at a toy store. And the dance, like the song, went on forever.

Julie was a musician too. She played bass and had a nice voice. Due to her talent and being friends of the band and part of the wedding, she was slotted to sing a song.

As the time approached for her to sing, I found myself wandering around the house, looking for something, anything to distract me from what was coming. I went in the house, and then out of the house; sat down at a table and got up and got more drinks - always acting like I was on my way to do something important. Not knowing anybody and basically fending for myself because of Julie’s multiple bridal duties, I drank too much.

Between the sliding glass doors, I stopped and watch Julie sing Surrender by Y and T. The stage was facing away from the door so I only saw her profile, as she was singing to the people in front of her. While reaching for the high note in the chorus, her back severely bent and her mouth open wide like David Coverdale of Whitesnake in the Here I Go Again video, her mouth shivered, ala Mariah/Whitney/Christina/Jessica. Dropping the note, she demonically looked over at the band, smiling like the devil. It was creepy.

I was startled; moving slightly back like this type of behavior could hurt me. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe not, but it gave me a visceral reaction. I looked around and I was the only that had this reaction.

Julie’s drunken Mother appeared beside me. I acknowledged her and we stood in silence, while the song ended. “You don’t like me, do ya?” she said, her candid question surprising me. I was as drunk as she was and I must’ve done something earlier to offend her but I couldn’t remember. Maybe it was the water stain on my trousers.

Without missing a beat, knowing her daughter and I were history because of the mouth chomping singing thing and the Lawn Mower dance, I said, “No.” That was it. That was all we said. She walked away and I started looking for a ride to BART.
I slept on the couch in the living room with my suit on. The next morning Julie and I rode home in silence. I would assume her mother informed her of our little conversation. It was over.

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