August 13, 2016

Beer Breath and Denim: A Serbian Wedding

“Just be yourself,” a man says to me drunkenly.

“What?” I yell over top of the jazz clarinet playing in the background.

“I like you,” he slurs while holding a beer, “just be yourself. You’re dressed like a – you know.”

“What, what do I look like?” I ask him.

He fumbles trying to say his next sentence.

“I’m at a wedding, you’re wearing fucking jeans and a polo,” I loudly say in his ear.

“Just be yourself,” he insists as he stumbles backward.

I stare at the sky in silence trying to control my rage. I then watch him regain his balance as he continues to wobble beside me on the dance floor. I turn around and walk back to the table, grab my orange juice and sit down.

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“Just look at me!” I tell my parents, as I look up at the ceiling to avoid watery eyes.

“You look sweet, it’s a nice change on you,” my mother says sincerely.

I look like a goat milker. I’m unaware of how goat milkers actually look, but I have a sense that I would be suitable for the position at this very moment. In an attempt to look more feminine and gentle, I am now sporting a mushroom hairdo. My mother had told me that I needed to look clean, so, she suggested that I should step back from the overly curly mop look and go for something more subtle. I’m not naturally subtle but, I started thinking, maybe a change would be good. So, now I’m here and late for the wedding.

 

“I’m late,” I say monotonously, “Bye mom.” I grab my bag and head out to Tijana’s house.

I knock on Tijana’s front door, she opens and stares at me with big eyes. I say nothing as I walk past her and head straight into her room. She follows.

“I look like a goat milker,” I say as I put down my bag.

“No,” she laughs non-convincingly, “you look sweet”.

“This wedding is going to be full of doctors,” I look up at the ceiling with a quivering lip, “and, look at me” my arms fall to my side, “nobody’s going to want this.”

“You don’t have to find someone at this wedding.”

“I want free therapy!” my eyes start to water, “you know how expensive acupuncture is.”

“Stick your head in the shower,” she says as she straps on her high heels.

My head is under the sink faucet. I’m hunched over, staring blankly at the bar of soap that’s eye level to me. Tijana’s dog is humping my leg ferociously at the same time. I don’t move.

I blow dry my hair and it returns back into its normal bush. We leave to the wedding.

We arrive at a cobblestoned street in the middle of the forest. I hobble down the cobblestones with Tijana grabbing onto my arm for support. I watch my heels balance for stability between the cracks of stone. With each step, I go deeper in thought.

 

Am I undressed for this? Oh god, I hope they have vegetarian options. And stick to water, you’re bloated. 

I turn the corner and stand at the entrance of the open-air restaurant, filled with floating lamps and wedding-like decorations. The first guest I see is a girl with bleached blonde hair, wearing camouflage pants and sneakers. The boy beside her is wearing denim jeans and a low V-neck t-shirt.

“This is the wedding, right?” I ask Tijana as I look at the guests and then stare at her outfit. She’s wearing a tight one-shoulder black dress that accentuates every curve of her body, matched with a pair of large gold hoop earrings. Let’s just say that you could easily go to a club in that dress.

We walk into the venue and the room goes silent as they all stare at us.

“Has no one been to a fucking wedding before?” I mumble to Tijana.

During dinner, two men come up to us and ask for a seat. One’s a doctor and talking to Tijana, so, I am given no option but to wing woman. The man that sits down beside me is partially balding and wearing a plaid shirt fully buttoned, jeans, and new balance orthopedic sneakers, he says he’s a psychiatrist.

“I like flamingo dancing,” my guy says to me as he sits attentively in my direction.

Are you fucking kidding me? 

With forced enthusiasm I say, “really?” and turn my head to pick up my glass of juice which I am strongly regretting that I didn’t opt for something a little stronger – like vodka or a horse tranquilizer.

 

I return my attention back to the psychiatrist only to see that he’s decided to practice his flamingo dancing moves in front of me. He snaps his fingers from side to side, wiggles his hips in his seat and rhythmically taps his feet on the ground. I think he’s peacocking, I read that somewhere.

“Okay,” I say as I put my drink down, “well, I’m going to go to the dance floor, it was great talking with you.” I swiftly get up and speed walk to the crowd in hopes of losing him.

Twenty minutes later, Tijana finds me on the dance floor.

“Where’d you go?” She yells.

“To safety,” I yell back as I swing my hips, “did the doctor get your number?”

“Yeah, I’m going to go back and talk to him,” she yells as she walks away.

For a moment, I feel relief. Sure, I may not have met anyone, but I may be the plus one of  Tijana’s potentially new boyfriend’s yacht. While I’m dancing alone, I realize that if you just be yourself, things will work themselves out, you don’t need to try so hard.

My moment of deep realization quickly came to an end, as I feel a hot breath on my face.

“Just be yourself,” he drunkenly says.

I look up at the sky with rage.

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