HOWARD: My fiancée, Rachel, knows a bridal shower’s been planned for her, but not the specifics. She’s given me very simple directions: get me there on time, get me there dressed nicely, and don’t tell me when it’s happening.
My dad singing ‘I feel pretty.’
We prepare to meet my parents for lunch in New Jersey – a ruse guaranteed to provide a nice outfit and an on-time arrival. Out of nowhere, a wave of suspicion erupts: “If we’re going to my bridal shower,” she cries, “you better tell me!” I weigh the consequences. I’ve never been threatened by my bride-to-be before. She’s a kindergarten teacher, literally. I think lying to her is safe here, especially considering that I’m sticking to her initial instructions.
The pretext for getting us to the shower’s location is dropping off a photograph at Rachel’s sister-in-law’s house. As we approach, I reach for the lipstick that Rachel reapplies for all occasions and people – family, shopping, any car wash where you can’t stay in the car. She declines: “I’ll only be a second.”
That’s when I know I have her.
Her quick entry into the house is followed by elation, then a hasty return for her purse (lipstick), then more elation mixed with accusations.
Now Rachel settles into the task of receiving gifts.
My father and I have a boys’ afternoon in store. Our plan is to meet up at the shower, inconspicuously in the back of the house, and then sneak away.
On my way to find and collect my father, seventy-five women coat my cheeks with seventy-five shades of red. I haven’t seen many of these women in months, and the urge to converse nearly overwhelms me. But I must find that safe haven between “the unfriendly groom” and “the groom who’s so vain, he thinks his bride’s shower is about him.” I finally find my father and together we set out in search of food and baseball. But we’ve already been overexposed.
Upon our return, one thing leads to another. My father is captured on camera wearing the veil of bows and singing “I Feel Pretty,” an image I’ll find useful the next time I’m fending off sarcastic comments about my Clinique exfoliator.