evany's extended cake mix
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Tuesday, June 19, 2001 | link
It was a hundred degrees in Vegas and we were driving not to an air-conditioned casino with wave machines and fruity libations but to the suburbs for my cousin's wedding.
We pulled up and parked in the dust of a would-be sidewalk, crammed our swollen feet into dress-up shoes, straightened our sweat-creased finery, and made our way to the front door. Once in the foyer, we signed our names in the white leather registry with a white, feathered pen, then we followed the signs around the house to the back yard.
Along the way we passed the door to the garage where a handmade sign had been posted. "Keep shut," it read, "BITCH IN HEAT!!!" It was years before I discovered that this was a warning about an actual rut-poised dog and not a weird bride-to-be joke -- the groom's parents literally wanted their best of breed kept away from the three other dogs at the wedding (two labs and my uncle's wolf).
Except for my uncle, who was standing off to the side with the wolf (which was chained up to the fence beside the pool), and a herd of squealing kids in bathing suits (who were burning their asses on the pool slide and getting stung by bees), everyone was gathered around the food table. It was a lavish, Chevy's-catered spread, and it was flanked by a gloriously churning margarita machine. As we scuttled to the watering hole, an emissary from my cousin snagged me, and I reluctantly left my date to the drink line and pointed my parched mouth toward the house.
I found Audrey in the bedroom, busily adjusting herself into a off-white sheath.
"Wow, you look absolutely beautiful!" And she did -- all flushed and happy, relaxed even.
"Thanks! So do you!"
I boosted myself up onto their towering California king and, legs swinging, turned to watch her apply the last layer of makeup. "So how close are we to final countdown?"
"Oh, about five minutes ... hey! Do you want to be my maid of honor?"
"Uh. OK. What would I need to do?"
"I don't know. Just stand up there with me, I guess."
As she put on a final touch of lipstick, my aunt/her mother went out to let people know that it was time. Once everyone was seated, I stuttered my sweaty thighs up the aisle and stood next to the groom, and my cousin followed close on my trail and planted herself next to us. Then the minister talked for a minute or two, Audrey and Tom exchanged their vows, kissed, and we all got up and started eating and drinking again.
And that was when I noticed the monkeys. A friend of Audrey's from back in the days when she was dating a circus animal breeder had brought her two organ-grinders. Of course I ran, RAN, over to try and get my grubby, monkey-hungry hands on one.
Sadly they didn't seem to be in the mood to be squeezed by Evany -- apparently they'd singed their little tongues on the jalapeno dip earlier in the party and as a result were world-weary and suspicious. They seemed to prefer the unsuspecting heads of the many ladies at the party with big, teased-up helmets of hair.
"Oh!" the big-haired would cry, turning and turning, trying to get a look at the owner of the miniature clawed hands that were digging through their hair, searching for nits, "It's so ... cute! Hee! Hee!" Then the monkeys jumped onto the food table, where they grazed cautiously: Each morsel would be held up to one eye like a jeweler inspecting a diamond, followed by a tongue-prod, and finally a tentative nibble.
Since they wouldn't let me near them, I cornered the monkey lady instead, firing off a full frontal assault of high-pitched monkey Qs: "How long have you had them? What do they eat? Do you take them everywhere? Do they love you?"
I stuck to it like black on licorice, like a snot-pellet on a flicking finger, like a monkey-frenzied lady on a monkey, and was finally rewarded by getting to help change their diapers. They were so small, they wore diapers specially small to fit human premies. To make room for their tails, she simply stabbed a hole with a Bic pen and threaded them through! Yay, monkeys! With their little old-man faces and wrinkled fingers! Monkeys!
After trying not to for a really long time, I finally noticed that we were surrounded by the sunburnt, bee-stung kids, each one of them glaring at me for hogging all the turns. Slowly I backed away and reluctantly tuned back in to what the non-monkey people were doing.
The chairs had been cleared away and a money dance was in full swing. My date, who had chosen margaritas over monkeys, was well primed and jittering to leave and hit the blackjack tables. After all the hot, monkey action, I was tired and ready to leave, too.
I tried to muscle my way into the dancing, bill-stuffing throng to say my goodbyes, but the groom (who had also received many a ticket from the margarita meter maid) swerved in front of me, pushing a wheelbarrow. The red, metal lip hit Audrey just behind her knees, and she toppled back into the cup of the barrow.
As the two of them laughed and squealed and he ran-pushed her around the yard, the crowd closed in around them, dollar bills flying everywhere, and we faded back to the car.