We pull up to Liz and Jim’s house fifteen minutes later and park in the street behind the biggest limo bus I’ve ever seen. Liz had told me she rented something small and modest to drive us around so we wouldn’t have to worry about ruining someone’s night and forcing them to be our designated driver. Obviously her version of small and modest differ greatly from mine. This thing could house an entire football team with room to spare.
“It’s about time you two f**kers got here!” Drew yells as he meets us at the end of the driveway, tossing a beer through the air towards Carter.
In honor of the wine tours that evening, Drew dons a shirt with a picture of a corkscrew on the front that reads, “I pull out.”
We walk up the bus steps to join everyone else, noticing they are all well on their way toward getting drunk, everyone except Liz. She is all alone at the very back of the bus with her arms folded and a scowl on her face.
I take one look at her and know I had made it there just in time.
How could this have happened? Why wasn’t anyone helping my poor friend?
Leaving Carter at the front of the bus with Drew, Jim, and Jenny, I hurry down the aisle and sit down next to Liz.
“Who did this to you?” I ask angrily as I wrap my arm around her shoulder.
She looks at me and I swear I see her lip quiver.
“It’s okay. You can tell me. We’ll fix it,” I reassure her as I rub soothing circles on her back.
I see hope flare in her eyes, and I know she's going to be fine. I will make this better for her if it’s the last thing I do.
“My mother! It was her. It was all her!” she wails in anguish.
I quickly glance to the front of the bus, fearing that just thinking about Mrs. Gates will suddenly make her appear. Forget bridezilla! Mrs. Gates is mother-of-the-bridezilla. She is the biggest wedding Nazi in the world. Every single wedding tradition, old wives tale, ritual, and custom, Mary Gates believes in it, practices it, and forces everyone around her to participate in it.
Right now, my poor best friend is wearing a rhinestone tiara with a veil attached, a sash across the front of her that reads, “Bride to Be”, and underneath that sash, a tee-shirt with individually wrapped suckers strategically attached directly on top of her boobs. In bright pink glitter puff paint are the words, “Suck for a Buck”.
“I’m in bachelorette party hell!” Liz screeches.
I reach over and started plucking suckers off of her boobs.
“It’s okay; I’m going to get you out of this,” I tell her.
“Claire Donna Morgan, I hope you’re giving my daughter a dollar for every one of those suckers you are removing from her shirt!”
It's like something out of a movie. The music that pumps out of the limo’s speakers screeches to a halt and all of the laughter from our friends immediately dies.
“Run! Save yourself!” Liz whispers loudly as she tries to shove me away from her.
I slowly stand up and put on a brave face, letting my friend know that I will take one for the team. I will stand in between her and sudden bachelorette party death. I turn around just in time to be bum rushed in the aisle.
“Can you believe my baby is getting married?!” Mrs. Gates squeals as she throws a sash over my head that reads, “Maid-of-Honor” before I can blink.
She pulls me into a tight hug, bouncing me up and down like we're long lost sorority sisters, the cloying scent of White Diamonds perfume surrounding me and threatening to make my eyes water.
Where my family is more along the lines of the Connor family from the show Roseanne, Alice’s family leans more toward The Brady Bunch.
Or maybe acid.
Which is the one that makes you see fuzzy bunnies singing about lollypops and kittens and puppies frolicking on a rainbow?
“Claire, I am entrusting you to make sure my baby has a great time tonight,” Mrs. Gates says sternly as she pulls away from me and thrusts a piece of paper in my hand. “This is a treasure hunt for Liz. You have to make sure she does every single thing on the list before the night is out. I’ve been told this is all the rage with you young people.”
Don’t look down at the list; don’t look down at the list.
“Well, don’t just stand there, Claire. Look at the list!” Mrs. Gates demands excitedly.
“Get a stranger to give you his underwear,” I mutter, reading the first line.
Mrs. Gates squeals like little girl. “Oh my gosh this is going to be a hoot! Keep reading!”
I take a deep breath, forcing the vomit that had lodged itself in my throat to remain where it is and not splatter all over the piece of paper in my hand.
On second thought…no list equals no scavenger hunt.
“And don’t worry, I made enough copies for everyone!” Liz’s mom says enthusiastically as she pulls a handful of papers out of her purse and starts passing them out.
I cover my hand over my mouth as I scan the list. No point in puking now. I’ll never be able to projectile vomit far enough to reach all the copies.
Find a guy with an accent.
Meet a guy with the same name as the groom and take a picture with him.
Make out with one of the bridesmaids.
I really don’t think I should be sober for this right now.
“Mrs. Gates, you are looking positively radiant this evening. Have I mentioned that yet?” Jim states sweetly as he comes up behind his future mother-in-law and puts his arm around her shoulder.
“Now, don’t try and distract me, James. I’ve got something for you too,” she says as she unfolds a baseball hat that said “Groom” on it and places it on his head.