Usually when someone asks you about your most embarrassing moment, you conveniently cannot remember. But I remember quite clearly.
As most embarrassing moments happen, this one occurred in public, with some of my closest friends as witnesses. My college roommate Elizabeth, her husband Dave, and his college roommate who I call “Dr. Dave” to keep them apart and also because he really is a doctor.
Approaching Dr. Dave’s recent wedding, I had to tell the whole story all over again. Sitting with Elizabeth and Dave at the rehearsal dinner, someone asked if we thought the bride was going to have a bouquet toss. I said, “Well, I hope not.” Another woman inquired why that was—a 6-foot-tall, 9-months-pregnant woman who is married to a 5-foot-tall gymnast who competed in the 2008 Olympics, to be exact. Those details have nothing to do with the story, but it would make for an interesting family portrait.
I want to pause and clarify that I don’t hate bouquet tosses because I’m bitter about being single. I really love the life I’m living. It’s filled to the brim with amazing experiences and people. I can change a tire, jumpstart a car, take out my own trash, and I’ve got this grippy thing that helps me open jars … so, I’m good. I’ve got covered all the main reasons people get married—at least for now. But as long as we’re on the topic, I do find it a bit odd that we pause wedding celebrations to throw things at single people. It feels a little mean.
No matter how healthy your self-esteem is, I think there are always about two minutes of Bridget Jones-style panic where you think, “Is this it? Does the entire single female population of this banquet hall really consist of me and three 4th graders?” That’s when you start searching the crowd for friends you can take down with you. The object is to pack the floor so that your odds of catching the bouquet are as slim as possible, because catching the bouquet means a night of, “So, when’s the big day?” “Are you seeing anyone?” “Got anyone in mind?” And, really, I don’t need those questions. I’ve got enough to worry about trying to keep up my strapless bridesmaid’s dress.
Not wanting to go into all of that, I simply told the Olympian’s wife that I didn’t have a good track record. Dave smiled and nodded his head while his wife, Elizabeth, covered her reddened face and said, “Oh, I’m still so sorry about that, Lainsie!”
At her wedding, Elizabeth didn’t want to be the bride whose bouquet went straight up and then fell straight down behind her. So she decided to forsake the gentle over-the-head lob most brides do and went for an approach I think is used by Scottish men in The Highland Games when throwing telephone poles. They use their entire body to heft these objects straight back with as much force and power as they can muster. This approach worked well for Elizabeth.
As everyone watched, it came at me straight as an arrow. Stems first. Cut at an angle. Roses. Thorns still attached. Wrapped in prickly evergreen branches. On the upside, at least the florist managed to talk her out of adding safety pins to the arrangement.
And then, in the moment everyone was waiting for, I caught the bouquet! With my eye.
Now, Elizabeth is half woman and half Care Bear, and I had no desire to make her feel bad on her wedding day. So, I took one for the team and instantly covered my eye to hide my injury and willed myself to laugh instead of cry as I felt my face beginning to swell and the abrasions begin to bleed. Laughing when you’re in severe pain makes you sound slightly sadistic, and, I probably over-compensated when I exclaimed to the silent and stunned room, while wiping blood from my face, “So much fun!! Let’s do it again!”
I spent the rest of the night following Dr. Dave’s advice to ice my bruised eye while dealing with people’s comments, the popular of which was, “Well, at least you’re getting married!” I never knew how to respond to this. Catching a bunch of flowers does not mean that I’m about to meet my future husband … it is far more likely to mean I’ll meet my future optometrist.
Dr. Dave, having taken the Hippocratic Oath, opted to not put me through another bouquet toss at his own wedding, for which I’m very grateful. Instead, my college friends and I spent the entire reception dancing like complete fools. There was break dancing, and headstands and I got into a dance battle doing the twist with an elderly Polish woman (I let her win). The evening was a display of crazy, beautiful community in the truest sense of the word.
It reminded me of something I frequently say, which is that I am a pack dog. I love being near others and being on a team as we care and watch out for each other. I come from a big family and always want to have a big family around me wherever I go. As a teen, I remember being encouraged to pray for my future husband, but now there’s a different prayer that lives in my heart. Aside from praying for mercy from floral attacks, I pray for my pack. The people who have run with me, the people that are running with me right now and the people that God will bring alongside me in the future to run together. I may be the single one at the table, but I know that I will never dance alone.