My wife Staci made me go to a wedding last weekend.
Staci makes me go to everything.
If it weren’t for her, I’d be happy. Like Howard Hughes, I’d be high on morphine rocking back and forth in the closet of a Las Vegas hotel room, but I’d be happy.
My resentment is what makes me buy her birthday cakes shaped like Menorahs with “to Stan” written across the top.
Then a family wedding rolls around, and she gets her vengeance. She makes me attend.
The weddings themselves are survivable. Survivable because in church, people talk less. I can just sit there in silence and memorize the Canadian provinces, west to east, which is what I’m doing when I close my eyes in church.
But the receptions that follow are hell in a cheesebasket. Hell because they include the vicious troika of dancing, relatives and speeches. Cheesebasket because that is what I was staring at in the double-row buffet line as the large woman across from me tried to clasp a cheese cube with the only pair of tongs available.
And so I waited.
Because the woman could only clamp one cube of cheese at a time.
It was clear her woeful display was no doubt due to the way she was holding the tongs. They were pressed between her fingers and palm. It was as though she were the only member of the species to not receive the “opposable thumb” memo.
I should add that none of this was remotely fair. I had skipped my table’s trip to the buffet and waited for every other table to have their trip to the buffet, so I could go absolutely last. When there would be no people. And no chance of conversation.
But no. The same cruel irony that rendered the musically-gifted Beethoven deaf and the telescopically-gifted Galileo blind delivered unto the misanthropically-gifted Stephan the being known as Cheesewoman.
Seconds ticked by like hours. It was all I could do to keep from helping.
And by “helping,” I mean grabbing a handful of cheese cubes and throwing them at her.
I thought about leaving cheese-less, but cheese is the one thing Staci had asked me to get for her when I got up to go to the buffet line. Oh, the cruel master of vengeance that is Staci, gleefully sending me into Dante’s eighth circle of hell for some cheese.
And then Cheesewoman spoke. And I slipped into Dante’s ninth circle.
At least I assumed it was Cheesewoman speaking. It was hard to see her face over Mount Cheesamanjaro.
“My husband always has me get some for him,” she said, smiling.
I thought about not responding. Divine retribution for her gluttonous one-woman Cheesapalooza.
But I did, marking my first kind act of June. (Actually, my second, if you consider the fact that I refrained from tossing cheese at her.)
“Mine, too,” I replied.
And then she stopped smiling.
And I realized what she was thinking.
Stephan was gay.
Gay because “mine, too” meant I was getting cheese for my husband.
So I clarified my remark.
“For my wife. I meant, for my wife.”
“Oh,” she said, “I wasn’t gonna say anything. Because in this area, you never know.”
It was said with an unmistakable condescension and disdain, and coming from the Cheese Wizard, it was more than I could take.
So I said one more thing.
“I meant my husband.”
Her eyes narrowed.
“Her name is Stan.”