Carolyn White: Living the Good Life 7-2-12
Erica, the oldest daughter of my childhood friend, Mindy, was married on June 9, in a beautiful, touching and extremely well-coordinated outdoor ceremony at her mother’s country home in Parkersburg, W.Va.
Since both are highly experienced in event planning – and Erica’s younger sister, Morgan, is a Pastry Chef – everything from the tent set-ups to the cake baking to the evening fireworks displays went off without a glitch and it was well worth the price of an airline ticket to be there. What struck me while watching the last-minute preparations inside Mindy and Danny’s meticulously -restored, circa 1890s farmhouse, however, was that they definitely should have added a second bathroom. It may not have seemed important when they were remodeling 20 years back but when you cram in an additional three bridesmaids, a flower girl, a ring bearer, a make-up artist, a hairdresser, a photographer, some step-siblings, extra helpers, and a Boston terrier – most of whom were simultaneously in need of showers, mirrors, curling irons, tissues, extra towels, hairpins, perfume, and toothpaste – there was certainly some chaos without it.
Keeping in line with the “Holler Chic” theme that Erica had chosen, rather than renting Port O Potties it was decided that anyone not a member of the wedding party could just use the outhouse, which was located about 50 yards away. As word spread quickly throughout the gathering guests, however, some reacted with complete disbelief while others found it to be a true pioneer experience. “Are you kidding?” I heard one woman gasp. “We’re leaving early,” another grumbled to her husband. “Don’t push it over while I’m in there, OK?” one little boy admonished his young brother. “Let’s go try it out,” a young man encouraged his buddies.”
The comments continued as first-timers stepped down from the simple structure, such as “Wow, it doesn’t smell nearly as bad as I thought it might!” or “Hey, it’s kind of fun!” My 92-year-old, Alabama farm-raised mother, even, bravely hobbled across the meadow toward the outhouse not just once but twice, one arm supported by either my sister or myself. “Why, Mindy has it set up so NICE in there,” she exclaimed afterwards in her lilting Southern accent, “and it’s such a practical idea!”
Regardless, after half a dozen visitors had slipped into the house to make use of the porcelain potty, the groomsmen were advised to stand guard on the porch. They missed one poor guy though, who retreated quickly after poking his head into the kitchen and receiving the admonishment, “USE THE OUTHOUSE!” Things got increasingly tense as the 5:30 ceremony time approached, especially when it came down to actual family members sharing the indoor facility. Danny, who’d been busy outside all day, tried several times to duck in for a shower but some gal always beat him to it. After it had finally been vacated for 30 seconds, he dashed across the floor, shirtless, and literally slid inside. When he’d finished (in five minutes), Morgan attempted a turn, nearly stepping smack into Erica. There was a brief and heated discussion about who needed to use it the most. Morgan won, but Erica, wearing her elegant, Grecian-style wedding dress, ended up stomping back into the adjoining guest room while snapping, “Fine! I’ll just walk across the meadow to the outhouse!”
Morgan opened the door a crack and bellowed something in return that only a sister could get away with, and then both of their respective doors slammed at precisely the same moment. (The flare-up was quickly forgotten since the girls are very close, and I couldn’t help but laugh.) But the best part of the whole day came after the entire bridal party stood primed and waiting by the porch and Mindy, dressed in her own stunning, beaded black cocktail dress, felt compelled to mop up spilled water from the hardwood floor. “You know I can’t stand this,” she grumbled while I took her picture just to be ornery.
My mother, sister and I were among the approximately 140 others who watched Erica exchange vows with her longtime love, John, and we stayed afterwards for the delicious dinner plus Morgan’s amazing cakes – in nine different flavors. Returning to the house to fetch my purse before we left, however, I saw the exact same young man who’d been scolded earlier … right as he was exiting the bathroom. Turning beet red, he made a wide berth around me and scurried back outside. For a moment I, too, looked longingly at the more modern facility, but then decided to just wait for the one waiting at home.