Why your save-the-date prohibits me from attending your wedding

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Dear Former Colleague,

I just wanted to write you a quick note to let you know I got your save-the-date. I ran into my old roommate (well, it was actually the ex-girlfriend of my old roommate, who now lives in the house he and I lived in because he moved out of town and she took over the lease and the dog just before I found a studio) at the bars downtown the other night and she said she had a “bunch of old mail” for me back at the house.

It was mostly windowed envelopes including a few of the unmarked kind that are probably trying to collect a co-pay I forgot about. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to see what appeared to be my name, hand-written by someone older than third grade but in that same style, on an off-white envelope.

Sure enough, when I opened it I saw your “Save the Date.” Wow, is all I can say. Ironic, I thought, that it was a save-the-date when I didn’t even know you were da-ting.

I know this is not the actual invitation and all, but I figured I’d write you to let you know that you can save the $5 on the letterpress done by that one girl designer we used to work who was really good but had to quit because sitting all day gave her yeast infections and however much on postage that will be not enough in the first try so you’ll have to send it out again with $.30 added and the big ugly post office label slapped on instead of the cute Love stamps which will ruin the old-timey aesthetic you were looking for in the first place — because I won’t be attending.

It’s nothing against you or your new fiancée, you guys look happy if not a little medicated (which I think are synonymous these days anyways). And it’s not that I have any conflicts that week in October. Trust me when I say this, nobody has anything eight months out that they can’t move. Even if say, a parent were planning on having a stroke that day, there’s medication for that. So, it’s not a scheduling issue. In fact, were I to have chosen to attend, it probably would’ve been the only blemish on my otherwise completely clear fall calendar.

I just feel like, and don’t take this the wrong way, I have no idea who you and your fiancée are from these photos, except maybe you’re aspiring actors auditioning for some kind of pharmaceutical ad.

To clarify, we haven’t worked together in seven years. I did the math and though if you asked me when 2007 was, I’d probably be like, “I don’t know — three weeks ago” it’s actually been a lot longer than that. Back then there was a different president and a couple wars were going on. Nobody was mad about healthcare (then went ahead and signed up for healthcare) and, until June of that year, there were no iPhones. So, yeah — things were different.

We knew each other mostly as work lunch buddies, which means we basically made fun of the same people and ate burritos together. That’s a pretty snazzy relationship if you ask me. But not one that engenders long-term growth and actual care and concern should one of us stumble later on the road when we don’t share a foxhole, or, in our case, opposite sides of a cubicle wall.

That’s not to say I don’t ever think of you. Sometimes, I get a really good first bite of some cubed chicken doused in red sauce with just the right amount of melted cheese dangling from my fork and I think of all the laughs we used to share and how, for a minute, we both had the same crush on the same girl from marketing — the one going through the divorce who had the hot librarian stripper glasses and the hair always pulled back and up.

So, yeah, I remember those days well, and I remember we couldn’t “wait to get out of there” and when we both moved on to other companies across town — yours the one that went out of business three weeks after you started and me to the one that got swallowed up by a bigger corporation and I thought they are going to promote me to the corporate office and that would include a bunch of travel to Houston, but it really just meant I would work from home for three months before being let go on a Skype call. I didn’t realize how good we had it.

It was good, in other words, to see that you’ve landed on your feet and found a pretty girl. But I just can’t help but think maybe somewhere in the night someone came down in a tiny spaceship, no bigger than an Amazon drone, and stole most of your brain.

How else can you explain your save-the-date photos?

Since this line of questioning is pretty specific, you’ll have to forgive me for resorting to bullet points. I know you’re “busy getting ready for the wedding” which is what most people say and I’ve never really gotten how that could be true unless you’re referring to the actual morning of where you have to shower, comb your hair (or make it messy on purpose, depending on your persuasion), take photos with your buddies in a way that looks like they’re not really your buddies but more like movie extras similarly dressed up with the exception of the tie, and go to a church or some field or the beach and say about thirty seconds worth of words, then sign some paperwork and suddenly, it’s easier to get a mortgage or something.

But I’ll assume people do do SOMETHING in the lead-up to a wedding, so I’ll guess you are no different and try to make my inquisition brief:

• What happened in the lead up to these photos? Clearly it appears you’re stranded in a field, at the end of a dirt road with your fiancée. Maybe this is why you guys are ultimately happy, because you’ve stared down untenable situations and come out on top together. Usually when I’m stranded at the end of a country road, I’m either, 1) freaking out because this is the worst kind of set up for any horror movie ever and every sound from out of the bushes is someone brandishing some kind of blade that’s meant only to dice me up like green omelette onions. Or 2) I’m frustrated because I was trying to make a short cut back in to town after my run/bike so I took some crappy pot-holed byway with all these sun-bleached beer cans filled with buck shot strewn about the side of the road and the farther I get the more “Private Property — Trespassers will be shot on site” signs I pass and there’s no reassurance this is actually the road back to town and maybe I’m biding my time until I flat or the transmission goes or the radiator acts up …which brings us back to point one. What I’m trying to say is for a couple who’s totally lost and whose car is broken down and who is about to get shredded like block cheese in about five minutes, you guys sure do look happy.

• Maybe you’re not lost, but was that really the outfit you wanted to wear as you’re tromping around near an abandoned barn? My guess is by now you’ve both admitted you are lost, there is no reception on your phone(s) and you are going to have to hunker down for the night. Luckily, there’s an abandoned barn nearby where you can seek shelter and hopefully not get too many bats tangled up in her poofy but still-pretty and not overdone hair. The problem here is you don’t really look like you’re going to last the night in that cold, airy, rickety barn. Hopefully you both have tetanus shots, because stray nails are going to bite right through the paper towel-thick soles of those matching Tom’s you’re wearing. Though that flannel you’re wearing looks like it could provide some warmth when it’s 70-plus degrees out and you’re standing in line for a movie, I’m not sure both of you are going to make it through the night using it as your only source for heat. The sun setting, shining through the bottom of her sun dress looks great, but I can already see the goose bumps forming above her knees. If you’re resourceful, I guess you could start a fire once you’re in the barn, but that thing looks like it’s about to go up faster than a meth lab in a Motel 6, and it’d be a damn shame if people were find out the last pictures of you were taken in front of the structure that ultimately became the tinderbox that engulfed you in flames.

I’m assuming you left your flare gun at home and that’s why there are so many pictures of her big-ass ring. Hopefully, at some point, that ice rink one door down from pointer catches a ray of sun and signals down to someone in town saying, “Call Search and Rescue, we’ve got another stranded engaged couple.” And someone comes and finds you. Otherwise, now’s probably not the time to start getting all obsessed with pictures of each other’s hands.

How the fuck did you find a chalk board all the way out in the middle of nowhere? What’s more, who out in the middle of nowhere had 13 hours to spend writing down your names and the date of your wedding (especially when it’s on this card anyway) in that really good chalk artist chalk font? Also, at what point did you flip the chalk board over and simply write: “HELP. We’re engaged. And we’re lost!”? Seems to me that’s the best use for the chalk board at this point.

• Whoa! Costume change. You’re now wearing a three-quarter-sleeve t-shirt and even skinnier jeans and she’s in boots up to her knees and polka-dot tights. How did this happen? Did you just discard your other clothes? Are you using your flannel for kindling for the barn fire instead of a makeshift blanket? Did you step on rusty old train spike, piercing through your two-ply Tom’s and driving holes in your heels like GI Joe figurines like I said you would? Either way, good pre-planning, bringing a whole ‘nother set of outfits, but still, um, you’re LOST and not a jacket between you. Your imminent doom notwithstanding, neither one of you seems to be panicked. In fact, your lips are now attached to her forehead and she’s still picking flowers.

I guess that’s what being in love is all about. Knowing that on the eve of your demise you can still hold that person tight and think, I’m going to spend the rest of my life with him/her, even if that boils down to this afternoon or while the light’s still good for the next five minutes before the sun disappears behind the mountain and we have no coats and no food and we’ll probably end up barbecuing one another before day breaks and the rescue dogs can find us charred, fused to the remains of rafters which were once the only thing holding up the historic barn our love burned down.

Should you have lived through the day these pictures were taken, it would be fitting for me to acknowledge your survival skills at your nuptials, but alas, just reliving that ordeal with you in front of everyone, sharing your story of overcoming the odds in the wild and still having extra chalk, is much too much for my cynical heart to bear.

Plus, I don’t like drinking out of jars or suffering through speeches about some galvanizing incident that seems empty as it does not relate to my own life and I have a phobia about getting stuck at one of the ex-coworker tables in the back. Which admittedly, makes it easier to sneak out, but there’s still approximately three courses of small talk to suffer through until that time.

Cheers, thank you for the save-the-date. Your hands seem to intertwine well together and that bodes well for the next five years or until one of you gets a job that requires travel. I hope this finds you not decomposing in that field and rest assured, I’ve already purchased a rice cooker from your registry that you will never use and re-gift or leave out on the curb during your first move.

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