I was now a college graduate and ready to face a new adventure: my first real job. Oh, I had had an actual full time job before, but now I felt like an honest to goodness adult. I was 25 years-old. The job I would garner post university diploma actually initially held far less responsibility than the one I left when I was 19 years-old. That didn’t matter to me though, because life was good again. It made sense. I was also moving to a state I had never lived in, California, Blue Eyes’ home. I was back to sunshine and palm trees, but this time it included beaches and a marine layer that hung around making the mornings cloudy, and the afternoons gloriously blue skied.
I moved in with Blue Eyes, into the apartment I didn’t like in a neighborhood I didn’t like, but it was relatively close to both his law school and my job. I commenced my new job shortly after the beginning of the year, and Blue Eyes went back to class. He was nearly half way through that dreaded first year. With the money I had made working during my last term of school, I purchased a few nice clothing items for my new office job. I was working for a large hotel chain at one of their signature properties in the catering department. This particular hotel had numerous ballrooms and meeting spaces and a floor full of event and catering managers. I started out working with the catering manager who handled all the fundraising events. Everything I learned while working at this massive hotel would help me later in life, when I took on chairing my own fundraising events, catered meals, and corporate seminars. But back in 1989, I was a total newbie. I walked in to my manager’s office the very first day and sat down.
I sat down in front of my new boss and she looked at me a bit sadly and I said, “what?” I thought I had lost my job before it even started. My boss said, “Kat, I hate to tell you this, but we have a dress code.” I kind of glanced outside her office and said, “wait, what? Do we wear a uniform?” She said, “no, but we do have a dress code.” I was like, “what is a dress CODE?” I mean in high school we had a dress code like, you know, no skirts where you could see panties, low cut blouses were frowned upon. This was the era before droopy pants, hoodies worn all day with the hood covering most of your face, and derogatory words splattered across t-shirts, so most of the dress code was for females. I never crossed any such boundary in my life although going to university in the 80’s in America in an extremely warm climate, I had worn my share of mini skirts, but those days were over. I looked at my outfit, which was a nice tailored Jones New York suit with pants and blazer and a silky yet conservative, in both style and color, blouse. I was a solid size 8 back then and clothes were easy to fit. I looked good. She said, “Kat, women are not allowed to wear pants to the office unless they are part of a uniform.” I was like what the freakin’ fuck are you talking about? (but I didn’t say it out loud). I am sure that was not the first time she had seen that look. She asked if I had read the employee manual before coming into work. I told her no one had given me an employee manual. She quickly produced one and said I could continue to wear the pants for the rest of the day (although I would receive A LOT of envious looks) but to not wear them to work again. Honestly, for the rest of the day I was embarrassed. I blamed my boss really. That was quite an oversight on her part. Side note: this company was eventually sued for their female “dress code,” class action style, and of course the plaintiffs won.
I had a lot of free time in California as Blue Eyes pretty much spent 24/7 attending class, studying, eating, or sleeping (or whatever). After just a couple weeks in the stale box of an apartment that I despised, I started spending some of my free time scouring the neighborhoods for a new place to live. For a measly $175 more per month, I found a lovely 3 bedroom, 1 bath walk up in a great part of town that had a ton of character with french windows and coved ceilings and doorways. It was a little closer to my job, and just a titch farther from Blue Eyes’ school. I pounced on it. When we moved in, it was still January and there was no heat. We were told it never was cold enough in that part of the country to need heat, or warm enough to need air conditioning, they said. Both would turn out to be patently untrue. The apartment came with a radiator heater that didn’t work. Turns out we were renting from a slum lord, even though the apartment itself was quite lovely. The first week after move in, the temperature dipped to 43 degrees during the night. We were FREEZING. They sent someone over the next day to get the thing working again. We never did have air conditioning, and the first summer there was a heat wave with temps above one hundred degrees for four days straight, plus a couple dozen days in the mid-90’s, but there wasn’t much we could do about that. I spent the next few months preparing for our wedding, which happened July 29, 1989.
I had ordered my dress back home, out of a magazine. There was one bridal shop in Portland that carried that dress, but they did not have a sample in stock. They measured me as a size 10 and the dress was ordered. My parents would split the cost of my dress, which was expensive for my families back then, and the bridesmaids would each pay for their own dresses and shoes. When the dress arrived to me in California, many many months later, I had not gained weight, but the dress was too small. We were about six weeks pre-wedding, but I didn’t know how long the alterations would take so I headed straight to the most highly sought after alterations person in town, a really pissy middle-aged man who chastised me for ordering the dress too small. He said I was lucky the dress was made with just enough room to let it out the inch or so I needed. I left the dress with him and went back to the rest of my preparations. I had no idea how stressful those next few weeks would be. By the time I went to pick up my dress, it was much too big. The guy was flabbergasted. He said if I had told him I was going to go on a CRASH DIET that he would not have altered the dress. I told him I did not go on a diet at all. I had been on the stress diet, and not on purpose. He took in the dress on a rush, and it fit beautifully the day of my wedding. That was perhaps one of the few things to go right.
The wedding planning was stressful as we had decided to have the wedding in Los Angeles. Half my family lived in the southwest and the other in the pacific northwest. Los Angeles in the middle of the summer was a great meeting point for both families and most guests. Blue Eyes’ mother really wanted to host that wedding. As it turns out, she really wanted to have a party for her friends and have control over every facet of my wedding and she did it in such a way that I didn’t really realize how little of my stamp would end up being on that wedding, until it was too late. Not to mention how few guests she was prepared to allow Blue Eyes and I to actually invite.
Possibly one of the most disturbing aspects pre-wedding, was the bachelor party. For the bachelorette party, all the bridesmaids, except my under age sister who was 17 at the time, and the brother’s ridiculously petulant girlfriend who stayed home with MIL, planned a night out to a male strip club in downtown Los Angeles. My sister T was about a week shy of her 21st birthday, but she had a pretty solid fake ID. The whole thing was on the up and up (well, except the fake ID), we drank too much (because that is how the club really makes its money), but had a dedicated sober driver. The strippers were okay, not great and of course they didn’t take everything off, it was a legit and respectable(?) male stripper situation. We were all home and in bed at a reasonable hour, albeit a little hung over the next day. Now the bachelor party on the other hand, was something that still makes my stomach churn and my heart sink. The party was being planned by Blue Eyes’ best man, The Traveler (also known as the unrecovered sex addict), and another groomsman. Suffice it say, they chose prostitutes out of a book based most likely on their hair color and cup size. The girls came with some pretty heavy duty handlers. A lot of money was spent and a few guys, who shall remain nameless, did some things they shouldn’t have done, guys with wives and girlfriends. My 16 year-old brother had really really wanted to go to this party. I told both Blue Eyes and The Traveler that if there was anything, and I mean ANYTHING that was going to go on at that party that GQ shouldn’t be involved with, it needed to stop because… if it was not okay for GQ, it was not okay by me. I am not someone who forgives and forgets that easily, especially back then. Friends will joke and say GQ was having the time of his life, but I find that immature and frankly, sickening. So, a lot did happen that was relatively innocent, which is what GQ was involved in. I mean there were naked breasts and whipped cream and other such nonsense. Blue Eyes says he was too embarrassed and afraid to do anything that crossed “that line.” (Not because it is incredibly immature and wrong, mind you, but because he was embarrassed, or afraid???) I don’t know if I believe him, but after all the other shit that has been revealed, who the fuck cares about a bachelor party. Those women meant even less than the nothing that the acting out partners represent. What bothers me the most is, 1) The Traveler knew there would be activities there that definitely “crossed the line,” and 2) Blue Eyes’ father and brother in law and uncle were invited for some ungodly reason. They did not partake at all, but in the end, they swore everyone to secrecy. Now that tells you how out of control it was. Well, GQ is loyal to me. That’s it, me. I never told him he couldn’t do stuff, but I did let him know he would be reporting back to me, and he did. He reported everything he saw, which wasn’t everything (thank goodness). The rest was reported by Blue Eyes after some very effective coercion. Again, it all still makes me sick to my stomach. Side note: we were one of the first couples in Blue Eyes’ group to get married. None of the guys that were in our wedding were allowed to have a legit bachelor party after that, especially not The Traveler when he took a stab at actually being married, which was short lived and a long time ago.
Back to the wedding… honestly, all I really cared about was the dresses, and the flowers. I got 50% of my wish. I picked out my dress and the bridesmaid’s dresses (of course ones they would never wear again in 1989 sea foam green taffeta). I thought I had picked out my flowers, which should have looked something like this:
But in fact, looked like this:
I cried when I saw my arrangement. Those damn Colombian pink roses and long spidery looking things. I took my bouquet out literally five minutes before pictures were to be taken. There was nothing I could do and my MIL was no where to be found. I asked the florist what happened to my flower requests, and he said, “your MIL said I could do whatever I wanted, she said she trusted me and these huge Colombian roses came in this morning, and well, I just worked everything around them.”
The bridesmaid’s bouquets were quite lovely, a lot softer with more pastels in them, even though that was also not my request. Part of me wanted to walk out right then and just say, “fuck it.” But the other part, the part that won out said, “Kat, just be grateful for what has been given to you.” In the end, I would have rather spent my own money and had my day the way I wanted, but by the time I opened that box of flowers, it was too late. Everyone else was oohing and aahing over their flowers. I felt like a spoiled child and I just bit my tongue and carried on.
We proceeded to take most of the photos pre-ceremony. Blue Eyes had seen my dress many times and he was still breathless when I walked down the aisle anyway. Probably because he couldn’t believe my original parents were both escorting me at the same time, haha. While taking photos of the wedding party, my MIL decided to make her grand entrance. Our wedding was held at their country club, right down the hill from their house. The wedding itself was held on the 10th tee of the golf course, the reception held inside the club house. Me and the wedding party had been there for hours, prepping, dressing, doing hair and make up, and collecting flowers and taking photos. All of a sudden, my MIL bursts through the country club door and shouts, “I’M HERE, IT’S ME.” Her arms are spread wide, and like something out of Gone with the Wind, and if Scarlett O’Hara was a 49 year-old Jewish woman with fake strawberry blonde hair, she spread her voluminous fuchsia taffeta dress (nearly identical to my wedding dress, but HOT PINK) out and around her and she glided down the stairs to the level we were at. Her dress had been hand dyed to match her favorite Chanel finger nail polish. Her lips were the same and for the occasion (my wedding) my FIL had purchased her matching (and huge) hot pink tourmaline ring, necklace and earrings, which she proceeded to parade around the entire grounds showing off to people right in the middle of wedding photos.
Then, while I took a much needed bathroom break, she took that opportunity to gather her children and have a family photo taken without me in it. That is the photo that, to my knowledge, still sits prominently on her fireplace mantel, 26 1/2 years later, next to the photo of her daughter and her son in law on their wedding day, approximately nine months prior. There is no wedding picture of my wedding with me in it in their house.
My MIL had also insisted that we use her photographer, there are exactly 28 more pictures of my MIL in my wedding proofs than there are of me, at my wedding. She also insisted we use this super cheesy band complete with gross band leader in polyester suit who has obvious crush on MIL for our wedding music. No doubt she met him at some old person’s party and loved the fact that he made googly eyes at her so guess what, we get him for our wedding. That band leader was HIDEOUS. He also purposely messed up all my family’s names and even though, since my Dad had walked me down the aisle my step father was to have the dance with my mother, called my Dad’s name instead of my step father for that dance. The only way he even had my Dad’s name was because it was purposely given to him by my MIL to sabotage my wishes, on my wedding day. When I heard him call my Dad, while Blue Eyes and I were dancing, I looked at my Dad and mouthed, “NO” then looked over at my step father and mother (who were obviously at different tables from my Dad and step mother) and motioned for them to get up, but my step father wouldn’t do it, so my Dad did and there is this INCREDIBLY AWKWARD BEYOND WORDS picture of my birth parents, who had been divorced for more than 20 years, dancing with each other. ACK! My father in law gave a horrible wedding toast before dinner in which he single handedly trashed my whole family in front of 200 people. Then during the first group dance some already drunk friend of my in-laws stepped on my dress and completely undid the train. My mother went with me to the bathroom to repair it. She had been the one to hook it up the first time, so she knew what she was doing. Suddenly, a bunch of women, friends and relatives of the in-laws, people I had never met, physically push my mother out of their way so they can ostensibly help with the dress. After they fussed over it arguing and yelling, I asked them to leave. My mother finished the job and we were good to go back out. We looked at each other knowing neither of us wanted to go back out there, but both of us knowing we had to.
The night wore on. Blue Eyes and I were allowed to take one bite of salad (because it was a photo op), and one bite of cake (another obvious photo op). Other than that, we were not allowed to sit down. We were yanked out of our chairs by the photographer, or the band leader, or my MIL (or FIL doing her bidding). My MIL had actually mapped out a route for us to take to go visit all her guests individually and thank them for coming. None of our friends or my family were on her list, of course. My sister T and The Traveler (Blue Eyes’ best man) left the wedding reception half way through and ended up at the beach, we found out later. My big Mormon family left somewhat early as my brothers were only 8 years old. Everyone else partied the night away and we did our best to join them. The florist had forgotten the “throwing the bouquet” bouquet, so I had to throw the real thing, which was incredibly heavy and awkward. The bouquet was caught by the brother’s girlfriend, who was in the wedding and therefore had her own bouquet. I asked her kindly to please let me have my bouquet back for sentimental reasons… and guess what she said, “NO.” The bitter bitch said no, I couldn’t have my bouquet back even though she had her own, which was frankly, prettier. WTF? I just let it go. By the time we left the wedding, in our car marked up with the words “Blue Tits” all over it (don’t ask), I hadn’t eaten more than the bite of salad and the bite of cake in over 30 hours. I am very surprised I didn’t faint. We headed to the lovely Bel-Air Hotel and at 3:00am ordered about $300 (that we couldn’t afford) worth of food.
We left Los Angeles the following day for our official honeymoon, which was a drive up the California Coast with a few nights at Bed & Breakfasts along the way. We needed to be up in Portland by the following weekend for the wedding party being thrown by my mother and step father for all their friends and the rest of my family that wasn’t invited to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, much of our “honeymoon” conversation centered around the bachelor party and Blue Eyes’ inability to speak up for what he knows is right. I wish I could go back and say my wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life, but you know, it really wasn’t.