This post was originally published on July 6, 2015.
My cousin’s wedding was supposed to be picture-perfect. All of us bridesmaids wore full-length butter-colored Vera Wang gowns that weren’t exactly cheap, and thankfully I didn’t have to pay for mine. I was 23 at the time and working as an assistant at a magazine—so pretty much the opposite of a high-roller.
I come from a large family with eight cousins, six of them female, and the whole family was thrilled to see the first one of us get hitched.
Hannah was a real doll too. And so was her fiancé Bryan. They were these straight-edged preppy types who had class, dignity, and they were way more versed in social mores than yours truly. I was the free-spirited artsy type with tattoos who refused to straighten my inherited curly hair.
After the church ceremony, the wedding party piled into a stretch limo to head to an upscale country club in Northern California. During the 30-minute drive to the reception, my cousin Jimmy passed around a flask of Jack to all the groomsmen. I intercepted, knocked back a few ounces of booze, and passed it on to the next dude in a tux. Of course, I was the only bridesmaid in the limo chugging whiskey like a sailor while dressed in a delicate chiffon gown.
All the other girls were fixing their hair and reapplying makeup.
By the time we arrived at the club, I was already somewhat toasted. I’ve just never had a high tolerance for some reason, and I rarely black out. Nope, I’m a puker. I’ve puked all over myself at fancy clubs in West Hollywood, all over boyfriends’ cars and friends’ bedspreads.
I barely remember dinner, which was a real shame because the next day I heard it was pretty good. I also was too drunk to pay attention to the cake—an even bigger tragedy, since it was a decadent double-dark chocolate.
What I do remember is the dance floor, going crazy on it, dancing like a loon, and following my cousin Jimmy to the bar to do shot after shot after shot. I threw vodka shooters on top of champagne on top of whiskey sours on top of Jager shots (blugh). That’s no way to drink.
“Liquor beer never fear, beer liquor never sicker?” That was the most important thing I learned my first week of college. I assume it also applies to drinking whiskey, then champagne, then more champagne, and ending with Jager shots.
As I kept drinking, I started talking to one of the groomsmen, and I don’t know why because he immediately bugged me. I knew he was in this exclusive frat at Southern Methodist University, and I just hated frat boys. As we started talking, he told me he liked Radiohead.
“What’s your favorite album?” I demanded, the room spinning.
He put his arm around me.
“The Bends,” he said.
I broke away from him.
“The Bends? Are you kidding me? You’re lame. Kid A all the way.”
When I went back to the dance floor, he followed me. Unfortunately, Josh was quite good looking. After all the guests threw a bunch of glitter at Hannah and Bryan as they ran to their limo, Josh and I sneaked away to our own limo to get it on.
Actually, it was the most innocent hook-up ever. We sat in there and started kissing, then he put his hand on my chest and at that point, and without warning, I hurled all over him. I proceeded to hurl all over the seats, all over the floor, and all over the doors, right as another bridesmaid entered the limo.
“Gross!” she screamed.
Since the entire limo was ruined, the whole wedding party had to cram into a big white van, which was filled with other guests and family members, including the mother and father of the bride, who were heading back to the same hotel.
They shoved me in the front passenger seat, away from everyone else so I could puke out of the window if necessary. Then we got on the freeway, and that windy on-ramp really did a number on my stomach.
“Uhhh, I’m gonna puke,” I said to the driver. He pulled over on the shoulder of the freeway so I could barf up more of the wedding dinner, the vodka, the Jager, the Jack and the champagne .
This happened at least three times as we drove home. And I don’t know if it upset my aunt and uncle or not—they seemed pretty tipsy themselves and were laughing and talking in the back of the van. They may not even have noticed.
By the time we got back to the hotel, Josh walked me to my room in that puke-stained Vera Wang gown to make sure I got to bed safely. He even kissed me on the cheek, and only a real gent would do that, given that I must have stunk like vomit. Maybe frat boys aren’t so bad after all. He opened the door to my room—which I was sharing with my mother and sister— and I just sort of nosedived into the floor and knocked out. I think I mumbled “Good night” to my mom who was already in bed half-asleep, since she left the reception earlier.
The next morning, I paid dearly.
I woke up, covered in puke, still in my dress, mouth as dry as the Sahara, head pounding, face and eyes puffed and bloated, and I couldn’t just put my head under the covers and sleep the hangover away.
There was a huge formal brunch at the hotel that morning, a big to-do for the wedding party, close family members and the bride and groom.
“Tracy, you need to come down!” my mom yelled at me as she left the room. “You’re late.” She wasn’t exactly shocked at my state—I drank excessively all the time.
“Uhhhhh,” I moaned.
What would I do? How would I face them? What would I say? I’d totally embarrassed myself. No, I couldn’t look them in the eye!
Then it hit me: I’d pretend I didn’t remember any of it. I’d pretend it didn’t even happen. I’d pretend I wasn’t hungover at all. Maybe it was the steak that made me sick! They’d never know for sure!
So I got up. I washed my face with ice water. I slapped my cheeks. I made myself a small pot of that shitty hotel coffee and guzzled it. I brushed the shit out of my teeth and tongue, styled my hair, smeared off my make-up and applied a new coat, put on a becoming floral knee-length dress, added a sparkling necklace, smiled into the mirror and headed downstairs.
“Good morning!” I said to everyone cheerfully, like a little song bird.
“Wow, you recover well,” said the bridesmaid who stumbled into the vomit car. I just smiled, despite feeling extremely ill.
Josh, being a frat boy and therefore an expert in how to deal with drunk crazy bitches, said hello politely and asked me if I was feeling better. And my cousin Hannah apparently had no idea what happened. Instead of asking me, she went on and on about how her second cousin Mark allegedly got so drunk he raced to the hotel at 100 mph and got his ass thrown in jail.
That’s what everyone was talking about at breakfast. Apparently, the family had to throw a bunch of money at the cops to bail him out.
Since getting sober, I am proud to say I’ve now attended four of my cousin’s weddings without puking on anyone, including myself.