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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Ball

The wedding party hung back amid the pillars and cushioned benches, taking a moment to catch their breaths before their grand entrance into the Magic Kingdom Ballroom. Evening clad friends and loved ones filtered in two, six, and eight at a time through heavy doors, flashing their table numbers for the greeters who checked names from the master list. The grand ballroom was lit by Never Land lamps on round tables topped with fine linen and gleaming china, and you could almost see pixie dust in the air. Guests bustled in to get a look at the topsy turvy Mad Hatter wedding cake, find tablemates, and snap impromptu photos with their pocket cameras.

Seated below the sweetheart table, Max and I were enjoying a bit of awe ourselves when Nancy, the bride’s mother approached.

“There’s a woman at the door whose name is not on the guest list. Do you know a Ruth Grumbacher? A last minute friend or relative we didn’t get on the final count?”

“I don’t think so.” Puzzled, I turned back to the Oklahoma friends who shared our table, recounting the lovely ceremony, admiring the nearby groom’s cake—an enormous white creation with the University of Oklahoma logo in red icing. An appropriate addition since both James and Allison, the honored couple, had graduated from OU. I sank back into my chair, anticipating the evening yet ahead. Truthfully, I wondered if my feet would make it through the dance I would share with my newly married son, a handsome groom that would make any mother proud.

Nancy approached again. “That woman is still here. Do you think you could have a look at her and just see if you know her? Over there. With red hair.” She pointed to the table across the dance floor.

Henna hair would be more like it. Shoulder length. A woman who’d hadn’t seen forty in a while, but neatly dressed. Wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. She stood when I came to the table . . . or rather when I made a beeline for her.

I smiled and held out my hand. “I don’t think we’ve met. You are?”

She lifted her chin and without a stammer, “Ruth Grumbacher.”

I frowned, curious now. “I don’t remember seeing your name on the guest list. How is it that you know the bridal couple?”

“I’m friends with the groom.” A matter-of-fact reply as if that settled everything.

Ha! I raised my eyebrows. “That’s funny. I’m the groom’s mother, and I don’t believe he’s ever mentioned you. Where did you know him?”

“Oh.” She perked up. “Back in Ohio.”

Knowing James had never stepped foot in Ohio, I gathered steam. She had some nerve. Obviously she’d mistaken the big red OU for Ohio. Wrong state, my friend. I blundered on, “Tell me then, what is the groom’s name?”

Her face fell, and if she’d been wearing dentures, they would have lost their grip. She stammered, “I . . . I don’t remember.”

My most apologetic smile. “I’m sorry. This is a private party, with a restricted guest list. I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.”

By now, I was aware that a number of people were watching, staring really, and in my rampant imagination, I thought this might be where our brassy Ruth Grumbacher would tip over the table or make a run for it. Wrong. She kept her composure and picked up her purse as calm as a summer’s day. I waited and said, “I will walk you out and help you find the escalator.”

From the corner of my eye, I saw Max follow a couple of steps behind me as we went through the double doors. I stayed with her. “Here, I’ll walk with you to . . .”

She turned and in a gruff voice said, “I know where the escalator is.” Her hips swayed as she marched off in the right direction.

I turned back to the ballroom, shaking my head, almost laughing. My first gig as a “bouncer.” Now that’s something you don’t get to do every day. However, in Never Land, you just never know.

Now, before you ask, YES, this really did happen. The Disney security folks made sure our wedding crasher left the building, but what if she had moved surreptiously among our cozy gathering? How many evening bags would she have pilfered through? And all those gift cards in gleaming white envelopes on the gift table? Surely she couldn’t have resisted taking one or two on her way to the buffet. And yes, I'm still curious. Who is Ruth Grumbacher? And what was she doing in the Magic Kingdom Ballroom?

Every wedding needs a funny story. This is ours. And somehow, I believe that Ruth Graumbacher is out there, scoping out her next party invasion. She’d better hope I’m not on the guest list.


One More Writer said...

What a hoot! I can't believe people will just look you in the face and lie like that!

I'm guessing that besides a funny wedding story for your son and his wife, it has also given you more fodder for your writing!

Erica Vetsch said...

Wow, it never would've occured to me to crash a wedding for the purpose of pilfering the bridal plunder.

The reception sounds like a fairy tale event...complete with a little villain. Glad you 'bounced' her!

Myra Johnson said...

Love this story every time you tell it! Can't help but wonder if Ruth Grumbacher is her real name. What brass!!!

Cheryl Barker said...

Loved your story, Carla :) We had a wedding crasher at our daughter's wedding, too, but the guy was a friend of someone who had been invited so we didn't press the issue. This guy had the nerve to actually get into a picture the photogapher took of all the friends who had attended our daughter & new son-in-law's university. It seems to me he should have been hiding rather than posing for a picture :)