I Do But I Don’t

I DoWhat happens when relatively sane and well-adjusted people enter the madness of Wedding World? Gotham Memoir teacher Kamy Wicoff’s nonfiction book I Do But I Don’t: Walking Down the Aisle Without Losing Your Head, (Da Capo Publishing) explores this very question. Part memoir, part sociological observation, this book offers as much entertainment value as a wedding itself. The acclaimed writer Francine Prose says of the book: “Kamy Wicoff writes with the cool remove of an anthropologist, and with the candor and winning humor of an anthropologist who is amazed to discover she belongs to the tribe she is studying.”

Let’s take a peek. Here’s a passage early in the book.

The Proposal

Part One

I was determined not to think about it. To think about it, to obsess about it, really, would have made me one of those women—the ones who insistently inquire about the love lives of people they have just met because they are keeping score, the ones who want a ring on their finger (the bigger the better) to communicate to the world that they are wanted, they are wife, that they are more powerful than the single women still looking—or so they smugly assume—for what they’ve got. You know who I’m talking about. The Bridezillas. The Others. The ones who want a wedding so they can be the center of attention for a year and a star for a day.

But that was not me! In 1999, the summer I turned twenty-seven, my boyfriend Andrew turned thirty, and our relationship turned three, I could say without hesitation that I had my priorities straight. I knew that the partnership we had built together, which had taken more determination and fortitude than I had ever understood it would, was what mattered.  So I was not obsessing about when Andrew might officially propose marriage to me, because to fixate on when and where we dressed up in fancy clothes and made our love legal would have been to reduce my feelings to tawdry marriage-lust.

At least that was what I kept telling myself as Andrew and I approached the Napa Valley that June in our rental car, headed for a romantic, vineyard-adjacent B&B for a three-day, three-year-anniversary weekend that my man had planned all by himself.  This was notable since Andrew is generally reluctant to plan things on a Thursday for a Friday, his usual excuse being that his investment banking job—definitely my stiffest competition for his time, since with work he appeared to have no commitment-issues—might require his last-minute attention.  My mother had certainly noted this and was sure a proposal was in the works.  She was maddeningly free of conflicted feelings or shame when it came to admitting that she wanted a ring and a wedding, and soon.  While I spent hours defending Andrew and our mature, mutually understood intention to marry when the time was right, my mother said things like, “Didn’t you always tell me that you wouldn’t date someone for more than three years if you weren’t engaged yet?”

“Mother! I said I wouldn’t date someone for more than three years if I knew that I was never going to marry that person! And Andrew and I are going to get married!”

My mother, ignoring this, had then added with flinty high-noon panache befitting a Texas mother on the hunt for her eldest daughter’s wedding, "The three years are up. The three years are up?!"  This from the woman who—in suburban San Antonio, Texas, no less—tried to convince me not to start shaving my legs in the seventh grade because it would mean a lifetime of enslavement to a sexist convention?

Perhaps I should have reminded myself that my mother had always shaved her legs. And in the car on the way to Napa I had to admit that she had gotten to me.  Something had.  Because I had bet all my girlfriends fifty dollars at poker night two days before that he was going to do it that weekend.
Copyright 2006© Kamy Wicoff.  Reprinted by permission of Da Capo Publishing.  All rights reserved.

For further information about I Do But I Don’t and related events, visit: www.kamywicoff.com