There is a true story about my sisters that I love to tell, because it is so funny. Now, I fear the story has become a parable of my own life and the joke is on me.
The first of my brothers got married in 1998. We all went to the wedding out in North Dakota. My family was quite a bit younger back then. Most of my sisters were still in the boys have cooties stage of life. Now, half of them have boyfriends. But back then they somewhat scorned the wedding merrymaking and made every attempt possible to insert boisterous competitive activity. We all still wore the traditional Beachy dresses back then, with basketball shorts underneath in preparation for the highly probable upset in a scuffle with our cousins. For the last time ever, did we all wear matching pink dresses together. It was the consensus among us that this was cruel and unusual torture—and it was for a family of tomboys. Everywhere we went during that weekend necessitated a football or a soccer ball or a basketball—the groom’s dinner, the rehearsal, the wedding itself. After much prank playing during the reception lunch and the opening of gifts, came the bouquet toss. I didn’t understand it but my sisters, competitively and boisterously positioned themselves like football players for the catch. Don’t they know what this means—I thought to myself. The bride tossed the bouquet over her shoulder and sure enough my sisters are diving and jumping and grabbing for it. One of them catches it and carries it like a trophy, whooping and hollering. Then my uncles and cousins chime in, “Do you know what that means?” la la la laa la. Suddenly, the bouquet becomes a despised object and a weapon to bat at the offensive messengers.
Recently, I too have been caught fighting to catch the bouquet and I had no idea, as to the symbolic meaning of it. Suffice it to say that there are certain flying projectiles one does not attempt to catch no matter what the internal competitive urge demands.