Ask Una is a satire column in which we ask those burning wedding questions we know you’re thinking about but are too afraid to put in writing. So we did it for you. Seriously (we’re not serious).
Over the course of the last week, I’ve received seven UPS packages containing three slightly different sets of blue lingerie, two pounds of freeze-dried rose petals, gemstone-encrusted leaf bobby pins from an Etsy seller in Australia, a football jersey that reads “Bride or Die,” and a life-size cardboard cut-out of my fiancé breakdancing at his bar mitzvah. I don’t remember ordering any of these, but my browser history—and credit card bill—tells a different story. I don’t take Ambien, and according the CT scan I forced my doctor to order I haven’t had a stroke. What’s happening, and how do I stop it before I blow through our honeymoon fund?
—Shopping While Sleeping?
The first “surprise box” I ever encountered was the silky, vaguely uterine pocket of a Hasbro Puppy Surprise doll. This was in the late 1980s, before you could fast-forward TV, so I’d seen the ad so many times during Saturday morning cartoons that I knew the jingle by heart. “There could be three…or four…or five!” the song promised, referring to the number of puppies that an eager young consumer like myself might find stuffed within the beleaguered mama-dog doll.
Fast-forward through two decades to me at 27 years old. Beginning a few months before my wedding, I routinely came home to find unexpected boxes crowding my entryway. (This, of course, was before subscription boxes took the Internet by storm, so unidentifiable packages were more suspicious than exciting, bringing to mind Anthrax or Brad Pitt’s crumpling face at the end of Seven.) On one occasion, the box contained a veil, even though I’d already decided against wearing one, for hair-vanity reasons. On another, I got two pairs of expensive off-white designer shoes from Zappos, neither of which ended up fitting. I, like you, was not prone to pill-popping, and this was in the pre-iPhone era, when I could not have sleep-ordered an organic fascinator from Etsy if my life depended on it.
Which is to say, I don’t think you’re asleep. I think you’ve simply fallen into a wedding “K-hole.”
Assuming you’re not a heavy recreational drug user, allow me to explain: A “K-hole” is a dissociative state—usually brought on by high doses of the sedative ketamine—in which your awareness of the world around you and your control over your own body are profoundly impaired, resulting in a trance-like state and memory loss. In my personal experience, however, the combination of heavy Internet use, hormonal fluctuations, and intense psychological pressure immediately preceding a wedding can have roughly the same effect.
The endless nights spent scrolling through blogs and Pinterest pages numb us into a docile, suggestive state, and all it takes is a click or two to bring us to an online retailer that promises to solve all of our problems. Subconsciously, I was worried that I would regret not wearing a veil or that I might have second thoughts about footwear; I suspect that you have been having similar concerns over things like underwear and photo-booth props. (Now, thankfully, you have that cardboard cut-out for life, and I suspect it will serve you well.)
We’re not asleep when we make these purchases, but we are under the influence of a powerful narcotic: retail therapy. In order to avoid going broke (or crazy), I suggest you sit down the next time you’re well-slept and fully caffeinated, look over your wedding plans, and flag anything you’re truly on the fence about (spouse included). Something will always go awry during the course of a wedding—it’s one of the lesser-known laws of physics—but you changing into a “Bride or Die” jersey midway through the reception doesn’t have to be one of them.
Una LaMarche has written four young-adult novels, Five Summers, Like No Other, Don’t Fail Me Now, and You in Five Acts, as well as a comic essay collection, Unabrow. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Observer, Allure, and Parents, as well as online at the Huffington Post. The New York Times has called her writing “surprisingly seductive,” which she plans to use on her tombstone.