Growing up, I was never the girl who dreamed of her perfect wedding gown or envisioned where the ceremony would take place. Instead, my future consisted of covering concerts and stalking bands for an interview. There's nothing wrong with that, right?
One afternoon, while at my day job -- which was much less glamorous than my dream of living "Almost Famous" -- I heard my phone vibrate and saw I had a text message from my younger sister. Interested, I opened it to find a picture of an engagement ring that read, "We're engaged!"
I thought it was a joke.
You see, my sister dated a lot. Not to say I never thought she'd settle down, but my parents and I had a phrase going: Every time she'd bring a new boy home, we'd joke that he was the latest member of the Boyfriend of the Month club.
I tried calling her right away, but my call went straight to voicemail. A few minutes later she called me back: "Yep, it's true, Annie," she squealed. "I'm engaaaaaaaaged!"
I was speechless.
She'd been dating this guy for about five months. I think I'd met him twice. I didn't know what to say. Then I started feeling guilty because I should be happy for her, but instead I broke into uncontrollable tears. You have to understand: This had nothing to do with me. I was worried my sister was about to make the mistake of a lifetime.
Later that night, I went out drinking with my girlfriends. Throughout the night, my phone buzzed nonstop with a blitzkrieg of texts and calls, all asking if my sister's recent relationship status update on Facebook was true. "Why, yes it is," I'd reply to their shock. Many of my cousins didn't even know she had broken up with her last boyfriend.
The next afternoon I woke up to find out the new fiance and his parents were coming over for dinner.
I was nervous, so of course it took me extra long to get ready, and just as I was bracing myself for the evening, my mom came up the stairs.
"You can't ever be happy for your sister, can you?" she said. "You're just jealous. Don't try to make me pity you. Grow up, Annie."
I can't believe this
, I thought.
I always imagined being super-excited when hearing the news that my little sister got engaged. But, come on, I barely knew the guy. How was I supposed to throw my weight behind this when I had no idea who he was or whether he was going to treat her well? For that matter, how could my parents?
Did the news of a wedding eclipse any notion of common sense?
All along I couldn't help but think how much easier it would be if I were a guy. At least then my shock and skepticism would be cute: Awww, lucky her, she's got an overprotective older brother.
Unfortunately, I'm not a guy. I'm a 25-year old woman who's in no hurry to settle down, but instead, I was automatically labeled the jealous older sister who couldn't bear to see her baby sister get married first.
And I do wish I could report things that got better, but they didn't.
Family gatherings now consisted of nonstop wedding discussion, peppered with the occasional, "Annie, are you dating anyone?"
"No, I'm waiting for John Mayer," I would reply, then quickly walk away.
Closer to the wedding it just got worse. After going for a makeup trial with my sister and best friend Ansela (who is also getting married this summer), her mother asked me, "Why aren't you getting married? You're getting old. You don't want to have kids when you're 30."
Hey, John Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston, is 47 and pregnant; I think I'll be fine.
Later, Ansela would tell me that the day before her mom kept asking her questions about my dating life, insinuating that I was a lesbian. Not that I have anything against lesbians, but when did being 25 and single automatically put me into the category of being gay?
Even my dad started to make comments. That's when it got really uncomfortable.
One night, when I casually said, "I'm freezing," my dad replied, "You need wine or a boyfriend to keep you warm."
Really, dad? Then pop open a bottle of merlot for me, please. No need for a glass.
Remember that scene in "27 Dresses" where Katherine Heigl's character, Jane, is confronted by an older aunt?
"Must be so hard to watch your younger sister get married before you," her aunt says, mentally wringing her hands.
"Yes. Then I remember that I still get to have hate sex with random strangers and I feel SO much better!" she replies to her disturbed aunt.
I can't tell you how many times I wanted to try that phrase out for myself.
Throughout my sister's engagement I would often proclaim to my family, "I'm never getting married and never having kids!" Mostly, to get everyone off my back and make them think that, in fact, I had no desire to ever take the plunge.
After all, my great Aunt Theresa, who lived well into her 80's, had always been the most outspoken and energetic member of our family. She never married or had any children and she would often travel to Ireland to visit family or cruise to exotic locations with her girlfriends. Not a bad life at all
, I found myself thinking, more often than I ever had before.
"Aunt Theresa never got married and she was the happiest out of all of you," I'd say to my parents one night.
"You know what, Annie, you're right," my dad replied.
But, the next day, the siege would start again.
"Next year you'll see what wedding preparation is like when you get married and move in with your husband," my sister's fiancé often told me.
In the end, the wedding was beautiful and I gave a kickass maid of honor speech. While I danced the night away with my cousins and closest friends, I couldn't help but think about how happy I truly was living my dream as a freelance writer. Besides, despite everyone's curiosity and concerns with my love life, when and if I ever decide to get married, is MY business, not theirs.
While being the "older, unmarried sister" definitely isn't the best introduction at parties, at least I'm not the cat lady – yet. On the bright side, I have one younger sister, which means I only had to go through this once. That IS a good thing, right?
Annie Reuter writes music blog, You Sing I Write. Although she has six weddings this summer, she doesn't plan on getting married anytime soon. That is, of course unless John Mayer pops the question.