By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
After the bride and groom had made their grand entrance, the groom's father asked that everyone bow in prayer before we got busy in the buffet line. Just then, I flashed a smile at a childhood friend and caught the eye of several old buddies standing next to him. Their giggling started at "Heavenly Father," catching on with each person who'd seen me that evening until I found myself amid a jiggling, laughing herd. It lasted all the way to "Amen," which became a mere muffled grunt. I spent the rest of the night out on the patio, hanging my head in shame for disrupting the holy blessing of the meatballs and giant cheese plate.
A week later, I woke up with a sore throat, two swollen tonsils and a fever. I had been smote down, either by a pissed-off Jehovah or, more likely, by fermenting bacteria. It never occurred to me to make any attempt at sterilizing the piece of metal I'd been taking in and out of my mouth several times a day. I survived a round of antibiotics and decided to take the thing to a jeweler to find out exactly what I'd been carrying around in my mouth for weeks.
Ten-karat gold. Worth about $25 if I wanted to melt it down, I learned. Obviously K.D. charges a lot for labor costs. Then again, sticking your hand in and out of people's mouths all day probably isn't the sweetest of gigs. It's a small price to pay, if you ask me, for the right to call oneself a grill masta.
But the most impressive performance of all was by a woman I'll call Sherri, a sales lady in the Barneys shoe department at NorthPark Center. With a mouthful of 10-karat bling, I told her I needed something to go with a Prada dress for an upcoming society soiree.
For a split second, Sherri nearly lost it, fixating on my mouth and contorting her face to hide the emotion within--amusement, pity, sheer terror. She turned away quickly, walking over to a shoe rack and asking me, her back turned, if I needed open-toe or closed. In a remarkable display of composure, she left me to fondle the $1,200 shoes and, presumably, let it all out in the storeroom.
For a half-hour, I had her running all over the store fetching Manolos. Gold, I insisted, was the only thing that would match this dress. Occasionally one of her co-workers would come over to check on the progress--and my mouth--by asking if I needed anything else.
Finally, standing in front of a mirror wearing the tackiest pair of $795 gold 5-inch platform shoes ever manufactured, I bemoaned my plight: "I just can't do gold on my feet. Only in my mouth."
Sherri nodded sympathetically. She never cracked.