I don't know why I bother going to weddings anymore. Sure sure, I know it's because you love the people who are getting married, or they are family, but every time I attend a wedding I walk away with a story. Here is another for the books.
I was recently asked to babysit four children at a wedding two hours outside Vienna. Everything seemed to be properly arranged, I knew a few people in attendance and I thought it would be a quick and easy way to make money over a weekend. It is just never that simple. Getting lost on the way there should have been a sign, or even the pouring rain, but I was still naively optimistic.
The wedding reception took place inside a renovated barn and I was somewhat conveniently located directly across from the barn in the "kids area." The first few hours went by without any serious problems apart from the parents' incessant need to check on their offspring every ten minutes. In case you are a parent, this actually makes it harder for the babysitter. Every time you walk out of the room, the otherwise content child screams bloody murder for 5 minutes. I know it's hard to believe your child isn't miserable without you, but maybe you should be thrilled your kid isn't an anti-social disaster. Count your blessings and leave the babysitter in peace.
The situation started to go downhill around 8pm. Three of the toddlers were supposed to fall asleep around this time, however, thanks to the stimulation of the wedding, not a single one responded to my desperate plea for rest. Eating dinner at the kid's table with a screaming child on your lap is not what it is cracked up to be. For the next four hours it was my unhappy job to quiet three screaming, exhausted babies and run back and forth in the pouring rain to the kid's area (goodbye dry feet). During this time I was accused of not feeding a child, preparing their formula incorrectly and when I made a simple inquiry to one of the fathers he responded, "you are the babysitter, aren't you?" Around 12:30am, the toddlers started to pass out and I was permitted to have a drink and enjoy the rest of the wedding. Or so I thought.
First I made the poor choice of sitting by the bride's 70 year-old Swedish father. His drunken ramblings about Americans being the center of the universe were made even less pleasant as he repeatedly invaded my personal space. Soon we were ballroom dancing to Rick James' "Superfreak" where he nearly broke my wrist while trying to turn me. After three kisses on the cheek and an enthused profession of his love, I ran away to find other company.
Luckily a few of Chanda's friends were in attendance and despite their excessive drug and alcohol use, they made for a few good hours of dancing. Somewhere in the middle of my goulash and vodka I realized my ride was nowhere to be seen. After repeated unanswered phone calls I came to the conclusion that I had no bed and I should just dance to ABBA until dawn. I was saved by a 40-something man who drove me back to his guesthouse, asked about the appropriateness of a kiss (declined)and eventually let me sleep in his bed with one of Chanda's older female friends while he graciously took the floor.
After sneaking in and out of breakfast the next morning, I began to long for whatever bed I was intended to occupy the previous evening. I later discovered that there had been a hotel booked for me, but the parents incorrectly assumed that I knew where it was located, the name of the reservation, how to get there and that I had managed to check in. Keep in mind that I was in middle of a million apple fields, had no vehicle, and didn't even know the name of the bride and groom, let alone where my magical hotel may be located. This is a good working definition of miscommunication. The parents in charge apologized for the complication, but weren't overly worried that I had been abandoned after taking care of their kids for 12 hours.
This exciting wedding ended with an Austrian brunch (sauer kraut, sausage, potatoes) where I conversed with a few of the hungover guests. Several of the guests kindly inquired whether or not that I had managed to find a bed while the children's parents ignored me during the entire meal. Did I sleep well? Thanks so much for taking care of my child all day, I really appreciate it! Not so much. I felt a little used and abused and was excited for my after return to sanity. At 4pm I finally arrived back in Vienna a little less poor and in need of a drink and a big sigh. Weddings and babysitting should not mix.