This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES Switzerland.
I should probably start by getting this out of the way: We're already divorced. Frankly, I probably could’ve guessed that my marriage was doomed to fail. After all, I married a moderately successful musician with a tendency towards excessive partying. But despite having huge doubts about the situation, I wanted to at least give it a shot before denouncing marriage entirely. So I gave up my comfortable life as a journalist in Switzerland for the wedding, leaving behind my friends and bidding my parents and my home farewell. I left Zurich, my favorite city in the world, for a small, sleepy town in Kansas.My future was uncertain.
When I arrived in Kansas, I visited dozens of florists and pastry chefs together with my future mother-in-law. You could probably say it was the wedding of my dreams—except for the fact that I’d never dreamed of a wedding. Sitting on the floor of the fitting room surrounded by an bunch of bridal gowns and cheap bottles of Prosecco, it immediately became clear to me that this wedding would never make me happy, regardless of how elegantly or cheaply I fashioned it. Which is why I decided to at least make some people happy: the family of my future spouse.
During the two months before my wedding day, my circle of family and friends grew threefold without any real help from me. I was going to celebrate the so-called most beautiful day of my life with complete strangers. And since there’s apparently not much to do in Kansas other than procreate, these hordes of strangers with their substantial families were going to consume an incredible amount of food. How would I be able to afford all this? My savings were made up of the puny pension fund I’d been able to save up in Switzerland, which was augmented only through the financial support of my in-laws and my mother. And as an immigrant, I wasn’t able to work in the US yet. Because of the sheer volume of stomachs I had to feed, I decided to run with a lean menu of rice, noodles, salad, and—as a highlight—heart-shaped chicken breasts. After all, I still wanted to be able to offer my guests something special. But at that point, it wasn’t clear to me that I’d be giving them the worst day of their lives.
"My first act as a wife entailed bringing my husband's feces to the lab in a plastic container."
Our banquet dinner was prepared in the kitchen of a mid-sized chain hotel in our small town. We’d booked the ballroom for our celebration. While I drank away my nervousness as a newlywed wife with overly-strong gin and tonics served in plastic Bud Light cups, my guests feasted on the cheap chicken meat piled in mountains on the buffet table of the ballroom. Throughout the evening I kept hearing how “gosh-darn cute” the heart-shaped chicken was. What a wonderful symbol for love, a piece of meat like that. At the end of the evening, the buffet was as empty as the search history of a newlywed porn addict.
Swift disenchantment came early the next morning. I had a huge hangover, my husband didn’t come back from his “party with the guys” until early in the morning, and my house looked like a youth hostel in peak season. But before my new husband could sleep off our gluttonous wedding night, things started to go wrong: With fear in his eyes and spewing projectile vomit, he just barely reached the bathroom in time. He spent the next hours either on the toilet or on the small guest mattress he’d dragged to the bathroom door with his last bit of strength so that he could get at least a little sleep before the next vomit-shit attack set in.
There was no way to blame the alcohol. After all, the other guests weren’t doing much better. On top of all the other symptoms, my mother developed a fever and curled up in pain on the couch— whenever she wasn’t standing in line for the bathroom. While my mother-in-law whisked family members off to the hospital, two pregnant guests almost landed in the ICU due to fluid loss, and my husband’s geriatric great grandmother unwittingly attempted, through acute diarrhea, to break her childhood record of number of “total diapers used in one day,” I was busy scooping people's shit into Tupperware. My first official act as wife entailed transporting my husband’s feces in a plastic container. I buckled in the container carefully into the passenger seat to get the precious cargo safely to the lab. The diagnosis: Apparently food safety regulations had been ignored. The heart-shaped chicken was full of salmonella.
While I spent the days that followed writing “Sorry that I poisoned you” on thank-you cards and hoping that none of my guests would sue me due to bodily injury, the State of Kansas stepped in and ordered an inspection of the hotel kitchen. Of course, they didn’t find anything—my guests had eaten everything, and after the hotel manager excoriated the staff the day after the wedding, all remaining evidence had been disposed of, naturally. Ultimately, I still had to cover the entire bill for the buffet of death. The only thing the hotel took care of was the champagne, to “calm my taxed nerves,” as the hotel manager wrote in her email. Why, thank you!