Megann Becker


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“So nice of you to make it”: A Tale of Wedding Crashing

The Bloody Mary I sipped was on point. The combination of good conversation, delicious food and a cold drink—had done it again. My left arm was successfully burned from the Arizona sun, but there was no way in hell I would be moving to the shade. I might switch arms though.

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My best friend and I were soon headed to crash a wedding, but we were in no particular hurry. Who wants to rush away from poolside drinks with a mountain view? Not this chica.

We finally got back to the house to change for the wedding. My friend’s roommate’s dad was getting married and we had been “included” last minute. They said it would be small but we were more than welcome to come. Of course I’m going to go. No brainer.

I’ll admit, our main priority wasn’t to be on time, per say. We figured worst-case scenario we would just slip in the back of the church. Well here’s how it actually played out, folks.

My friend and I, bachata music blaring, sassy, little red Mazda—whip into the parking lot. Now I don’t want to embellish here, but it felt a lot like Tokyo drift as we slid into our parking spot (my brother would be proud).

Quick lipstick application and we hop out of the car. We see the curtains in the back of the building open and close again quick. Uh-oh. Are people actually waiting on us?

Now as I walked up to this building, from the outside, I could see that it was about the size of my tiny Chicago apartment. The overly optimistic side of me thought, “Maybe it’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? And will be bigger on the inside. Thus allowing us to blend in.” Cute Megan, cute.

Door to the chapel opens and less than fifteen friendly faces stare back at us. Ohhhhh, so this wasn’t a small wedding, this was pretty intimate. Got it. The groom in his I’m-about-to-be-married-and-I’m-nervous-as-hell voice says, “So nice of you to make it.” Deer in headlights look. We scoot quickly to our seats.

It turns out the peeking curtain a few minutes earlier…that was the bride. Waiting to walk down the aisle.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds had pictures taken around the grounds. The fifteen of us watched them, shuffled our feet, talked to statues, and attempted awkward conversation. I loved every minute of it—you know me.

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The bride said she wanted a picture with everybody. Okay well I’m so far removed from this couple that I didn’t include myself in this “everybody”. The bride wasn’t having that, so the picture was taken, and I’m in it. I imagine one of two things happened: The photographer either took the picture and then immediately deleted it—it was for show. OR that couple is going to have a hard time remembering who the hell that girl in the black dress was.

The venue was adorable—a balmy night, lights in the trees, beautiful centerpieces, and ummm, free wine.

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Then the toasts happened. Ah ha ha the toasts, always my favorite part of the wedding. It’s important for you to remember, I am seated at the table with the groom’s two children. Their parents were married up until three years ago.

Glasses raised, the bride’s friend from work starts her speech. “I was in the car at the stoplight…waiting, we wait in life….waiting is hard, we wait for so many things… wait wait wait waiting wait.” I look at my friend. What the hell is this waiting theme? I’m nervous. Who waited for what?! Ah. Crickets chirp. No, literally they chirp. We are outside. But it’s ironic and wonderful nonetheless.

The work friend nervously smiles, “I’ll never forget when she first came into my office five years ago. She shut the door and said, ‘So he and I are dating, but you have to keep it on the dowwwwn low.’” She giggles; thinking her use of a pop culture phrase is cute. The rest of us just sit there, with bug eyes. We all forgot to breathe.

Five years? But I thought three years? At that moment I want to turn into a damn cricket myself and hop the eff away… but I brought this on myself and I realize, “Duh, this’ll be a great story later.”

I dare to glance at the groom’s son; he winks at me and raises his glass with a smirk. He knew. He was just there to support his father, knowing we all make mistakes (and will probably keep making them).

As my friend, her roommate and I left the reception, he told me he’s never seen his sister laugh so much as she did when she was at our table. She even hugged me goodbye–a rare occurrence I’m told. At the reception I acted out a ridiculous amount of stories in order to fill the silence gap. I was actually drained by the time we left, from keeping up the conversation—but damnit, the groom’s kids were going to enjoy themselves if it was the last thing I did.

I can only hope that when the groom’s kids look back at that awkward picture of “everybody”, they see the girl in the black dress and remember, “She helped us make the best of an awkward situation.” 

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“Sit by the oldest black woman.”

This past weekend, my 14 hours in Milwaukee were blissful. There was delicious food, authentic conversation, genuine people, laughter, and a few drinks. I’m sure by now you’ve realized this is my recipe for any good experience–anywhere, anytime. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

When my gracious hosts went to drop me off at the bus station, we realized my bus wasn’t there quite yet. My friend’s dad chivalrously didn’t want to just leave me there until my bus arrived. To which my friend sarcastically remarked, “Well yeah it’s not like she’s a seasoned traveler or anything.” I laughed off the compliment, thanked them and got out of the car to wait for the bus.

As I sat inside the station, I was still thinking about being classified as a seasoned traveler. I definitely didn’t hate it. But did I deserve that label yet? (As if there’s an award show where host Amy Poehler declares, “Congrats, NOW you are officially a traveler.”)

Literally, as I sat there dismissing myself as a seasoned traveler, I watched a lady take out stacks of $20 dollar bills from the ATM…then run over to her daughter, who was about my age… and count out the cash. (Stacks on stacks on stacks.) This happened while myself and oh! also every other person in the station watched.

I couldn’t help it, I thought, “Well… I at least know not to do THAT.” And silently wished some good karma in the direction of the cash-laden girl.

The bus ride that followed prompted me to list out some tips (and tricks) I’ve learned just livin’.

Want to feel secure on public transportation? Sit by the oldest black woman on the bus. Yes, I said it. The oldest black woman. I wouldn’t include it if it hadn’t saved my butt on more than one occasion. Once I was in the ticket line at thee sketchiest Greyhound station—minding my damn business. When a guy pops into my peripheral vision and asks, “How much girl?” The strong, sassy, black woman in front of me proceeded to shame him—flat out of the line—with ONE, SINGLE look. (I then spent months practicing that exact look in the mirror. I’m getting better at it.)

Don’t feel super safe in a taxicab late at night? Snap a picture of the taxi driver’s identification plate on the back of the seat. For a extra amusement…make sure the sound is on loud, on your camera phone. Then the driver is fully aware. Sorry I’m not sorry. They ID plates are in the car for a reason, right?

Public transportation in a new city? Not sure where you’re going? (Or just want to people watch without shame?) I did this a lot in Europe where pick pocketing happened frequently. You don’t really want people to see you look at all the subway maps, to try and find your way. So, be a diva. Channel your inner P Diddy. Wear your sunglasses indoors, on the subway, train, etc. then people around you literally can’t see what you’re looking at. So you can keep an eye on what you need to (or want to, aka that adorable foreign guy).

Walking alone make you nervous? It started out as a joke with my dad in high school but my car keys have a TON of random things on the keychain. None of them necessary (except the Mace). If you’ve ever seen Mighty Joe Young…they are the poacher’s keys. One day in a hurry to lock my door, I smacked myself in the face with all that. A self-defense weapon was born. (Also the Mace is bright red, so sometimes I just go ahead and hold that boldly on the CTA. Isn’t it kind of like how cowboys wore their guns on visible display?)

Not in the mood to talk? I love people, that’s half the point of this blog. But sometimes conversation—of the hitting-on-me type—is unwelcomed. I suggest you learn two quick phrases in another language. Basically enough to pretend you don’t understand a work they’re saying, and you’re really sorry (shrug).

**I don’t recommend this tactic in Europe… Because everyone speaks everything. I tried it with a guy who hit on me on the beach and he just switched languages right with me… Fail.

Want to use your direction app in public without looking like a newb? Put your headphones in like you’re listening to music and have Siri talk to you. 

Side note: Don’t have your phone broadcast it OUTLOUD. I once saw a girl at bar close use Siri to navigate her out loud…I obviously wanted to say ‘Siri, no, NO, reroute her to home.’

Worried about someone running off with your luggage? I get nervous traveling with bags too. If you’re sitting down on a train, or a chair, loop your foot through a strap. You could fall asleep… And if someone wants that bag, they’ll just have to take you with them.

Can’t afford the drinks at a specific bar? Order a water on the rocks with a citrus wedge. As far as people in the bar know, you’re sipping a Gin and Tonic. More times than not, I’ve arrived at some “great” bar and realized “Crap. I literally can’t afford/want to afford the cheapest drink here.” I lean in and ask for a water on the rocks with a citrus wedge.  The bartender never cares…. just leave him a few bucks for conspiring with me.  Then you don’t feel like the lame without a drink AND you can still afford to grocery shop that week.

*Should a man offer to replenish what you’re drinking, and should you accept… you should get a real Gin and Tonic. Clear liquor, with ice and a citrus wedge. See what I did there?

Unwanted attention at a bar? This was a happy accident. The background picture on my phone used to of the kids I nannied. Two little ones. I was ordering a drink (a nice water on the rocks, with a citrus wedge) and this man just wouldn’t quit. I had tried just about everything to get him to take the hint… uninterested. Then, light bulb! I kept up the conversation with him and then slyly set my phone on the bar. I hit a button so it would light up. Now, everyone within five feet of me could see the picture on the illuminated phone. The guy obviously glanced at it, and then asked if they were my kids. I enjoyed turning up the theatrics and began “over sharing” about “this super cute thing they did the other day”. 106 seconds later he suddenly had to run to the bathroom quick… never to return again. And the young girl at the bar lived happily ever after. The end.

Feeling stuck in a pretentious nightclub? Ask the bouncer where he’d go on his night off. Admittedly, this is a common occurrence in my life and I’ve never been led astray. I also recommend you find the cutest bouncer in the place. Because I mean c’mon… two birds, one stone.  

And finally:

Night out feeling kind of anticlimactic? Fake an accent. My roommates and I did British accents one time in downtown Chicago and it was hysterical. Create your own adventure. Although I don’t recommend speaking Spanish to the guy on your right, and using a British accent with the guy on your left. That was—I mean could potentially be— a hot mess. 


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This one time… at a train station

With my train ticket all set for Milwaukee this weekend—it made me think about my last train ride.

Which was a whopping seven days ago.

Last weekend I hopped a train in pursuit of all things soulful: good wine, authentic conversation, and of course, homemade jambalaya. It was freezing. I actually thought I was hallucinating when I saw the tracks had flames on them. I was not. It was THAT cold, that they needed to keep the tracks warmed up.

I completely missed the train. Off to a good start. So I’m sitting in this tiny train station on the West side. No one, but me and this other girl. Then a rare thing occurred. We talked to one another! I guess we mutually decided we’d reached our Candy Crush quota for the day. In the short time we talked—we laughed, I discovered a new musical artist, she taught me a few Hindi words and the kicker…she offered me a taco. (I politely declined… because, well, remember the jambalaya.) The human connection had me in a good mood, because had I kept my eyes locked on my screen I would have missed all of that.

As we are talking, four cops come into the station. Note: Their forced conversation happened to be about how everyone nowadays has smartphones. The irony here slays me. Wait for it…

Less than 83 seconds later, a man comes into the station—boots, cowboy hat, random food in a bag, and an “I’m freezing my butt off” look on his face. With a trusting face he walks up to a cop and struggles to ask him in English if he can use a phone to call his wife. He’s asking if anyone speaks Spanish. He’s borderline frantic about letting his wife know what time exactly his train will arrive in Elgin.

He even attempts to mime a phone with his hand. That’s a pretty universal thing, right? Remember when you were a toddler and your mom would pretend Grandma was calling you on her hand? Yea don’t tell me you didn’t understand that sir.

The cop—with maybe the most indifferent face I’ve ever seen, says, “Sorry buddy, I don’t have one.”

My brain: Ummm, you don’t have one?! But I just heard you… I… I’m so confused.

My face: those of you who know me are already picturing it.

Part of me gets the worry—there has been a huge epidemic in big cities of people swiping smartphones.

But worst-case scenario, this man runs out of this station with my month old phone and then… we chase him. The four cops, and myself. Imagine for a moment. I mean it WAS freezing cold, and I’ve heard there’s nothing like a brisk jog to help warm you up.

I just couldn’t help myself people. I walk over to the man and the gaggle of cops, taking out my iPhone. I threw what some might classify as a sassy look to the cops, before turning to the man.

I rip off in Spanish. “Por supuesto, puedes utilizar mi móvil para llamar a tu mujer. Pero, escúchame si tu corres… Señor, yo voy a perseguirte. Créeme.”

(Of course you can use my phone, to call your wife. But listen to me; if you run…Sir, I’m going to chase you. Believe me.)

He looked at my wide-eyed, blinked, and said “No hay problema.” (No, no there’s no problem.)

Then you’ll never guess what he did. HE CALLED HIS WIFE. Just like the human being said he would. Astounding.

This entire time, the cops said nothing. Except for one comment volunteered, “Whoa… she speaks Spanish, that is so cool.” Silence.

After he gets off the phone, this man—with his food in a random grocery bag— tries to hand me a $20 bill as thanks for letting him use my phone.

Yeah, couldn’t accept that. Instead I just said a really animated “No pasa nada”. (Don’t even worry about it.) Then the train arrived and I was on my way to that home cooked jambalaya.

I don’t ever want this story to come off as “holier than thou”— instead view it as a call to participate in life happening around you. Whatever that looks like for you.

Not sure if my train experience tonight will top last weekend’s, but you better believe I’ll have my eyes and ears open.