Ugly Bridesmaid Dress? Remember, It’s HER Day!

Shannon Kernaghan Bridesmaid-e1689447783987 Ugly Bridesmaid Dress? Remember, It's HER Day! Humor

I’m invited to a friend’s wedding and am looking forward to her party. Is it because I’ve attended more funerals than weddings in the last decade? Could be. More likely it’s because enough years have passed since my last bridesmaid experience.   

I tried, I really tried to be a good B-maid for my friend, Cindy. Dutifully, I paid for an unflattering dress and showed up for several dress fittings. Also, I helped arrange a wedding shower and a party for the betrothed couple, and I attended the wedding rehearsal. There were the requisite gifts and various expenses along the way. I smiled non-stop and gave positive feedback at every event.

In truth, I felt flattered to join her B-Maid line-up, considering our friendship hadn’t been all that tight before her wedding. Flattery didn’t last long; I began to clench my jaw and chant “suck it up” and “it’ll be over soon.”

Then I practiced my facial expressions for when confronted by the jubilant bride-to-be: “Of course I have time for another fitting,” (arch eyebrows in mock enthusiasm) and “Yes, I know, it’s YOUR day,” (lock smile in place) and “ANOTHER shower? Sure, I can help,” (pick up more vodka – for me, not Cindy).

Accepting the role of B-Maid is no laughing matter . . . did you expect to have fun?   Wake up and smell the heart-shaped confetti. And while you’re at it, start unfolding and fluffing those 5,000 plastic bows for the bridal car. Screw the environment, people –it’s wedding season!

When Cindy’s wedding day arrived, I awoke with flu-like symptoms. But the show must go on: I showed up pale, shaky and on time.

First came the pre-wedding photos. And before we made it to the War and Peace-long church service, I realized two facts: 1) the man assigned as my bridal party partner was already drunk and obnoxious – “Whadayou know about anything? You’re just a chick,” he slurred – and 2) those flu symptoms were ramping up. My temperature rose and my nose ran while I tottered in pinching high heels, clutching my posies in a death grip throughout the service. Never heard a word of Cindy’s vows, too busy trying not to sneeze or faint.

Maybe I wasn’t such a good B-Maid after all because I didn’t stay to greet 250 people in the post-dinner receiving line. Although Cindy seemed annoyed with me – emphasis on HER day – I did everyone a favor. Who needs to shake hands and hug a sweating, snuffling Typhoid Mary.

All those wedding photos? Never saw or received a single copy. I’d love to know what I looked like in my dress. Not long after the wedding, I donated it and the uncomfortable shoes to my local Thrift Store.

With my duties concluded, I didn’t hear from Cindy again. But a few years later I ran into a mutual friend who asked, “Didn’t you fill in as one of her bridesmaids?”

“Huh? Fill in?”

“You didn’t know that? Yeah, her sister-in-law was supposed to be in the wedding party, but her due date was a few weeks after the wedding. Cindy worried she’d look like a beached whale in the photos!”

See what flattery gets ya? I was a pitch hitter, not even a first choice.

A postscript to my bridesmaid story: I discovered that Cindy’s marriage only lasted a few years. Maybe now she won’t mind parting with a photo or two from her album. Better late than never.

As for the upcoming wedding I’ll be attending, this woman knows how to throw a fun event and I can hardly wait. I’m grateful she never asked me to be in her bridal party considering today’s typical B-Maid is expected to cover costs for bachelorette weekends and travel to destination weddings. Fun? Sure, but who needs that kind of expensive flattery.

When I see her smiling face, I’ll be delighted to simply celebrate her special day from the audience (arch eyebrows in genuine enthusiasm).


In Your Face

Shannon Kernaghan In-Your-Face-400 In Your Face Humor

I watch videos from blogger Norma Geli who leads viewers through Las Vegas restaurants and bars. She’s fun to watch and her enthusiasm makes you wish you were there, nibbling on innovative food fusions and sipping cocktails that blossom with dry ice. 

Her most recent blog featured the best steak in Sin City. Her pick is Carversteak, located in Resorts World on the Strip. Here’s a line from Carversteak’s website: ‘A reimagining of the classic steakhouse experience offering dry-aged American steaks from artisan producers.’ 

Norma began with a martini order. Her glass arrived . . . and so did a cart and bartender who created the cocktail in front of her. 

Next, she chose a ‘C’s Tomohawk’ steak, a hefty 42 ounces of beef. She also ordered a side of Bearnaise sauce and a special ‘Pommes Puree,’ made with 50% Yukon Gold taters and 50% butter.  

I can’t speak for you, but if a server brings me a steak knife, I’m pleased. Period. At Carversteak, a new person shows up with an impressive wooden box, something out of a medieval dual.  

He opens the box and presents an array of knives while explaining the benefit and weight of each. Eventually Norma asks for his advice. So would I. The only knives I can identify are the bread knives and generic steak knives we’ve owned for decades. 

My eyebrow arched when the meat showed up – it was already sliced on the plate!  

First the bar cart, then the knife box, and had Norma ordered a bottle of wine, a sommelier would have appeared tableside.  

What was last, the dishwasher with a soap trolley to wash Norma’s dirty plates? This wasn’t a meal but a performance. 

I didn’t stick around for dessert. I had indigestion just thinking about that 50% butter potato puree. 

Norma never showed us the bill but mentioned that her martini cost $35 and her steak – without sides or sauces – was $260. Add tax and gratuities. Wow.  

I have my own ‘reimagining’ that features a world where I share a delicious meal with my partner Paul, without half a dozen people circling our table, and without a bill that could cover a car payment. 

Wait . . . I don’t have to reimagine, I only have to remember.  

When Paul and I rolled our little RV into rustic campsites near the Rockies, we’d bring our own steaks and libations. He’d build a fire, add foil-wrapped potatoes, and let the flames burn to hot embers. That’s when he’d cook our steaks to a perfect medium rare. I’d open a bottle of wine and pour into our plastic wine glasses.  

On every occasion those steaks were the most tender and delicious I’ve ever eaten. Do I recall the type of knife used? No.  

Better yet, did I force my wine-addled head to figure out the tip, and then find a ride back to our hotel? (Hey, if the rooms at Resorts World are as spendy as the steaks, we aren’t staying there).   

All we did was watch the sun set and after Paul extinguished our fire, we’d stumble into our trailer. The only one in my face during our meal was Paul. And sometimes squirrels or whiskey jacks who waited for treats. 

Paul might have asked for a ‘tip’ for his fire-building and cooking efforts, but with all that wine, who can remember?  


Paint Me Naked

Shannon Kernaghan Paint-Me-Naked-400 Paint Me Naked Humor

Not every day does an artist ask to paint me naked. Even fewer of those lining up are well-known New York artists.

After exhibiting a few of my own pieces in NYC’s Van der Plas Gallery, I met the artist Alejandro Caiazza, best known for ‘a humorous subject matter . . . engaging the viewer in the silliness of the present with a warning of what is to come.’

That sounds cool, and there’s more: ‘Initially appearing whimsical and delightful with a child-like innocence, the work of Caiazza on closer inspection reveals much deeper and darker aspects of our human condition.’

Most recently, Alejandro painted a series of clowns; his wild pieces drew me in (no pun intended) and his ‘primitive art’ quality attracted me.

My own art on social media attracted him, enough that he slid into my DM. Our initial contact began with I would really like to paint you.

My reply: If I had a quarter for every time I heard that . . . wait, I’d still only have a couple of quarters.

I sent him three photos, one of me in a bikini from a few years ago, and two early shots from when I modeled for a lingerie store. I figured these would suffice, especially the one of me in a teddy with my foot on a chair.Shannon Kernaghan Shannon-on-chair Paint Me Naked Humor

Nope, not enough inspiration for Alejandro and the DM dance continued.

I would like to make you a nude, something like this and he posted one of my topless Self Portraits.

Shannon Kernaghan Blissed_Kernaghan-300x300 Paint Me Naked Humor

I hope I haven’t offended you, he added.

Not offended, but looking forward to seeing what you can do with my ‘lovely bones.’

I wasn’t about to send him anything explicit for the “spank bank.” And then nothing more was said about painting me, simply messages on art and writing, and an invitation to his current art exhibit.

I didn’t instigate conversations and merely replied to his prompts about the type of pictures he wanted: There will be no undressing, I wrote, only drawing. NOW GET BUSY!

By now – months later – I was certain there would be no SHANNON-AS-ART from Alejandro.

And then came his request:

You’re hot like your art . . . I wish to draw you naked

Feel free, I replied, strip down when you draw me, I don’t want you to over-heat 😉

This would be my final correspondence and I was about to go ‘radio silent.’

Then his message appeared: Deal and days later a few pictures followed.

I like the yellow piece that reminds me of Jackie Kennedy, who people said I resembled when I was young. As for Alejandro’s depiction of my breasts, that’s his interpretation; I do appreciate the perky quality.

Shannon Kernaghan Paint-Me-Naked-400-300x300 Paint Me Naked Humor

                                  Shannon by Alejandro Caiazza

Shannon Kernaghan Leg-on-chair_AC-232x300 Paint Me Naked Humor

                                   Shannon by Alejandro Caiazza

The next time someone invites you to ‘come up and see my etchings,’ I could be the woman in those masterpieces. Gotta love art.

                    Check out Alejandro Caiazza’s art on Instagram

Shannon Kernaghan Alejandro-by-Shannon-Kernaghan-300x300 Paint Me Naked Humor

I Got Crosby’d in LA!

Shannon Kernaghan Crosbyd-web-400 I Got Crosby'd in LA! Humor

 For a week, I teetered between life and death. 

I wasn’t ill or injured but living my best life in Los Angeles where I’d been invited to read a short story. Our six-person lineup for the VAMP Storytelling Showcase was led by three performance coaches and event producers.  

Not only was I in Cali for a reading, but I was about to meet my second cousin Carl. It felt like I already knew him, both through his New York sister who I’m close with, and through the movies he’s worked on (as Jaws co-writer and screenplay, for one).  

Earlier when I told him how near he lived to my West Hollywood venue, his message was hospitable: How terrific! I am in town and free that evening, and we’ll be hanging out while you’re in L.A., right?  

As soon as I arrived in L.A. I found out Carl’s a night owl; he also had scheduling issues that week. Our only chance was late Thursday afternoon. No worries, from his place I could head straight to my event, held at a cool vodka bar.  

Meet my cousin? Read my story with new friends and drink voddy martinis? What could be better? 

One major thing.  


Ahead of my reading, I had several days to explore the City of Angels. A day-long tour took me past clubs and hotels. One drive-by was the Viper Room; our tour guide pointed out the sidewalk where actor River Phoenix died of an overdose.  

Next, our shuttle stopped in front of the Chateau Marmont where John Belushi died of an overdose and photographer Helmut Newton also died after crashing his car into the hotel wall.  

The next day I carried my “death story” forward by spending half a day in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Founded in 1899, it’s one of the oldest cemeteries in L.A. and the final resting place for hundreds of Hollywood legends.  

I’d wanted to visit after writing a story on how the cemetery hosts regular events for the community – live music and summer movie screenings. What a positive way to spin death into public celebrations. This cemetery has become a welcoming “living place” as well as a final “resting place.” 

I also realized that Hollywood Forever was the closest I’ll get to a raft of notables, from those my parents adored to those who’ve entertained me. 

I’ve never spent as much time or had such memorable moments in a cemetery, especially one with such a tranquil park-like setting. Usually, I’m at a gravesite because of a funeral; the season is generally winter, the weather is cold and dreary, and the day is sad because I’ve lost someone important.  

Not this day! The sun shone, the temperature was mild and peacocks strolled when I started my walking adventure. 

I read and recorded the stones and plaques of many celebrities interred in Hollywood Forever: Judy Garland and a memorial marker of Toto; Burt Reynolds, Valerie Harper, Chris Cornell, Rudolph Valentino, Mickey Rooney, Hattie McDaniel and so many more. 

My husband, who stayed in Alberta, had one simple request: “Find Bugsy Siegal and send me a pic!” Bugsy co-owned both the El Cortez and the Flamingo, and was murdered in his girlfriend’s home in Beverly Hills. Our interest in Sin City’s mob history developed after spending a lot of time in Las Vegas. 

Using the site map I’d purchased from the office, I entered a large columbarium with long rooms. Each room had hundreds of niches on either side; worse, every bronze plaque looked almost identical. I started with the furthest room and let my eyes trail across name after name . . . and suddenly there he was, Benjamin Siegal, with nothing more to draw attention than a few plastic flowers. Then I saw a row of pink lipstick kisses on the stone under his plaque! (I read later that kiss marks are for good luck in Vegas!) 

I took several photos for Paul, pleased that others still found Bugsy a captivating character.  

Another discovery was the life-size bronze statue of Anton Yelchin, an actor who died at age 27 when his own SUV crushed him in 2016. His statue faces a lovely bird-filled pond.  

As I stood feet away and explored other headstones, a woman walked from a car and climbed onto the base of Anton’s statue. With closed eyes, she hugged his back and kissed it. Weird, I thought, she seems too old to be such an emotional fan. Minutes later she returned to her car and drove off.  

Hollywood Forever was different from other cemeteries. I’ve never seen so many personalized plots, complete with rows of spinning whirligigs and personal items, from teddy bears to sports equipment. And many people ate at gravesites, arriving with lawn chairs and bags of food.  

I carefully tiptoed around graves when a man on the nearby road waved and asked how I was doing. 

“I’ve been to many cemeteries,” I said, “but they had more space, some even had dedicated paths. Here, I feel disrespectful. Should I be standing on their graves?” 

He paused and with a smile said, “Don’t worry, I think they’d be happy you’re here.”  

What a sweet comment; I felt my hand reach for my heart. When I said I came from Canada, he seemed impressed that I chose to spend my time in the cemetery instead of doing the usual tourist stuff. He lives in the area and comes often to walk, he said. 

He pointed to Anton’s statue. “Did you notice that woman who hugged his statue? That was his mom. I’ve seen her before and she’s always crying. 

Of course! She looked like Anton with the same dark curly hair! Again, my hand touched my heart. 

“And this one here? This is the photographer Halyna Hutchins, the woman Alec Baldwin shot while making his movie?” 

Moments before I’d read her name and looked at a picture someone had left. 

“Come this way,” and he pointed to a mausoleum wall. “It’s not marked yet, but it’s for Anne Heche.” For the next half hour, he pointed out celebrity locations and told stories about them. My only offering was the direction to Bugsy’s niche, one he’d never been able to find. 


It was Thursday morning, the day of my reading. Since this was my last full day, I’d planned to visit Westwood Memorial Park, another well-known cemetery.  

While Westwood is smaller than Hollywood Forever, I would find many celebrities, from Marilyn Monroe, Rodney Dangerfield and Roy Orbison to my husband’s favorite Natalie Wood. But I had my afternoon get-together with cousin Carl and a 7 pm run-through at the bar.  

Was I cutting my schedule too tight? I decided to pass on the Westwood excursion and relax at my hotel.  

Minutes away from heading to Carl’s, a text from my husband pinged: Bad news – Crosby just died! 

This news wouldn’t shock many. Musician David Crosby was over 80 and had battled drugs and health issues: a liver transplant, diabetes, hepatitis C and heart surgery. 

But my cousin would be affected by his death. I phoned him to offer my condolences and let him know I was ready to come over. He cancelled, too overcome with emotions, processing his feelings and fielding calls and messages from others.  

Dammit! But he’d come to my show, he assured me.  

The evening was a lot of fun, filled with great stories, but Carl didn’t show. His text arrived at 11 pm as I sipped a martini and celebrated with new friends: Terribly sorry about missing our connection, Shannon, but David’s death struck me particularly hard, we were close friends for 50 years. Predating the Byrds even. I co-authored two books with him. Call me after your gig.  

I’d been Carl-blocked and Crosby’d! Not to sound cold, but if only he’d waited a couple of hours.  

And that “one major thing” I mentioned earlier? No more death stories, please. I’d had my share. 

At least we had a deep and satisfying conversation when I returned to my hotel and phoned him. Carl told me he signs off messages and phone calls with “may all grief be far.” A fitting expression, considering how a celebrity death ruined the only chance for us to meet (Carl is over 80 and I live 1,700 miles away. Unless Hollywood calls me again, and soon, I might not make it back in time.)   

Years ago, Carl sent me an autographed copy of their book Long Time Gone. While I didn’t meet my cousin in person, I have his writing with Crosby; in a small way that connects me to both of them. 

Home again and watching a YouTube video taken at our event, a final irony made me grin. For the first time I noticed the tagline of my VAMP showcase: SAVING STORIES FROM THE GRAVE.  

Talk about apropos. 

When it comes to losing people I care about, I hope to keep everyone alive through my stories. 

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stellar Nursery

Shannon Kernaghan Twinkle-Steller-Nursery-400 Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stellar Nursery Humor

“Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling the transmission.” This useful advice comes direct from sci-fi series “The Outer Limits,” which would have been scary when it ran in 1963.  

I discovered reruns on YouTube, amazed at each full hour of drawn-out stories and limited special effects, from visible wire holding up the UFOs to monsters wearing zip-up costumes. Loved it! 
For some “unearthly” reason, I compared relationships and marriage to the Outer Limits, that far away galaxy where dating stops and a phase with one solitary star begins. 

Take you: when young, you’re free-wheeling star matter, spreading your gases in wild abandon, preferably with the cute stars who have great biceps and large . . . solar systems. 
Then it happens, a meteoric fireball of sorts and you collide with that special star. Suddenly you can’t imagine a world where you aren’t orbiting around each other, the gravity too strong to pull apart.  

You know it’s love when you stop spending money on expensive cosmetics and start buying toss cushions and area rugs. And where you once worried about finding the money for rock concert tickets, today you’re shopping for life insurance and learning about mortgage rates. Until now, premiums and amortization calculators fell in the category of yawn, bo-ring.  

Enlarge your universe with a little nebula of your own? Paint the stellar nursery in cosmic colors now that you’re a couple?  

Maybe you will, since your ovaries are controlling the transmission, if you happen to be a woman. 
That works for some, those of you anxious to buy maternity smocks as your solar mass flares. Me, I wore an invisible flak jacket because in my constellation, the cataclysmic moment never arrived and I’ve remained one uncharted black hole. 
Sure, I enjoy a Big Bang with my partner every now and then, but that hasn’t resulted in a new nebula. Instead, we’ve remained happy binary stars. We’ve chosen to spend our eternity figuring out how to survive the eclipses that occur when diverse genders share the same galaxy. It’s been a ride! 

At some point we decided to leave well enough alone.  

After all, there’s enough competition over the TV remotes.  

If Freddy Krueger Knocks, Don’t Answer!

Shannon Kernaghan halloween-22-400-insta If Freddy Krueger Knocks, Don't Answer! Humor

With Halloween about to knock, get ready for scary movies with their goblins, cobwebs and skeletons. But enough about my closet.

Spooky movies aren’t only for teenagers who love the many versions of Nightmare on Elm Street. Or for kids who shiver around the campfire while someone with a flashlight under their chin tries to make everyone lose their S’mores.

Adults can be equally enthusiastic. One of my friends asked if I’d ever been scared, “Not your garden variety nervous, but really terrified.”

“Yup, the time Paul and I boondocked in the desert.” I explained how we wanted to spend a few nights in our RV away from city lights, with nothing in sight or sound range.

As we drove from the town of Quartzsite, Arizona, I questioned our decision. Not only were we out of range, but we were out of roads, driving slowly to avoid deep gulches and rocky terrain.
“Honey,” I said, “if we have to get out fast, there’s no way–”

“Stop worrying all the time, have a sense of adventure!”

“Just saying.”

Turns out it WAS a cool experience, but we had no idea how far we headed from civilization. Our only sights were cacti and rocks, along with a bobcat and roadrunner.

We also spotted a few small tents while we drove, yet nobody was around, not even a parked vehicle.

“Maybe people sleep in them and work in town,” Paul said. “Why else would anyone pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere?”

Hmn. Weird.

We parked and pulled out our chairs. The sun shone warm, the beverages ran cool . . . and then the sun set. Suddenly everything outside our RV windows looked shadowy and unrecognizable.

“Paul, what if something goes wrong? We’ve no idea where we are, so how will anyone find us?”

“We’ll be fine,” he said, but with less conviction since losing daylight. Cue the spooky soundtrack.

We’d just gone to bed when a light flashed across our dark RV wall. “What the hell . . .?” A car appeared and made a slow circle around our trailer before driving away. “That’s not right,” I said.

Then it circled again, just as slowly.

Our escape plan? We had nothing. Weapons? Nada. Worse, we couldn’t drive away without leaving the RV to get into our truck. And how fast could we go across deep trenches in the dark?

Minutes later the car circled a third time! By now we’d pulled on our jeans and Paul dug through our cutlery drawer for sharp objects. Every horror movie I’d ever watched fast-forwarded in my brain. Neither of us said anything; all I heard was my shallow breathing and pounding heart.

And then . . . nothing. Paul started to giggle.

“What’s so bloody funny?”

“I bet that was somebody looking for their tent, they were probably lost in the dark!”

While my heart rate slowed, I kept my jeans on and didn’t sleep more than a few minutes at a stretch. I’ve never appreciated the rising sun as much in my life!

Once back in town and plugged into the services of an RV park, back to the smells of neighbors grilling, the sounds of music, laughter and barking dogs, we agreed that our boondocking experience was over.

With nothing stronger than flimsy locks on our RV, how would we keep out Freddy Krueger, Jason or the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Besides, we didn’t want to find that urban legend ‘arm with a pirate-like hook’ hanging from our door.

Do I like scary movies? Sure, providing I never play a starring role.

Happy Fright Night!

No Disappointment in My Fantasy

Shannon Kernaghan Fantasy No Disappointment in My Fantasy Humor

Welcome to my weekly confessional. Today’s subject is fantasies. Take mine. I can’t be the only woman who stands in a checkout line and thumbs through magazines to see what my favorite celebs are wearing. And who they’re canoodling.

What about you? You hear a song from your past that evokes memories of good times. In truth, those “good times” were likely fraught with youthful chaos and confusion. But they’re your memories, dammit, and you can choose to remember the highlights, like how you fit a pair of size 26 Levis, and how you often had your pick of the litter. (I’m talking men, not dogs.)

Back to my fantasy. While waiting at a red light, you glance over and spot a gorgeous man in the next lane. Since I always occupy the passenger seat – be it car, taxi or donkey cart – I have plenty of time to safely gawk. And dream.

In my fantasy, if an interesting male enters the storyline, I can’t be the contentedly married woman I am in real life. No, I must be a widow and a respectable period of mourning has already passed. My poor partner died a painless death, of course. He isn’t even allowed to be in a coma because miracles happen and in my fantasy, I don’t need that kind of pressure.

Crank up the fantasy volume: when I hit the dance floor, I move like an incarnation of Beyonce and Shakira. In reality, I look like a flailing fool, never quite sure in what decade I’m dancing. I might be doing the funky chicken, the hustle, hip hop, who can tell?

More likely I’m still dancing the step-shuffle routine I learned in grade six to The Archies song “Sugar, Sugar.” I fear the day I’m forced to watch a video of myself on the dance floor. Never again will I budge from my folding chair.

As for appearance, all body hair is sublime in my fantasy, and it doesn’t grow or shed. In other words, you won’t find me primping, plucking, or slumped in a salon chair washing that gray right outta my hair. In my make-believe world, I yank the ball cap off my head and slo-mo twirl as if I cat-walked out of a Herbal Essence commercial.

In my fantasy, I’m never disappointed. Peek in and you’ll find me doing everything with success. Might as well, I’m the one writing the script. Just make sure no editors get their hands on my work. I’d hate to see all their red ink.

Ah, screw the editors. Next stop – the red carpet. I haven’t awarded myself any Oscars lately.