The winning catch

The winning catch Most single, 30-something women consider the wedding-bouquet toss the most dreaded of all nuptial rituals. Not me, I see it as an athletic event. It may not be quite Olympic-caliber competition, but there must be a winner, and that winner must be me.

I didn't always feel this way. Legend traces the toss to an old English tradition--women would try to tear off a piece of the bride's dress in hopes of acquiring her good fortune--but for years, the fling of flowers meant only one thing to me: It was time to hightail it to the restroom. Somehow, though, I'd never escape in time.

Instead, I'd cringe and slowly make my way to the center of the floor when the bandleader summoned all the single women. Standing in my too-high heels and too-hideous bridesmaid's dress, I'd feel like I was wearing a scarlet S for single. My heart would palpitate and sweat glands shift into overdrive. Never again, I'd say to myself. As the bouquet soared through the air, my arms would remain glued to my sides.

But then one day, at my friend Amy's wedding, everything changed. Amy lobbed her bundle of pale-pink roses in my direction, and in an attempt to avoid getting whacked in the face, I instinctively flung out my arms and the bouquet landed squarely--even gracefully--in my grasp.

It was, shockingly, a gratifying experience. Not because I felt I'd secured my ticket out of singlehood. My triumph was that I could catch anything at all. Though I'm a dedicated cyclist, any object hurtling my way had always caused me to cower. An outfielder I am not.

But the ease with which I caught those roses--and the look of envy on my fellow bridesmaids' faces--changed the whole game. At the time, I had a six-city wedding tour ahead of me so, I thought, why not go pro?

I am proud to report that my win-loss record is stellar: I have caught 12 bouquets in three years, failing only once, when I lost my concentration as the wedding's lone cute single guy approached to cheer us on. (The bouquet landed with a thud on the dance floor.)

Not that my success has come easily. Keep in mind that most brides are not concerned with transporting their bouquets from point A to point B. They are not huddling with a teammate to plot the perfect pass and win the game in overtime. They simply throw, the way a 3-year-old hurls a stuffed animal at the family cat.

Yet I seem to have this uncanny ability to anticipate the direction in which the flowers will fly. My impeccable positioning, keen intuition and Michael Jordanesque leap make me a favorite every time I step onto the dance floor.

Being part of the single crew at weddings is now fun for me, but I must admit that catching flowers is easier than catching a man. Now that I've mastered the defensive work, perhaps it's time for me to prepare for the offensive role: the quarterback making that successful pass.

Los Angeles-based freelance writer Rebecca Kotch is contemplating offering free flower-interception lessons to the city's singles.