NICE DAY FOR A WEDDING

“Well, we got lucky, sweetheart; the rain held off. Ella, are you ready? The musicians are waiting for my signal.”

I could hear the sound of my dad’s voice but his words were garbled like I was under water and my thoughts were being carried away by the current. When I didn’t answer, my dad motioned for one of the musicians and told him to “just keep playing”.

My dad and I were always close, even more after my mom passed away last year. He knew me better than anyone; when I didn’t answer his question, he stood silently by my side waiting patiently. I knew he was concerned and I loved him more than ever for not pushing me.

We were standing at the doorway to my future. A hundred or so guests sat far enough away so that I could not see them nor could they see me. The top of a white tent far down the pathway on the left side was barely visible – the tent where my groom James was waiting. 

We fell in love with the view of this breathtaking winery after attending a wine tasting with friends. All we could talk about for weeks afterwards was how lush and green everything looked; James said he couldn’t think of a more beautiful spot to get married. Next thing I knew we were engaged and now, at the worst possible moment, I was having doubts.

My relationship with James was meteoric; we met at a bar where we were both plastered. I had just split with my long-term boyfriend and on the same day learned that my mother had pancreatic cancer. James’ fiancé had just broken off their engagement after learning she was pregnant by some other guy and was going to marry her baby daddy. Needless to say we were both miserable; even in a drunken state our antennae went up and we found each other, commiserated, got even more drunk, went back to his place and had sex.

What should have been a one-night stand turned into a relationship and in record time we were “a thing”. James is a doctor which impressed the hell out of my mother and she fell instantly in love with him. He was wonderful to her; that’s something I will never deny. Mom kept saying what a great catch he was, how I shouldn’t let him get away. Her dying wish was for us to be married. 

And why not? We weren’t kids, we both had great jobs, we wanted the same things in life and we were in love. But shortly after my mom passed away, I began to feel not so much in love with James as I thought I was. Sweeping away the detritus of negative thoughts from my head, we set a date for the wedding. How could I break a promise to my mother? How could I ignore my commitment to James? My heart told me one thing while my brain told me another. I shut out the voices in my head and they were quiet for a while. Today, on my wedding day, my brain was screaming at me.

The pathway leading to the tent seemed incredibly long and I could easily imagine myself escaping down one of the side paths between the hedges. What kind of thought was that for a bride on her wedding day? I was not one for fanciful imaginings; what I was feeling was very real. My knees buckled slightly and my dad steadied me.

“Talk to me, kiddo.”

I turned to face my dad. “Daddy” was all I managed to eke out before the tears started. I hadn’t called my father Daddy in years. 

Dad magically produced a handkerchief. “What’s going on, honey?”

“This doesn’t feel right, Dad. I’m about to marry James because of a promise I made to Mom.”

“Ella, if you want to back out, I’ll stand by whatever decision you make. But it’s best for everyone if you do it now, not after you’re married.”  

My dad’s love for me was boundless and all I could manage to say was “But you spent so much money to make this day perfect.”

Dad put his hands on my shoulders. “Damn the money and damn the promises. All I want is for you to be happy. If you think this is a mistake, say the word. My car is parked right outside.”

“What about James?” I asked biting my bottom lip.

“I’ll talk to him privately, Ella. Don’t worry about that.”

I looked at my dad and quickly nodded. He reached into his pocket and handed me the keys to his car.

Go on now. I have some explaining to do.” He kissed my cheek and took off down the aisle.

NAR © 2022

In response to Sadje’s picture prompt on What do you see #158 October 31, 2022

I GEMELLI

Resemblance can be a freaky thing. Supposedly everyone has a doppelgänger; someone out there is a duplicate of you with your mother’s eyes, your father’s nose and that annoying mole you’ve always wanted to have removed. Apparently there’s a 1 in 135 chance that there are several pairs of clones walking around, each completely unaware of the other’s existence.

Speaking of doppelgängers, my husband has an identical twin – exactly the same in every way except their political leanings and choice in women. All their lives people have called Bill by his brother’s name and the same is true of Jim. Even our sons look more like brothers than cousins and have been confusing people for years.

In his late teens Bill had a cyst just below his right eye. After surgery he was left with a tiny, almost imperceptible scar. At last, something to differentiate the twins! A few months later while doing repairs on a boat, Jim turned his head abruptly, banged into a pipe and cut his face. He now has a tiny, almost imperceptible scar in the exact place as Bill. Identical right down to their scars!

My cousin Franco has lived his entire life in Sicily. The first time my family traveled to Europe I was about 14 years old and met my cousin for the first time. The strong resemblance between us was undeniable. We could easily pass for fraternal twins or, at the very least, siblings. It was simultaneously amusing and disconcerting for both of us. Everyone referred to us as “I Gemelli” “The Twins” – so named for the thin tubes of pasta twisted around each other. Fifty-plus years later and our resemblance remains strong; however, Franco has a mustache and beard and I, fortunately, do not!

It’s been said, and scientists concur, that the longer people have a pet the more they begin to resemble that pet. Pure-bred dogs have been matched to their owners by strangers time and time again. I wonder if the same can be said about husbands and wives or perhaps even friends. Apparently, that phenomenon is true. I can’t explain it – I’m not a scientist, just a writer of stories. However, the possibility became quite real when events unfolded at my son’s wedding.

There were many people in attendance, friends and family alike. My sister Rosemarie was one of the guests as was Debby, my next-door neighbor and best friend for the past 35 years. I should point out at this time that while Rosemarie and I have some familial similarities, we really don’t look alike.

Time arrived for the family photo session. The music was playing, people were dancing the Macarena and mingling about. Janet, the wedding photographer was scrambling around trying to wrangle immediate family members for photos. Craning her neck for a better look into the crowded room, Janet turned to me in surprise and said, “You’ve been keeping secrets from me!”

I was rather perplexed by that comment and asked Janet what she meant, to which she replied, “I know your husband has a twin brother but I had no idea you have a twin sister!”

Then it hit me: Janet was talking about my friend Debby who does indeed look a lot more like my sister than my real sister! Many people have said we look like twins and it just so happened, totally by coincidence, that Debby and I were wearing the same dress that day; the only difference was I wore deep purple while Debby chose black.

I laughed and said to Janet “I really hate to burst your bubble but she’s not my sister; she’s my best friend.” I spotted Rosemarie in the crowd and pointed her out to the photographer. “See the woman in the cream-colored dress? That’s my sister.”

It took a lot of convincing for Janet to accept the fact that Debby wasn’t my twin sister; I think she may still be somewhat skeptical. I wonder: would the same people who matched the pet owners with their dogs match me and Debby as twins?

You be the judge.

Me and Debby
Rosemarie and me

NAR © 2020

BADDA BING, BADDA BOOM!

Justice of the Peace? You wanna elope, Angie? Our parents haven’t even discussed the wedding!”  

“Exactly, Taylor, and it’s gonna stay that way!” said Angie in her best Marisa Tomei voice. “Let me ask you a question. Have you ever been to an Italian wedding? No? That’s what I thought. There are two things I know for a fact – #1: our parents couldn’t be more different and #2: left in the hands of my family, our wedding will be a circus, complete with unicycling-jugglers and a magician. Remember my cousin Gina’s engagement party?  Well, picture that ten times worse. Forget about an elegant ceremony in your parent’s country club like your sister had, with one maid of honor and a best man. There will be no dainty hors d’oeuvres and flutes of champagne served by an attentive waitstaff followed by dinner of Beef Wellington and fingerling potatoes. The delicate wedding cake with gold leaf flowers? Ain’t gonna happen. Our romantic wedding night in the country club honeymoon suite? Fugetaboutit! My parents are old school, Taylor, and only want a real Italian wedding. My father would rather swim through the shark-infested Straits of Messina than go against tradition. Now picture this: the ceremony will be held at St. Vito’s Church with my mother’s uncle, Monsignor DelFino, officiating. There will be at least ten bridesmaids and groomsmen, a flower girl and a ring bearer. The reception will be held at The Villa Barone catering hall where my brother-in-law Carlo, the newly-elected volunteer fire chief, had a sweet sixteen birthday party for his daughter.The cocktail hour will be a cash bar with antipasto served buffet style. The reception dinner will be Italian wedding soup, penne alla vodka, salad and a choice of chicken, prime rib or fish. The cake will be five, maybe six tiers. My cousin Vinnie will play the tarantella on his accordion, followed by the pièce de résistance – the Viennese Dessert Hour and flaming cherries jubilee. Our wedding night will be spent sitting around the kitchen table with you, me and my mother counting the money we got for wedding gifts while my father records everything in an accounting book like a cigar-chomping Iamblichus. OR ….. we go to City Hall, get hitched and spend two luscious weeks in sunny Aruba. Your call.” 

“Are you kidding me, Angie?  Say no more. City Hall awaits!” 

NAR © 2018