I Do

All I heard was the word married in excited muffled sounds as I listened through the window. That’s how it was with my wife and her sisters. They chatted it up on the phone on the weekends and although my wife liked to talk on the phone while walking around the block so all the neighborhood could hear, occasionally the sound of her voice would drift up under my window and I would catch a word or two.

“Faren and Dave are getting married!” she exclaimed with excitement. I could feel myself smiling at the news. My wife’s family were nice people, nice to me, nice in general and Faren, one of the nicest.

Still, I was not a fan of weddings in general and knew specifically there was no backing out of this one.

As the months rolled by, wedding details were the talk of the family. I heard “at the new house,” Richard’s plowing the fields, Dave is making furniture,” and of course Joey talking about the “fabulous food”

I had seen the new house before but nothing I saw lent itself to the 200 guest gala that they were describing. “ You’ll see.” protested my sister-in-law. It will all work out shrugged her husband.

“Isn’t Dave great?” all the relatives exclaimed whenever the topic of the wedding came up. “Great, yes great.” everyone replied.

Months, turned to weeks, then just days as the big event approached. There would be, we were told by the brides mother, tons of food, great food, delious food, food for everyone. The theme was, yes the wedding had a theme, something like a Ho Down with a country western band and food on the grill like a barbecue but more fancy.

The day of the wedding, my wife and I headed out to an Air B & B we had rented for the night of the wedding . We were coming from out of town and were warned that the wedding would go on well into the night and there would be no leaving early.

We drove over two hours to get to our air b&b and noticed as we got closer to the our destination, the street signs turned uncomfortably macabre with names like Murder Kill Road and Homicidal lane. We finally arrived at 169 Haunted Circle and upon leaving our car were immediately greeted by a black cat.

Before arriving at the house, we received a text welcoming us to 169 Haunted Circle by Iris, the “owner.” who made it clear that she lived in the house and went so far as to say, liked her house clean. She strongly urged us not to use anything that required high powered electricity, such as a chain saw or a hair dryer. I wasn’t concerned as I had left my chainsaw at home. If we took something from the refrigerator, we should please replace it, though she tells people all the time, they apparently keep taking her food and as Iris put it, “the food just disappears, thank you very much. All this was followed by, “enjoy your weekend!”

After scavenging the fridge and going through the rest of the house, I noticed a white board with further instructions indicating that if asked by anyone, we were to say that we were guests of Apollo. We didn’t know who Apollo was. I imagined he wouldn’t be too happy to discover that Iris was renting out his house as an air b&b.

“We better leave early.” said my wife after a brief break. “The parking is going to be difficult.”

By difficult she meant that when we last saw her sister’s house, the area looked like an abandoned construction site and neither of us could envision the road and pristine fields of grass that would substitute for a parking lot. Yet when we arrived we drove down a newly fashioned gravel road over a rolling hill past a small area that was used by guests who pitched tents for the weekend and finally came upon what could only be described as a parking lot.

We exited the car, my step daughter and her partner, my stepson and his wife, all donning our very best casual wear and made the mile long trek back to the house.

As other guests arrived, there was the usual hugging and kissing and Oh My Guad you look great, from cousins we hadn’t seen in a while. Most of them I recognized as familiar but mostly i knew them from stories my wife told me over the years. I knew cousin Roy only because he was famous for his Thanksgiving dinners, cousin Diane for her three failed marriages and cousin Lynn for her genius son who was killing his mother with his bad behavior.

There were several awkward moments through-out the introductions when my wife introduced me as her wife to numerous relatives that last knew my wife as a straight woman married to a guy named David. Aunt Carol in particular couldn’t seem to contain her confusion.

The ceremony, typically a solemn reminder of why we are all gathered together, was light hearted and even funny. The newly minted minister wore a cowboy hat and I found myself enjoying the ceremony despite the fact that I had forgotten to bring something to drink and was already regretting my wardrobe choice. I had not worn more than shorts and a tee shirt for nearly three months and now felt utterly constricted in my linen pants and long sleeve blouse.

By the time the I do’s came around, I was dying of thirst and envisioned myself, fully clothed, jumping into the pool right around the corner from the bar.

Soon after getting settled, cousin Lynn made the mistake of asking about several relatives that had died long ago. She jokingly reminded us that “that’s what happens when we don’t get together often” although Uncle Herb had been dead for almost 10 years.

The line for the food was long. These guests were serious about plating up and it took almost an hour to get my artichoke dip and crostini. I found a seat at the kids table but after discussing the merits of whether or not to get a tattoo, I soon realized that no one would notice if I slipped out for a minute to take a toke or two from the joint I had brought with me.

I excused myself from the table to no one in particular and made my way out of the giant party tent and down wind from the other guests. After a couple of tokes I found myself pondering the gravel under my feet and noticing the view in a way I never had before.

I started playing with my phone and noticed the battery was almost dead. I took several more tokes from the joint and informed my wife that I was going back to the car to charge my phone. She offered to find a charger in the house but by then I was getting tired and looking forward to closing my eyes while sitting in the front seat of my car.

The walk back to the car somehow seemed longer than I had remembered it and by the time I reached the area designated as a campground, I was regretting my plan and considered walking back. I could no longer hear the chatter of the wedding guests or the music. I felt miles away. While walking to the car I was overcome with a swell of hunger and tried to recall if there was any food in the car. I remembered a bag of Cheetos and hoped they were still there. By the time I reached the car, I was overcome by thirst and was lucky enough to find a warm can of soda to wash down my Cheetos.

I felt victorious. I can’t exactly say why except that after I plugged my phone in, I turned on the air conditioning, cracked open that warm soda and popped a Cheeto in my mouth. I delicately took the Cheeto out of the bag carefully as to not get the Cheeto dust on my white shirt. I turned on the radio and listened to a live police chase of a shooter who stole a mail truck as his get-a-way car. I kept thinking how none of the other guests knew anything about the shooting and how I would come back to the wedding and tell everyone how the shooter had shot as many as 20 people.

I closed my eyes and sleepily listened to the police chase while keeping one eye on the clock and one eye on my phone. By the time my phone was at 90 percent, my wife had come to the car to retrieve me and my little Cheeto party was over.

Back at the wedding, I noticed two young boys playing catch with a football and now two naked kids were swimming in the pool. The line for the food was long so I went back to the kiddie table and told everyone about the shooting. People acted surprised however no one seemed at all curious as to how I had heard the news and I wasn’t about to tell.

While waiting for the food line to go down, I took note of the centerpiece on the table; a rubber glove with nail polish painted on the fingertips, next to a conical shape with a sink strainer glued to it all spray painted pink.

I soon discovered every table had a different centerpiece, each unique and somewhat bazaar.

I reminded myself that these folks were artists and what did I know about art anyway. Maybe this was how Piccasso got his start.

I finally gave in and joined the line to get the fabulous food that my sister-in-law had promised and it did not fail to deliver. The food was fabulous, and the bride was beautiful and Richard did one heck of a job on plowing those fields.

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