Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wedding shorties

Hi everyone. Thank you so much for the warm welcome and the comments on my writing. It means a lot to me.

Now, on to the short bits...

The first wedding I remember going to is when I was sixteen years old. I’ve got to say I didn’t like it one bit. The bride was some relative of some friend of my mother’s, I didn’t know anybody and I hated it how my mother had me primped up. Despite all my protests, I ended up wearing a pencil skirt, a matching tailored jacket and a pair of high heeled shoes bought just for the occasion, along with my mother’s white silk T. I kept hiding in corners all of the time, enviously looking at the bridesmaids laughing and dancing in their full skirted gowns and I hated my clothes. My jacket was so tight around my shoulders I felt like I was strapped in and my feet were sore from the high heels, but the worst was the skirt that was so tight around my knees I could hardly walk in it. My mother was telling me all the time that it was alright and that no one could tell I was a boy but every time I got off my chair the skirt made me walk around in tiny mincing steps and I kept looking at the bridesmaids and thinking that next time I would be wearing something strapless and full skirted like them.

 # # #

We each sign our names under the dotted line and then the registrar says “you may now kiss the bride.” The veil is lifted and the crackle of the taffeta bridal gown strikingly overwhelms the formal silence of the chamber. I have to bend down considerably to reach Donald’s lips and I know that his mother hates it and even he is still embarrassed by it but it is my wedding and I’ll wear high heels if I want to. In my mind, I’m trying to see the picture of our embrace, the black of the suit sinking into the white of the gown until I occurs to me that we’ve probably kissing long enough and I pull my roaming tongue back into my mouth. We break our embrace and face the wedding crowd, if ten women can be called a crowd at all. The applause is a mixture of cheering and unease, which makes me think that some lipstick got smudged in our kissing. Never mind, that will be taken care of, later, I brush aside my regards for what sort of image we are presenting, but at the same time it is enough to make me resist the urge to lift him up in my arms there and then. I’ll wait until we’re out in the open. In the mean time the wedding guests are getting off their chairs to congratulate us. I detect a look of shocked disbelief in the eyes of Donald’s relatives, which makes me, subconsciously, pull my shoulders and smile triumphantly, didn’t think I’d pull it off, did you?, except for his aunt who simply kisses us on the cheeks, then uses her handkerchief to wipe the smudged lipstick, first from Donald’s face, then mine.
“You should touch up your makeup,” she says to no-one in particular as I thank her, then joins the rest of her family outside. Time to face the crowd, I think, and take Donald’s hand. I can’t keep my eyes of him, as we’re walking towards the exit. In his white gown, it seems like he’s not walking but floating on a cloud of chiffon and lace and taffeta and I can’t help myself and when we’re out of the door, Donald is already up in my arms and this time even his mother has to break out in a smile when she sees him happily squealing and kicking his legs.
# # #

There are some strange looks from the registrar when we sign our names under the dotted lines, but there have been strange looks all day and when se finally says “you may now kiss the bride” they are all forgotten. All that matters now is that I am marrying Amber, but I can’t help but to feel I’m rubbing it in the faces of those who laughed at me at first, who said she’d never marry me. Look at me now, marrying Amber. Though I have to think – am I really marrying her? Or is she marrying me? Either way, it is a wedding, and a white gown one at that. While we can’t tell who is marrying whom, there is very little doubt left that it is her who is kissing me. I’m tilting my head way back and she’s bending down to reach my lips because already taller than me, she practically towers above me on her high heels. When she wraps her strong arms around me and locks me in her dominant embrace, the message couldn’t be clearer. I can almost hear my mother complaining, at the back of my head, and I hear myself answering I know you don’t like this mummy, but what are we going to do? I’m not a very big man and Amber is so tall and so strong and I snake my arms around her neck and I’m getting lost in the moment. The feel of her tongue, roaming my mouth and the crackling sound of the wedding gown’s silk taffeta shifting between our bodies transport me to another place. I’m melting in her embrace, feeling weightless until I suddenly realize it’s no illusion but that the whole weight of my body is supported by her and not by my feet which I find they are actually dangling freely, suspended above the ground. I can’t help it but to bend them at the knees, wondering at the same time if, under the gown’s voluminous skirts, can anyone see that at all, and how high off the ground has she lifted me?

# # #

First there is the slamming of the front door. Usually I’d get angry, but this time I let it slide. Then there is the tattering of high heels on the concrete driveway, and the rustle of taffeta. After the sound of the back doors of my cars opening, the rustling gets the loudest. Then there is the sound of the doors being shut and, for a little while, all I hear is the sound of my own shoes striking the concrete floor as I walk around the car to the driver’s seat. The soft sound of the door latch opening seems to expose me, again, to the rustling and the girlish giggling. These are the sounds of my son and his girlfriend going to his sister’s wedding reception.
There are only three of us in the car, but the car is all filled up. The back-seat compartment is overrun by a mass of purple satin, chiffon and taffeta. The air in the car is filled up by a heavy scent of floral perfume. Yet it is the most subtle thing that fills up the car the most, it is the sound. I give them a brief moment to compose themselves, to overcome their nerves, so I wait before starting the car up. We don’t speak, we don’t even move, yet the silence is completely drawn out by the distinctive rustle of the taffeta. The sound itself isn’t very loud, but it is pervasive. Even with the car engine revved up, I still clearly hear the layers of the gown shifting around the back seats. By now the young couple has relaxed a bit. They chatter. They shift restlessly in their seats. They can’t keep their hands off themselves.
It is understandable. They are young. They seldom see each other dressed up as they are. I pretend not to notice what is going on but occasionally, I will glance at the rear-view mirror. After all, it was me that had helped them with their appearances today. I helped them pick their clothes. I helped them put on their clothes. I helped with the hair and makeup. Isn’t it natural I want to keep an eye out for the sight of lipstick being smudged? Golden locks being pulled out of place? I do see all that, occasionally, in the rear-view mirror. The dress is still pretty, though. Occasionally, I catch a glimpse of a pastel beige pantsuit, contemplating that it makes a nice contrast against the lustrous purple of the gown.
Eventually, I pull in the parking lot. The kids have settled down and are now inspecting the damage themselves. There is the sound of a purse opening. A compact is snapped open. Tissues are pressed against the soft skin. A tube of lipstick slides out of the housing, then I hear the sound of lips softly pressed together and opened again. The sound of a mascara brush being pulled out, slid back in after a minute. The sound of the compact being shut.
There’s no silence when the front door shuts behind me this time as I hear the sound of the wedding reception in the distance. People are laughing. People are speaking loudly. Then the back doors of my car open and again it seems I can’t hear anything over the gown’s loud rustle.
I watch my son and his girlfriend make their way to the reception. They’re holding hands, walking close together and again, the pastel beige fabric is completely engulfed in the purple satin, chiffon and taffeta. They remain together as long as they can, but eventually the moment comes when they have to take separate places. Their nerves act up again, though this time taking a visibly greater toll on my son’s composure. To calm him, his girlfriend walks with him right up to the front of the room, and they wait for his sister together. Then, whispering encouraging words in his ear, she quickly makes her way back to the chairs and sits down next to me. My eyes are locked on the center of the room, of course, but at the same time I can’t help but bask in the satisfaction at the composition of colors I helped to create. Not highlighting the purple gown anymore, the beige of her pantsuit is now the contrast to my green silk dress. And my son’s gown, even as bouffant as it is, seems to accentuate his sister’s wedding dress.
The last thing I hear before the start is girlfriends’ sighs of envy – she would like to be up there too. But there’s only one maid of honor in this wedding.

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