She scowled at me, but was soon so busy with Camille I thought I was in the clear. I wandered off to the far end of the store as I answered Mrs. Florentine’s questions about her overly-enthusiastic male/aloof female pair of beagles she was trying to breed.
I watched my mother from across the room, cringing at the styles she was trying on. I better wrap this call up and go save her from herself I thought.
“This is the one!” Gwen Ann proudly announced as I approached, her smile bright above the frothy combination of tulle, silk, and rhinestone. Camille had certainly delivered on her promise to bring the POW in a big way. My mother now resembled a glitzy bath puff. Camille stood nearby with a veil, ready to put an exclamation point on this declaration of a dress.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea to have that much bling on the dress at an outdoor wedding? You don’t want the sun’s reflection to blind your guests.”
My mom rolled her eyes at me. “When it’s the right one, you just know it Alice. You might learn that for yourself one day.”
Grrr. I had been going to try to talk her out of the dress, but maybe, as punishment, I should just let her wear what she wants, I thought.
“I know we talked about it and a wedding dress is a no-go for you, but Camille and I were chatting in the dressing room,” here my mother nodded conspiratorially at the assistant, “and I think we should get you a bridesmaid dress. How’d you like to be my maid of honor?”
I could only imagine what kind of dress my mother was picturing that would complement the poof ball she had just selected for herself. My eyes swept the possibilities running along the entire east side of the store. There were several that would work, but overall this could be risky.
“Wow, Mom. I’m flattered,” My brain scurried for an excuse not to be up in front of everybody at the ceremony. “Isn’t Aunt Vi going to be your maid of honor like the first time around? I don’t want to take her place. She’s flying in from Sacramento, right? She loves this kind of thing.” My brain spun on, continuing to look for excuses. “Anyway, I was just going to wear that same dress I wore to Stan and Monica’s wedding last summer. It’s purple. Or close to purple. Purplish. One of your wedding colors.” I mentioned that last little tidbit like a peace offering as I backed away.
“Oh, Vi,” my Mom grimaced and then gave a pained smile. “Bless her heart, I never would have chosen her in the first place, she was just available. Besides, renewing our vows is a chance to get it all right this time.”
“But,” I countered, “don’t you think it would be more authentic if the same crew were up in front of everybody? I mean, I know Dad and Barry don’t really talk to each other anymore, but isn’t he going to be the best man?”
She smirked at my comment. “Well honey,” Gwen Ann laughed and continued, “if you want the original group up in front of everybody, then you better be up on that stage with us too. I guess you just shot yourself in the foot there, Missy.” My mom wagged her finger at me and turned to admire herself in the mirror and sighed happily. “That A-line dress may have hidden everything back in the day, but I’ll finally get to have my dream dress this time around.”
I was still processing my mother’s logic in having me in the wedding party when she started up again.
“I can’t believe your Grandma Hatcher made us all lie about the dates for so long when everybody knew. I don’t know who she was trying to protect. Funny we still don’t talk about it. I mean, the woman’s been dead for ten years.”
I stood stock still except for my rapidly blinking eyes, pounding heart, and whirring mind. I’m 39. This is their 40th. Whew, it still all adds up. Wait a second, wasn’t their anniversary in December? Why are they renewing in June anyway? Did they get married in ’72? No ’73. If I’m 39, then it was ’74. Wait, that doesn’t add up either. Why won’t my brain work?!
She continued to turn back and forth in front of the mirror, her back to me. “I’d always dreamed about a June wedding and then we had to get married right after Christmas. That’s not the season for weddings. Everything was so rushed. All the stuff I’d dreamed about for my wedding since I was a little girl never happened.” Gwen Ann turned and smiled while shrugging her shoulders. “I thought I’d get a second chance to plan a wedding when you . . . well . . . someday maybe, still . . .” she trailed off.
“Anyway, I finally decided to seize the day. What’s stopping me from doing it right this time? And do you know the really amazing part? This time I know your dad is in it for the love and not just because he had to. Makes it special, you know?” She turned back to the mirror and continued to admire her reflection. “So Alice, honey, how old were you when you figured out the truth anyway? Heaven knows your love life may need a jump start, but thank goodness you’ve always been the smarty-pants in the family. I bet you weren’t very old when you put the pieces together.”
Check back tomorrow to see how Alice responds to this bit of news!