Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 12


Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

The wedding was a modest affair held in a lakeside lodge adjacent to the nearby state park.  Sis had considered an outdoor wedding, but Nelson insisted on getting married in April, and a fifty-three degree New England day squashed that dream.

    Wandering the grounds, I saw many of my sister’s friends who had recruited me for the failed intervention a year ago (almost three years from my perspective).  They would all put on their best fake smiles and make idle chitchat with Nelson’s guests, then turn to each other and begin their vicious sewing circle of behind the back talk.  We’d see how many stepped forward when it came time to ask those who objected to speak now or forever hold their peace.

    I considered blinking home to outfit myself in proper wedding attire even though the traditional dress code didn’t technically apply to me given my condition, but fear of turning up in that hospital again outweighed any awkwardness I felt being amongst the sharp dressed crowd.  Either way it was too late now, as the same condition made blinking both forward and back with any expectation of landing on the same day an impossible dream, so I was forced to stay in the scrubs. 

    After dragging my drunken younger self home and letting him sleep off a portion (but not all) of his bender, I had slapped him awake and forced him to show me the objection speech.  He hadn’t remembered the fight, our late night conversation, passing out, or even getting home.  But since we had managed to arrive there safely, he believed me when I told him he had asked for my help with his objection.  He also seemed excited to have the validation that somebody else agreed it was a good idea.

    We edited his draft, transposed it onto some four by six index cards, and rehearsed the exact point in the ceremony to be ready for when presenting the priest with our objection.  Editing went much easier than expected.  The initial draft was fine—I primarily just peppered the rewrite with bits and pieces thought up in the next year that I wish I would have said originally.  Being that we’re the same person, my younger self and I tended to be on the same page regarding style and word choice.  Still, it was refreshing to have a deep conversation with myself while actually vocalizing thoughts without seeming crazy.  We could relate on just about anything, though I chose not to reintroduce the fact that I was him.  The jilted sister suitor angle seemed to work better as long as I applied incesticide to the undertones.  By the end of the night he was so groggy I figured he’d forget everything else as well.  I actually made him pin the objection to the inside of his front door and leave himself a note to read it at the wedding as insurance.

    Most of the guests were in their seats as the appointed time drew near.  I worried that I should have stuck around to make sure younger me dragged himself out of bed and was in attendance for his own performance.  It looked like I would once again not be visibly attending, though this time it wouldn’t be exclusively out of protest.  Where was that damn kid?

    Finally I saw him stagger in.  He was a bit disheveled in his wrinkled blue suit, but at least he was here.  Since I was a late addition to the guest list and hadn’t been to rehearsal, I wasn’t actually in the ceremony.  A seat had been assigned for me in the second row of the lodge where I would sit behind my parents with the ushers and other nonessential members of the wedding party.  In the original history my father had called and offered me a last minute ushership, but in this case it appeared that other me had wisely turned it down as I had.  Probably for the best, as it would be rather hypocritical for a member of the wedding party to stage a coup mid-ceremony.

    The early stages of the service leading up to the reunion of the intended were painful to watch, so I mainly focused on the crowd.  Careless whispers, fake smiles, real smiles, tears of joy, tears of dread.  Emotions ran the full gamut, but it was easy to discern the difference between the allies of the bride and the groom.  The groom’s relations and guests beamed as if they had won the lottery, and in a way they had.  Their man Nelson was way out of his league.  In the other corner, we’ve already been over the notion of settling down, so I won’t rehash it here.

    Instead, let’s discuss my pet peeve of people who won’t stand up for what they believe in.  Who elect to adhere to the traditional rules of good manners set down by society so scrupulously that they would allow an abomination such as this to occur unchallenged.  We’ve all experienced and/or participated in it time and time again.

    “Is she really going out with him?”

    “Her boyfriend is a real tool shed.”

    “That bitch has him whipped.”

    “I don’t know why he stays with her.”

    “Good thing she’s pretty.”

    Etc, etc.

    When the lights go up and the curtains go down and the couple in question is around, not a single derogatory comment is uttered.  It’s all buttons and bows, nice to meet you, good to see you, how you doing, let’s all get together again real soon.  Seldom is heard a discouraging word.  But as soon as the couple departs for the evening the stories of disaster, humiliation, and ridicule follow in full force before the echo of the door closing behind them has softened. 

    Why not speak up?  Isn’t that what friends are for?  Isn’t keeping the people you care about amused and out of trouble a primary tenet of camaraderie?  What ever happened to making a pact to bring salvation back?  Aren’t the tougher curves life throws at someone the most important times for friends to step in?  As soon as a relationship ends, friends will line up to say things such as:

    “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

    “I never really thought you two were that good together.”

    “Goodbye to you girl.  She’s skanky anyways.”

    “You could have done better.”

    Etc, etc.

    After finally breaking the silence and the metaphorical ice, both shunned lover and friend will engage in a bashfest of the dearly departed for the rest of their lives now that it’s the proper thing to do.  All memories of the “good” times will be soon forgotten, and badmouthing will be almost encouraged from this point onwards.

    I think my reaction would be “Why the hell didn’t you say anything?  You could have given me back two years of my life!”  Or, in this case, maybe a lot more...

    Of course, there is usually a brave soul who will try to intervene if an affair or some kind of abuse is going on, but these extreme cases are the exception.  Why not just object on the basis that one’s significant other is a schmuck who only wants a wife so he can feel like a normally functioning member of society?  Or because he couldn’t give a damn which lucky girl filled the role so long as someone did?

    And if the couple in question ends up married, there’s usually not a peep before or during the wedding ceremony.  Afterwards the silent haters can always fall back on the “forever hold your peace” line to justify their inaction, but that’s just a cop out.  You can’t have it both ways, adhering to “forever hold your peace” but ignoring the more important preceding “speak now.”

    Which brings us to the part of the program you’ve been waiting for.

    “Do you, Nelson, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

    “I do,” was his obvious reply.

    Wait!  What happened to my cue?  You can’t have a wedding without asking for objections.  But it seems that they had.  The church had failed me again.  I must have missed the memo on the change in wedding procedures.  Why can’t the church leave well enough alone and honor the sense of tradition they were allegedly built on?  You could say I lost my belief due to modernizing stunts like this.  I might actually still believe if that hadn’t been the case.

    The priest continued. “And do you...”

    Our plan hadn’t taken this twist into account.  Unsure of what to do next, I knew it had to be quick.  So I screamed at the top of my lungs, knowing only one person would hear me.

    “SPEAK NOW!!”

    Up in the front row, I saw my father tense his shoulders an instant before young me stepped forward to interrupt the ceremony.  With his arm outstretched high and in an intonation even louder than mine, he voiced the two magic words that could stop time.