Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 12


Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

   “I OBJECT!!”

    The crowd was stunned for differing reasons.  The groom’s side could hardly believe this was happening and began to chatter amongst themselves.  That is, everyone except for an attractive older woman and her escort in the front row, whose actions led me to correctly presume they were Nelson’s parents.  They were dumbfounded, but not quite speechless.  His mother tried to get an explanation from anyone in her vicinity, but her protests fell on deaf ears.  Meanwhile, the bride’s team buzzed with anticipation, somewhat shocked that I actually had the balls to go through with this.  I wondered if this had ever actually happened before, half proud of myself for bringing an old wives’ tale to life.

    My mother had one hand over her mouth while the other squeezed my father’s arm so tightly it was impeding his circulation.  I had a good look at my dad as he surveyed the room.  As his eyes scanned past mine I could see his expression was close to neutral, but definitely ready to turn if the situation got too far out of line.

    As younger me strutted his way past the stunned trio of bride, groom, and clergyman, I briefly wondered if this stunt would positively or negatively influence any chance I had of scoring with the maid of honor.  Previously my sister’s roommate, she was one of the girls who went behind her back to confide in me that I needed to put an end to this.  She was also one of my botched infatuations from days gone by.  Maybe a single gallant gesture would be all that was needed to win her over.  Or maybe the curse already ruled her out since Mom knew her name prior to the start of my crush, sealing the predestiny from the start.  (I know my younger self was technically attached to the redheaded girl at this point, but she was so far removed from my modern brain that I was free to consider rekindling other possibilities.  Besides, your mind gets dirty as you get closer to thirty.)

    I watched myself reach the podium and fish out the index cards.  Tapping the microphone before he spoke, I realized it wasn’t working at the same time he did.  Undeterred, he turned to the priest.

    “Can we turn this thing on?  I’m trying to object here, and I have a prepared statement.”

    “I didn’t ask for any objections,” was the stern reply from his holiness.

    “Under the circumstances, you really should have.  Could I please have a microphone before I...” he trailed off, whispering something he didn’t want the crowd to hear.

    Our backup plan involved telling the priest he knew of some alter boys ready to make a confession to the local authorities.  The scandal in question wouldn’t break in earnest for a few years and I had no evidence regarding this particular priest, but I figured the odds were good that the cover-up had already started by now and was common knowledge among the insiders of the religious community.  Younger me had already started his break from the church and had no problem stating the threat.

    It worked like a charm, as the priest slowly and deliberately plucked the wireless microphone from the collar of his robe and handed it to his accuser.  Love the sinner, hate the sin, keep it quiet, swallow everything.  Younger me walked back to the podium to start his speech.

    “I’d like to begin with a quote by Edmund Burke.  ‘All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing.’  Though I’m not here today to tell you that Nelson is evil in a devilish or antichrist sense, I do think that I’d be letting evil win if I did nothing.  So being a good man I’ve decided to act.”

    I nodded in agreement and encouragement from the back.  He took a deep breath and continued.

    “Although I stand alone here, there are others in this room who share my sentiment yet choose to keep it to themselves, to forever hold their peace as it may be.  Forever is a long time, so I am in part speaking out and casting the first stone to show that there is no shame in the truth and only good may come of it.”

    Though the crowd remained silent, they were certainly paying attention.  Nelson’s father stood up to comment but couldn’t find the words or the voice and sat back down.  His wife whispered something to him, then folded her arms and slid her chair slightly away from his in a very Nelsonian manner.

    Young me went on:  “I’ll admit that I don’t know the groom very well.  But I do know the effect he has had on my sister, and it hasn’t been very positive.  Her usually high spirits are withdrawn, she barely speaks with her best friends, and her giving soul has been smothered to the point where it’s nearly undetectable.  A candle cannot continue to burn under these circumstances, and I would hate to think that one that once burned so bright could possibly be extinguished in a few years time if these circumstances were to continue.”

    I tried to convince myself to change that last line to read “Seventeen months time,” but refused to give him my reasoning.  “A few years” was close enough to get the point across.

    “Many of you are wondering how I could have the nerve to stand here knowing that my outburst will blemish this day.  I have no problem making one day seemingly horrible if over time it will serve to make the next nineteen thousand days to follow that much brighter for my sister and the rest of the world, which will be a far better place with her in it.

    “I’ll now relinquish the floor for a supporting statement if any are willing to stand by me.  I trust there won’t be any honest rebuttals from anyone who has ever seen the couple together, so please don’t waste my time with a half-hearted and transparent lie.  The choice is yours, sis.  I do what I do because I love you.”

    With that, he walked off stage and out the back door.

“I think we got the message across,” younger me said through an ear-to-ear grin.

    The two of us were standing in a field between the wedding site and the access road to the park, maybe fifty yards from the lodge that housed the main event.  My counterpart wanted to walk and talk since he was cold, but I insisted we stay in one general area because it was relatively flat and the first spot I had found where the level of my feet and the ground were on par with each other.  I doubted much attention would be paid to my feet, but walking down a hill or in higher grass could require some explaining.

    “We definitely gave them something to talk about,” was my reply.

    I hadn’t focused on the faces of the crowd while making my hasty exit, but now the moment of truth was approaching–literally.  One of those faces was storming towards us with an expression of anger rather than wonderment.  As the face got closer, it took on enough form to be identified as “she.”  Both versions of me recognized her at the same time.  It was the mother of the groom.

    Nelson’s Mom wasted no time, immediately taking a swing at me with her right hand.  The blow traveled through my head and slapped the me she could see across the face with a painful sounding thwack.

    “How dare you ruin this day!  Your sister is very good for my son, and all that will be accomplished by your foolish stunt is...is...” she struggled to unpack the adjectives to finish with, finally settling for “Well, nothing good!” followed by another slap to the face, this time to the opposite cheek with her left hand.  Gauging the look of pain in my eyes, she must have been ambidextrous.

    Young me paused for a beat to compose himself before calmly addressing his attacker with a reprise of his objection speech.

    “Ma’am, I completely agree that my sister is very good for your son.  He likely couldn’t do better.  But she certainly could.  He’s taken her life away, ruining everything, and in turn taking the life out of everyone she knows and loves.  Is that what a good marriage should be based on?”

    Midway through this speech I had walked behind and prepared to restrain my other self in case I did something stupid like take a swing at Nelson’s Mom.  It appeared that cooler heads were prevailing, so I backed off slightly while staying on guard.