Tag Archive | wedding

Short Story Time — THE WEDDING

Sunday morning short story time. Enjoy.

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The Wedding

2013 Copyright Barbara Celeste McCloskey

 

Through the glass doors of the chapel, I see an empty space except for my second husband Ken and two other friends of the bride and groom. None of the groom’s family is here. None of my family is here either. Grandmas and Grandpas should be looking on. Brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles are missing, too.

The wedding coordinator opens the doors, and we hear a tinny-sounding electric piano plunk out the wedding march. I look at my daughter, ask if she’s ready, and take her arm as we both step on the pink carpet. But, I want to yell “STOP!”

I can’t, though. It’s not my wedding. It’s what my daughter chose. But I hold tears back because we should be in the church where she was baptized and confirmed, not in some Las Vegas chapel. Her father should be here walking down the aisle with us, but he’s not.

The chapel is a beautiful place in a very false way. It’s painted soft off-white with pink accents. All the pews are padded and covered with white vinyl. The altar is decorate with huge sprays of silk flowers that have no fragrance. The greens, yellows, pinks, and white shades will be a very beautiful backdrop for the photographs, I’m sure.

As we journey up the aisle, I feel my daughter’s tension release when she sees her man. He’s waiting at the altar looking like James Bond in a black tux. Another man dressed in a fifteen hundred dollar business suit stands between the groom and his best man.

As we stand in front of the altar, the man in the expensive business suit shouts, “Who gives this woman to this man?” I stand frozen. Pastor Steve should be asking this question. He should be here in his collar and wedding vestments – not this clown who earlier introduced himself as Reverend Bob.

Finally, with a dry throat, I speak. “I do, her mother.” I let go of my little girl, kiss her cheek and take my place beside Ken in the front pew. The couple turns and faces Reverend Bob, as they do, recorded music that must have been arranged by Yanni plays. Then a photographer positions himself in the aisle and the show is on.

Reverend Bob’s voice booms throughout the empty chapel. “You’ve come here in the presence of God to become man and wife . . .”

My mind drifts to the day my daughter called and told me she wanted to elope, but she wanted me there. Two days later we sat in a travel agency, booking the Rose Wedding Package at the Flamingo Hilton, and in one phone call and eighteen hundred dollars later, the wedding was planned.

As my daughter and her man repeat their vows, I fight to hold tears back. They are smiling at each other, wearing the love for each other in their dark eyes. I notice a sparkle of a pair of earrings her deceased Auntie Ginger gave her, but then the photographer moves in closer, and the Yanni music swells, and the spell is broken.

Reverend Bob drawls in a loud voice, “And  now for the éx-change of weddin’ rings.” He holds the gold bands in his hand and studies them like he’d never saw a pair of rings before. After achieving the desired dramatic effect for the video cameras, he says, “These rings represent your cov-en-ant you are makin’ to each other. When you look at them, they should remind you of the vows you are makin’ today.”

He grins a toothy smile, pauses again, and then continues in his annoying western twang, “Rings are a perfect symbol of love because they are an un-endin’ circle that has no beginnin’ and no endin’. God placed love in your hearts, and after you leave here, you will wear a visible sign to the WHOLE world that you are married.

Reverend Bob lowers his voice. “Honey, turn a little to the right so the photographer can get a better shot.” My daughter adjusts herself according to his stage direction. Then he says, “Do you want to put the ring over the glove, darlin’?”

She blushes. “Oh . . . no. I’ll take it off.” My daughter wears a gold bracelet her sister gave her for her sixteenth birthday on her left wrist over her long, white glove. I’m so happy she was sentimental enough to wear mementos from family members who couldn’t be here. Little by little, the stubborn glove comes down, but the bracelet hinders fast progress. “I’m sorry.” She whispers.

Reverend Bob says, “Don’t worry, honey. Take your time. This is your day.” Then he winks at her. “And, besides this is my last weddin’ for today. There’s no need to rush.”

Pulling, tugging, stretching, and finally giggling, the glove finally comes off. The rings are exchanged and Reverend Bob wipes his brow with a silk handkerchief like he’s working hard. Even though the place is air-conditioned, he’s sweating like a horse.

Now it’s time for the big finish. Reverend Bob’s voice takes on a dream-like quality, which reminds me of a DJ on a late-night jazz radio station. “And now as a happy couple, who has pledged their love in front of God and these witnesses, I want you to take a few silent moments to look into each other’s eyes.”

On that cue, the damn Yanni music swells again.

After the proper chord is reached, Reverend Bob says, “I want you to stop the clock.” He pauses. “I want you to go back to the very SECOND that you ré-al-ized you didn’t want to live ONE MORE DAY without each other. I want you to go back to the SECOND when you knew life would have NO meaning if you weren’t together.” He pauses again.

I’m thinking – for godsakes, man – this is a wedding, not a Vegas floor show.

My thoughts are interrupted when he speaks again in a booming voice. “And now that you both are in THAT moment, I want you to leave this pretty little chapel and become each other’s ad-ver-tíse-ment. Always bring HONOR to each other. Become helpmates to each other. Celebrate your victories. CLING to each other when life gets hard. But always re-mem-ber the love you feel today – AS GREAT AS IT IS – will deepen as you go through the years together.”

Reverend Bob stops, raises his hand and his voice crescendos. “And by the powers vested in me by the GREAT STATE OF NEVADA, I prṓ-nounce you HUSBAND AND WIFE!” He lowers his arms and says, “You can kiss your bride.” He grins for the camera, and I half expect him to take a bow.

Reverend Bob has one more command as he directs the bride and groom. “Turn around and face the audience.” As my daughter takes her new husband’s arm, Reverend Bob shouts, “It is my great pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, to present . . .” He takes a deep breath, and the tinny-sounding piano replaces the Yanni music as the newly married couple rushes down the pink aisle. I hear the rustle of her beautiful dress and the two of them giggling as they go out into the hallway.

I feel the love they have for each other, and of course, I cry. My heart is pounding and now I’m sweating up my matronly mother-of-the-bride dress. My first born is beginning a new life, and I finally have a son. Ken kisses my cheek and takes my hand. We walk up the aisle and I feel sadness for everyone who missed this, sweet, simple wedding with a Vegas spin.

My daughter rushes toward me and she gives me a kiss. “Mom, we did it!” Her eyes are as wide as they were when she was four and discovered she could tie her own shoes.

I hug her. “Was it everything you dreamed of?”

“Oh yes, Mom. It was perfect. I got to be the princess, and I married my handsome prince. And I know we’ll live happily ever after.”

Now it was time for more pictures out in the “tropical” garden on the Flamingo property.

Before we join the wedding party, Ken says, “I know this isn’t the wedding you wanted for her, but you made her happy on her special day.” He puts his arm around me. “And Reverend Bob had one thing right.”

“Oh yeah, what was that?” I grinned.

“He said as time goes on, love will grow. And that’s what’s so amazing. Just when I think I can’t possibly love you any more, you do something incredible like you did today, and somehow my love for you grows more.” He kisses me like we were the ones who just got married.

A teardrop rolls down my cheek. “Shucks, darling,’” I say in a Reverend Bob drawl, “You just say all the right stuff.” I laugh and brush the tear away. “Let’s go have some fun!”

We run out of the chapel and join the others on the lawn where my daughter has never been more beautiful.

The Wedding

Good morning, everyone. It’s Sunday Story Time. Pour your coffee and enjoy this tale about a Las Vegas wedding.

book clipart

The Wedding

2013 Copyright Barbara Celeste McCloskey

 

My daughter and her fiance left for Las Vegas by car two days before my husband Ken and I boarded a “FunJet.” We were early enough to get the best seats on the plane—right behind the bulkhead. That meant for three hours we stared at a carpeted wall. But unlike all the other passengers who were packed in like sardines, we had leg room.

“And what can I get you to drink?” A male flight attendant in a navy blue uniform asked.

“Ginger Ale, please.” I answered. For some reason, I only drink ginger ale on airplanes.

“There you are, miss.” He handed the golden liquid that was poured over too much ice.

“Thank you.” I said, knowing not to complain.

I turned to my husband, “He must want a tip, huh?” He called me “Miss.” I laughed.

Ken leaned over and kissed my check. “No, sweetheart. You look like a “Miss.”

“Why am I feeling so old, then?”

“It’s probably because your daughter is getting married tomorrow. Don’t all women feel that way when they see their daughters in wedding dresses?”

“I can’t speak for other women.” I said pouting. “You know what I wish?”

“What’s that?”

“I wish they will find the same happiness we’ve found together.” I leaned over and kissed his cheek. He smiled and took my hand.

 

We landed on schedule, and Mabel from the travel agency told us to take the Vegas Express shuttle to the Flamingo Hotel. There were dozens of buses lined up outside the baggage claim area and ours was the last one in the queue.

A skinny man leaned against the shuttle bus. He wore a large black Stetson pulled down over his eyes with a large white feather sticking out of the headband; he also had a toothpick sticking out of his mouth. He wore a red and blue plaid long-sleeve shirt with pearl studs for buttons. His pointy snakeskin cowboy boots with two-inch heels made this slight man appear very tall. Lose-fitting Levi’s were held up by a thick leather belt with a silver belt buckle as large as a hubcap. I giggled as I thought he must have seen one too many Marlboro cigarette commercials.

As Ken and I got closer to him, I noticed he didn’t bend his knees; I surmised he must have been breaking in a new pair of jeans. He tipped his hat like a throw-back from the saloon days and revealed his bulbous nose, a ruddy complexion, and a scraggly salt-and-pepper mustache. His ears stuck out like wings under his hat. “Howdy, ma’am. Welcome to Las Vegas! My name is Gus. What hotel you folks stayin’ at?” He smiled to reveal he was missing a front tooth.

I smiled back. “Thank you, Gus. We’re going to the Flamingo.” I handed him my overstuffed suitcase.

“All righty then.” Gus grunted as he threw our luggage into the belly of the bus.

Ken pushed me to the very back of the bus. “That guy is scary and I think he has a hanker’ for you, dahlin’.”

I laughed.  “Well, we are in Vegas, dahlin’” I drawled back at him.

Several more people boarded after us, and Gus announced over the loud speaker in a heavy western accent, “Ladies and gentlemen make yourselves comfortable, and we’ll get underway in gist a sec’.”

A few minutes later, he dropped down into the driver’s seat and looked into the overhead mirror. “For those of you who have never been to the desert before, let me be the first one to welcome you to the land of “lost wages.” He laughed at his own joke. No one else joined him. Gus muttered, “tough crowd,” and pulled away from the curb.

He shifted into a higher gear as we pulled onto the highway. ““Come on, folks, loosen up—you’re goin’ to have a great time!  But while you’re here, you listen to ol’ Gus. Drink plenty of water. Now I know, the fancy alcoholic drinks are more fun, but those snake oils will not only give you a headache the next day, they’ll dry out faster than a bed sheet on a windy day. Worst part is, you won’t even know you’re drying out before you’re faintin’ dead away. Don’t get sick. Be smart. You don’t think I got this pretty face from keeping myself hydrated, do ya?”

This time everyone on the bus laughed.

Gus smile. He knew he had his crowd. “I like to think of myself as the airport shuttle ambassador.” Gus gained speed as he moved expertly through traffic. “I’ll be happy to answer any questions about our little oasis—providin’ your question doesn’t have anything to do with the art of gambling.’ I never did figger out how to beat the house. Don’t think it’s even possible.”

Gus was quiet as he turned at a busy intersection. After the turn was completed, Gus continued. “Now, where was I?” He paused for a second. “Oh yeah—I know it’s hard to believe, but drivin’ an airport shuttle wasn’t my first career choice when I came out here twenty-five years ago. I was going to be a famous high roller, but somehow that just didn’t work out.”

Gus had wormed his way into the ears of the bus riders as they laughed again.

Knowing he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, Gus went on talking. “Now, old Gus is goin’ to give you a little history lesson about our lovely city. Did you know that “Las Vegas” means “The Meadows,” and its first visitors were the Paiute Indians? It seems there’s a natural spring just north of downtown which was source of refreshment for them in the olden days. By the 1850’s the Mormons built a small mission and fort here. Can’t say if there still around.” Gus laughed. “And then in 1902, the railroad bought up most of the land and where the tracks went through, twelve hundred lots were sold.” Gus gulped some water from a cup he had on the dash. “That was the start of our fine city.”

“Before Hoover Dam got built, Vegas was a pretty sleepy little place. But that project brought outta-work men here from all over the country. Remember during the depression, it was damn hard to find a good job.” He laughed at his pun.

“About the same time the dam was being built, gamblin’ was legalized. When ol’ Bugsy Siegel came to town in 1946, he had big ideas for the place. He helped build the Flamingo. Everybody said he was nuts for thinkin’ rich people would come all the way out here just for gamblin’, but old Bugsy was right. He made that hotel so big and flashy high rollers from around the world eventually found the place. But Bugsy made some big mistakes; first, he opened the place prematurely before the “bugs” in the hotel had been worked out, then he couldn’t pay the mob back for their investment when his floozy Hollywood actress girlfriend skimmed money off the top. As we all know, that was the end of poor ol’  Bugsy. If you’re staying at the Flamingo, check out the memorial to him.”

Gus turned the bus again.  “But it’s been since the 80s, the city has really taken off. Over a million people live here, now—about 4,000 come out here every month. I gotta say, though, I liked it better 25 years ago when I bought my first mobile home. It’s a little too big for me, now.” He turned the corner onto “the strip.

As the bus passed hotel after hotel, Gus continued our orientation to his city.  “Last count there was over 150,000 hotel rooms in Vegas. Just look at these beauties!” He said like he was showing off his personal property. “Whatever you’re looking for in Vegas, we’ve got it. Heck, we’ve built the whole world right in a couple of miles! Look – there’s New York, and over yonder the Eiffel Tower, and there’s Italy complete with Gondolas . . . just for all of you.” He took another sip from his cup and cleared his throat. “And don’t forget Caesar’s Palace—heck, the damn Romans couldn’t build it that good!”

Gus parked the bus in front of the Flamingo and jumped out of his seat like he’d been shot. He popped open the luggage compartment under the bus and grabbed our bags. Then he came over to the tall steps of the bus and offered his dry,weathered hand to help me down. “Well, dahlin’ here you are, safe and sound, and ol’ Gus started you off right.” He flashed his toothless smile.

I realized he was waiting for a tip. I handed him a five. “Thanks Gus.”

“Why thank you, ma’am.” He tipped his hat. “You and your hubby have a wonderful time in the house that Bugsy built.” He waved goodbye, jumped back on the bus and pulled away.

“Well, that sure was quite a welcome.” Ken dryly.

I smiled. “I think Gus was just what we needed. His commentary got me ready for this Vegas wedding. I never dreamed my daughter would be getting married here.

Ken knew I wanted my daughter to be married in our church with family and friends surrounding her as she journeyed into a new chapter of her life.

He put his arm around me and whispered, “This will be fun. Just wait and see.”

“What would I do without you?”

Ken grinned. “Well, I’m sure ol’ Gus would be good to you. He’s got a first class mobile home, you know. He certainly had a hankerin’ for you, dahlin’.”

I laughed, took Ken’s hand, and followed the bellhop to our suite which would be our home for the next four days.