daily preciousness

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

wedding day

Just a first-person narrative I've been playing around with. First person to name the inspiration (hint: not the historical event itself, but rather a pop song) gets a prize!

Sicily Island was named after the big flood of '29. Grandmaw said the whole parish was underwater for the better part of the summer. Except for a little sliver of land that rose above the floodwaters. That's where they set up the town of Sicily Island a year later. Grandmaw and Grandpaw settled here in '33. They started up a stop 'n' shop -- called it Mayonnaise's, after my Grandpaw. (He got the nickname because he'd dollop spoonfuls of mayonnaise on near about everything. Not just cornbread and black-eyed peas.)

Now there's a place in Italy called Sicily. But as far as anyone can tell, Sicily Island don't have any Ay-talians in it. Maybe it's just a coincidence.

Coincidences – they're kind of funny. I've got a story about coincidences. I never paid 'em much attention 'til I got married. That was the day that I realized how some coincidences weren't really coincidences at all – they're just life's boomerangs that fly right back at you and hit you square in the face.

I was what you call a nervous bride. The morning of the wedding, I couldn't even stomach grits. I had a whole mess of butterflies up in my stomach. Mama said I had to have something, so I nibbled off two baby bites of a Krispy Kreme donut. That was all I could take in.

Daddy carried my train in his hand as I got into the pickup. After he laid it in my lap, he gave me a little kiss on the cheek. He turned on the radio. The newsman was talkin' about the president in Texas. The ride to the church flashed by. Next thing I remember is goin' up the crooked wooden steps of the Zorre Baptist Church. Then I was inside, looking down at the tiled floor. If you looked a certain way, you could see little crosses in the checkerboard tiles. It was like Jesus' own floor design, I remember thinking.

Right before I walked up the aisle with Daddy, Amy rushed in. My cousin Amy, who was supposed to help me with my wedding dress, came in late. As usual. She had overslept and smelled of Jack Daniels. (It was like her own personal perfume. Honestly, though, it did smell better than some of the old women in church. They smelled like gardenia bushes and Ben-gay.)

Daddy was busy tellin' me how I would always be his little girl and I thought to myself, "Yeah, it's more like I'll always be your "knocked-up little whore" -- that's what he called me when I first started to show a few months back.

So he stopped telling me that crap when Amy stormed in, wide-eyed, and tole us in excited church-style whispers. Anyway, Amy tole us they killed President Kennedy and I just flat fell out.

Daddy had to sort of prop me up and carry me outside the church. He and Amy laid me out in the front yard of Zorre Baptist. There I was, curled up like a little baby, rocking myself on the ground between the sheep and the oxen. The choir director, Jamie Girard, always set up the Manger Scene a week early. The baby Jesus was in the little manger right next to me, just staring up at me, as dumb and peaceful and pretty as you please.

Amy wasn't surprised I took it so bad. She knew how much I loved John and Jackie. For I don't know how long, I couldn't even speak. I just stared at the three wise men.

I don't blame Mama for not wantin' to announce the news to the congregation. I'm glad that Brother Tommy was at the other side of the church and didn't know what was going on. He prolly would've tole everybody right then and there, spoilin' my big wedding.

Everyone in the church was shufflin' their butts around on the pews, murmuring that I was going to go into labor right there. I was big, I guess – just over nine months -- so I can sort of see why they thought that. (Amy hadn't tole the congregation about the president, 'cause Daddy said not to.)

I was cryin' big old tears. Out of my nose, even. I had a big, bad case of the shock – there wasn't anything that Mama or Daddy could do to get me out of it.

Mama was just cooling me off with one of those "I'm a fan of Jesus" fans that funeral home buys for the church pews. It didn't help. Daddy was on the other side, next to the wise men, patting my hand. "It's gonna be alright, darlin,'" he kep' tellin' me. But I knew he was wrong. Dead wrong.

Brother French thought I was just nervous and started to lead everyone to singing "Oh, Happy Day." I could hear Mrs. French, the preacher's Mama, belting it out, off-key like she always did.

I remember staring up at the little angel that was strung up above baby Jesus. He was just swingin' in the slight breeze, squeaking a little in time with the hymn and staring down joyfully at me like I was the next Mary or something.

And – and you know what? Of all the times I've tole this story, I can't recall remembering this part before, until now – I just remembered it when I was thinkin' about that angel.... I was staring up at the angel and I sort of imagined what I must look like to him. I pictured it like this: I was laid out all in my milk white wedding dress, on the little grass snake green hill beside the driveway. I was pale. Prolly the same color as my dress. Mama, in her new pillbox hat, and Daddy, in his powder blue rental tux, on either side of me. Amy was sitting behind my head, stroking my hair and purring soft words into my ears. The big wise men were standing above us, just towering like wooden soldiers. And the angel began to spin around from some wind and the music swelled up with the last verse of the hymn. And my point of view was spinning, too, right along with the angel. It was like some kind of magic -- A good magic – for the first time in a long while.

This is gonna sound dumb, more dumb than when I saw myself through the eyes of that angel. But here it goes. John F. Kennedy was dead and I knew it was my fault. I might as well have been the one to pull the trigger.

That was the day when I found out what getting messed up in black magic can do. You see, I had worked what you might call a spell on Jackie.

I had always thought that she was just the most beautiful, classy lady ever. (Did you see her in her inargueation dress? Looked just like a queen!) I wanted to be like her in every little way. I even practiced standing the way she standed. And sitting like she sat, just goin' by what I saw on the TV. She had a really elegant way to her. She just sort of glided like she was on wheels. And so gracious. (Hard to believe she was a Yankee.)

So anyway, I wanted to get married to Johnny cause I was pregnant and all. So I made a wish by a full moon, on that 1963 Halloween night. I wished that Johnny would marry me and I could have just a little bit of happiness. (I figure I ain't never got my share during my whole life. There's been little demons just nibblin' away at he corners of my happiness since I been real little. When Daddy lost his job, when we lost my little sister, when I lost my virginity – I've lost more than I've ever gained. Can't say why. It just always worked out that way.)

And Jackie Kennedy had just about all the happiness in the world, I figured. So, it wouldn't matter if I just had a little bit of hers. That's what I thought, anyway.

So I worked me a spell on that Halloween night so I could have just a little bit of her happiness and git Johnny to marry me. And it worked. Johnny – the most irresponsible shit in town – said he'd marry me. I was shocked as I don't know what. I told him it was his kid. And it probably was, too.

Mama said that sometimes the worst lovers made the most babies. And Johnny was like minute rice – quick and a decent side dish, if you used a lot of butter on it. (We used Crisco, but you get general the idea.)

So there I was, with a church full of impatient relatives and friends, waitin' for me to waddle me and my pregnant belly inside so that I could marry Johnny, who nobody really liked anyway. But they knew I had to so I wouldn't have a bastard baby.

My bridesmaids were the most pissed off, cause they hated their bridesmaid gowns. Especially MaryLou. She said that avocado was a bad color for her cause she was a winter. I said, "Well, MaryLou, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but no color is your good color. You ain't a spring, summer, winter or fall. You're what we call an 'ugly.' There ain't no season for that. You're just ugly all year long! And the only reason I let you be my bridesmaid is because you're my step sister and Mama said I had to!"

Okay, I never said that to her, but I felt like tellin' her that. (She deserved it after gossiping about how Mama wouldn't be able to afford the material for my dress cause I was so big and pregnant like.)

Well, MaryLou was the first person standing at the front to run out to see what was goin' on, after a few minutes of whispering. She came out and Amy tole her what was going on. She said she'd sit in Brad's car until I was ready to "grow up and march in there." Well, I was in such a state that I couldn't even be mad at her, which was sayin' a lot, since I was usually mad at her. MaryLou got her boyfriend, Brad and they sat together in his new Chevrolet in the parking lot. She had her arms folded and Brad was pattin' her shoulder and talkin' with his mouth real close to her ear. Before long, I saw her leanin' her head toward his mouth. And then their heads sunk down below the dashboard. That Chevrolet started doin' a little jig before long.

By that time, I was standing up again. I had essplained to Mama and Daddy and Amy what I'd done. I tole them I was the one that killed Kennedy. They just kep fannin' and pattin' me like I was a little baby. I stopped breathing so fast and I didn't feel so light-headed.

(To be continued.)

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