What town was I in? Nelsonville, aka Cold Springs, NY. Where? On Main Street.
Jessy’s dog, Tuesday (the ring-bearer) and our son, Spencer, and myself had just been driven there by Karen, Claire’s Mom. My Mom, Ethel, had already arrived at a nearby hotel, where she shared rooms with my niece, Danielle, Kathy’s eldest, and Danielle’s daughter, Boston (the flower girl). Our neighbors, Harlan and Sherryl, were there. The rest of the forty-odd wedding party were Burrs from South California.
They had excused me from the rehearsal dinner so that I would be fit for the wedding—and Claire had gotten a sudden case of shingles, so she stayed home, too. If my Mom hadn’t made it, Jessy would have had no family there! I felt bad for Claire—between her work and her courses and helping Jessica with wedding arrangements, she’s been busier than a one-armed paper-hanger. So, I figure the shingles were stress-induced. Now that it’s all over, I hope she can find a little ‘me-time’ again.
So there I was, walking down Main Street on a busy Saturday afternoon in a tuxedo with bow-tie and two-toned (black and white) shiny dress shoes. People were shouting at me, “Hey, nice suit” and “Looking dapper, there” and so forth—I had never felt so exposed in my life—and I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. I wandered into a bed and breakfast and asked if Jessy was there and, for a miracle, the lady said, “Yes, she is. Come on in.” So I stood there in the foyer and I guess I was a little winded—she looked at me solicitously and asked if I’d like to sit down—which I suddenly realized I very much wanted to do—and asked me if I wanted a cup of tea or some water—which I suddenly realized I needed almost as badly.
So she disappeared upstairs to the girl’s party that brides-getting-dressed always seem to become. I sat in an armchair sipping ice water and dreading the long walk up the street to the library where the wedding would take place. I didn’t want to walk that far, but as father of the bride I felt obliged to escort her wherever she went in her bridal gown—and she was walking up Main Street, so I was too. In the event, it was five of us, including the beribboned dog, walking through town and causing quite a stir.
At the library I ignored all the stairways and what-not, focused on being the ‘arm’ Jessy was ‘on’. The service was surprisingly long (considering it was secular—I would’ve expected it from a Catholic wedding service) and then it was back down the hill, but it was dark, I was no longer obligated to escort anyone—so Claire and I walked down rather slowly. I was running on fumes at this point.
We got to the reception, an illegal storefront with no liquor license. As soon as I walked in, the sonic assault made me dizzy—O, do I hate loud music in a small place when I’m expected to make small talk with strangers—OMG, as the kids say. I soon retreated to the sidewalk again, had a smoke, and steeled myself to re-enter. Before too long it was time to eat, and then they danced. I had to do the traditional Father-Daughter dance—but I can’t dance, of course, so I just went from side to side, trying to lift my feet off the floor a few times just to make it officially ‘dancing’.
But Jessy was so happy and so loved and really enjoying her own wedding—something much rarer than you might think—it was a pleasure just to hold her in my arms, regardless of my awkwardness. And she had told me, days before, that the father-daughter dance would be my last mandated activity, so I was relieved to be close to the ‘finish line’, if I can call it that. I would miss the bulk of the reception, including the cutting of the cake, and the after-party—which I assume only the young people had the energy for.
Today, if I remember correctly, they are on their way to Cancun for their honeymoon. Jessy had been married once before, alone in Vegas, to an army recruit who spent most of their married years in Iraq—and this ceremony had much more of an air of permanency about it. I hope that remains the case—they are wonderful people, the now Mr. and Mrs. Burr, and life is so much nicer when you have someone to share it with!
And me? Well, I have a renewed appreciation for lying in bed and watching TV all day. And something about this wedding made me feel that Jessy was taken care of, parentally speaking—and that’s a great feeling. Now, all we need to do is find a girl smart enough to see Spencer as the beautiful man he is…