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08.19.03 9:16 p.m.

The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.

 -L P Hartley  

Previously in Xenology: Anne and Jerame dated. Emily had friends before she met me. All very weird.

Somebody Get an Orchestra and Choir to Sing
Emily's friends Jerame and Anne got married. I know that is a brusque introduction, but the mere idea confronts me in a brusque way. This is nothing personal to Jerame and Anne, obviously. They are atypical in their wholesomeness. From what Emily has told me over the years, they met in early high school eight or so years ago and quickly began going out. This is, in itself, unremarkable. However, they continued to go out through puberty, adolescence and early adulthood. Had I done the same, I would be headed down that autotelic aisle with any one of three girls that later went on to lead lives more suited to the likes of Jerry Springer, so the odds against this sort of union succeeding are astronomical.
Emily looking cute in her dress.
In a subdued fashion, it was a bit like being invited to see two people win the lottery together before being stuck by lightening (in a pleasant, life-affirming way.) Despite all this, I persist in thinking it odd that people my age get married at all. Only when I am ready for such steps will I mentally allow that others could have reached the decision sooner. Until such time, any and every announcement of coming nuptial will be met with subtle bemusement and the persistent question of whether I have ironed my suit pants.
Emily feels similarly bemused, save that she greatly wishes to be engaged as soon as possible so she can show people the ring and tell people the overwhelming sweet story of how I proposed. Once I think of a way. There is no specific pressure here as long as she remains aware that I do intend to make her an honest lass one of these days.
I will have to warn you in advance, I took amazingly good pictures of this wedding. Really. They were the sort of candid shots around which wedding photographers build their sad little careers (sorry for the bitterness, a wedding photographer ate my dog back in the seventies). Then, tragically, my computer's hard drive died the death - possibly at the paws of a feral wedding photographer - and all are lost.
The happy couple  
Somebody's getting married today!
Thus, I shall include various pictures of funny animals and hope Jerame and Anne can forgive my hard drive, at least until the fairies or my father fix it enough to remove information.
The wedding was at a modernist church in New Jersey. Emily had warned me to make no mention of my New Jersey prejudices (which I only have to the extent that they are amusing, I have no particular quarrel with New Jerseyians), as this community likes to think of themselves as geographically unfortunate New Yorkers. This is the attitude all New Jerseyians should have.
Emily was ebullient at the sight of so many old friends from her formative years. I hung back during her reacquaintanceship and quietly convinced myself that kissing the wooden Virgin Mary on the lips would be misunderstood by those gather, by and large. We cannot allow me to embarrass Emily with my strange social gestures to statues of sacred women. Though she would have accepted my overtures with characteristic grace, she would have been in the extreme minority.
The ceremony was unusual, both because the priest called his Messiah "Gee? Zuhz?" and that Jeremy and Anne chose an unromantic passage from Genesis for their wedding quote. I do not know if a reading from the Bible is traditional at weddings. It may well be. The priest expressed how flustered this particular passage had made him initially, as it lacked the traditional starry-eyed sentimentalism he had come to expect. However, he grew to respect their choice as having greater depth and honesty. Pity I can't remember a blessed word of the passage.
Erin (or possibly Jason)
Emily and I slipped down the aisle after the ceremony had ended, ignorant that this congregates were now queuing up to greet the bride and groom. Instead, Emily became the jewel of a clique of old friends, or merely those who appeared to deserve the designation from afar. The sort that one half remembers fondly before recalling, days later that they were only familiar because they had the comfort earned by retired persecutors.
I will admit, I quietly pouted while Emily grinned and twirled for her old friends. She was beautiful and happy and I felt on the periphery of it. I hadn't seen her like this for months, bathing in the reflected light of their eyes. I was jealous that I wasn't making her be suffused like the dawn sky. I moped, because I was not causing her happiness, nor was I a part of it. I am quite self-centered when it comes to Emily. She is my confidante and I am uncomfortable when I cannot have her ear into which I can whisper small secrets.
However, as is so often the case with social gatherings, the introduction of a steady supply of food lubricated my rusty grumbling and I socialized with some of Emily's friends. I found a quick camaraderie with M's friend Erin, a fiery and funny blonde who was seated next to us at the table. Perhaps it is just fiery and funny blondes, though. I tend to like them quite a lot.
The happy couple came to our table at the reception and greeted up warmly.
"Where are you going for your honeymoon?" someone asked.
"We are going on a cruise and then back to our new home," answered Anne.
The same or different person continued the questioning, "And where is this new home?"
Jerame happily broke in, "We aren't telling. Anne doesn't even know yet and I am keeping it that way..."
Anne continued his thought, "Jerame worked really hard designing it and filling it with furniture; it is his wedding present to me..."
"And we do not want to be disturbed on our honeymoon." Off the mock hurt looks he was offered, he smilingly conceded, "You'll be getting our number and address soon enough and you know it."
Before our meal was served, a tall, dark gent approached Emily and was frankly flabbergasted to see her. I later found out that his name was Jason and when he had last seen Emily she was fifty odd pounds heavier and distinctly unhappy. These are not unrelated conditions. Now, of course, he was overwhelmingly attracted to her given that she is healthy and very happy. With her boyfriend. Of two years. Who loves her very much and he can't have her.
"We should really hang out," cooed Jason to M. I had ascertained that he was really not harmful, though Emily was slightly twitterpated at seeing him again.
Driving home  
The way home.
"That would be... be great. Here's my e-mail."
"Yes," I intruded rudely, "hanging out is good. With her boyfriend. Of two years..."
"I love very much, though he is a monkey boy," finished M.
Jason was not unamused.
Speaking of a couple who is immensely and completely happy, Emily commented to me, "Jerame and Anne are actually enjoying their reception."
"Yes. They are... Should they not be?"
"Most people don't. I think everything is just so high strung that the bride and groom end up miserable or at least stressed," she explained.
"It is because they have an unbreakable love. Or ring. Maybe both." Jerame had been proudly showing off his wedding ring that was bored out of a titanium brick. It was shiny gray, in a way that was diametrically opposed to being silver. That's the sort of love I want.
The love I have (and very much want) spent the rest of the wedding eating the grossest Bertie Bott's every flavor beans she could lay her hands upon. She reports that, while vomit is expectedly foul, grass jellybeans are quite appealing. I am content not to eat something claiming to taste like matter my body has forcibly expelled.

Soon in Xenology: Things, matters.

last watched: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
reading: Canticle for Liebowitz
listening: "In Spite of Ourselves"
wanting: To give Emily a ring
interesting thought: I will.
moment of zen: Meeting Emily's past.
someday I must: get hitched.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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