|Rowena's Page, Rowena Gets Married.||Rowena Gets Ready, Part 5|
Rowena set a cup of coffee on the kitchen table in front of Sammy. “Not that you really need it yet,” she said.
Sammy laughed, a bit ruefully. “If I do this right,” he said, “I won't have to pull any all-nighters, if that's what you're thinking.” He was studying for the LSAT, but his test date was still months away.
“I have faith,” Rowena said. She put a kiss on a part of him she could get at—the side of his head—and sat down by him.
And got up again, immediately, when the phone rang.
“Hello, Rowena, this is your mother.”
“Mom,” she said, looking over at Sammy. “Hi.” Sammy gave her a V for Victory sign, and she almost laughed.
“I just wanted to call about the Wedding Plans,” her mother said.
“Wedding plans?” Rowena asked, her guard up. “What Wedding Plans?” More than anything, she was stalling for time.
“What Wedding Plans? Your Wedding Plans.” Her mother was shocked.
“Well, what with the wedding being about a year off now, we don't have very many—”
“Do you have your License?”
“We looked into the license,” Rowena said. “If we got it now, it would expire long before the wedding, and we'd only have to get another.”
“Are you sure?”
Rowena looked over at Sammy, studiously bent over his book and doing his best to pretend he wasn't listening. “I'm sure,” she said. “I even had a future lawyer check for me.”
This earned her a grin from Sammy and an “Oh,” from her mother. Rowena waited for the next onslaught, which wasn't long in coming. “What about the blood tests?”
“Believe it or not, those are no longer required in this state.”
“No blood test?”
“No blood test.”
“Did you have your future lawyer check that?”
“Yep. All legit.”
There was a silence. But not a long one. “So what do they do now? Fingerprints or something?”
“Apparently not. There is nothing official to be done at this stage. So—”
“Well,” said her mother, and there was another short pause. “So I guess there's nothing left to do but plan the wedding.”
“And the reception, and the—” she gave what was clearly meant to be a discreet cough—“the honeymoon—”
Having her mother plan her honeymoon for her may not have been the very last thing Rowena wanted, but it ranked pretty high on the list. “I think we'll take care of that ourselves,” she said. “As to the rest of it—you're not planning to do it now over the phone, are you?”
“Well, not all of it. We can't buy your gown on the phone, now can we?”
“Mother—Mother, I really think—”
“We can do the color scheme, and—since Maralynne is going to be your Maid of Honor, I think the bridesmaids' dresses should—”
“What?” Rowena yelled. “What? Maralynne?” Sammy looked up at her, alarmed, and Linus, sitting under the table chewing a rubber bone, seemed to be considering flight.
“Rowena! I'm surprised at you! Maralynne is your sister!”
She's also, Rowena thought, a royal pain in the ass. “She may be my sister, but Terese is my best friend.” After Sammy, she added to herself.
“Oh, really,” said her mother. “You've known Maralynne all her life. How long have you known Terese?”
Rowena did the calculation in her head. “Twelve years.”
“Mother. Terese is expecting this. She has every right to expect this.”
“Sometimes we have to disappoint people.”
“So disappoint Maralynne!” She didn't add, “it would be good for her,” although it was a thought she couldn't avoid. “Mother, I want Terese to be my maid of honor. Not Maralynne. Not anybody else. Terese.”
“Disappoint your sister! How can you say such a thing?”
“Would she even be disappointed? Does she even want to do this?”
“She's your sister.”
“Oh, great,” Rowena said. “So you want to force me to let you force her to—”
“Who said anything about force?” her mother asked, as Linus, staring at his mistress, got up and trotted quickly away. “I just think your duty to—”
“No,” Rowena said. “No. Absolutely not.”
“Rowena, do be reasonable. She's your only sister, and—”
“Whose wedding is this?” Rowena demanded.
“It's my daughter's wedding,” her mother said. She treated Rowena to a dramatic sniffle. “My ungrateful daughter's wedding.”
Rowena took a deep breath and began counting, silently. Her mother, hearing no opposition, began happily outlining her plans as Rowena, doing her best not to listen, went on counting. Finally she had had enough. She couldn't recall ever having hung up on her mother before, but it was either that or say what she was thinking. She turned and began slowly moving the receiver back towards its cradle, intending to hang up so gently her mother wouldn't notice, but a hand took the phone just as gently away from her. She moved a few steps away, but not far, and Sammy put his other hand lightly on her shoulder blade and began to speak.
“Babette,” he said, and waited. Rowena could almost feel the flurry this caused in her mother, off on the other end of the line. “Yes,” Sammy said next, “it's a very nice day. Yes. Yes, I agree. Listen, Babette, I really don't think it's too much to allow Rowena to choose her own maid of honor. Yes, I know she's younger than you are and has less experience with weddings—”
“I don't believe this,” Rowena muttered, hugging herself. Sammy's hand began a slow massage, but his voice was firm.
“—But she is the bride, after all, and—Yes, I know you have to look out for your daughters, but, Babette, remember, Terese had an important part in bringing about this marriage in the first place, whereas Maralynne . . . I'm not, Babette, but I haven't forgotten the days before—Babette, I feel we owe something to Terese, and Rowena's other friends, and I am asking you now—” sounding firmer than before, and a bit less patient—“to allow my financée to chose her own wedding party, if only as a special favor to me, your future son-in-law, without whom there's not much point to any of this.”
Even from where she stood Rowena could hear an excited squawking bursting over the line. Sammy listened calmly for a while, then said, “Babette, that's quite all right. Thank you.” He looked over at Rowena and raised his eyebrows; Rowena nodded. “Okay, Babette,” Sammy said, “thanks again. I'm right in the middle of something, so I'm going to give the phone back to Rowena, okay? All right, here she is. You, too. 'Bye.”
He gave Rowena a little pat and handed her the phone; Rowena said hello to her mother, trying, as best she could, to keep the triumph out of her voice.
“Hello, Rowena.” Her mother sounded a bit deflated, but more or less resigned. “I guess you'll have to call your sister and let her know she can't be Maid of Honor after all.”
Rowena opened her mouth, closed it, then asked very calmly, “Had you told her she would be?”
“Well . . . not exactly. But she belongs there with you, and—”
“As a bridesmaid, maybe, if she wants to do it.” No telling, she thought, what Maralynne's reaction would be, and probably better not to trust her mother to talk to her anyway. “Just let me discuss it with her, okay?” She had thought she would probably have to have her sister in the wedding party, and anyway this would allow her to keep an eye on her. Either that, or Terese and Claudia would do it for her.
But Maralynne could not be maid of honor.
She managed, somehow, to get off the phone. “Thank you,” she told Sammy.
“Happy to be of service,” Sammy replied.
“Maralynne as my maid of honor! Can you imagine?”
“Imagine if she hadn't found Chester,” Sammy said, and Rowena cringed.
“A maid of honor openly chasing the bridegroom around. No, thank you.”
“I guess I might have tried to get Mike to distract her,” Sammy said, referring to his Best Man, “but I'm not sure I'm prepared to owe him that much. He can't stand her.”
“Oh, well,” said Rowena. She gave him a kiss and left him to his book, but just as she turned away the phone rang.
What now, she wondered. “Hello?”
“Hello, Rowena, this is your mother.”
“Mom?” Rowena looked over at Sammy, who raised his head to stare into space.
“I've been working on the guest list, and—”
“Guest list?” asked Rowena, alarmed. “Actually, Mother, Sammy and I were—”
“I thought that since the church is—”
“Church? What church?”
“The church you're going to be married in, of course”
“Mother,” said Rowena carefully, “I wasn't aware that had been settled yet.”
“Rowena! You've only got a year!”
“Yeah, I know. And according to the wedding guide I got, I'm pretty much right on schedule. And,” she went on, “I thought we'd start with the guest list, which Sammy and I—”
“You have a wedding guide? And you're still—”
“The guest list,” Rowena insisted, “which Sammy and I have—”
“Oh, I'm taking care of the guest list,” said her mother. Rowena took a deep breath.
“Should I ask who's being invited?”
She listened carefully as her mother read off the names. And then she said, with exaggerated calm, “What about Sammy's relatives?”
“I told you, I'm inviting his mother.”
“Yes, well, that's very nice, but what about the rest of them?”
“Now, Rowena, we can't have everybody showing up. And your father paying for it all!”
“So don't invite Cousin Sophie, whom I haven't seen since I was three. Or your friend Doreen, whom I've never met at all. Or—”
“Or your Cousin Greg, who hates weddings anyway, and would probably thank you for not inviting him, or your—”
“Rowena! These people are family!”
“What do you think Sammy's Aunt Frances is, or his Uncle Dave, or—”
“And then,” Rowena said, “we have a few friends who—”
“What a selfish daughter!” her mother cried. “What a selfish daughter I have!”
“Mother, Sammy and I have a guest list just about worked out that we think is fair and—”
“But, Rowena,” her mother cried, “I get to do the inviting! That's what the invitations say: ‘Mr. and Mrs. Wilder—’”
“Mother—I know. I know. But—”
“‘—your presence at the marriage of their daughter . . .’”
“Mother—mother, listen. There are people who really should be—”
“Their ungrateful . . . selfish . . . daughter—”
“Mom! What's the point of having a big elaborate wedding if half the people Sammy and I care about, and who care about us, aren't going to be there? Aren't even going to be invited? What's the point?”
“What's the point?” gasped her mother. “What's the point of your wedding?”
“No,” said Rowena, “what's the point of having all this fuss?”
Silence. Then, “It's your Special Day!”
“It sounds,” said Rowena, “more like your Special Day.”
A brief silence. “Rowena,” her mother said, pathetically, “this may be my Only Chance to be Mother of the Bride. Your sister—”
Rowena said, “How many chances do you want me to have to be the bride?”
Another silence. “Rowena—”
“And what about Rosemary? Sammy's her only child. No daughters, Mother, and no other sons. When does she get to invite her relatives to her child's wedding? When?”
Her mother's voice sounded weaker. “Rowena . . .”
“I'm very fond of Rosemary,” Rowena said. “I've met a number of Sammy's relatives and I like them all. And I want to be on good terms with my in-laws—all of them—not to mention my husband, who would very much appreciate—”
“How many of them?”
“How many? Let's see.” Rowena fetched the list and counted up Sammy's relatives. She reported the number, including Sammy's mother, and waited.
“That's . . . a lot,” her mother said.
“I think you'll find,” Rowena said, “that it's still fewer than the number for our side.”
“Well . . .”
“And there's a few friends, as I mentioned.” And Rowena told her how many.
“And one other thing.” Rowena took a deep breath. “You're going to invite Aunt Glad.”
“But she won't be able to come!”
“You'll invite her anyway.”
“But she won't—”
“If she can't come, you won't have to worry about seating her, or feeding her, or any of that. But she's getting an invitation.”
“She is going to know,” Rowena said, “how important she is to me. She is getting an invitation if I have to order it and mail it myself.”
She waited for her mother to respond. Of course Aunt Glad already knew how important she was to Rowena, but Rowena would not have her slighted. She said, “It would really be insulting if, after all the—”
“All right,” her mother said. “All right.”
Rowena's next task, after a congratulatory hug from Sammy, was to call her sister. “It's about the wedding,” she said. “I, um—I know how busy you are with the GlamCam and everything—”
“Busy!” said Maralynne. “I just got a new bikini, and I've been posing all day! Plus I can't get my agent on the phone, even though he said he was sending my stuff around, and . . .”
Rowena let her rant a while; just listened, drank some tea, and occasionally made sympathetic noises. When it seemed a good time to speak she said, “Well, I won't keep you on the phone too long, then. It's just that Sammy and I are trying to plan our wedding and I thought that instead of saddling you with all that maid of honor stuff, all those things to keep track of and arrange and so forth, that maybe—maybe you'd rather be a bridesmaid.” Having finally said it, Rowena closed her eyes and held her breath. And listened to a pause from the other end.
“You sure?” Maralynne asked at last. “I mean, they always say that nobody wants a bridesmaid who's better-looking than she is.”
This particular consideration had never occurred to Rowena, either in reference to her bridesmaids or to this conversation. She put her hand over her eyes. “Well—”
“If you're sure you don't mind,” Maralynne was saying. “You could, like, put me on the end or something. You know, farther away from you.”
“I . . .”
“I never thought you would ask me at all,” said Maralynne. “Never, even when we were little kids.”
“Oh?” asked Rowena, a bit faintly.
“Yeah,” said Maralynne. “‘Outshining the bride’ and everything.”
Rowena drained the last of her tea. “You must be real brave,” Maralynne said.
Rowena called her mother to tell her that she had taken care of the maid of honor issue, that Maralynne was happy to be a regular bridesmaid. She did not explain why.
“Oh, good,” said her mother. “So what about Wedding Insurance?”
Rowena looked at the ceiling as though that could help reorganize her thoughts. “Wedding insurance?”
“Wedding Insurance. In case you—”
“Sammy's looking into it.” By this she meant that Sammy was going to find out what exactly it was and whether they would want it, but Rowena knew better than to tell her mother as much.
“Oh, good,” said her mother, but with rather more enthusiasm this time. “You know, I'm so glad you've found such a reliable young man to look after you. All these years your father and I have been sheltering you and taking care of you; I'm so happy you have Sammy to do all those things for you now.”
Rowena stood there with the phone in her hand. Someone to do for her the things her mother did? For a moment her mind spun in silence. Then she heard Terese saying, “Where your mother is concerned, the road to headache is paved with good intentions.” Rowena closed her eyes and shook her head. She found herself fighting down a smile.
“I know you're going to be just fine!” her mother was saying. “I know it!”
Rowena opened her eyes. Sammy still sat at the table, his attention returned to his book. Linus trotted in and stood looking at her, eyes bright and tail wagging, wanting, as usual, to play.
“Yes,” Rowena said, relieved to be agreeing with her mother at last. “I'm going to be fine.”
Volume III: Rowena Gets Married.
Book 8: Rowena Gets Ready.
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