You’re welcome

I wore a black dress to the wedding. Rabbit didn’t seem particularly surprised.

The place was beautiful, if only in that ‘I spent thirty thousand dollars on this’-type way, high in the Los Gatos hills, the sun in its climax, musky, hot. The aisle was manufactured on a steep grassy hill, which seemed to me an interesting risk.

What would stop Beth, with her long train and pearly shoes, from tripping and falling down the aisle? The thought caused the sides of my mouth to upturn evilly. Drew asked me what I had been thinking of. I lied quickly. “Champagne.”

Yes, I took Drew. I don’t really know what I was thinking when I asked him, but I didn’t want to bring Vincent, for fear of looking like my date was old enough to be my father. Not that I was being particularly shallow or anything, it’s just that we hadn’t spoken much lately and had I gotten drunk at the wedding (like there was any other way for it to go down), it would be nice to have someone to dance with who I wouldn’t mind cuddling and kissing.

Perhaps I wanted to make Rabbit jealous. The nerve! The audacity! As if my bringing a gentlemen fellow to his wedding would really have made a difference. I could just imagine at the point in the ceremony when they ask if anyone had any reasons for the couple to not be married (try NOT to think of one), he would halt the music and point to me—“Jolie Porter! I love her!”

It was not to be. Drew and I had been quite the pair—both wearing black, smug looks on our faces, double-fisting glasses of red table wine (they must have blown the budget on the venue), looking bored. I found myself yawning in a shot a photographer took at my table. It hadn’t even been on purpose.

I imagined the two of them, on the cutting room floor, deciding which ones to keep and toss, Beth holding up the negative, a foul grimace on her face. ‘Oh look, it’s your alcoholic friend again! Wearing black and yawning, what a winner! I mean really, who wears black at a wedding?!’

And Rabbit would smirk and say nothing, perhaps he would shrug. She would find solace in the fact that in her provincial mind, the wedding, the union would force us to never spend time together anymore. He was now doomed to a life of picking out candles and conservative china. The only drinking he would do would be social, when there would be a dinner party, Ry Cooder and Sergio Mendes to thank for the soundtrack, and that would be on a good day.

The ceremony, during which we snuck our wine, was relatively short and uninspired, the female speaker’s small voice hardly filling the first two rows and, without the aid of a microphone or speakers, was barely heard. Not that I expected to learn or be enlightened to any degree from the words being spoken. But it seemed like something that would have been important to the wedding party. The woman might as well have been saying ‘These people like each other enough to never sleep with anyone again, at least until one of them gains weight.’ None of us would be the wiser, that’s for sure.

It made me wonder, what did they pay all this money for? I wondered how much of it was Rabbit’s winnings of poker games and pool hustling. He made a good living doing that, more than some working stiffs I knew. Plus, there was no taxing.

I thought of all the interesting things he could have done with that money. We could have gone and played the horses every week (which could have possibly brought more money in); he could have restored a classic automobile. He could have opened a cardhouse! Perhaps James could have catered and I could have tended bar. We would call it the House of Yes, and give it a big red door. Sexy drinks, sexy food and sexy people, all putting their money on the green felt tables, the house getting a decent rake every hand. He and I would smoke cigars and feel important.

I became distracted from my distraction by Drew’s hand sliding up my skirt. What was sexy about people getting married? If I wasn’t busy thinking about the anti-wedding, I probably would be crying, and not that mother-father-of-the-bride-little-girl-grown-up-now-what-are-we-going-to-do kind of crying, and not the typical-girl-it’s-all-so-beautiful-love-is-real kind of crying either. I was wearing a black dress on purpose; this was a fucking funeral.

He was tickling me at first, to which I responded with a burst of laughter, which was more or less embarrassing. The people around me were already disapproving of my wine sneaking, and then apparently getting fresh and giggling loudly was just the topper. But at that point in time I didn’t much care; Rabbit was far from my respective back row, the head of the party in a penguin suit, eyes no doubt sparkling into Beth’s own, creating memories that would last forever, serve as inspiration to bridal ads and commercials everywhere. I didn’t know any of the people around me nor would I ever see them again except for perhaps in line at the buffet, where they would give me dirty looks for licking my fingers, for my wine-stained lips, for my foul mouth.

Then his fingers wandered deliberately, no longer barely grazing the black lace at my thighs, tickling them, but probing, caressing. I let my thighs part slightly and his hand disappeared between them as my breathing became a tad more labored. He knew how to touch me. But did I dare indulge in these sins of the flesh in front of all these people clad in florals, beiges and grays? It was sweetly vindicating, my farewell to Rabbit.

A few moments later it became too much for me. I removed his hand and wiped my brow, just as the music commenced. Rabbit had kissed the bride. It was over. There was no turning back.

The line of people made their way up the grassy hill like ants. I kicked off my shoes and sat down, gesturing for Drew to sit with me.

He spoke. “So Squirrel finally did it.” I laughed, but it was fake. We sat there while the sun beat down on us and didn’t speak much. I liked it that way. We sat there, avoiding the masses as long as we could.

A few minutes later, we walked up the hill and found spots at a big round table full of strangers. Our wine glasses were empty, so we ended up at the bar again. Drew had gotten stuck talking to a bridesmaid (so he said!) so as most desperate women at weddings, I began flirting with the bartender. He seemed rather green on things; taking a long time to open a bottle of wine, stumbling with the jigger. I mentioned where I worked and told him I’d make him a drink sometime. He didn’t seem particularly interested, but he wasn’t particularly attractive either.

But it bothered me, watching Drew flirt with the bridesmaid, who was pretty in a conventional way, curly blonde hair, big eyes, small waist. Her yellow dress was distracting, however, in a farmer’s daughter kind of way. I wondered if Drew liked it. I knew he would soon leave her and come back to me, playing the role of cynical drunk because it was what I needed, but now and then I wondered if he was a social chameleon, if every woman he admired he would magnetize toward in the way they required.

But that was all nonsense, he was a cynical drunk when I met him in the bar, drinking PBR drafts, playing sad bastard music on the jukebox. I was just choosing to be forlorn; it was the kind of day for it.

Finally, after the hour or so of photographs, Rabbit showed his face among the crowd. He made eyes with me almost instantly, and gave me a large, swooping hug, the kind where your feet leave the ground and you spin around in the air. It was very Fred Astaire.

Drew’s eyes were telltale, and I didn’t mind it one bit. But this moment was not about Drew. Enough wine in me, I melted into Rabbit’s arms like I was the one that had married him, like I belonged there. He kissed my cheek and I could smell his cologne mingling with his nervous pre or post-wedding sweat. But he seemed calm now, with or without me.

“Thanks for coming.” It was the same thing he had said at his birthday party, as we swilled back Corona’s and split the bourbon in his flask, thinking of different things, thinking of each other. It came off like a private joke and made me laugh uneasily, wondering when I would hear it next; a twentieth anniversary party, a dinner party, Rabbit’s funeral. I imagined Beth’s dumb eyes under the black lace veil: ‘Thanks for coming.’

I didn’t want to let go of him. I was proud of myself for keeping the tears from streaming down my face. Since the Johnny incident, I had practiced the art. Soon enough he was gone, mingling with the masses. I was alone again, with Drew, but I still felt alone. Drew didn’t say anything, but put an arm around me in a sympathetic fashion.

The dinner wasn’t extraordinary. Basic fare; less than interesting, and quite less than delicious. Caesar salad, fruit salad, some vegetarian pasta mess, and a lightly curried chicken cream dish. I drank more than I ate. I was happy they had the budget for an open bar.

By the time ‘dinner’ was over, Drew and I had probably taken down a few bottles of wine each, and my judgment was wavering, as it often does. The speeches hadn’t come yet, another mistake in my opinion, and when they did come, we couldn’t hear those either. The wedding all seemed a thrown-together mess, a very amateur plan dressed up with lots of expensive frills, probably so they wouldn’t notice. A pretty buffet, but lousy food, a lot of booze but nothing top shelf, a beautiful setup but a silent ceremony.

I wondered what Rabbit had been thinking. Was he stepping into these shoes like males often do, not caring about much but getting it all over with, dreaming about the sun baking him and his new bride on the beach for a week and a half, thinking about her tight pussy and her non-existent ass. Was he thinking about me at all?

The House of Yes appeared in my mind again, a fat red door and my shining eyes behind the bar. It would never happen. Such fantastic things were not meant to be. I lived a life not unlike surrealism—all the good in my life was manufactured, fabricated. I was a fraud, hiding behind someone else’s eyes, someone else’s life. Had I been Beth I would live a beautiful life, but only to Beth; I was doomed to never find my preferred life because it did not exist.

We didn’t stay to dance or cut the cake. I feigned a migraine and then soon we were down the hill, back to our little people cars and cares, the thirty-thousand dollar travesty far behind us. In my mind I saw Rabbit’s face, no longer stricken with confusion, no longer in love with me, his lips echoing the words over and over and over again, “Thanks for coming.”


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