Wilma didn’t know what to think. And our phone call only served to make matters a lot worse.
She stood by the large picture window in their living room waiting for us to arrive. Sometimes she strained to see the MG rocketing towards Chez Willowby. And when she wasn’t perfectly stationary she paced. She paced the exact width of the window. She wasn’t going to miss anything.
Dr. Willowby had learned over the years that when his wife was like this any meaningful conversation was all but impossible. He retired to a chair in the living room and read that days newspaper. From time to time he looked over the top of the newspaper to look at his wife. Wilma occasionally mumbled which only served to add an small element of humor to the proceedings.
“Cassie said there were three questions. The first one was a when question. The second and third questions dealt with “where”questions.
She turned and looked at her husband.
“Bill, do you think the when question referred to a baby?”
Dr. Willowby rolled his eyes then quietly muttered something in Latin. He lowered the paper to just below his eyes and glowered at his wife.
“You know perfectly well that I can’t answer your question. Doctor-patient yadda, yadda, yadda.”
Wilma tried to get an answer another way.
“Well, you didn’t say she wasn’t pregnant.”
Dr. Willowby let the paper fall to the floor and shook his hands at the ceiling. “Oh, for heaven’s sake. You know perfectly well I can’t stand it when you get like this. I’m going to go for a walk. With any luck, I’ll start worshiping trees or get abducted by gypsies.” Wilma heard the frustration in her husband’s voice.
“OK, I’ll stop.”
Dr. Willowby moved towards the coat cupboard and searched for his heavy down-filled winter jacket. He had had all he could stand. He turned and faced Wilma.
“That’s the problem. You don’t. You’re like a dog with a bone. You won’t let the questions go until you’ve got something resembling an answer. It doesn’t have to be logical and they’re rarely correct. I can’t stand idly by and watch you do this to yourself. I’m going out.”
After finishing putting his jacket on he stomped out the front door and slammed it.
“I think we made that travel agents day. This is going to be a helluva honeymoon. First Toronto and we stay at the airport Hilton. From Pearson International its first class all the way to Nassau. We stay overnight then we take Out Island Airways to Eleuthera. A whole week of wined and dined and generally spoiled rotten. Warm water, calm seas, and a beach where I can be warm and toasty all day. I thought I’d never stay at the Hilton.”
As Peter drove he smiled as he thought of Cassie lying in a chair roasting and boasting while slathered in suntan lotion and holding an ice cold drink called a Goom-Bay Smash. “Just be careful. A lot of sun in a short period of time can give you a really nasty sunburn. And I’m pretty sure you don’t want that.”
“I think you’ll like the Arawak Cove Club M’lady.” Cassie started hugging Peters arm tightly.
“Oh, I already do. I’m looking forward to learning how to Scuba dive during the day and more nocturnal pleasures at night.”
“I part I’m looking forward to the most is calling you my wife.” Cassie held up the water bottle. They had done a lot of talking at the travel agents and Peters’ voice was getting pretty raspy. “I know. I’m looking forward to hearing you call me that too.”
As the car went toward Lightening Point they passed Dr. Willowby walking in the opposite direction and suddenly all talking inside the car ceased. Peter looked at Cassie and Cassie looked at Peter.
“Was that who I think it was?” asked Cassie.
“I think it was. Sure picked lousy weather to go for a stroll. I’m reversing till we catch up. I have a bad feeling about this.”
Peter came to a full stop, slammed the MG into reverse and soon caught up to Dr. Willowby standing at the side of the road. When he did catch up to him he gave Dr. Willowby a tongue lashing.
“I don’t mean to sound nasty but what the hell are you doing?”. Dr. Willowby explained that he and Wilma had a fight and that he was trying to cool off. “In this weather, you’ll cool off fast. Cassie wants to know if you’re trying to give yourself pneumonia?. Get on the back and hang on to the luggage rack. Don’t worry, I’ll drive slowly.” Just then Cassie tugged on Peters jacket. “Cassie wants to add that you should know better and considered yourself told.”
As the MG moved slowly towards Chez Willowby Dr. Willowby tried to figure out just what it was he trying to accomplish. He wasn’t wearing a hat and sleet was coming down. He looked like a drowned rat. And if it was possible a foolish one at that. Cassie was right. He did know better. Why didn’t retreat into his study? One thing was certain. When Wilma saw him she’d chew his head off.
Slow but surely the MG got to Chez Willowby. Wilma was standing on the porch all bundled up. “Evening Wilma. I think we found something of yours” said Peter. As Dr. Willowby climbed the stairs Wilma let him have it.
“William Barnabas Willowby! What in thunder do you think you were trying to do?. You gave me a fright. I’d expect this sort of behavior from Kenny but you’re a grown man. And a doctor at that. Get into that bedroom, strip, have a warm shower, and change this very instant.” A soon as Dr. Willowby entered the bedroom Wilma started foraging in the closet for large fluffy towels. After she found them she made her way towards the bedroom door. She knocked on it. “Bill, I’m coming in.” After she entered Peter started wondering aloud.
“I wonder what it means if she’s in there for more than ten minutes?”
I crossed my arms and scowled at Peter.
“I think it’s safe to say they aren’t playing cards.”
I walked into Dr. Willowbys study. Then I motioned for Peter to follow me. When Peter was close enough I started speaking softly.
“I’m going to say two words. And I’d like to suggest you think about them before you say another word. So rev up that brain of yours. They are. Now, for my own edification, I’d like to ask a question. What was all that guff in the car? You didn’t let me say anything!”
When Dr. And Mrs. Willowby surfaced they were both in tracksuits. His was blue with white stripes. Hers was Vanilla-yellow with brown stripes. Dr. Willowby wanted to shift the topic from him and his wife to the conversation he had with Peter and Cassie. But first, he wanted to get comfortable on the couch. Wilma sat in a chair and faced the younger couple. Dr. Willowby leaned forward and addressed Peter. “Peter, did I hear you correctly on the phone. Did you ask me to be your best man?” asked Dr. Willowby. Peter went into the study to get a yellow legal pad.
“Cassie and I are getting married a week this weekend. After that, we’re going to have a small reception. After the reception, Cassie and I will be at the Airport Hilton in Toronto. The day after the wedding we fly out of Toronto and fly first class to Nassau. We stay overnight in Nassau then fly from there to Eleuthera. Eleuthera is an out island south-east of Andros Island. We’ll be the Arawak Cove Club for one week. After that we fly back to Toronto. I’ll give you a more complete itinerary in a few days.” Peter wrote out the details in long hand on the legal pad and handed them to Dr. Willowby and Wilma. Peters’ voice started to get raspy. He nodded at me and that’s when I took over.
“We’d like your permission for something.”
Now Wilma became curious wondering what this request entailed.
“Peter and I were wondering if Kenny could be our ring bearer and you, Wilma, would you consent to being my matron of honor?”
Wilma was flushed by surprise at the request. “You really caught me by surprise. I’m honored you feel comfortable asking me but I’m old enough to be your mother! Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable with someone closer to your own age like Trina?” Wilma didn’t exactly decline but she tried to deflect the request. Now it was time for Cassie to say why she asked Wilma and not Trina.
“The reason I asked you is that I feel closer to you. Trina has a lot on her plate right now with university and trying to raise a small boy. Plus I don’t feel like we’ve really bonded, become friends the way you and I have. If this situation was normal I’d ask my own mother. But relations between us are as close to nonexistent as you can get.”
Wilma was listening intently. “How come I think there is a “but” coming?”
I continued. But first, I ran my fingers through my hair totally unprepared with what I was going to say next.
“Right now I feel closer to you and Dr. Willowby than I do my own parents. I feel like I could talk to either one of you about absolutely anything.” I could feel my face getting warmer and started to mutter. I cleared my throat and really concentrated. “The truth is I’ve sort of adopted the both of you as surrogate parents.”
Wilma started to get all misty-eyed. She stood up and walked over to me. I was sitting when she put her hands on my shoulders, and raised me up from the couch. Then she started hugging me. That’s when the dam burst. Tears flowed and smiles beamed. Wilma looked right at me. “Of course I’ll be your matron of honor. What kind of mother would I be if I declined.” I couldn’t take it any longer. I broke down and returned the hug. Just then Trina and Kenny arrived. Trina opened the front door and saw her mom and me hugging each other and crying. Then she looked at her father and Peter and saw them trying valiantly not to cry. But their dams were starting to breach too. Not quite sure what was going on she asked the first question that popped into her head. “Who died?”
Talk of the wedding continued into dinner. When Kenny learned Peter and I were going to be married he roared a gigantic “Yay” and showered us with peas that had been destined for his mouth. Then Trina got up from the table and gave her son a motherly stare that said a million different things. After glowering at Kenny she went to her mothers chair and whispered in her mother’s ear.
“Excellent idea. Why don’t you ask her” said Wilma
Trina sat down at the dinner table opposite me.
“Do you have a wedding dress picked out yet?”
I put my fork down . “No. Not yet. This entire wedding idea just sort of happened in the last few days.”
Trina looked at her mother and winked. “Mom has this really gorgeous wedding dress she wore and we were wondering if you’d be interested in taking a look at it.”.
“Try and stop me!”.
Just after I got up I heard Peters chair squeak.
“You stay seated buster! It’s bad luck for the groom to see the wedding dress before the wedding day.”
Peters’ looked frustrated. “I don’t think I’ve heard this much…” Trina had a pretty good idea what Peter was going to say and gently kicked him underneath the table. Then she nodded towards Kenny who was totally oblivious to his mothers actions. “…fertilizer in all my life.” Then Dr. Willowby put his hand on Peters’ arm.
“Down lad. You don’t want to ruin a perfectly good ritual. It may be totally illogical and absolutely without merit but I have to admit there is something to be said for not seeing the dress. It make that second you do see it just a little more special ” Then Peter responded with a perfectly valid question. “She gets to see what I’m wearing so why can’t I take a look at what she’s going to wear? This ritual is sexist!”
Then Trina got into the act. “You and mom take a look. I’ll sit in Peters lap to way sure he stays put.”
Peters now looked like he was sulking. He leaned his head against Tina’s back and pretended to cry.
“Cry all you want. This sweater needs a good washing. I’m not getting up till Cassie gets back.” After about twenty minutes I returned to the table.
“Well, got my dress! I’ll tell you more at home” I said to Peter.
That’s when Trina asked who was giving me away. “Who is going to give you away. Both my parents have other jobs?”
“I’m thinking of asking my ex-boss. But he may be on his honeymoon right now-” That’s when Dr. Willowby interrupted me. “That’s what step-fathers are for. There’s no time like the present. Let’s ask him right now.” He placed his phone on the dining room table and dialed Buddha’s phone. A woman with a Texas twang answered.
“Bill Willowby here. Is Buddha around or is he still at the office?”
“Just minute Dr. Willowby, he’s just finishing the dishes. He’ll be with you in a second.”
When I heard that I almost fainted. That was a image that would have been unheard of just one year ago. My former boss, the meanest son of a bitch in the valley, elbow deep in water with white suds all around him. It was an image I simply couldn’t deal with. Buddha Stone had been domesticated.
Dr. Willowby pointed at me then the phone. The stage was set. Now I had to make my entrance.
“Ah, Mr. Stone, I have a little favor to ask. I’m getting married a week from this weekend and I was wondering if you would give me away.”
There was a pause and some talk that was muffled. I had no idea getting married was going to be so difficult.
….The vows are exchanged in Chapter 12D Part 2…or are they? Find out next week!