Grey Traynor is a west coast playwright and novelist. He's currently editing his novel about a copycat criminal.
I taught my daughter better than white roses. This church looks like a goddamn rerun of Melrose Place.
And if their first dance is to “Kiss From a Rose,” I am going to urp my breakfast, all half a bagel and eight cigarettes of it. Hell, I would love a smoke right now.
Why do I have to pee again? Did I have a coffee? Oh God, that syrupy twenty-ounce gas station concoction...
Is. That... Don't reach down and touch it, Sadie, just look...
Jesus fucking Christ, my daughter has a white velvet aisle runner.
The classic New England church of modest architecture houses thousands of white roses wrapped in gilded-silver ribbon. Attached to the end of each pew, bouquets link together with fluffy white tool.
At the altar, Father Michael McClaren shares a smile with chiseled groom Jason Pierce as they watch the giggly wedding party sweep down the aisle and join them.
The final couple splits, joining the other bridesmaids and groomsmen, and the congregation stands. In the third row of pews, on the bride's side, Sarah “Sadie” Whitney jiggles her right leg as her daughter comes down the aisle in a tight-bodice, drop-waist wedding gown arm in arm with Sadie's once husband.
At least the dress fits her nicely. Too bad it doesn't go with her décor.
Michael looks fatter. A lot fatter, in fact... He's definitely fatter.
I'm sure Jenny's been plying him with croissants. “Hi, I'm Jenny of Jenny's Patisserie. It's so nice to meet you.” Ugh, what a cunty introduction. Just say, “Hi, I'm that thirty-year-old with a diamond encrusted wedding band fucking your ex-husband.”
She added the fourth non-existent syllable in 'patisserie' like some brainless, well-manicured American waif. As if Googling “bakery synonym” just to set herself apart from the Panera two blocks doqn actually counts. Foregoing any French accent was smart though, I would have socked her.
Let this be a quick one, Lord, I don't think I can hold it.
Almost to the aisle, with her dirty-blonde hair locked into a tight bun, Sylvia spies her mother and smiles softly, eyes bright with incredulity.
I can't believe it either, kid...
I didn't think you wanted to know me after all the therapy and soul-searching you went through. In California, no less!
I'm sorry you want, nay, beg for answers about all the fights with your father, the breakdown, the reclusiveness, the other breakdown. I can't give you what you want. I'm a mess.
I'm just not a giver. Your father can give, at least to you and Jenny's Glorified Fucking Bread.
When I stumbled upon the save the date in the mail and then the invitation, I was just a ghost starting out my meager retirement and trying to Zumba to feel something.
Now I'm a ghost in a lavender skirt suit still sore from that Zumba class six months ago, jostling about to avoid erupting crappy holiday coffee all over this pew.
Sadie nods to her daughter. With a squeeze of her father's hand, Sylvia focuses back on the altar before her and her husband-to-be.
Father McClaren asks everyone to be seated as the last notes of the organ's “Wedding March” drift into the hallowed limestone.
An hour later, after all the wedding party's Bible passages and Father McClaren's sage advice, Jason and Sylvia begin the ring exchange. Sadie's right leg now shakes with the velocity akin to a seismograph during a whopper. “Will you please cut that out,” whispers the man sitting next to her. Sarah's leg rests.
If this Quaker Oats looking asshole only knew what I was saving him from. How does even know Sylvia... He looks like the mailman.
Sadie. Look at your daughter. Concentrate on what you brought into this world. Focus on that. Isn't she beautiful? I always tell her to wear her hair down, but she never listens. Even when she was a kid, it was always ponytail, ponytail, ponytail. She must see that she has my mousy ears!
Please declare the couple already. Please, fucking God! I know it's your House, but I would really not like to piss all over your furniture!
“Stop it,” says the Quaker Oats mailman in Sadie's ear. Her right leg had started up again, more rapid this time.
“I am the bride's birth mother, asshole, and I paid for this wedding so I will do whatever I goddamn please.” Someone shushes them from behind despite this incident unperceived by the wedding party. Sylvia and Jason have exchanged rings and now Father McClaren is building up to the big announcement. Closing her eyes and biting her lip, Sadie's head begins to shake with her leg.
He'll never know I didn't put down a cent for this wedding. Please hurry. What is he gonna do, ask the bride and groom? Please hurry. Please hurry. Please hurry. I can't pee on my daughter's wedding, not literally. This can't happen. Not today. I won't see the grandkids. I wasn't that bad of a mother; I don't deserve this. Not today. Not today!
“I now pronounce you man and wife!” booms Father McClaren.
The organ starts up as Jason holds his wife's head and they kiss. Everyone in the congregation stands as the newlyweds make their way down the aisle, wedding party in tow.
Oh. God. I was that bad of a mother.
Sadie awkwardly removes her white one-inch pumps using her toes whilst clapping along with everyone else, a fragile, wide-eyed look on her face. All the guests in their respective pews have turned away from the aisle, shuffling to the cocktail hour as fast as they can. Sadie looks down.
Good news... The skirt will live. There's just a cloudy circle, but it looks like you can cover it with your purse. Good. Very good. Bad news is that you wet yourself at your daughter's wedding and you need to step away from the scene of the crime. Also, these soaked pair of panties need to come off before the yeast infection.
As for the puddle... that's in God's hands.
Sadie's pew spills into the rest of the crowd and after nearly ten minutes of inching and dodging people from her old married life in the aisles and the foyer, she spots the restroom door.
“Sadie! Sadie Barnes?” a voice calls out. One hand on the bathroom door, Sadie turns around.
Fuck. Marjorie Kline.
“It's been ages!” says Marjorie from across the foyer, heading her way.
“I just need a second, hon,” says Sadie. She gestures to her face. “I'm a little emotional.” Sadie slips into the bathroom and grabs a handful of paper towels, wetting them. She looks under the stalls.
The disabled stall is open! Hallelujah! Bless all the ass-kissing WASPs present for telling the bride how beautiful she looks and how lucky they are to be her best friend before relieving their own bladders. I'll run out to J. Crew the minute I can to show my patronage and appreciation.
Sadie locks the stall door and exhales.
Nobody knows. Nobody saw. They were looking at your beautiful daughter. As long as everyone continues on to the reception, everything will be just fine. The church janitorial staff, if there's even such a thing, will just come in, find the puddle, have a lot of unanswered questions, and they'll clean it up. It's not their job to ask questions. They're like taxi drivers that way, tight-lipped and full of stories.
“Sadie, darling, you have yourself a cry and I'll just be waiting out here,” Marjorie says through a cracked bathroom door.
“Yep,” says Sadie, the crying-wail in her voice both feigned and blissfully real.
Wiped down and newly commando, Sadie exits the bathroom with a sigh of relief to find Marjorie chatting Michael's ear off. He sees her and shoots Sadie a look of desperation. She turns toward the church exit with a wry smile.
Jason and Sylvia are stationed at the church doors thanking and hugging those in attendance.
That's my girl. Get the mandatory thank you's done so you don't have to make the rounds at the reception. That way, when you're drunk and full of life, you'll have enough free time and thought to request “Hotel California” for the 3rd time.
“Hi, mom,” Sylvia says, taking her mother into a big hug. “Can you believe it?”
“Yeah. I really can, kiddo.”
They pull away and both wipe at their eyes.
“Syl, this is your mother?”
Such a stupid question and he used that godawful nickname. I would have named her Syl if I wanted people to call her that. That is, if I named my daughter after a window component.
“Yes! Jason, this is my mother, Sarah.”
“Please, everyone calls me Sadie.”
“Well, Sadie, you raised a hel, whoops, a heck of a woman.”
“Thank you, Sylvia, for leaving out all the bad parts.”
Sylvia puts her hand on her mother's shoulder. “Mom, could I just speak to you in private for a second.”
“Of course, sweetheart.”
Fuck. She knows.
“Jason, honey, I'll be right back.”
“Don't go all runaway bride on me!”
“Promise.” Sylvia pecks him on the lips.
They trot down the church stairs and settle beside a potted tree.
“He seems very charming,” says Sadie.
“He's very good to me. I'm very lucky to have him.”
“And he's very lucky to have you.”
Looking at her feet, Sylvia sighs. “Mom...”
Oh God. Here it comes. “Mom. You pissed on my wedding.”
“Mom, I saw you out of the corner of my eye during the ceremony...”
I've committed the worst, most bizarre betrayal. This will be in textbooks.
“You seem to have finally gotten it.”
“What?” Sadie asks a tad too loud.
“I mean, I've been trying to tell you for years that my whole life you just never seemed to care that much about me. You were always so wrapped up in your own stuff, which is fine but growing up I felt like you never cared, like there was no time for me. And seeing you in the crowd, concentrated so fully on me and the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, well, I could feel your support, Mom. I could feel your love from where you were sitting. H-honestly, I didn't think you would even come and now I can't imagine you not being here. It's just so... So ni-” Sylvia's face scrunches. Shocked, Sadie pauses before rushing to embrace her daughter.
“Honey, don't cry. You got a million pictures to take. But I know, sweetheart. I know.” Wild-eyed, she rubs her daughter's back.
Thank, Jehovah! I understand that after this I have no more luck in this life and I am totally fine with that.
“Sylvia!” says a woman from afar. Sadie and her daughter break the hug. A bridesmaid, holding up her floor-length dress, flounces down the stairs over to them. “Sylvia, have you been crying?”
“No, she's doing just fine,” says Sadie, exchanging a bright smile with her daughter.
“Megan, this is my mother, Sadie.”
“Lovely to meet you,” Megan says, then, turning quickly to Sylvia, “Jason wants to do photos in the church now so his nana can go back to the nursing home sooner rather than later.”
“Well, I'm ready when he is,” Sylvia says.
“Great! But, um, I should tell you...” Megan steals a glance at Sadie and then rests her gaze back on Sylvia. She leans toward Sylvia and blocks her mouth with her hand.
This close. I was this close and now it's all fucking over thanks to this harried, uppity-
“One of the kids peed on your aisle runner,” Megan whispers.
This woman is a godsend! She is God! I hope she's maid of honor. She deserves it. I want her to be my next maid of honor. All hail, Megan and her deductive skills!
“Oh no, are they sick?” Sylvia asks.
“I don't know. I can't figure out which one of 'em did it.”
“Ah kids, so prone to accidents,” says Sadie, “I'm sure the parents brought a change of clothes. Great advice for anyone thinking about children.”
“Note taken. Now, we've got to get this bride ready for some photos!” says Megan, taking Sylvia's hand.
“Are you coming, Mom?”
Those eyes... It's been so long since they weren't steely or constantly cutting in my presence. Look at me with that need and tender care forever. I'll try to do whatever, be whatever, just to see that look of yours because I love you. You are my daughter. The baby I rocked to sleep. The young child I helped with her multiplication tables. The radiant woman I now see on her wedding day who wants to take a photo with her unraveled, exhausting mother. My daughter, the beautiful bride, her handsome, dorky husband, my loser ex-husband, and me, panty-less, posing in a Church that, mere minutes ago, I defiled.