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Chlorette at the Altar

Wedding for modern times


I feel so bad for my poor friend Awlette. Her time has come: She’s a mother-of-the-bride.

It ain’t like her daughter, Chlorette, is one of them bridezillas. She is a sweet girl. But she’s determined to be married as a fish – half a one, anyway. She has booked an Ariel the Mermaid-themed wedding at Disney World.

Back in the day, before travel agents came up with destination weddings, your destination was the altar. Then you cut the cake, slugged back the champagne, flung the bouquet, grabbed the groom and left for your honeymoon. Now they get a head start on the honeymoon trip and bring everybody else along.

Come to find out that Catholics still have to get married in a Catholic church; not at Disney World – it’s a rule. And Awlette is very Catholic. One of her sisters is actually a nun. She says if Chlorette is going to get married without the blessings of the church, she should just break her mother’s heart and elope off to Mississippi.

So we thought that was the end of that. But no, Chlorette sets up a private wedding over at St. Expedite, with just her and the groom, Julian, Father Malarkey and me and Awlette for witnesses. I think Father assumes she has a bun in the oven (which she don’t).

Anyway, she calls it her “pre-wedding” ceremony. The next day we all leave for Disney and the full-court press wedding.

I am worried about this girl. She got a Disney princess obsession. And she don’t look no more like a Disney princess than I do. Thing is, I’m used to how I look. For better or worse, this is me, and I made up my mind to like it.

Not Chlorette. She studies beauty tips like Susan Spicer studies pork loins. Her eyelids always match her outfit; her cheekbones are two or three unnatural shades of rose and her lips are the neon Color of the Month. I don’t know about her complexion. I ain’t seen it since she was 10.

I asked Awlette if the bride was going to hop up the aisle in a fish tail, and she said evidently I didn’t see the movie. Awlette can sew anything, and she made the dress herself.

Awlette is driving to Disney with her sister Scawlette. This one isn’t a nun; she’s a cosmetic artist from New York. She is going to do the bride’s make-up. I hope Scawlette ain’t been passing make-up tips to her niece all these years.

Anyway, Awlette asks me and my gentleman friend, Lust, to drive her mini-van and pick up Violette, her sister the nun, and five other nuns when we pass through Mobile. (The nuns in this order must travel in packs.) Lust takes persuading. He hates weddings. He says it’s a waste of time to leave town when there ain’t no hurricane coming. And nuns make him nervous. I got to beg and plead and promise the moon, but finally he says OK.

In Mobile the nuns pile in, cheerful as Chiclets, and we are on our way. Then all of a sudden a truck pulls in front of us; Lust hits the brake and his ice-cold Coke leaps out the cup holder and lands in his lap.

He says “@*$&##!” (There is a gasp from the back.)

He says, “Oh #%@$! I didn’t mean that.” (Another gasp.)

Then he says “@$*% I’m sorry.”

I say, “Lust, honey. Just shut up.”

And he does.

When it’s time for lunch, we pull in at a Cracker Barrel and push the tables so we can all sit together. Eight of us. Sister Violette says “Shall we say the blessing?” and Sister Gezuntite says, “I think Mr. Lust already said it.”

After lunch, me and the nuns have a little talk about Chlorette’s princess fixation, and they tsk-tsk, shake their heads and decide to pray for her.

The next day we assemble at the Disney Wedding Pavilion. The nuns are wearing mouse ears over their veils. I guess they consider them Disney wedding attire.

Julian is fidgeting up at the front, next to his uncle, a licensed minister of some kind, who’s wearing a long beard, an aqua gown and is holding a giant three-prong fish fork. He is going to officiate. Three bridesmaids process up in yellow dresses and blue fin-looking headpieces.

The bride’s entrance music (“Under the Sea”) swells, and we all rise. I got my polite smile locked on, steeled for Chlorette in full scaly splendor.

And then everybody’s jaws plop down. It ain’t because we see a Disney princess. We see Chlorette. She is radiant. No fins. No turquoise eyelids. No pancake cheeks. Her hair is swept back and up; she has a tiny tasteful veil – not seaweed – and a sweet white dress that her mama created to suit her perfect, from high collar to bare back to graceful foamy train.

I found out later that Scawlette – who’s evidently good at what she does – just scrubbed off all the layers of make-up, added a dab of this and a swipe of that, and turned Chlorette back into herself.

Julian stands tall and smiles all over his face; the nuns beam under their ears; I grab for Lust’s handkerchief. There probably ain’t a dry eye in the place.

I hope they live happily ever after.

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