Never Mind.

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

I went to Ojai last weekend for the wedding of the daughter of dear friends. You may have recognized me there. I was the one with the Transitions lenses that refused to turn light at night and I walked around in pitch black sunglasses, looking like the third of the Three Blind Mice, knocking down bridesmaids and shaking hands with the umbrella poles. I couldn’t see a fucking thing. I can only presume I went back to the motel with Robin after the wedding. I know it was somebody hairy with cake on his breath. Whoever it was, he paid for the room. S’all good.

So, the Father Of The Groom dated my sister in high school, which is an enormously interesting fact to me. If it’s not interesting to you, you might want to consider skipping this post.

“I’m Karen’s sister” I said to the F of the G during cocktails, expecting the response I’ve come to know, the response a person just cannot hear enough of: YOU’RE Karen’s sister? Really??? Which, loosely translated means, your sister is a stone-cold fox. You…um, look as if you have a pleasant personality. Which – joke on them – I don’t.

“I remember when you went to the prom with my sister,” I said to him, thinking that he could have been my brother-in-law and he’s in show biz and maybe my life could have taken a more successful turn if Karen had cared at all about my future career when choosing her mate. Although I would never trade Craig in for anyone. I love my BIL and I say that with absolute conviction despite the fact that I have recently seen him post-surgery in an immodestly open hospital gown. Vomiting.

The F Of The G shook his head and said something to me but I was distracted because just then I saw Robin at the other end of the lawn and I remembered that I had forgotten to warn him not to tell one of our friends that we were staying in LA for a few days after the wedding because I had told them that we were leaving directly from Ojai. I really have to start briefing Robin on the lies he is going to walk straight into. Or, I suppose, I could stop lying about shit. As if.

“Yup,” I said to the FOTG, “I totally remember that prom night.”

He says, “I never went to the prom with your sister.” Which is weird because I know for a fact he did go to the prom with Karen. I have a photo.

I say brightly, “Are you sure? I remember it pretty clearly.” Implied in my statement is, don’t fuck with me, Rico Suave. I had no social life so I hid in Karen’s closet and memorized every detail of hers.

He says, “No, I never went to a prom.”

Hunh. This is a puzzlement. And an ethical crossroads. Do I throw down the gauntlet, challenge him, fight to the death his revisionist history? Or, do I respect the fact that this is his only son’s wedding day and maybe, just maybe, it is not all about me.

I do the only thing a caring person and courteous guest can do: I trash him to everyone I know at the wedding. The story about his vicious lie and bullshit memory circulates as fast as I can make my way to  the tables during dinner. I have left my body, traveled high in the Ojai skies; I look down and see myself stirring the pot, interrupting conversations, adding a little more detail each time I tell the story until the guy is a Cheney-lovin’ reactionary homophobe who organizes Nazi re-enactments in his spare time when he is not running illegal bunny fights in his basement. I can’t stop myself from telling everyone, even people I don’t know, even people who are suddenly avoiding eye contact with me. Even people who are running to their cars when they see me approaching.

“Wait! You! Stranger!” I call to them as they lock their doors and carelessly speed down the dirt road to the highway, “Do you want to hear something outrageous about the father of the groom?”

I am unstoppable, high on my own indignation. My BFF Nina further fuels the fire, mentioning to me during dinner (Salmon. Roasted veggies. Delish) that even SHE has a copy of the prom photo. HAH. Game on.

That night in my motel room, I call Karen.

“Unbelievable,” she agrees. “How could he not remember that?”

Karen acknowledges that she did break his heart, after all, and perhaps he has waited all these years, since 1968, to get back at her by gaslighting her little sister at his son’s wedding. Could happen. Karen was a heartbreaker.

I hear Craig mumbling something to Karen in the background.

“Really?” she asks him. “Hunh.” She gets back on the phone with me.

“Craig said I went to the prom with Denny whats-his-name. You know.”

Oh, right. Denny. Not the FOTG. Shit. Oops. Shit.

So I just checked out Denny on Facebook. Looks like he has a son around marrying age. Good thing I already have a dress.

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