We spent a long weekend Down East, which, here in North Carolina, means roughly anywhere between the coast and Interstate 95. More specifically, we were in the vicinity of the Martin-Washington county line for the nuptials of our niece, Jennifer. All in all, it was a nice trip, much better than we had feared it would be.
That’s no reflection on Jennifer, but on the fact that Hurricane Isabel had passed through just nine days before the wedding. Ann’s sister Kaye and her husband, Ronnie, lost power for about three days, which was a crisis in that Kaye had planned to prepare all the food for the reception. (Among the many items on her resume is a successful stint in restaurant management.) They got power back on the 21st, which (barely) gave Kaye, with some help from her and Ann’s mom, the time to get all the cooking done.
When we got there, Ronnie and Kaye put us up in this huge RV that Ronnie took off his mother’s hands after his father died a couple of years ago. Ever since Boy Scouts I haven’t been much for camping, but this thing was nice: audio/video system with monitors up front and in the master bedroom; satellite TV; air-conditioning that WORKED; stove, microwave, fridge and freezer; combination washer/dryer; a shower, even. We spent the weekend partying like rock stars. Well, except for the, you know, booze, dope and groupies.
* * *
Unlike in Greensboro, you could tell a hurricane had been through the greater Plymouth/Jamesville, N.C., metropolitan area. All the back roads were lined with tree debris that clearly had just been hurriedly plowed off the blacktop. Trees were down in yard after yard. Many business signs were damaged or gone. Along U.S. 64 alone, I spotted three churches with significant storm damage, including one whose front portico had collapsed.The area remained under a declared state of emergency while we were there, the relevant ramifications of which were:
- Police were enforcing a 10 p.m. curfew.
- The liquor stores were closed.
These are disturbing circumstances under which to hold any wedding, but particularly a wedding being held in a church with Free Will Baptist in the name.
* * *
Jennifer has always been a sweet-natured girl, so it was not surprising that her bridesmaids (six, plus two honorary) seemed nice as well. Her maid of honor, Amber, and one of her honorary bridesmaids (also from Greensboro, as it turned out), Jamie, stayed with her at Ronnie and Kaye’s, and I was formally introduced to them Saturday morning over breakfast at the island in Kaye’s kitchen, where Hooper and I sat side by side eating breakfast.By way of conversation, I asked Amber how long she had known Jennifer and how they had met.
“We all went to nursing school together,” Amber said, gesturing to include Jamie in the “we,” “so we’ve been pretty much up each other’s butts for the past two years.”
I glanced at Hooper. So did she.
“So to speak,” she added, looking very embarrassed.
“That’d be a medical term, then,” I said, to show there were no hard feelings.
* * *
Victoria, who was serving as flower girl (and who had been waiting for this day since Jennifer had gotten engaged 15 months ago), was thrilled to get to go with the rest of the bridal party to get her hair and makeup professionally done. She had to wear a nightgown (with spaghetti straps) as a shirt because once her hair was done and her hairpiece in place, she’d be unable to pull any clothing over her head.After getting her hair done at the salon, she and the rest of the bridal crew repaired to the (unoccupied) manse at the church for their makeup sessions. V. decided that she wanted purple eyeliner, but the woman doing the makeup decided — wisely, in my uninformed view — that a lighter color would better suit her complexion.
When it was done, she looked at me and for only the second time in her life, I thought I could see what she might look like when she has grown up. (The first was on the occasion of her first ballet recital, also an event involving much sturm und drang with respect to hair and makeup.)
After delivering pizza to the bridal party, I took Hooper home for a little nap. When we returned about an hour before the wedding, I asked Victoria how she had liked hanging out with the bridesmaids (all of whom were roughly 20 years older than she).
“It was fun,” the girl who normally can’t stand physical separation from her parents said enthusiastically.
“No kidding,” I said. “What’d you talk about?”
“Oh, weddings and being in a wedding and being a bridesmaid.”
“I see. Anything else?”
* * *
As Official Wedding Videographer, I stood up in the chancel, using Jennifer’s camcorder to shoot the proceedings. The “anthem” played and sung before Ronnie gave Jennifer away was “Butterfly Kisses.” I have never much liked that song, but Ronnie, as seen through a camera close-up, had clearly decided to just take his mind somewhere else lest he shed a tear. Jen wasn’t much better off, but at least she was smiling, too.
* * *After the ceremony, the wedding party released live butterflies from the front steps of the church. They’d been ordered from some outfit in Texas, and no one really knew for sure if they were alive, but when the packages were opened, they all — monarchs, to my uneducated eye — flew off just as healthy as you please, except for one that flew upward in a tight spiral, apparently because of a stuck rudder or whatever you call it on a butterfly.
* * *
We slept in Sunday morning — “in” being 8 a.m. — and then headed home by way of Chapel Hill for the 3rd birthday party of a friend of Hooper and Victoria’s. On the way from there, I got to listen on the radio as the Panthers humbled the Falcons. It was a nice ending to a nice weekend.