Sixteen years ago - I know...I'm old...shuddup! - I was sitting in a white limo, surroundedÂ by taffeta and covered in tulle,Â cruising down the Garden State Parkway as myÂ soon-to-be-sister-in-lawÂ mooned traffic and made me laugh so hard...I sprayed champagne out of my nostrils and nearly peed myself.
Ah, yes...I wasÂ truly aÂ vision of lovliness that day...I tell you!
"Aren't you the least bit nervous?"
Afterall, I was too busy buying nail polish, picking up extra pantyhose and running about a bazillion other errands FOR MY BRIDESMAIDS, as they (and my mother) sat in my favorite hair salon and got all prettiful, to be nervous.Â Much to the amazement of the sales people in Bradless (now defunct) whenever my father felt the need to introduce himself...
"How do you do...I em dee fodder of dee br-eye-duh!"
...to some poor guy buying a shower curtain and a woman picking up a couple of cans of dog food.
He was practicing for later and I told him not to worry too much about his heavy accent - which totally sounds like Bela Lagosi as Count Dracula - and thougt that we'd better hurry, since I was getting married in...like...a couple of hours.
"Damn, how canÂ you be so calm?"
You'd think my maid-of-honor (the aforementioned Parkway-mooner) was the one getting married - the way her hand would shake, everytime she filled my paper cup with champagne - but,Â we were really good friends before she introduced me to her brother and I guess (after getting engaged two months, later) she was hoping it would work.
I did my hair, finished my makeup and got dressed in record time...still, I can honestly say that I wasn't nervous at all.
The limo pulled up along side the entrance to the little white church and the chaufferette (she looked so cool wearing a tux!) got out, openedÂ the doorÂ for the girls andÂ pumped her arm while, "WHOOT-WHOOT-WHOOT-ing" along with a bunch of buzzed bridesmaids.
My fatherÂ - looking very dapper in his grey tux and sweating like a man spending his last days on death row - smiled, wiped his forehead with a handkerchief and reached for my door.
I slammed the lock.
IÂ satÂ staringÂ at theÂ back of the driver'sÂ side seat andÂ refused to look at the window.
I remember turning my head - very, very slowly - squinting as the sun came out from behind a cloud, I looked into my father's eyes and thought how funny...that I would pick this time...to realize...just how blue his eyes really were.
And he looked scared.
I rolled the window down - just a little bit - and we were quiet for a while, before my father finally spoke.
"Mi a baj, lanyom?"
My eyes filled with tears.
"The problem is, I don't know if I can do this, Apu!?!"
He wiped his forehead, again,Â looked at the church andÂ turned back to the car.
You would have to know my father - and understand that he and I shared the same...um...well, let's just say our relationship was very complex and the mood changed as often as the weather - to really appreciate my surprise at how calm he answered.
"Okay...you don't have to...we can just sit here."
He folded his arms and quietly leaned against the limo for the next few minutes...though, it seemed more like hours.
"Um...I think I'm ready now, Poppie...you can open the door."
He smiled, wiped his forehead and opened the door.
"So, what would you have done...if I wasn't ready to get out...ever?"
He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
"Nah...you just got nervous...that's all...besides, I knew you couldn't leave the poor bastard just standing there."
I hugged him then and suddenly pulled back, because the back of his jacket was TOTALLY SOAKED IN SWEAT!
"Okay...so, I was scared shitless...but, that doesn't matter now...because, now I'm just really happy you got out of theÂ car...but, now I'm nervous aboutÂ going in the church...because IÂ can't seem to f**ckingÂ walk!"
He took my bouqet, I put his arm around my shoulders, helped him up the bazillion steps and 'till this day...not a lot of people know...howÂ close we came to...NOT making it to the church, on time.
Happy Anniversary, Sweetie.
After four kids, two cats, one sock-eating dog, enough laundry to circle the planet, twice, and sixteen looong years - most good, a few bad and some really, really bad - I am still very happy,Â I did...I do...I mean...I'd do it all over again...but, this time...perhaps with a little more champagne and I'd be the one mooning the Parkway!