Friday, April 28, 2006

beginning of a short story

“Your wedding should be the most magical day in the world.” The phrase was well worn but the wedding planner said it in such a cheerful way that Milena couldn’t help but smile. This meeting was not the first, or the last, and Milena did want her day to be special.

“We already know your color palette, pink and cream, and we already know the flowers. What we need right now is for you to tell me how Adam proposed and to write that in the wedding book. Then we need to go over the seating arrangements, then the menu. And that’ll be all for today.”

Milena nodded, the woman’s voice was so soothing. Probably a good thing she thought, since wedding planning was so stressful. If your wedding planner had a high pitched or irritating voice then you probably wouldn’t listen to them, but this woman’s voice made her feel lethargic and generally lazy.

“Well,” she started her story, “We were in our apartment and he had cooked dinner, which wasn’t all that surprising, we trade off cooking. Sitting around after dinner he wanted to go for a walk, which was weird but I didn’t think too much about it. We walked through the park, and sat on our favorite bench, he said he had a question for me.”

“And did you suspect anything?” The wedding planner’s voice cut through Milena’s recollection, jolting her back into reality. “Not really, I thought he was going to ask if I liked his shirt or something”. The wedding planner jotted this down hurriedly in the margin of her notes and looked at Milena expectantly, “go on.”

“well he pulled out the ring and got on his knee, and it was all very romantic of course. I said yes, and all my friends and family popped out of the bushes around us.” Milena felt a bit uncomfortable relating such a personal moment with a relative stranger. His proposal had been so perfect, but in relating the anecdote it sounded so trite, so planned, not special at all. Milena hoped that she would get a chance to reword this story before it was written in the wedding book. She didn’t want her friends and relatives to look at the story and get the wrong idea about Adam. He was a great guy, and the romance of the proposal was being sucked out by her lack of auditory skills.

Milena wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans before placing them back on the huge round table that she and this woman sat at. “That sounds like a very nice proposal” the planner said. Milena had mixed feelings about this woman. She was short and dumpy and had the same speech patterns as one of her aunts, yet her mouth moved in a strange way, like it was always surprised at what was passing through it, and the eyebrows were all wrong. The woman had drawn them on, but she consistently drew them too high on her forehead, giving her the appearance of perpetual shock.

The woman glanced over her notes, making a few jots, and then looked up at Milena again. “so sweet,” she said, “Now the seating for the reception. Do you want it segregated, your family on one side, his on the other, or do you want to ‘mix it up’”?

Milena was thrown by the sudden topic change, and then again when this fifty-something woman used a slang term. The phrase had escaped the strange mouth hesitantly, with a strange pause in the middle of it, like a priest using profanity.

“Well, I guess I want it mixed. Our families get along so it wouldn’t be a problem.” The woman smiled her false smile and said, “ah” before scribbling furiously in her notebook. Milena leaned foreword at an attempt to read what the woman had written, and then decided that she probably didn’t want to know.

The two of them spent another 20 minutes in the uncomfortable interview, and as Milena was leaving the building she felt her old self coming back to her. It was strange how the woman had such an effect on Milena. In her presence Milena felt awkward and unpolished. She wanted to like the woman, but her constant suits and perfect hair made it difficult. She smiled as she remembered her mother’s take on the situation, “its hard to warm to a woman who makes you feel like a bag lady without even trying”.

Halfway down the block from the wedding planner’s office Milena was getting more and more cheerful. The dreaded part of her day was over and she could relax, see Adam, get a bite to eat and trust that her wedding was in safe and well manicured hands.


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