What do you do when a huffy hussy named Karen threatens to crash your wedding?
After her flirtatious pass at Cuba this week, you might expect her to show up hurling fruit, limbs and branches every which way, with a mango-and-banana headdress and colorful sarong a la Carmen Miranda.
Let’s just say you’d definitely forget to regale her with her Miranda rights, especially if she threatened to rain on your parade under the oaks at Madewood.
We were ready for anything tropical storm Karen might throw our way. A tent for dancing outside, extra space in the mansion to accommodate guests and a table of bug spray — just in case — ensured that, if not for ever after, the couple would at least be happy Saturday night.
And then Karen didn’t show up.
Just like Rita in September, 2005.
Lovely Rita, was delayed. We’d cleared away branches felled by Hurricane Katrina and were following weather reports of the brewing storm.
Monday, we couldn’t reach the bride whose nuptials were to take place the following weekend. Maybe the cell towers near her were still down, we thought.
Tuesday, we tracked down that essential ingredient of every wedding, the mother of the bride. They’d requested special flowers from California, which was a good thing, as local florists remained shuttered. But they had to be ordered right away for expedited delivery. The elaborate buffet? Yes, food wholesaler Sysco had reopened. It was a go.
Wednesday, Silence of the Sams. Not a word from the groom or his dad, Sam and Junior.
Thursday, that witch Rita, is on her way. But, as we say on the bayou, “Ain’t nobody sayin’ nothin’.”
Then, the phone call. The bride’s not getting married after all. Sheltering in place, with no explanation. Is the romance a catastrophe of Rita, the stress of it all. Or did Rita do everyone a favor?
The other woman, Rita. Destructive? A blessing in disguise?
Saturday arrived, a perfect autumn day, reminiscent of the October afternoon, thirty-two years ago, when Millie and I exchanged vows underneath a Madewood oak tree named by my mother to honor her grandmother.
A car drove up, and two older women approached the house, ready to party at the wedding that was not to be.
Disappointed that it had been cancelled, and that they’d not gotten the message, the widowed driver of the car decided to make the best of things.
“You married?” she asked, smiling broadly. I shook my head in the affirmative.
“Pity,” she replied. “Any chance we could get rid of your wife? I like this place.”
After proffering coffee and cookies in the parlor, I escorted the two refreshed women to their car.
“Let me know if anything happens to your wife,” she insisted, rolling up the window as she drove slowly away, another other woman whose plans just didn’t work out.