FILTERED AGAINST OTHELLO AND CINDERELLA
Weddings are supposed to be new beginnings. There is no such thing as a beginning that does not hold endings in it’s arms, and this one is no different. I won’t belabor Cinderella’s obvious changes in becoming a Mrs. Rather, I will pound at my favorite subject, my internal landscape.
The earth around me moves; I am its center.
Monday Othello asked me, “how shall I tell Mom that Bridgette is coming to the bachelor party? Foreknowledge may keep the party from becoming a painful affair.”
My answer was several points:
- Painful for whom?
- When did you become so powerful you could prevent your mother’s & sister’s pain?
- Why is it your job to make certain your mother behaves? (his concern was with Zelda’s behavior)
- What makes you think that foreknowledge and reasoning will prevent any misbehavior?
- Protection implies a need for protection. Why can’t your mother protect herself against family members showing up at a family gathering? Shouldn’t she start to be responsible for her own behavior, instead of you, Cinderella, or I making sure she behaves?
He decided not to do anything. Wise.
Having spoken these things to him, I could hear them, and I became wiser, too. Here’s one I didn’t speak:
- If we kowtow to Zelda’s possible wrath, we imply that it is important.
- It isn’t.
By Tuesday I was much less worried about conflict with Zelda. On Wednesday I didn’t care if there was any; I didn’t see anything I needed to take part in. During the drive north, I played scenarios in my head, trying to find one that actually required me to join a fuss. Failing that, I tried to find one that required a response. I couldn’t.
Zelda can’t poison the kids against me. She can’t take anything from me. She doesn’t own anything I care about. No one I care about listens to her counsel. I don’t care if she likes me. I don’t care if she is happy. I don’t care if she is unhappy. I don’t need her to be tolerant, or polite, or present, or absent.
She isn’t important anymore.
Miles swept by while I was in a daze. The revelation was stunning. So basic, so quiet an assertion, and it rewrites all the responses I would ever have, where she was concerned. I refined it some:
She isn’t important.
I drove into a Corvallis I had never been to before.
Which is not to say that I stopped paying attention. I have a history of resolution and backslide. So I watched me, closely.
Wednesday evening at the rehearsal and dinner, Zelda (who is one of the bridesmaids) kept brushing against me. Not shoulder to arm, more often it was hips and buttocks. Nothing overtly inappropriate, but people don’t touch body-to-body in normal circumstances, and it was odd and unwelcome. I thought perhaps I was reading too much in, so I quietly called in Bridgette to witness and asked for verification. We watched Zelda brush against me several more times, once passing behind me as if we were in a crowded room…except that we were in an open field. The only motivations I could come up with were a deep yearning to touch my ass (well, that goes without saying, but most don’t act on it) or a bid for attention. I chose to avoid giving opportunity, but otherwise ignore it. That seemed to cover both bases.
Thursday, just before the wedding began, I was crossing the green to the … what is the specific noun for the place one gets married? I shall decide it is “nuptiary” until someone tells me differently. I was crossing to the nuptiary and saw Zelda pick me out from her position there, and, grim-faced, move to intercept me. Avoiding her by widely zigging or zagging seemed counter to ignoring her, so I didn’t. We met in the center. I didn’t stop, so she joined me for the trip back.
“Bridgette was telling Charming’s mom that she had to buy more flowers. If it’s some sort of burden, I’ll pay for them.”
Without any emotion, I replied, “That’s a very thoughtful offer. Thank you.”
It wasn’t what she wanted. “She was really snotty about telling C’s mom. C’s mom is very upset.” Zelda sounded angry, looked angry. No touching my buttocks this time. Probably she was just put out at being kept from my backside. I didn’t take more than a moment to think about what she said.
“You’re just trying to stir trouble. Stop it.”
“I’m not! She was a bitch to C’s mom, and she’s ruining the wedding. Rein in your wife!”
I smiled a tight little smile and veered from our path, having sighted Ma and Bridgette. “It’s nice to see you holding back for the wedding.”
She tossed her head in what I interpret as a superior and incensed fashion. “I try.”
I left my obvious remark in my mouth, and carried it away with me.
She wasn’t important. I didn’t need to win.
She hovered around gatherings for the remainder of the day. At one point she had joined the table where Ma, Bridgette, Othello, and my aunt and uncle were seated, along with Ed, who graced the proceedings so that he could drink my liquor, kiss the bride, and help entertain me. Ma was noting that she used to consider Ed a bad influence. I was on stage at the time, and ranted back that Ed, along with Emily and Bridgette, were the best influences I had in my life.
A while later I realized that I had named, in order of appearance in my life, the three people Zelda despises most. She faded away shortly after that.
Late that evening she asked me how much I spent on the flowers.
“It isn’t really any of your business. Enough.”
We didn’t speak again. I don’t know that we will.