Things you might need to know before I tell this story.
I come from a "cast of characters" family. I had a grandfather who wore a large diamond earring in his ear long before it was fashionable. He was incredibly cool. He had a pet squirrel that he rescued from his yard and kept in his pocket. He loved to surprise people with that squirrel, at dinner parties, at church, in line at the grocery store - basically just about anywhere inappropriate. He would put the squirrel in one of the pant pockets of his jumpsuit (another fashion statement of his) and put a peanut in the breast pocket of his jumpsuit. He would make a clicking sound and the squirrel, I think his name was Chipper, would pop out of one pocket and run up his shirt and jump into the chest pocket, grab the peanut, and run up to his shoulder and eat it. He got two reactions when he did this. Usually the first reaction was an ear piercing shriek. Especially if it was a lady. The second reaction was usually fear. Fear that the squirrel was going to jump on them. Fear that it was rabid and wild. Fear that they were standing next to a guy with a screw loose. My grandpa lived for those reactions. He got a kick out of shocking people with his crazy antics.
Grandpa had 3 sons. The oldest was my dad. He was a pretty normal guy...for the most part...if you compare him to his 2 other brothers and the rest of the family. The middle brother was my favorite uncle. He called everybody "Baby"...men, women, children, and pets. It didn't matter who you were or how old you were...you were "Baby" to him. If he met the Pope, I bet he would have called him "Baby." I loved that guy. He was the ultimate playboy. Women loved him. He was charming, funny, and cool. He was very fashionable too. He wore turtlenecks and sport coats with plaid pants and demi-boots when they were the height of fashion in the late 60's, early 70's. He always had a cigarette and a glass of scotch in his hand. It was a different time way back when. Uncle J loved frogs. He collected anything that had to do with frogs. He especially liked being given frogs doing naughty things. In compromising positions. We were not allowed to visit Uncle J's office whenever we went to see our father at work (all the brothers and my grandfather worked together in a family business) because he kept his collection there. We went into his office anyway. None of us understood what was going on. We were kids. We didn't care. We just thought the frogs were friendly.
Uncle N was the youngest. Uncle N liked being married. He liked it so much he married 7 times. My grandfather suggested he become a preacher and then he could attend as many weddings as he liked without all the legal mumbo jumbo and steep alimony payments to follow, but there was something about my uncle that made him want to marry every woman on the planet.
There are many more characters in our family tree that put my grandfather and uncles to shame, but these three men are the key players for my middle sister's wedding story I am about to tell.
My middle sister was the first to get married in our family. I think she got tired of sharing a bathroom with the rest of us. Or maybe she was tired of me borrowing her clothes and returning them to her closet reeking of my Ciara perfume. I loved that perfume. I think they sell it at Walmart now. It's right next to Brute and Old Spice. Anyway, my sister is what my mom used to call a "Nervous Nelly"...she worried about everything and freaked out over the most minor incidents. Her wedding was the culmination of all her fears. Her husband-to-be's family was going to meet our family. Everyone would be together in one special place...church and the reception. My sister wasn't so worried about the church part. Not much could go wrong there as long as the groom showed up as well as the priest and the ring bearer...a couple witnesses and a few lookie loos. She was more concerned with the reception.
We all convened at the church on the given day. A warm December afternoon. The sun was shining, the bride was nervous, the groom was nervous and my dad was crying because his first daughter was getting married. We still aren't sure if they were tears of joy at giving away the bride with - one down and two to go - or if they were tears from the bills sitting on the counter at home for the dress, flowers, reception, limo and everything else that goes with a wedding. Who knows. Well, the wedding march began and my sister and I walked down the aisle in our polyester poinsettia red dresses with big white floppy hats and white ballet slippers that went with the Christmas theme. Our sister followed with our dad. She was a beautiful bride, except for the blotchy cheeks and red eyes from crying all morning. Other than that she looked great.
Her soon to be husband met her at the altar and they stood before God and man to say their vows, but before the vows they had to go through a few other little rituals. It was a Catholic service which lasted a little over an hour. During that hour my sister had to take flowers to the altar of Mary, and then there were readings to be done and a gospel to be read and a few hosts to suck on. The readings were where we ran into a little problem. My sister and her husband had chosen a few verses from the bible which held meaning for them. The bible verse they chose was also a popular song at the time. It was The Byrds version titled - Turn! Turn! Turn! Someone up above had a sense of humor because just as the best man was about to read the verse the wind blew in from an open side door and turned the pages of the bible. Not being Catholic, the best man didn't know what to do, so he just put his finger on the page and started reading wherever it landed. He was also a "Nervous Nelly" who didn't enjoy public speaking.
With a shaky voice he began. He read slowly so as not to make a mistake. He read puposefully so he could appear confident even though his knees were knocking together. He had a loud voice. It rang out throughout the church and into the rafters. Problem was...he was reading about fornication. At a wedding. And not the good kind. It was the go directly to hell sinners kind of fornication verse. Is there any other kind?
My two uncles and my grandfather who were sitting up front looked at one another. My grandpa laughed out loud. My uncles looked askance at one another and then at my dad. The priest coughed a couple times and cleared his throat trying to get the best man's attention. Then my uncle who was quite the ladies man stood up and blurted out...."Hey Baby, is that for me?" There was silence. I turned around in the church pew and whispered to my grandpa, "You don't happen to have the squirrel with you by any chance? Because now would be a good time to break it out." My grandpa looked at me and said, "He's in the car. I'm saving it for the reception."
In the end they were married. It was a few years before I tied the knot in a small affair. A civil ceremony without bible verses. Immediate family only. No squirrels invited.
ps...The sushi cake a couple posts down has caused a few of my friends to say it grossed them out. Look carefully at the picture and you will see that the sushi is made of candy. My sister is so talented she made it look real. But it's not. She's a talented gal...the clever one in the family. The one with lots and lots of patience to mold fruit roll ups to look like seaweed and rice krispy treats to look like sushi rice and mango to look like salmon.