This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples is another sample from Chapter 33 of Adicia’s story, “Four Graduations and a Wedding.” It’s 29 July 1966, and Adicia, her sisters, and their friends are getting ready for Allen and Lenore’s wedding. They’re gathered in the dressing room of Father and Mrs. Murphy’s church in Midtown, the Episcopal Church of Christ Our Friend and Savior. I’ve included the processional music.
“Isn’t it nice to be a girl?” Adicia asks as they’re changing into their dresses. “The guys in the wedding party don’t get to wear pretty dresses and have their hair done all special. All they’re doing is putting on suits.”
“We get our own special entrance too,” Justine says. “The guys are only entering by a side door and don’t even get their own special march up the aisle.”
Ernestine, Lucine, and Emeline start doing their makeup after they’ve put on their dresses. Adicia looks at them wistfully, wishing she were old enough to wear makeup, while Girl cares less to put any on in spite of being fourteen.
“Why are you putting on makeup, Lenore?” Baby asks. “Allen says he likes you just the way you already look, with no makeup.”
“Makeup shows up better in pictures, and it’s fun to wear it on special occasions. I’m not anti-makeup, just that I was never that interested in caking it all over my face to try to look prettier.”
“Can I wear a little too, just this once?” Adicia begs as Lenore puts on green eyeshadow. “I don’t wanna look like a little kid in the photos when I’m twelve.”
“You can take the stuff I’m supposed to wear,” Girl says.
“You have to put on makeup, Girl,” Ernestine pleads. “How can a teenage bridesmaid not wear any?”
“I cracked about wanting to wear a girly dress. I ain’t cracking about the makeup.”
“Just this once?” Julie asks. “I’d like to wear makeup too.”
Adicia fiddles with the lapis lazuli bracelet she got as her bridesmaid gift. “We don’t have to look like girls of ill repute if we wear a little makeup. I am going into junior high in the fall.”
“Okay, I’ll help you,” Lucine says. “I have blue eyeshadow for Adicia and a pale plum shade for Julie, to match your dresses. You can wear a little lipstick too.”
“Your hair is pretty, Lenore,” Baby says. “I’ve never seen you wearing it up before. It looks a lot nicer in that up style than that horrible beehive thing Gemma wears her hair up in.”
“Don’t say that to Gemma’s face when you see her today,” Lucine warns. “I think the beehive thing is heinous too, but I won’t tell her. She’s always been about the latest fashions and won’t change her mind if someone tells her her hair or clothes look stupid.”
“I feel like a clown,” Girl complains when Emeline comes over and starts putting lipstick on her. “I’ll never wear this junk again after today.”
“I’m not really into makeup myself, but it’s nice to play dress-up once in awhile,” Emeline says.
Twenty minutes later, Infant goes to the door and peeks out toward the hall. She can see the guests starting to arrive. Gemma and the van Niftriks are among them. When it looks as though everyone is in the church and seated, the cheerful trilling strains of Handel’s “Water Music” start to fill the air.
“It must be time to line up!” Ernestine says nervously. “Does everyone remember her place?”
“Take your bouquets,” Lucine reminds them. “It doesn’t matter which one, since they’re all identical except Lenore’s.”
Adicia grabs her small bouquet of baby’s breath, irises, and gladioluses and rushes to take her place second in the line. There’s a brief moment after “Water Music” ends, and then Ernestine starts slowly walking up the aisle as they hear the starting notes of “Benedictus.” When Adicia hears the first few syllables of the word Benedictus starting, she begins her walk, remembering to make eye contact and smile. Julie starts her processional at the word “qui,” Girl starts up at “in nomine,” Baby begins at the first repetition of “in nomine,” Infant begins at the second repetition, and Emeline makes her entrance as the maid of honor at the third “in nomine Domini.” Giovanni goes up at the final “in nomine,” and finally Justine makes her entrance as the flower girl at the final line, one final “in nomine Domini.”
Adicia smiles at them when they’re all at the altar, not only happy to be a bridesmaid at her beloved big brother’s wedding but also to have been escorted down the aisle by such a beautiful, angelic-sounding song that didn’t make her feel afraid or nervous. A part of her almost wishes her mother would know about Allen and Lenore’s choice of music, since it wouldn’t be a bad thing if such a miserable woman and disgrace to motherhood really did have a double heart attack at the thought of her own offspring selecting a song taken from the Latin Mass and sung by two Jewish musicians.
Everyone stands up and turns when Lenore’s processional song starts. Allen falls in love with Lenore all over again when he sees her carrying a bouquet of wildflowers, wearing makeup for the first time since he’s known her, a long lacy veil down the back of her hair, her hair worn in a soft updo, faux diamond barrettes in her hair, and wearing the ivory velvet gown with chiffon sleeves, which makes her look like a Medieval or Renaissance princess. He doesn’t even care if the entire congregation and the wedding party see him tearing up in public.
Lenore smiles at him and joins her hands in his when she reaches the altar, handing her bouquet to Emeline. She and the bridal party exchange smiles too before turning their attention to Father Murphy as he delivers the opening benediction.