by Audrey Wyatt

I’m really not a J.A.P.  That’s Jewish American Princess for the uninitiated.  But when I fell head over heels for a wonderful man who grew up in West Virginia, I guess the die was cast.  To the Appalachian mind-set, I’m the Jewess from up north.

When we decided to marry my mother suggested a brunch.  Very sedate, very ... appropriate.  Fate, however, had other ideas.  Mom died before she could create her lovely fete.  So the revised plan became a mountaintop wedding with a picnic reception.  Very ... earthy.

Planning complete, we jumped into our Volvo and headed toward that “Manson-Nixon” line, allowing the time we needed to get the license, blood test, and reception details tucked away.

Unbeknownst to us, we arrived on West Virginia Day, a very important state holiday.  Duly designated, no doubt, to rotating the cinderblocks under the collection of junk cars in the yards of the citizenry.  Of course, every government office was closed.

We left the family farm early the next morning to take care of the license and blood tests. With a three-day wait there was no room for error, but, blood drawn and application filed, there was nothing to do but sit tight.

*          *            *

First thing Friday morning we went to the hospital to retrieve our blood tests.  Upon our arrival we were informed that there were no doctors in the hospital to sign off on our results.  Of course, NO DOCTORS IN THE HOSPITAL!!!  Why would there be?  Who needs physicians cluttering up a busy hospital!

Blood pressure skyrocketing, I began to scream.  I screamed that we were getting married the next day.  I screamed about their hillbilly holiday screwing up my week.  And, if I’m not mistaken, I screamed something about the woman’s Appalachian heritage.  Low and behold, a lone doctor surfaced, obviously driven from his hiding place by my nasal J.A.P. voice.

Later that evening, accompanied by our best man and matron of honor, we were off to a quickie rehearsal.  When we arrived at the church it was locked up tight.  A vein in my temple pulsating, I phoned the minister but his wife said he was out.  She also said he must have gotten the time wrong.  She casually finished with “he’ll see you tomorrow at the wedding.”

Suddenly, I was longing for that tasteful brunch.

“See us tomorrow!” I yelled.  “What do you mean, see us tomorrow!  We’re getting married tomorrow.  He’s never even seen the ceremony we wrote.  Part of it is in Hebrew.  Can he handle Hebrew?  And, I hate to mention this, BUT WE’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE!”

“Don’t worry,” she said again.  “It’s just like on TV.”  And with that pronouncement, she hung up.

I could feel an aneurysm swelling as we drove away from the payphone.  Cindy, my matron of honor, force-fed me chocolate chip cookies in an effort to calm me down.

*          *            *

I awoke leisurely to the sound of songbirds. The sun streamed in the window and the smell of muffins baking wafted into the room. Respecting tradition, my fiancé, Jim, left the night before.

Before long, women began to arrive:  Cindy with my freshly pressed Scarlet O’Hara dress; my friend Ruthie ready to do hair and make-up and, finally, several family members, apparently just to gawk. It was a lovely morning and I was able to leave the stress of the last 24 hours, and the aneurysm I was trying to grow, behind.

It was wonderful being pampered.  I was powdered against the expected 110-degree swelter.  My hair was put up and my make-up was perfect.  Cindy carried in the garment bags.  First came the slip, a cool layer against my dewy skin.  Next came the petticoat, consisting of eight crinolines.  And then the dress.  I looked lovely.

As Cindy and Ruthie were fixing my bustle, the front door opened.  I heard a commotion coming from the other end of the house.

“Quick,” My mother-in-law said, rushing into the room.   “It’s Jim.  Go out the back door and we’ll get rid of him.”  Trying to be invisible, I ran outside and waited, holding my belled skirt high above the dusty ground.

The delay seemed interminable and I began to pace.  I could see Starr, an orphaned, hand-raised bull, moving toward me.  An excitable adolescent, Starr thought he was a dog.  He bounded through a break in the fence and lunged at me, nearly knocking me off my feet.  He threw his front legs around me and began humping to beat the band.  He was making disgusting noises and snorting.  And it seemed he had no intention of getting off me.

Having no J.A.P. reference for bovine sexuality, I threw my head back and began to scream.  This fazed Starr - not at all.  But, loud as I am, it did clear the house.  My fiancé and most of his family came running to the yard and immediately collapsed into a hysterical heap.

When Jim finally got the bull secured inside the paddock, I was a mess.  My hair was a disaster, my mascara was all over my face, and my dress ...  Oh, my beautiful dress.  It was brown from the dirt in the yard, not to mention Starr’s hoofprints on my sizable bustle.

*          *            *

When you look at my wedding pictures you can’t really tell what happened. Ruthie fixed my hair and make-up and Cindy tried to clean up my dress. The hoofprints - and other stains - are in the back.  But you won’t find any pictures that show the dress below the hip and you certainly won’t see the way the dress is cut so low and beautifully in the back.

Audrey Wyatt, right-brained to a fault, has worked in various arts – notably acting, teaching and creating children’s theater curricula. Now a fiction writer, she bases her novels, short stories and even a television sitcom on her experiences and culture. Her stories often feature strong-willed, quirky women.  One of Audrey’s essays appears in the anthology, Letters To My Mother.  Her novel, Poles Apart, placed as a semi-finalist in the international Summer Literary Seminars annual fiction contest.  Always one to foster aspiring artists, Audrey founded Bay State Writers and teaches Creative Writing in continuing education.  Contact Audrey.