Sunday, May 29, 2011

Part Fifteen: In which Katie makes a speech and a friend shows up to save the day!

Poor Melissa. For the past six months she'd been so strong-seeming, but in reality Katie wasn't sure she was ready for this. She hadn't seen David since he'd walked out on her at their own wedding, and she hadn't really had any closure. And yet here they were, at another wedding. Would there be closure today?

Two hours later, Katie and Melissa found themselves at a table near the back of the University of Toronto Faculty Club. Seated at the table with them was an out-of-town cousin, an elderly woman who turned out to be Lucy’s old grade one teacher, and three of Lucy’s friends from work.

David and Georgina, who’d pretty much avoided Melissa at the church, were now seated on the far side of the reception hall. Melissa glanced towards them, her leg jiggling nervously under the table. “Let’s get some drinks.”

Katie hadn’t planned on drinking much today; she’d been a bit of a lush last weekend. But Melissa needed her, and Melissa needed a cocktail. Plus it turned out it this wedding had an open bar. “Fine. I’ll get us some drinks, and and then we’ll make a plan.”

“We don’t need a plan.” Melissa sighed, tiredly. “I just want this to be done. I’m too old for the drama. I’ll just go over there and, I don’t know. Face him and ask if we can talk. Maybe see if he and Georgina want to get coffee later.”

“That’s your plan? Just … coffee?”

“Yeah? What’s so wrong with that?” Melissa ran her hands over her face, rubbing at her temples.  “I’m sick of the anxiety, Katie.  I realized sitting in that wedding that I just want to clear the air, make nice, and move on. Doesn’t it seem like it would be best to just be mature about it?”  

Katie shrugged. “I don’t know. I was kind of imaging slipping laxatives into their food, or something. You know, like vengeance!” She pumped her fist into the air and their seatmates looked over, surprised.

The elderly elementary teacher raised her fist as well, and said, “Solidarity, sisters!” in a loud, raspy voice. She then went back to folding her cloth napkin into a swan.

“Laxatives?” Melissa was whispering. “That’s not really our style.”

“Yeah. I don’t know what I was thinking.” Katie got up. “I’m getting us some drinks,” she said, and walked over to the bar where an eager young man was polishing a glass. He didn’t look like he was old enough to shave, let alone card anyone.

“Hi....” said Katie, leaning on the bar. “I gin and tonics.”

“How about champagne?” The child-bartender pulled a bottle from the fridge behind him.

“Oh, no, I’m looking for the free booze.”

“This is free. There’s a free bottle for each table.” He grinned at Katie, braces flashing. “Hey. How about I get your number for later?”

Katie grabbed the bottle wondering if it was a good thing or a bad thing to be hit on by a teenager.

An hour and a half later Katie was pretty sure it was a good thing, especially when the teenager had access to the champagne. Apparently a number of tables had turned their bottles down and, seeing as the cousin and two of the work friends were currently pregnant, with the 3rd friend abstaining out of “respect for my wife”, there was plenty of champagne for Katie, Melissa, and the elderly teacher, whose name turned out to be Laureen.

“I tell you, babies are a curse on the young,” Laureen toasted the table, but only Katie and Melissa clinked her glass.

There were a few speeches, and then the food was served, but it was lamb, and Katie made a point of not eating lamb. “They’re babies,” she’d hissed at the server who tried to put the plate in front of her. “I don’t eat babies.” She hiccuped and covered her mouth with her hand. “I should stop drinking,” she said to Laureen, who raised an eyebrow and said, “Why?”, tossing back her own glass.

Melissa rolled her eyes and took the plate from the server. “I’ll eat hers,” she said, scraping the meat onto her own plate. “You can have the vegetables,” she said, setting a plate of sauteed green beans and roasted potatoes in front of Katie, who sneered at them. 

“They’re soaking in baby juice.” She picked up two of the green beans and pretended they were legs, dancing over the potatoes. One of the work friends said, in a kind of nasty voice, “You’re a real 'life of the party', aren’t you?,” which might have made Katie feel badly if she hadn’t been feeling so delightfully bubbly.

Also, she had to pee. Quite badly. She got up from the table and she felt a rush, a lightness filling her head, causing her to stumble. Oh, man. I’mma dah-runk... she thought, and took a deep breath. Must be sober. Must not embarrass self or Melissa. Must get coffee. But first -- must pee.

After wandering around the faculty building and finally finding a washroom that didn’t contain urinals, Katie came back into the hall to find a room full of people dancing like grownups, all pressed together, swaying to something slow and schmaltzy. There was Melissa, her arms around the waist of a tall guy with a terrible, swirly, pink-patterned shirt, with curly dark blond hair and long, skinny feet. Melissa was smiling, and Katie felt happy for her friend, until she noticed David and Georgina were dancing, too, their arms wrapped all tightly and their eyes locked in that true-love way. He was whispering into her neck, she tossed her head back, they were so blissfully happy and together. She couldn't stop staring at them. 

Katie felt a sadness rush over her, tears in her eyes. Oh, damn. Oh, heartache. Oh, Bobby.... The song, which she now recognized as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King, which under normal circumstances would make her roll her eyes, was tonight the most beautiful, the most affecting piece of music she’d ever heard.

Katie leaned against the doorjamb, drinking from a glass of champagne the boybartender must have put in her hand. She was watching all the married couples on the dance floor, and thought about Bobby, about the ring, the proposal.

He’d wanted to make it “official” he’d said, with flowers, with candles, a make your own sundae bar set up on their coffee table because he knew she’d love it.  She closed her eyes and she was back there, in their Vancouver apartment by the water. “I know I want to be with you for the rest of my life, Katie. So let’s make it official,” he’d even been down on one knee, this man who loved her more than anyone ever had. His eyes were so full of love. That truelove look, beaming up at her. The ring proffered with such grace. Katie shook her head, shook the memories loose. This was not the time. This was not the time.

“...And that’s why I’m so pleased to have Lucy in our lives. Please raise a glass to the best daughter-in-law a man could ever hope for!” Katie looked towards the front of the room and saw that the speeches had begun. The dancers were still on the floor, only not moving, the pairs of lovers had their arms around one another, David and Georgina among them, with poor Melissa standing off to the side, her arms crossed, alone. Melissa had loved that guy with her entire soul. She’d given up grad school in New York for that bastard. She’d been ready to die for that motherfucker and now his tongue was in Georgina’s ear?

“Would anyone else like to say a few words to the happy couple?” The MC asked the room from behind his podium. A shuffling, a ripple ran through the crowd but no one stepped forward. “No?” A laugh rang out -- it was Georgina, David was whispering a joke or something and the two of them were laughing, in love in their own private world. Katie felt a stab in her heart. Before she knew it, her hand was reaching into the air. “I”ve got something to say!”

She ran forward, the champagne sloshing out the sides of her glass, wondering just what it was she was up to. All she knew was that she had to say something. For Melissa.

“Hi. I”m Katie. I’m a friend of the ….” she took a sip of champagne. “...bartender.” She raised her almost-empty glass and the room shared a gentle, collective laugh, and she knew she had them on her side. “I just wanted to say a few things about love. I mean, I’ve been watching all of you dancing out there, all true-lovey, and I just really wanted to say that love is special. And when you are lucky enough to have someone in your life who loves you, who carries your heart around in their pocket, who is willing to sacrifice everything for you, you should not let it go. Lucy and … er ... ” she raised her glass in the newlyweds’ direction, “Congratulations. And I mean -- how amazing is it that you both showed up today?” 

Katie looked out across the room of patient listeners. “Fellow guests! Raise a hand if you thought maybe this wouldn’t happen. If you thought maybe one of these two fine young lovers might get cold feet.” She scanned the room. Only Laureen, the old elementary school teacher, had a hand up; Katie was't sure if she meant it or it was just reflex. “Listen, what I’m trying to say is this: Weddings don’t happen all the time. People fail to turn up at the church.” Katie’s voice rose, she was gaining steam.  “People are cheaters. They cheat and they lie, they hurt the person who has pledged to love them because they are cheaters, liars.” Katie heard a few gasps, and sensed that perhaps the crowd wasn’t onside any longer. But she didn’t care.

“People named David ruin the lives of people named Melissa because they can’t keep it in their pants around people named Georgina!” Katie stabbed a finger towards David, who was no longer standing with his arms around Georgina, because Georgina was currently running out of the room.

“Katie! What are you doing?” Melissa was there, all of a sudden, yanking the microphone out of her hand. “Shut up!”

“I’m defending your honour!” As she tried to grab the microphone back she could see David running away too; probably he was chasing his wife but Katie hoped he was running from the burning shame.

“I don’t want your help,” Melissa pleaded. “He’s not that bad. Honestly. We’ve talked. It’s okay.” She was moving away from the podium and tried to pull Katie with her but Katie yanked backwards, spilling what little champagne was left in her glass. Everything was spinning. She felt a bit sick.

“He was an asshole who hurt you, and I’m making it better!” she yelled, hoping David could hear. Melissa stopped yanking on her friend.

“For God’s sake, you’re just embarrassing everyone, Katie. I never asked for this.” And Melissa walked away on her pretty shoes and in her pretty dress, her shoulders hunched inside her pretty, green shrug.

Katie felt hot, defeated. “People shouldn’t hurt people. And love is the worst. Love just makes us hurt one another,” she said, weakly. Someone else had the microphone now, people were laughing, awkwardly. The MC had the mic again and he was turning it all into a joke, her into a joke. “It’s not funny. What David was awful. He’s an awful, awful person.” But no one was listening.

Katie slid down a wall, she must have walked over to one, because now she was sliding down it, her back supported by the clean, cool surface. “Eternal Flame” had been playing that night, kind of as a joke but kind of because Bobby had always said if he ever proposed, he’d do it right, and she’d always said, "then you have to play 'Eternal Flame', because that’s what the 13-year-old me would have wanted", and then there it was, on the stereo, with Bobby on one knee, his open, gentle face upturned, that ring held aloft, and Katie had let the song play out; the ice cream melted, the candles melted themselves down to stubs. She’d left him there on one knee and moved out the next day. “I can’t be what you need,” she’d said, breaking his heart in the worst possible way. 

Katie stared up at the ceiling of the faculty club. "I'm just as bad as David," she said quietly to herself. "Actually, I might be worse."

“Miss?” said a male voice. Katie was expecting the child-bartender, but instead it was the tall, blond man in the hideous shirt who’d been dancing with Melissa. His hand was out to her and she took it. He helped her to her feet, and smiled. “I liked your speech. It had a lot of spirit.” His voice was familiar. Deep, kind. Irish. “I’m Eoin,” he said.

“I know,” Katie said. “And I’m Katie.”

“I know,” said Eoin. “And I have to say,” he gestured towards the podium, “all of that seems quite in line with what I’ve come to expect of you. Now, let’s get you out of here before they send the Garda. Oh, that’s Irish for police,” he added.

Katie leaned against him, her head spinning. “I knew you knew Irish slang.”

Eoin began to lead her towards the exit. “So where should I take you?”

You Decide!

A) Eoin takes her to track down Melissa so she can fix their friendship
B) Eoin takes her to her Aunt Angela’s apartment so she can decompress


  1. This. Was. Awesome. Aunt Angela's!

  2. I too vote for Aunt Angela's!

  3. Yay, Eoin! Aunt Angela's - she's far too drunk to make peace with Melissa yet.

  4. Yes!
    I had a genuine thrill when the pink-shirted man turned out to be Eoin. This was a great chapter!
    Aunt Angela's next, please.

  5. Let's get Angela back in the picture!

  6. Aunt Angela of course of course.