A wedding party plus one (1)


(Courtesy Leslie Anderson, Shantiarts.co)

MAINE COFFEE SHOP – (Editor’s note: sometimes it’s just fun to watch people – especially in Maine)

Like hunters staking out their territory, the couple almost ran to the empty table in the coffee shop and claimed it as their own. The young woman tossed a white three-ring binder with the words “My Wedding” onto the table. The words were printed in a computer generated script that was meant to imitate good handwriting, not hers. The couple was here early and they were on the lookout. Their future was about to walk through the door any minute.

“I just want to give her background information,” the wife-to-be (let’s call her Judy blue eyes) said.  Her boyfriend (let’s call him “I’d like to be anywhere but here Frank) placed two cups of hot coffee in front of their seats and looked around the old restaurant.

“She’s not here yet,” Frank said, glancing at his watch.

Judy opened the book and started to plow through the material in front of her. Like a salmon in the stream, her instincts screamed yes every time she thought about the wedding.

It was her time to shine. They were going down this road together and by God, she needed Frank to go along.

They weren’t touching, and Judy’s lips moved as she read through some of the notes in her binder; three words and a sip, two words and a sip, she wasn’t in a hurry.  It was her process and she was knee deep in the ceremony.

Frank fidgeted with the Ray-Bans on top of his head.  With one sip after the other, he too seemed to measure time, but no words escaped him and he looked around the room

In a strange cosmic way that demonstrated their connectedness, Judy and Frank turned around at the same time to greet a rather round woman in her 40s. Smiling and exerting herself, she rushed toward the couple. The blue-gray barrel of her belly hit the table first.

Judy tapped her on the shoulder in a familiar fashion; Frank shook her hand. They both said hello.

Maria slid into the booth and somehow managed not to move the table an inch. She tugged at her long sleeve shirt as it advanced north of her waistline.  Apparently wedding planners like cake with their coffee.

“OK” Maria said, pulling a ballpoint pen from the limited confines of her front pants pocket. “Let’s talk about the day,” she said and turned her matching binder to page one. Frank took another sip.

“Let’s talk about after the ceremony.”

“Do you want me to introduce the parents … no?”

Judy looked briefly at Frank and then directly at Maria. “No. we’ll just come in.” she said.

“OK. What about the dance. The music?” Maria said. “Did you look at the list?”

“We’ll go right to the first dance,” she said. “Are you going to dance with your mother?” Maria asked, looking directly at Frank.

“We’re working on it.” Judy said.

It was warm in the restaurant and the smell from the breakfast food drifted over them like the incoming tide.  Maria tugged at her black knit hat and made sure it was still sitting sideways on her head. The small brim pointed from her ear to due north.

She clicked her pen a few times and placed it between her empty ring and middle fingers to take notes. Her short ringless fingers twirled the pen as if she were holding a majorette’s miniature baton.  The pen was her instrument and she could stop it instantly each time a thought about the wedding came to her. Another note was entered into the plans.

“After the first dance we sit,” Maria said. “Are we doing a prayer … is that your brother?”

Judy turned to Frank and said, “My dad has said he wants to do a few words.”

Frank took another sip and, using his spoon, seemed to trace the pattern of the recycling sign painted on the trash can next to the table. Round and round he went.

“15 or 20 minutes and then he wants to play some of his music,” Judy said. “He plays the accordion.”

“He’s got SIX of them,” Frank said.

“No really. I kid you not. One of them is electric and he’s really good.” Judy said. Even the students working on their homework at the next table turned around at the mention of an electrified accordion.

Maria just smiled.

Judy pulled a list of songs from her binder and pointed at one song in particular.

“I’ve crossed a few off the list. No line dances and probably not a lot of country,” she said.

“I’d rather keep it more recent … I just want everyone on the dance floor. The electric accordion is fine. He can plug it into my system.” said Maria.

At the next table, a girl who looked to be about 20, with a neon-pink hooded sweatshirt and the year 1986 painted on the front in white letters, just looked at wedding planner and smiled.

“We’re just going to go all night long,” said Maria. “Fast or slow – I want to get them all on the floor.”

Frank took one last sip and without saying anything to either woman, tossed the cardboard cup into the recycling can.



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David Arenstam

About David Arenstam

Originally from away, but here to stay - Maine is my home and I love writing stories about the people and places from my end of the state. I am a teacher and writer and my first novel, "Homecoming: A Soldier's Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption" is available now at www.BrysonTaylorPublishing.com