“Marcie, please tell me what you’re talking about!”
“Okay, look. When you get back from patrol, on your first liberty weekend, see if you can get that Friday off, also, with Monday and Tuesday leave. Leave the ship sometime early Friday morning and fly here. We’ll pick you up at the airport and go directly to get our blood tests and then we’ll be married on Monday, by a judge or a justice of the peace. We’ll arrange that, and that’ll give us all day Monday, and Monday night, for us to be together before you have to go back on Tuesday…”
The “and Monday night” was not lost on Mitchell.
“…And that way, when we do have the real wedding, we’ll still have ten days before you have to report back.”
Staten Island, New York/ Chicago, Illinois
July 19, 1955
“I talked to the XO and explained everything to him, and he said that he couldn’t allow me to take a seventy-two hour liberty, but, for that reason, what he’ll let me do is to take a three-day leave with my regular weekend liberty sandwiched between, so that’ll leave us nine days for a honeymoon. We’ll be back in port on the tenth or eleventh of October, and I’m in the liberty section that first weekend, so we’ve got the paperwork set up already and I’ve made the reservation. I’ll be home on Friday the fourteenth.”
“The fourteenth! My birthday’s on the fifteenth, and we’ll be married two days later. What a great birthday present!”
“Yeah, I thought of that. The plane’ll land at eight-thirty in the morning and we can go right to the doctor’s office for the tests.”
Everything falling into place, both were silent a moment.
“Mitchie, I’ve got some good news, too: the wedding is set for the nineteenth of December, at the Palmer House.”
December nineteenth. Today’s July nineteenth. Ticking the months off on his fingers, “That’s five months away,” Mitchell said, and, under different conditions he would be upset that the marriage was that far off, but October seventeenth was only three months away and, after all, he had waited all his life for this, and now knowing exactly when it was going to happen, standing in the telephone booth in Staten Island, New York, Mitchell Lipensky sensed a tightening in his shorts.
August 2, 1955
“I went to see my dad’s Aunt Ida. She lives in a place called Seagate; that’s on the tip of Coney Island.”
“Where they have the big amusement park?”
“Yes, and it’s the neatest place. It’s surrounded on three sides by water and there’s a fence and a guard’s gate in front, and unless you live there, or are a guest of someone that lives there, you can’t get in.”
“A guard gate? That’s kind of different.”
“It’s really nice there. There’s lots of old mansions that have been converted to apartments, and Aunt Ida said there’s some that are pretty inexpensive. The bus stops right outside the gate that goes to the subway, and Coney Island is right next door to Bensonhurst, where you’ll probably go looking for a job. Aunt Ida’s a real nice old lady, and if you do want to live there, then at least we’ll have a relative near by so when I go to sea I’ll feel better knowing you’re not alone, and also because it’s safer for you because of the gate.”
“And we’ll live right near the ocean.”
“Surrounded by the ocean.”
“Yeah, Mitchie, it sounds great!”
August 9, 1955
“Marcie, I’ve got the greatest news! Aunt Ida introduced me to an old friend of hers who owns the building directly kitty-corner from her, and this lady and her husband are completely remodeling the building and everything in it is going to be like brand new. And guess what?”
Catching his excitement, “What?” she asked.
“They own some kind of a furniture factory, and they’re furnishing some of the smaller apartments with brand new furniture, what she calls seconds, and everything’s going to be really nice, and this lady, Mrs. Tennenbaum, showed me one of the apartments. It’s only one big room and a kitchen, but she said we could have it for seventy bucks a month, completely furnished. And guess what else?”
“Mitchie, honey, slow down! It sounds too good to be true . I hope you told her yes. What else could there possibly be?”
“The building won’t be ready ’till early December, and you’n’me’ll be the very first people in the apartment.”
“So, what did you tell her?”
“Are you nuts? What do you think? Yeah! I told her yeah!”
What he didn’t tell Marsha was that Mrs. Tennenbaum had allowed him to pick the paint color and the carpeting. Knowing that Marsha’s taste ran to shades of lilac, as a surprise, he’d picked a pale lilac paint for the walls, and a contrasting lilac for the wall-to-wall carpeting.
Personalities: The Two Families
In an attempt to solicit more attention from her husband, whose cognizance of her had, in her opinion, completely eroded; from Mitchell, whose love, Myra felt, was being diluted due to Marsha (whom she was beginning to resent); and from Lawrence, whose attention, as he grew older, was starting to focus outward, away from herself and her home, Myra began to use anger and illness—sometimes real and sometimes feigned—as a ploy to refocus attention to herself.
Myra had always wanted a daughter, but now, rather than attempting to cultivate Marsha for the role, going about it slowly, with patience, Myra attempted to be the girl’s mentor. Trying to bury her growing jealousy, she undertook the unwanted task of teaching Marsha how to be a good wife and homemaker, and in so doing became impatient and demanding.
Myra wanted Marsha to call her Mom.
As she had never called even her own mother Mom, simply put, Marsha could not get the word Mom past her lips. Also, though she truly hoped Myra would be the mother she’d never had, she now was trying to bury her own growing animosity, and rather than show disrespect by calling her future mother-in-law by her first name, Marsha used no title at all when addressing her, which only caused Myra to become more disgruntled.
Almost nineteen years after Marsha’s birth, Rhea had found a smattering of love for her daughter, but after nineteen years didn’t quite know how to demonstrate it, so she showed her love the only way she did know: by spending money… Lots of money!
And, oh, yeah, Marsha took great delight in her mother’s attention.
Though Eli made a good living at the store, it was, after all, only a hot dog stand, and he wondered where all the money—at least all the money he was aware of—came from. But again, Rhea’s mother had always helped when money was needed, and besides, if Marsha… If his baby was going to be married and move away, then he was glad that she was going to have a real wedding and, to Eli, the money, so long as he didn’t have to worry about it, became secondary.
As for Walter, he had liked Marsha from the moment he’d first seen her, and at this time did consider her as his daughter. Whenever possible, weather permitting, he and Larry would pick her up on Sundays, or at the lingerie shop after work, and take her to dinner and sailing.
Although Myra was always asked to join them, even though it was by her own choice to always say “No!” this, of course, only added fuel to Myra’s fire.
Unaware of Myra’s jealousy and growing resentment, Marsha truly enjoyed the company of, and the time spent with, her future father and brother-in-law.
The sailing, however, she could have lived without.
Walter and Myra did agree on one thing: They considered the wedding—which, in their opinion, had grown completely out of hand—as a unneeded frivolity on the part of Rhea, and planned on contributing as little as possible to it. But even though Myra had dismissed herself from all but the smallest financial obligation, she did consider herself a full partner in the planning of the affair, and in so being was extremely outspoken regarding the way she felt things ought to be.
Myra had become Rhea’s almost constant companion, and—since Rhea did not drive a car and Myra did—her self-appointed chauffer.
Rhea accepted Myra’s attention with condescending good nature, and, for once in her life thinking of her daughter’s happiness, she held her tongue during Myra’s real and attempted manipulations.
Gossamer Threads and Widening Ripples
“No, here’s the right way to do it!” spinning
“Cut the vegetables smaller!” spinning
“Straighten the sheet!” spinning
“I’ll teach you how!” spinning
“Stir it harder!” spinning
“Mix it faster!” spinning
“Here’s how!” spinning
“Do it!” spinning
Marsha’s visits to the Lipensky house always became a lesson, and as Myra pushed the girl harder, the visits became fewer…
Which only added fuel to Myra’s fire.