The Day Before
December 16, 1955:
It had been snowing since mid-day and traffic throughout the city had been slow, snarled, or, in many areas, even nonexistent.
The mothers at the hotel “organizing,” Walter was tied up someplace on the south side, and because Marsha didn’t drive, and wouldn’t in any case due to this snow, Eli was only too happy to get away from the tumult at the Palmer House and spend some time alone with his daughter, and he’d—though he would have certainly been drafted—volunteered to drive to the airport to pick up Mitchell, where now, the excitement had caught up with Marsha and she was once again in the washroom vomiting when Mitchell’s plane landed.
Looking for Marsha, “Eli, hi!” shaking hands, “Don’t tell me…” Remembering that the last time he’d come home she’d been in the washroom vomiting. “…she got sick again.”
Smiling, “I guess you just do something to her, Mitch.”
Turning to the sound of her voice, seeing her running to him, “Marcie!”
Flinging herself into his arms, they kissed until—he’d never seen her without a tan; even last October she’d still had the remnants of a tan—now, though, holding her at arms’ length, “You okay? You look so pale.”
An uncomfortable thought in her mind, “Mitchie, I just threw my guts up.”
“Yeah,” he smiled, “your dad said I make you sick.”
“That’s not exactly what I said, Mitch.”
“Daddy, he does make me sick. I puke whenever he comes home.” Taking Mitchell’s hand, “Guess you do something to me, kid.”
Hugging her again—knowing that after tomorrow nothing in the world could possibly happen to, literally, keep them apart—whispering in her ear, “I’m going to do something to you alright!”
“Yeah,” whispering back, “me, too! But now,” she said, “we’d better get going because by the time we get there everyone’ll be waiting for us.”
Grey exhaust smoked from the thousands of cars that inched their way through the snow-induced, extended rush hour.
Slapping from side to side, the wipers of the Buick left streaky, wet stripes across the windshield.
Holding hands, sitting closely together in the front seat, “You hear anything else about the car?”
“No, only what I told you: That Uncle Willie say’s the motor’s in great shape, the body and paint look like new, it’s got brand new tires and that Myron will have it all shined and gassed up waiting for us tomorrow.” She looked at the filthy, snow and mud-encrusted cars around them. “And that he says it’s ‘cherry.’ I can’t wait to see it.”
He knew what cherry meant regarding Marsha and himself, “Yeah, me, too.” but couldn’t quite relate their virginity to a new car.
Finally, they were beneath the el tracks of Wabash Avenue.
Within minutes, stopping in front of the Palmer House, Eli handed the keys to the doorman and the three rushed through the revolving door.
Taking the elevator up, “They’re here!” someone shouted as they entered the large room and, as Myra, Walter and Rhea went to welcome them, the rest of the ensemble applauded.
Within forty minutes of starting, the rehearsal was finished.
The entire wedding party taken to dinner at a nearby restaurant by the parents of the groom, Mitchell looked for a sign of hostility or animosity between Marsha and his mother, but at the moment, happily, there did not appear to be any.
Marsha and Mitchell went to the homes of their parents, to sleep alone for the last time, in the eyes of God, as unmarried people.
A “Becoming” Excerpt.
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