Fox trot … rumba … jitterbug … bunny hop … Form a line, hold hands, “Ha-va-negila!” Kick your feet, “Ha-va-negila!” form a circle, “Ha-va-negila!” kick your feet higher, faster, higher, faster!
More pictures. More movies. Tomorrow’s memories.
A couple put their hats and coats on. Thanking the Goldmans and Lipenskys, giving Marsha and Mitchell one last “Good luck to you kids,” they left. Then another couple, and soon, another.
The large room began to empty.
The orchestra played “Good Night, Ladies.”
December 18, 1955
The Wedding, the Night of…
Eli sat in an easy chair, smoking. Walter sat on the other chair, eating grapes from a fruit basket sent by the hotel. Her wedding gown hanging on an oversized hanger in the closet, having changed into flannel pajamas that she’d buttoned to the neck, Marsha was lying on the far side of the bed with one arm pressed tightly against the pain in her lower abdomen and the other, shutting out the glare of the lights, lay across her eyes. Sitting on the end of the bed, having taken off the jacket and cummerbund, Mitchell still wore the crumpled tuxedo shirt and trousers. The mothers, Rhea and Myra, were sitting on the edge of the bed counting cash and checks.
Marsha wanted them out so she could take a pain pill and go to sleep.
Mitchell wanted them to leave immediately, if not sooner, because, his stomach bloated, he had been fighting an army of gas bubbles that, advancing through his intestinal tract, were trying, oh, yeah, to find escape through his rectum and now, squirming, thinking the profound thought, Where do farts go if you really gotta fart, but don’t? Tightening his anus against the onslaught, again! Further thinking, I want them out of here so I can—although he hadn’t figured how he was going to muffle the sounds against Marsha hearing and, knowing himself, he knew there would be sounds, but at least then it would only be the two of them, and all he wanted to do was to—get into the toilet and fart.
“Two thousand, twenty!” Myra said.
“And three thousand, one hundred, forty. That makes,” Rhea added, “Five thousand, one hundred, sixty dollars! Not bad!” Looking from Mitchell to Marsha, “You kids do want me to hold it for you, don’t you?”
His mind momentarily diverted, “Over five grand! Wow, that’s great, Rhea!” Mitchell squeezed Marsha’s foot, but…
Too tired and too much in pain to become too excited about the money now, raising herself onto her elbows, “That’s enough to buy a house with?” Marsha asked.
“Sure,” Walter said, popping another grape into his mouth. “More than enough for a down payment, with some left over for some furniture, too.”
Also knowing that this money was more than she needed for the down payment on the slum property, “But, not if you let it run through your fingers!”
Remembering that his parents had taken his Bar Mitzvah money without asking, or even telling him, “Marcie, I don’t see any reason why your mother shouldn’t hold the money for us, do you?”
“No, Mitch,” she said tiredly, “that’s just fine.”
“Breathing a sigh of relief, “Good,” Rhea said.
“But please,” Marsha said, looking from parent to parent, “please go home!”
“Yeah!” Clenching his buttocks tightly, standing, “It’s been a long day!” Besides thinking of the porcelain bowl in the toilet as something akin to heaven’s throne, even though he had accepted the fact that they would not be having intercourse, Mitchell could not wait to get into bed and cuddle, spoon fashion, next to Marsha… and if a breast, or two, somehow fell into his hands, well, he could sleep with that.
Standing, “Okay then,” rolling the checks and cash together, “you can endorse the checks tomorrow.” Rhea put them into her purse. “And I’ll”—Uh-huh! Oh, yeah! Sure she will!—“open a savings account for you two on Monday.”
“Rhea,” Mitchell surely did not want to hold them back, but he did want her to know, “we’re going to be needing some stuff when we get to New York: a television and a few things. So how’s about giving us, uh, about seven, eight hundred and you can deposit the rest someplace till we’ll be needing it for a down payment.”
As if the thought had just occurred to him, “Yes,” Eli said, although for years he had been reading newspaper ads for… “you’ll be a vet then, and it’ll be easy to get a G.I. loan on a house in Morton Grove.” The thought of his daughter living as close as Morton Grove, a half-hour or so away, and maybe even having a baby—though this thought was utterly incomprehensible—was an absolute dream for Eli and, for the first time since Marsha had announced her engagement, Eli felt a bit of optimism.
Counting the money as she handed it to him, “Seven, forty, eighty, eight hundred. Tell you what, Mitch, let’s make it an even thousand. That’ll leave forty-one hundred, sixty dollars…” More than enough to cover me. “…that I’ll put into an account for you.”
“Yeah,” watching as she counted off another two hundred, “thanks, Rhea.”
“Come on,” standing, Eli patted Walter’s knee, “let’s get out of here and let the kids…” Not aware that Marsha was menstruating, and realizing that on this night his daughter, his baby, was going to be sleeping with a man sexually, so far as he knew, for the first time, the implication hit him and Eli’s new found optimism dissolved.
Pulling himself off the chair, “Yeah, I’m about ready for some sleep myself.”
“You, want us to take some of your stuff?”
“Here,” handing Rhea Marsha’s crown and veil, shoes, and the white leather Bible that were on the dresser, “take these.”
Everything else in the closet, positive that he would not be able to hang on much longer, “No! Go on! Go home!”
“’Night, kids, see you in the morning.”
The door closed.
Oh, yeah! moving towards the bathroom, but…
“Mitchie,” sitting up, “mind if I get in there first, please. I’ve got to take a pain pill!”
Looking longingly at the bathroom door, also knowing, besides the sounds, that when through he’ll be leaving the room, to say the least, smelly, and maybe it would be best to let her in first. “Yeah, okay,” he said, nodding his head, “only make it fast, please!”
“Thanks.” Hefting her green, imitation lizard overnight case off the floor, going into the bathroom, Marsha closed the door behind her.
A bit snug when he’d first put them on, throughout the evening food and drink had caused his stomach to bloat and the waistband of the trousers had been cutting into his waist for hours. Opening them, “Ummm!” they dropped in a heap at his feet. Scratching at the itching red welt about his hips, he removed the crumpled shirt, picked up the pants, fished the oversized hanger out of the large white plastic bag in the closet, draped the pants across the bar of the hanger, and, making sure all of the pearlized studs were held snugly in their button holes, hanging the shirt and jacket over the hanger, he dropped the patent-leather shoes, along with the tie and cummerbund, into the bag and zipped it up.
Taking his kit, going to the second vanity that was just outside the bathroom, he washed his face, brushed his teeth, then, grimacing, biting his lower lip in concentration as another siege of gas rumbled through his stomach, “Marcie, please, I’ve got to get in there!”
The idea exciting him, even considering Marsha’s condition, earlier Mitchell had thought, Maybe I’ll sleep naked tonight. But now, seeing the reflection of his still-red, welted, protruding stomach in the mirror, digging through his bag until he found, and put on, the pajamas he almost didn’t bring, then, sitting on the edge of the bed, crossing his legs, once again biting his lip, concentrating, he stared at the bathroom door till, hearing the toilet flush…
Finally, the door opened and Marsha came out.
Rushing past her, closing the door, lowering his bottom he sat on the toilet… But with an extreme show of willpower held himself back, because, She’s got to hear! Go slow. Try not to be too loud! he thought as….
With what is probably one of the first realizations that there is more, much more to marriage then just romance…
Oh, my God! Mitchell thought, as…
The pain pill having taken effect, Marsha tried not to laugh as…
Holding his head in his hands, Oh, my God! As…
The harsh sounds reverberated through the room, as…
Unable to hold it back, Marsha put her head under a pillow to stifle the sound of her laughter.
Through, washing his hands, he delayed as he tried to think of what to say, if anything, then came out of the bathroom.
Sitting up on the bed, Marsha did her best not to smile.
Embarrassed, looking at her sheepishly, “I’m sorry,” he said, holding his hands forward, chest high, palms up, as though to apologize, “Guess I, uh… I guess I had a little gas.”
“I guess…” Closing her mouth, holding her lips tightly compressed, fighting back laughter. “…you did! But you don’t…” Unable to hold back any longer, laughing so hard she could barely get the words out. “You don’t have to apologize, Mitchie, it’s a natural,” she gasped, “body function… I guess.”
“Oh, yeah,” walking to the bed, climbing in, “everyone sounds like an erupting volcano on their wedding night.” He began to laugh. “My God, Marcie, I wanted them out of here! I had so much gas I thought I was going to float up to the ceiling, and I couldn’t go in there…” motioning to the toilet, “with them all in here.”
“Yeah, me, too. I thought they were never going to leave.”
“Marcie,” he said seriously, “you were beautiful tonight. You had to be the most beautiful bride God ever made… I love you!”
Laying onto her side, facing him, “You, too, Mitchie.”
“Bride?” Smiling, he lay closely next to her.
“No, dummy,” smiling back, “groom, and I love you, too.”
Their lips touched softly, then, with more passion, and as he hugged her he felt her soft, warm breasts pressing through her pajamas onto his chest, and she felt the hard prod of his penis, poking through his pajamas, against her thigh.
“Yes?” Thinking of ‘the other way to skin a cat,’ looking into Marsha’s eyes.
Wanting to, but, really, “I took a pill and I’m so tired, and I just want to go to sleep.”
“Sure, baby, I know.” Moving his body back, stuffing his penis back through the fly of his pajamas and between his thighs, reaching above the headboard, turning the light off, “Good-night, baby. I love you.”
“I love you, Mitchie.”
In the eyes of the law, and…
In the eyes of God…
On this night Marsha and Mitchell slept in each other’s arms.
And so began…