Monday, September 6, 2010

The Perfect Pair

By Jack Owen

Strains of Mendelssohn’s familiar Midsummer Night’s Dream wedding march floated across the congregation. Gossipy guests quickly assumed their places on either side of the aisle, their attention focused on the groom and best man.
Music blasted full strength as the organist spotted the bride and her father emerge from the vestibule in his rear-view-mirror, braced for the customary torturous advance through the gauntlet of rank and file opposing families and friends, to the altar.
Honey-blond hair peeked out under the bride's white lace bonnet. Her pale pink complection glowed, a confident smile on full lips as she glided down the aisle indicating recognition with a majestic inclination of her head.
The tall, chisel-featured groom ran a hand over a thick head of black hair then turned to watch his bride approach. He rubbed a finger alongside his perfectly proportioned nose to ward off the itch of a pending sneeze, then smiled to display strong straight white teeth and wink at his mother nervously watching from the front pew.
She sighed and bravely fought the tears back as the handsome pair stood facing each other, their hands linked briefly before the ceremony started which would join them together forever.
@ @ @
At the reception, mothers traded memories.
“She was such a Tom-boy when she was little,” gushed Sally Matterly. “I remember the times she came home with scratches on her legs.”
“And my Mark was such a devil, always getting into fights,” countered Becky Waters. “I thought I would die when he came into the kitchen with his nose all bloody.”
“But she settled down after she got interested in fashion modeling,” prattled Sally.
“My Mark too. God, the expense of it all, isn’t that right Harry?” she turned to her shambling balding husband who snuffled a non-committal reply before plunging back into the reception throng, his bulbous nose following the aroma of champagne-brandy cocktails.
“Expenses,” shrilled Sally.”All those years of orthodontics bills we had to foot.”
“You too?”
“And the modeling schools for make-up, and poise and bearing,”Sally flowed on. “Why, she couldn’t walk a straight line before the school took over. But they trained her to point her feet inward.”
“Just like my Mark,” Becky insisted. “And such suffering he had to go through with that plastic surgeon. It should happen to my worst enemy.”
“Oh?” Sally's eyebrows arched.
“Yes, his nose. He was always into fights. But who wants a male model with a broken nose? So the surgeon corrected it for him. But first he had to break it again. Such a perfect nose he’s got now.” Becky peered at the crowd,”Not like Harry’s hooter.”
They glanced across the reception from their vantage point of a raised alcove, at father and son laughing together, toasting the bride.
“Who was the surgeon?” Sally asked, a slight quaver crept into her voice.
“The man recommended by our orthodontist, what’s his name. Hammer, Hymen, Holterman, that’s it. Dr. Myron Holterman. Wonderful man.”Becky gushed.
“That…that’s who attended to Mary,” faltered Mrs. Matterly. “When did Mark have his cosmetic surgery?”
She held her breath, dreading the answer.
“Three years ago now,” a frown creased the forehead of Mrs. Waters. “What’s the matter Sally?”
“Nothing, nothing at all.” And to herself yet. But she remembered Dr. Holterman’s before-and-after comparison catalogue, and that tremendous broken bulbous proboscis he had honed into such classical lines.
A splendid nose, not unlike her son-in-law’s.
@ @ @
Sally Matterly’s sobs, silent as they were, shook the ancient double-bed.
“Sally, what’s the mater now,” boomed Sol in exasperation. “It’s all over now, you had your cry hours ago. Just get some sleep. Tomorrow’s a working day.”
She snuffled into her pillow, the mattress wobbling like a reducing machine as she fought to control her sobs.
Sol placed a hand on her head and stroked her hair, then patted her gently on the shoulder. “Don’t take on so. They’re a lovely couple, a perfect pair, and they’re in love. They’ll have beautiful grandchildren for us.”
A tortured cry broke free from her.
“They won’t, they won’t. And it’s our fault. I told you we should have met the family before they came here for the wedding. We won’t have grandchildren, we’ll have freaks!” her voice rose into an hysterical shrill pitch.
She had said nothing about Mary’s red hair or her squint, after Becky Waters revealed her son Mark wore a back-brace to counteract his stopped posture.
The perfect pair was married now with God’s help; and the assistance of surgeons, orthodontists, chiropodists and opticians. But all she could see in her mind’s eye was the picture of a red-haired, freckle-faced, crossed-eyed, buck-toothed, bulbous-nosed, bandy-legged, hunch-backed grandson.

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