My wife's name isn't LittleStar, but then again mine isn't Cheeseburger Brown.
And, while I've already told you about the fattest Indians I ever knew, and our new old schoolhouse, and who visits us there, and our big hippie party, and the genesis of our precious daughter, and the revenge we unleashed upon our shit-slinging neighbour, and how we moved house in less than ten days, and my failure to garner my own TV show, and the time I moved to Montreal with a drug-crazed nymphomaniac Gypsy-girl, and my teenage Hallowe'en prankery, and how Red Vicious and I swindled his punk-rock colleagues, and how I once feigned work for five whole weeks, my drunken college days, my visit to Paris, the production of my first movie, the worst production assistant ever, and how I broke the law, and who my enemies are, and the origin of my cat's girlfriend, this story is all about my wife.
Like I said, in here she's called Littlestar.
LittleStar sings like an angel. It's a wind from her spirit that colours our days. And I love her.
Littlestar is under the mistaken impression that I have a thing for short girls (several of my ex-girlfriends were under five feet tall). The fact of the matter is that the proportions sported by short girls often bless them with fine, generous asses without having to suffer being overweight, so I've considered them a decent compromise for the pro-hip man. And, while there is certainly such a thing as too much ass, I am of the opinion that too much is better than too little. (This isn't a rational opinion, but a biological one; it isn't thought out so much as succumbed to.)
Frankly, even I thought I had a thing for short girls, once. But walking behind hundreds of women over the years has shown me that it isn't the height that's relevant to the (often annoying, sometimes obnoxious) appetites of my yearning nethers. A finely shaped, wide-hipped ass can be attached to just about any frame, experience has shown me, but many short girls do seem to have a natural advantage, shape-wise.
Littlestar is not short. But she does have a fabulous ass. (There is more on Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.) Live and learn, live and learn.
My wife is a Viking. My wife could break your wife over her knee. My wife is a force of nature, a power to be reckoned with, a raging gale of womanhood and grit. It's true.
She worries that she is not sufficiently genteel, and that she's too fat. She disdains daintiness, but worries that should the need arise she'll find herself suffering from an acute lack of femininity. She's too tall, too strong and too tough to ever be the pink and frilly princess she has in her mind as her unreachable antithesis -- a willowy, woosy thing wafting congeniality, poise and effortless grace...
My wife can physically overwhelm me. My wife has physically overwhelmed me. I punched her in the shoulder, in ineffectual and largely symbolic retaliation. Once, I even kicked in her in the shin, as if she were an overbearing schoolmarm and I were just a little kid. (But I'm not -- I'm some kind of a grown man, and yet I kicked my wife in the shin. Think of that!)
My wife is very sensitive about any allusion to the contrast between us in size or strength, unless she's the one talking. When she's talking my wife never uses the word "big" because for her "big" is always a euphemism for "fat." I forget though, sometimes, and say "big" anyway. Then I know I'm in dutch, because she goes all quiet.
Littlestar tolerates guff from no man, woman, child or institution. (Sometimes I think she should be more Zen, and take just a little bit more guff, but it takes diff'rent strokes to rule the world.) When out shopping, my wife is the one that stands up and says something when a meek person is cut off in line by a bully, someone too genteel to say something for themselves. Littlestar will invite the line-cutter to undo their error and, if they don't respond appropriately or swiftly, she will call over the manager without hesitation, explain the situation succinctly, and have the bully ousted from the queue. "Thank you," the meek person might say.
"Next time maybe you'll speak up for yourself," she tells them, brokering no mercy for pussies.
Littlestar has a broad face with high cheek-bones riding beneath firm, cherubic cheeks. Her eyes are bluer than mine, and her long, straight hair is blonde (even down there!). Her neck is long. She is ever so slightly pigeon-toed, which personally I find adorable. She has several beauty spots -- some visible to the general public, some not. When she does not shave she grows a fine, almost transparent golden down in her armpits and on her shins.
Her breasts are a work of art: large, tapering and pendulous in all the right ways. The narrow space between them is made of some of the softest skin I know. Her aereolas are a transition rather than a border, a gradual pinkening that leads to the nipple without haste.
When we were at a party recently Littlestar got into a conversation with some guy about breastfeeding, and they somehow got onto the subject of how exactly the milk is dispensed. "It doesn't necessarily come just out of the very tip," she said. "Sometimes it would come out of the surrounding pores, too."
This confused the poor fellow, so Littlestar unbuttoned her shirt and untucked one spectacular tit from her brassiere. "Do you see the tiny little nubbies around my nipple?" she asked.
"Yes," he admitted, a little breathless.
"Milk used to leach out of them, sometimes," she explained. "Weird, eh?"
Ever educational, my wife! That anecdote aside, however, she is in general very shy about her body. She does not dress to kill. She does not play up her deep cleavage, or wear pants that highlight her fine ass. (She always wears sensible shoes, except when we go to weddings -- then she spends the evening limping, and cursing the misogyny of cobblers.) If she weren't always so concerned with appearing too fat, she could deck out that body to enslave men. But, as Littlestar would be the first to point out, sexuality is not a toy.
She has a strong sense of dignity. She has a strong sense of tragicomedy. The two sometimes undermine each other, but Littlestar is good at laughing at herself.
She's good at crying, too, though she's selective in its application. She cries for stray cats run over in the road, and she cries when I'm mean to her. She cries at touching moments in movies, and moving passages in books. She cries sometimes when she's just plain overwhelmed, by childcare and university exams and a house that's always messy.
She never cries from intimidation, or fear. She will not give any authority the satisfaction of breaking down in public, no matter her frustration. She is stalwart in the face of pushy cops, or irate neighbours, or bullies in line at the shops. She is stony and hard when confronted by assholes of all kinds, impossible situations of all shapes, or the panic or anger of others; she has a good head on her shoulders, and can keep her wits about her when shit flies.
She has a depth of compassion that I can only feign. I am heartless, in comparison. Her concern for the emotional state of the people she loves is genuine, profound and constant. Her sense of giving is nearly insatiable, except when she feels taken for granted (then we argue and I make her cry, and then I feel like a heel and reconsider what I've said or done, and then we make up).
She is stubborn as a mule. A mule with a head injury. (I can't get away with jack shit, because she does not back down for love or money.) She has the tenacity of buckyball.
Littlestar is also the best lay ever.
And I'm not just saying that. I mean, I did marry her after all, it wasn't just because she's an excellent and charming human being whom I happen to adore and figured would make a good mother for my children -- it was also because she is a virtually unlimited source of naked fun.
Like pregnancy and birthing, sex is something that just seems to come naturally to Littlestar. When she lost her virginity the boy she was with didn't believe it was her first time -- not because she acted like some kind of a crazed porno star, but because of how remarkably cool she was about the whole thing. My wife is at home with her biological self, and in tune with her desires. She is, and always been, very comfortable with sex.
"I'm lucky," she tells me. "I'm just about the only girl I know who has never had a terrible sexual experience."
She does not lay supine like a passive piece of meat, waiting to be led to dance. Nor is she demanding, or selfish. Instead, there is an alternating interplay of give and take, of lust and libation, of thrilling variety and comforting routine, of patient turn-taking and passionate synchronicity. Sometimes it is all soft caresses in gentle rhythm; sometimes it is all flesh-grabbing, groping, biting and yearning madness.
(I used to know her insides like the back of my hand, but then she passed a baby. The roadmap has changed now, but I am a quick study.)
Littlestar does not offer anal sex as a service, but I'm not dismayed. I've never been particularly riveted by the idea of sticking my penis in anyone's asshole, anyway. I mean, we don't even have a bidet.
But she'll ride up top on underneath, from behind or from before, standing or sitting or squatting or lying, on the bed or on the kitchen counter. She is artful in her use of hands, and lips and tongue. She swallows. She is not too shy to demonstrate her arousal, but she is too genuine to play it up. If we're not too sleepy, we do it twice.
I am obsessed with her bosom, and she is indulgent of this appetite. "Every boy I've ever been with has always wanted to titfuck me," she told me once. "It's just a part of having big boobs, I guess."
"I've never done that," I said. We were lying in bed, holding hands, smoking cigarettes (because that's what we used to do, back then). We had been boyfriend and girlfriend for only a few short weeks.
"You haven't?" she asked in disbelief, propping herself up with her elbow.
"I didn't know it was an option available to me. It's so porno."
She giggled, and pressed her breasts together with her biceps. "Come here," she said. And I did. Because I am courteous, I even tried to not to get any in her hair.
It's understandable that Littlestar would have some trouble remembering the specifics of what exactly we'd done together, because prior to our hooking up as boyfriend and girlfriend we had fooled around together before -- several years before, in fact.
I had just ended a three year relationship with a girl who had decided that she was a lesbian (she was short and had a fine ass -- she looked a bit like K.D. Lang, too, which I guess should've been a tip-off). Our mutual social circles fractured, and I found myself more or less cut adrift. One day, hanging around outside of our highschool, my friend Ishmael introduced me to Littlestar. "She's a real sweetheart," he told me.
And so through the summer I palled around with Littlestar and her friends, staying often at Littlestar's house while her parents were away in Latvia. Littlestar and her older brother Slozo hosted several wild parties, at which I distinguished myself with extreme teenage drunkenness. I tried to put the moves on Littlestar's best friend, a spoiled and simpering prima donna called Scarlet who had some kind of an eerie power of hypnotic flirtation over me. At the end of the night Littlestar would drive me home, or help me to collapse on one of her livingroom couches. We smoked a lot of cigarettes and talked about nothing of consequence. Once, I tried to force feed her a banana, when I felt she wasn't eating enough. "Anorexia is not a good way to lose weight," I scolded Littlestar. "So eat this fucking banana now."
"I'm not anorectic," she insisted. "I'm just not hungry."
Scarlet and Littlestar and I went camping. We drove Scarlet's ailing Hyundai Pony north of the city, and found a thatch of forest on Crown land that looked undisturbed. I set-up the dome tent and the girls cooked up supper. When I went to take a crap in the woods, Littlestar's massive black dog kept following me and shoving his nose into my crotch every time I tried to squat.
The sun went down. Scarlet drank herself into a stupor, and then went into the tent to pass out. Littlestar and I lay looking at the stars while I played my tin pennywhistle while she softly sang, fingering formless songs that her well-trained voice followed nimbly...
When Littlestar tells this story, she claims that I kissed her. But that's poppycock -- I never make the first move with girls: I'm too shy. Besideswhich, I remember the whole thing like it was yesterday. She kissed me.
I suppose it was a kiss that we both more or less fell into. I was surprised by it, and so was she. Surprised, but not dismayed. We did not stop kissing. Not for some time.
When the night became too cold we crawled inside the cramped tent, which smelled like Scarlet's liquor-breath and dog farts. We squirmed into our sleeping bags beside one another, and Scarlet mumbled something, partially roused by the harsh zing of the closing zippers. Silence crept back in on a bed of crickets.
We started kissing again. Her tongue was warm, her breath was sweet. She reached inside of my sleeping bag and put her hand inside of my underwear. "Oh my," I said, and she laughed.
Come morning we were quiet, for whatever unspoken reason keeping the night's activities secret from bleary-eyed Scarlet. "I think I'm going to throw up," announced Scarlet. When she left the tent to do so Littlestar and I picked up where we'd left off with the kissing.
Later on I told her that I wasn't sure that I was ready for another relationship yet -- not so soon after the upheaval and emotion of the last one. "That's okay," Littlestar told me. "No pressure."
After the next wild party I slept over again, but this time I didn't take the couch. Littlestar and I curled up in her parents' bed, and watched one of the Godzilla movies on TV. She gave me a back massage, and then took off all of her clothes. She had never been completely naked and out of the shadows with a boy before, though I didn't know that at the time -- I was impressed by her confidence. I took off all of my clothes, too.
We fooled around extensively. I went down between her legs and licked her to orgasm. That was a first for her too, but I didn't realise it because of the aplomb with which she took to it. After a second orgasm she made me stop, protesting that I was "trying to kill" her.
Then she gave me the best blowjob I'd ever had -- infinitely soft, tender and expert. I stroked her long hair, and had a brief out of body experience.
But I was still wounded. No amount of sweetness and lust was going to convince me that I wanted to deal with having a girlfriend again anytime soon. We had several conversations on the subject at my behest, largely because I was feeling guilty about having carnal relations without commitment. Littlestar was insistent that she expected nothing more of me.
When people tell you what you want to hear, you tend to forget that people seldom say what they mean.
Littlestar started to cry more often, in her room alone or at night, when she thought I was sleeping. Threatened by her increasing emotionality, I began to withdraw. First I stopped sleeping over, and then I stopped hanging out at all. I was confused by the schism between what she said and what she felt, and I lacked the maturity and experience to piece it all together. So, I just went away.
(Don't all condemn me at once. I was seventeen, and dumber than I am now.)
She wasn't rude to me at school the next year. Littlestar's not like that. But she was always kind of sad, when I was around. She was always a bit bitter, when I flirted with that idiot Scarlet. But she was still a good friend: she even helped me hook up with a girl called Hawky whom I had a crush on for all the wrong reasons, but the details of that relationship are another story, which has already been told.
(Obviously, I have no knack for picking the winning horse.)
At university I wrote frequent letters to Littlestar, and she wrote me back just as often. I was living in Halifax, with a couple of hoodlums from Oshawa. I was lonelier than I had ever been, or have been since. And, while I wrote love letters to yet another set of tits and ass, Littlestar remained my patient friend.
(Do you hate me yet? It gets worse.)
I moved back to Toronto, and started working as a junior graphic artist. Every now and again I'd go out for drinks with Littlestar and Scarlet. Scarlet was still able to intoxicate me with flattery and flirtation back then, and once I even brought her to my highrise midtown apartment and tried to kiss her when I thought all signs pointed to "yes." They didn't. She made a hasty and awkward retreat.
And so another year passed, during which I didn't see those girls at all. But one day I decided to quit my job, and strike out on my own as a freelancer. While I sat at my desk and watched my portable hard-drive load up with the portfolio materials I was taking away with me, I decided to give Littlestar a call. "What's new?" I asked her.
"I just bought a house!" she told me excitedly. "It's a little bungalow in North York. I'm going to live upstairs and rent out the basement."
"How much?" I asked, and she told me. "I'll take it," I said.
"Really? How come? I don't understand, I thought you --"
"I resigned today," I explained. "I'm going to work for myself, and I need a cheaper place to live until I can fill out my client roster." And so I moved in.
Everyone we knew assumed that Littlestar and I were sleeping together, including Littlestar's mother. Everyone accepted our pat denials, assuming that we'd rather they played along with our fiction. Even Scarlet had her doubts that we were being wholly truthful, but we were. Nothing happened.
But slowly and surely, I began to fall for her. Over coffee in the morning, smoking cigarettes in the backyard, shooting the breeze about nothing whenever I came upstairs for a break from working. The depth of my feelings were not apparent even to me, until Littlestar accepted an invitation to fly out to British Columbia to visit a boy she'd met on IRC. Privately, quietly, I was insanely jealous.
"You had your chance with her," I scolded myself, "and you blew it. So get over it already."
So, I accepted that nothing ever would happen between Littlestar and I. I was content to delight in the sway of her breasts beneath her cotton nightie as she poured my coffee in the morning, her nipples apparent against the thin fabric. I was content to merely think of Littlestar while I masturbated. I was content to lie in bed at night and entertain the fantasy of stealing upstairs to her bedroom, to crawl under the covers with her. In my mind, the limits were clear.
And then one day, fagged and shagged and fashed from a long day with a difficult client, I happened to mention to her that my neck was killing me. "Let me see," she said, probing the muscles with her fingertips. "Jesus!" she said with a whistle. "These knots are incredible, Cheeseburger Brown."
"I'm kind of an uptight guy," I said, resignedly.
"Let me give you a massage," she offered. I was sitting on the floor against the couch, so she sat behind me and kneaded my cramped neck, and then my shoulders...
When Littlestar tells this story, I'm the one who started touching her in a more meaningful way. But I remember it like it was yesterday and, well...I'm not sure what happened. But somewhere in there we moved from her massaging my back to both of us snuggling together on the couch, softly tickling one another's exposed skin. "Touching feels nice," I remember her saying.
"Yes," I agreed quietly. "Touching does feel nice."
And then we were in her bedroom, naked. A wellspring of passion had been unleashed. We rolled over one another, kissing and kissing. I was on my back when she slid me inside of her, and then we made love like it was our last night on Earth. Being too caught up in the moment to have had a conversation about birth control, I simply pulled out at the last moment and covered her belly in jissom.
That's a man's idea of being responsible about birth control. Littlestar's idea was to take the dreaded Morning After Pill, so that she could spend the next day throwing up and feeling confident that she wasn't about to conceive. She didn't tell me about that until much later, however -- I spent the day on business, blissfully unaware that she was looking after such concerns.
Littlestar was more careful then, afraid to frighten me away. She didn't want anything to put the damper on our romance, even if she had to suffer quietly over the toilet for a day. She was convinced that I would soon reject her, or find the whole affair too much of a bother, or what have you. She was terrified that I would just leave.
(And who can blame her? Over the years I'd been a consummate ass.)
And so Littlestar became my girlfriend, and I did my best to be a good boyfriend for her. My best can leave a lot to be desired, however. I like to spend a lot of time by myself, so at first she was very lonely, sitting upstairs in her room, thinking of me while I screwed my brain into my computers for half the night. Sometimes she would come and sit on the stair and just watch me silently, while I laid down animation keyframes and watched renders go, oblivious to her presence, thinking of nothing but Bezier curves and the anti-aliasing of raster edges.
When circumstances demanded she put the house up for sale she was dismayed to learn that I didn't yet think it was time to move in together. It's true. I was stubborn about it, too -- blathering on about our relationship being stronger for not prematurely tossing it into the cohabitation fire, blah blah blah.
(I know, I know -- a man, dodging commitment -- it's virtually unheard of.)
So, I moved into a charming and spacious old-style apartment in midtown with my friend the Black Serb whom I had first met in the ninth grade; our balcony overlooked a school, tennis courts and a park. Littlestar found a less charming, less spacious ground-floor apartment a few blocks away; her walk-out spanned a dingy alley, and the main entrance of her building had been cursed with the dreaded eternal construction syndrome, so her buzzer didn't work.
(It's true -- I stewed in a swank pad while she squatted in a shithole a short walk away. That's the situation my decision wrought. And that's how fucking sure she was, despite it.)
The next summer Littlestar treated me to a trip to Scandinavia, to see the old country. We landed in Copenhagen and had a big fight, while the Danes shot off fireworks outside of our window. In Stockholm we fought about my spending time painting watercolours instead of talking to her, and in Helsinki we fought about who was grumpier than who. In Riga was had an explosive blow-out centring around my dietary pickiness, and in the rainy Latvian countryside we enjoyed an engaging in-hike argument about whose feet hurt more. I don't remember what we fought about on the cruise-ship, but it was a pretty nasty fight. I pushed her down fiercely onto the cot in our cabin, making incoherent animal noises as I tried to pull out my own hair in frustration. "Why do you delight in making me so angry, you fucking harpie?" I was curious to know.
By the time we'd looped back to Sweden we'd worked most of the bugs out of the system. She drives me insane but I love her anyway, I thought to myself as we rode our rented bicycles down the castled coast at Kalmar, her hair flying behind her in the salty wind. Trial by fire had made our relationship stronger, and we'd both learned many valuable lessons about each other and about living together.
So it was not many months after we'd come home to Canada that the Black Serb was replaced by Littlestar as my flatmate. They traded apartments, in fact. The superintendent of Littlestar's wounded building was a Serb, so she welcomed my friend's cheques. The superintendent of my building, a friendly old coot named Chester, said the same thing he said about just about anything which was, "I don't care, doesn't fuckin' bother me, son." Chester would then add as his special slogan just for me: "I like that hat, fella."
(I wear a green hat. It is very simple. I like to take it off for people when I'm introduced. For years, Chester told me how much he liked it -- every day.)
Like I said, Littlestar moved in and so did her pets. We had a couple of bombastic fights as we learned to better live with one another. I used to stomp off for long walks in the park behind the building after I'd lost my temper and yelled regrettable things, or shoved her. When I came back she'd yell at me for not having taken the dog with me. Then I'd lose my temper again and ask cruel rhetorical questions, and she'd cry. Later, we'd make up and make love.
I learned to control my temper. I learned to take deep breaths. I learned to keep track of her menstrual cycle on my calendar.
For her part, Littlestar learned that the act of raising one's voice has different connotations to someone raised in a boisterous Baltic household, than to someone raised in a quiet Anglo-Saxon one. "Why are you always so angry with me?" I'd demand, eyes wide in straining bewilderment.
"But I'm not angry at all," she'd reply, genuinely confused.
"So why in the name of herpes are you yelling at me?"
"I was just being emphatic," she'd explain, looking hurt.
We learned, we learned. I once told her that I had never in life fought so much as I'd fought with her, and never raised my voice so much as I had during the course of the last year; she cried, and told me not to say such cruel things. "It's good news, not bad news," I explained. "If I didn't love you so much, I'd have been gone a long time ago."
(But that made her feel worse, not better. Women!)
Also, women bring with them a host of new daily chores. Now I was taking dogs out to pee in the middle of the night, and being scolded for ashing my cigarettes on the floor. I was expected to put my dirty clothes in a laun-dry bas-ket, and clean out the litter box before the cats started voicing their objections by crapping on the carpet. It was a whole new world.
And then, one day, Littlestar announced that she was going to pursue her masters degree in linguistics. On the other side of the continent.
"Will you move to Edmonton with me?" she asked. We were sipping wine on the balcony, looking out into the hot summer night over Eglinton.
"No," I said.
Even if you're not a math whiz, it's probably clear to you that living costs money. Apartments, cars, food, fuel, kibble, litter, vaccines, cigarettes -- they all cost definite packets of pretty polly. Add to that a few thousand dollars every few months for tuition and textbooks, and you've got a decent need for revenue. That's my job -- revenue -- and I was concerned. I looked into the market for broadcast design in Edmonton, and found it somewhat lacking...what paltry jobs there were threatened to pay out with an Edmonton cost-of-living in mind -- mere nickels and dimes! To add insult to injury, I would be abandoning the Toronto client-base I had been so meticulously grooming for the past few years. It was, in short, a losing proposition.
That's why I said "No."
On the other hand, I recognised that Littlestar had made many personal sacrifices in the name of our love. I also knew that she believed, in her heart of hearts, that our relationship would not survive long-distance dating. Were she to move to Edmonton alone for the course of her studies, she would need iron-clad assurance that our bond was true...
"CheesebegaBren!" the South African jeweller greeted me cheerfully after he'd buzzed me in through the security door. "Broken your fob agen, heff you?"
"Well, yes," I admitted, "but that's not why I'm here." I put my shattered antique fob-watch on the counter, and he briskly filled out the usual repair slip (I'm awfully cavalier with my watch, and tend to mash it against hard surfaces two or three times a year). "What I'm really after today, Jules, is a ring."
"Oooh!" cooed Jules. "A reng!" He waved me over to one of the glass counters. "Come right thes wey."
I settled on a piece of estate jewellery from 1928: white gold and platinum twisted artfully to form a little nest for a diamond flanked by two nearly microscopic emeralds. "They den't meck them leck thes anymore!" Jules crooned, delighted with my choice. "Jest look et the artistry, Mr Bren."
Because Jules is a sweetheart (and because my mother buys such an massive amount of sparkling crap from him all the time), he arranged to have me pay cash -- discounted and tax-free. I ran to a bank machine and withdrew my daily limit. I ran back to the shop and told Jules I wouldn't be able to get him the rest until the next day. "I'll pick the ring up then," I said.
"Nensense!" Jules declared. "You'll teck it now."
He presented me with a solid little box, and, several hours later following a long walk through the park, I presented it to Littlestar. She didn't see it at first. "Will you marry me?" I asked.
"Of course," she said easily, eyes locked on my eyes. A pause. Her eyes flicked down at my proffered hand, and widened. "Oh!" she said. And then, "Oh my God!" and then: "Yes, yes I'll marry you. Of course I'll marry you, Cheeseburger Brown!"
And we kissed and giggled and kissed.
While she studied in Edmonton I flew out twice and drove once. I cleaned out my Air Miles and then my bank account doing so. On credit, I bought her an iBook for school. She showed me her classes, and introduced me to her friends. We snuggled on her humble mattress on the floor when my flight home was first cancelled by premature autumnal snow, and then by crazed Muslims crashing jets into American landmarks. We shed a tear together to see so much human loss while we watched the second tower of the World Trade Centre slough off its skin like a beetle, its structure shooting down to the ground invisibly within a column of dust and ruin.
Meanwhile, the wedding arrangements went on. My heathen ass was rejected by minister after minister, who objected to marrying a good woman to an unbaptised man. At last we found our clergyman, but we lacked a venue. "You can be married at the yacht club!" my mother thrilled.
Well, the yacht club was nice, there was no denying that -- receptions were held in the grandly columned colonial-style mansion beyond the rose gardens, across the harbour from the city. But it was the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, and the price tag was staggeringly expensive. "I don't think so, Mom," I said. "We need to set our sights a little cheaper."
"Don't be silly," said my mother; "for club members the reception hall is free."
Free? Free was a price I could deal with. We booked the weekend of June 15th, the last available reservation for the season. The food was still priced exorbitantly, but this was offset somewhat by how many others things we were getting gratis. The club offered an expensive private tender to cart our guests between the islands, but we opted to use my step-father's racing yacht, Prairie Fox, instead. The club offered to put us in touch with the best dress-shops in the Fashion District, but Littlestar had a friend who was willing to custom make her dress for peanuts. My mother and my aunt took care of the other connections, leaning heavily into their network of wealthy socialites until they'd found us "friend pricing" on cake and flowers and about a million other things.
When Littlestar came back from Edmonton we had dozens of appointments with various specialists, with strangely long swaths of time reserved for us to make very simple decisions. We usually made up our minds within five minutes, leaving the service provider (baker, florist, musician, minister) with a big, and apparently terrifying, hole in their schedule. "Are you sure you're comfortable that decision? You decided awfully fast," they'd lament.
"How long does it take to pick two flavours of ice cream?" my fiancee would reply in exasperation. "We're done. Thanks for your time."
Still, everyone expected us to agonise over these elementary choices. They assumed that I had somehow strong-armed Littlestar into snap decisions, and, when I excused myself to go the washroom or something, they would jump on her like a pack of hyenas and insist they she "take just a little bit more time" to make up her mind.
"Why?" she'd ask. "Is there something wrong with choosing strawberry shortcake?"
"Well, no..." they'd admit.
"Then we're done, aren't we?"
The worst of all was registering for gifts at the Hudson's Bay Company. After being made to wait for nearly an hour the idiot salesgirl explained the process to us in excruciating detail, outlining simple concepts in individual syllables suitable for consumption by the severely mentally disabled. At long last, we were unleashed to point our laser price-gun at anything we wanted. I played around like a space cowboy until I accidentally registered us for a sport fishing kit. "Watch where you point that thing!" protested Littlestar.
We were chagrined to learn that after the price-gun fun we were expected to sit through a thorough debriefing with the idiot salesgirl. "Let's go through your list item by item, and discuss the various options," she invited with a smile.
"No thanks, I think we're done," I said.
The salesgirl acted as if she hadn't heard me, waiting for a response from my fiancee. "Quite right," confirmed Littlestar.
The salesgirl was confused, and afraid. "But, but, but," she said.
"But what?" snapped Littlestar.
"But what if there are items out of stock, or lines we don't carry anymore?"
"You put discontinued items on the shelf for display?" I asked.
"Sometimes," answered the salesgirl.
"That's fairly stupid."
All around us at the little tablettes were identical salesgirls conferring with similar couples. Invariably, the men looked bored and restless while the women were animated and engaged, asking inane questions and glorying in the detailed replies. It looked like some kind of Spanish Inquisition to us.
Littlestar said, "I think we'll take our chances -- thanks for your time," and we swept out of there like prisoners from a jailbreak.
That night, we were too tired to make dinner. I had a peanut butter sandwich, and Littlestar ate some old tuna that had been languishing in the fridge. It smelled a little funny to me, but Littlestar thinks I'm paranoid about spoiling. She ate it anyway.
Later, the tuna would resurface. In a hurry. Littlestar barely made it to the toilet in time.
Even later, when her stomach had settled, we made love. In retrospect, things would've been a lot less complicated if I'd just pulled out and covered her belly in jissom again. But it never occurred to me, or to her, that along with the tainted tuna she'd also regurgitated her birth control pill.
So, I put my jissom inside of her instead. And it turned into a person.
These things happen.
With just a couple of weeks left to go before the big marital occasion, Littlestar took to starting each morning with a hearty barf. She complained of exhaustion, and her sex drive plummeted. At first we thought it was the stress getting to her, but her physician disagreed. "Congratulations!" she said.
The day came, and the dresses were all sewn; the sundries ordered and ready; the staff on hand. The day came, and everything was spit-spot. I woke up on time and the Black Serb drove me down to the Royal York Hotel, where I changed into my tuxedo and stowed our honeymoon luggage. While I waited out front for the Black Serb to drive around the block to pick me up again, a man approached me and asked whether or not the hotel had a sauna facility. "I have no idea," I told him.
"Well, you're not a very good doorman, are you?" the man snapped.
"No sir," I agreed. "I suppose I'm not."
The late spring day was bright and warm. The sun glinted off the waves as we cut across the harbour. The Black Serb paced nervously, his lips twitching as he rehearsed his speech silently. Gulls bayed.
At the little island chapel I smoked a cigarette, even though I'd actually quit months before. Then I sucked a mint. When the Black Serb spotted the Prairie Fox sliding alongside the shore he called to me, and I esconed myself in the minister's anteroom, so as not to catch a premature glimpse of the bride as she dismounted the yacht.
I heard the church fill. I sat down and flipped through theology books from the shelf while the Black Serb paced in small circles and sweated. When the minister came to check on us, the Black Serb asked for a glass of water. "I'm so nervous!" he confided.
"It's time," said the minister, waving us over to follow him into the nave.
I took my place before the alter, holding my hands behind my back. I squared my shoulders and took a deep breath. When the organist started to play the familiar, traditional arrangement of Here Comes the Bride I cast my gaze to the door of the chapel.
Framed by dappled sun, Littlestar moved down the aisle. She was a vision in white, her hair crowned by a hand-woven garland of daisies. I tell you truthfully, she was not far off that vision of the princess she thought she could never be.
And then she was at my side, and the minister was droning on. We smiled at each other, and tried not to giggle. At my cue I calmly recited:
In the presence of God and before our families and friends, I, Cheeseburger Brown, take you, Littlestar, to be my wife; to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow; I pledge to you my love, my faith and my fidelity, forever. This is my solemn vow.
The Black Serb had not forgotten the ring, and he handed it to me with a clammy, moist hand. I slipped it over Littlestar's finger and pronounced: "With this ring, I thee wed."
We walked up the aisle together, feeling like a million bucks.
It rained during the cocktail hour, but nobody seemed to mind. The guests lounged on the verandahs of the mansion, chatting and smoking and tossing back drinks. It was a boisterous and giddy crowd we faced in the hall, making toasts and answering requests for public kisses. My father made a cheap joke at the expense of my mother during his speech, but that was the only very awkward moment in the whole affair. "Your wedding was like a faerie-tale!" beamed Ishmael.
"Yeah, it really fucking was," slurred the Black Serb in agreement, answering his anxiety with drink after drink. "Really fucking beautiful, man."
The Black Serb made a meandering speech at the podium about how he'd never been a very good friend to Littlestar and so "the better man" had won her, revealing frankly for the first time the depth of his feelings for her. He was drunk, stammering and sincere. Nobody was quite sure where to look, but it was all over soon enough.
Jules the jeweller clapped me on the back. My step-father drank until he turned red in the face. My littlest sister wanted to know when our first baby would come, and we dodged the question (nobody knew our news, yet -- we weren't announcing anything until the end of the first trimester). My step-mother made a show of speaking with civility to my mother, which impressed us all. The Black Serb threw up into a flower vase, after making several unsuccessful passes at one of the barmaids. All in all, a good time was had by all.
When Littlestar and I left the party was still going on. We held hands while the tender chugged back to the city, plowing through the glittering reflections of skyscrapers and other temples to avarice. It started to rain.
On the cityside a taxicab had been called for us in advance, but some asshole took it. We began to hoof it along Front Street in the rain, bride and groom, shielding ourselves ineffectually with my tuxedo jacket. We joked and laughed. Before too long a kind couple pulled over, and offered to give us a lift back to our suite. "My God, did you two just get married?" they asked when we were illuminated by the dome-light of their car.
"Yup," we said.
At the Royal York we smoked a joint and looked out the window over the city. We were quiet for a long time. "I love you," she said. "I love you too," I replied, putting my hand on her ever so slightly swollen belly. "And you too," I added.
Littlestar sings like an angel. It's a wind from her spirit that colours our days. And, like I told you, I love her.
The Sweet Funk of Revenge | The Wrap Party | The 10 Day Shimmy | Lipgloss Gypsy | Schoolhouse Social | Three Visits | 17 Drawings
||IF YOU HAVE ENJOYED READING THIS STORY, PLEASE CONSIDER LEAVING A SMALL TIP. A PAYPAL ACCOUNT IS NOT REQUIRED. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. YOURS TRULY, C. BROWN.