Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Death of Denis, Part One

My sister, dearest Ava, took me to brunch.
“It’s my treat,” she announced,
“why don’t you get a mimosa?”
I could smell the fear on her
and see it plainly in her light green eyes.
“Hey, what is it?” I asked.
She took my hand.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news,” she said.
My heart pounded rapidly in my chest,
and I could barely swallow.
What could be wrong? I wondered.
Is she sick? Is Mom or Dad sick?
Is the wedding off?
“Well, I had a consultation with Denis,”
she began, her eyes fixed on her hands.
And I started to suspect where this
conversation was going.

I’m sure that I don’t have to introduce
you to Denis, if you’re a woman
who’s been married or plans to be married
or has been involved in a wedding
in the past ten years.
He needs no last name.
He is the most celebrated wedding coordinator
in the world, the wedding planner to the stars,
or to the very, very wealthy,
which my family happened to be
(although I don’t like to brag).
He is known for creating avant-garde
extravaganzas of wedding ceremonies and receptions.
They are visions, not events, he likes to say,
and if you want a Denis wedding,
you will obey him in all matters.
He has no interest in your personal preferences,
your hobbies, your favorite colors,
or whether your grandmother requires
a wheelchair ramp.  You are there to play
the starring role in his latest vision,
and you will be richly rewarded
if you comply,
the star of Instagram
and featured in Vogue.
You will march with your father
(or the male father figure Denis approves)
towards an altar set in a lush tropical garden
as peacocks stroll by
and zebras nibble on the grass.
Or perhaps you’ll ride towards your groom
on a cotton-candy pink, bejeweled stallion,
as fragrant heirloom rose petals rain down from above,
flown in that morning from Japan,
or maybe your dress will be some awkward
triangle-shaped thing, in stark blacks and whites,
and you can barely move,
and your face will be painted a pale white
with your lips red as blood,
but it will photograph magnificently
and will be forever remembered
and forever unique
because Denis never has the same vision twice.
A person can’t simply hire Denis,
a bride must be accepted by Denis,
must inspire Denis,
and if you fail to inspire him at any time
up to the ceremony,
well, the whole thing is off
and good luck to you.

“What did Denis say?” I asked with clenched teeth.
“Well, it’s about the bridesmaids…
specifically the maid of honor…
specifically you.”
“What about me?” I asked.
“Denis says that you don’t…fit his vision,
not that you’re not attractive, but…
I think he really wants everyone
in the wedding party to be super-thin,
and he’s on me all the time about losing weight,
and I fought for you, Shirl, I really did!
I told him that this conversation was a non-starter
and that you will be my maid of honor, end of story.”
“Good,” I replied, pleased and surprised
that she had stuck up for me in this way,
which, despite her affection all these years,
she never did in school, when Craig Unger
called me “Hoss” in the hallways
and Jacob Weiss shoved me into the nearest locker.
“Well,” she continued,
“Denis said, if you were still going to be in the wedding,
he’d fire me as a client, and…I’m sorry, Shirl,
but we’re just too far along to do that…
it would be a complete disaster,
and I’m so sorry…I hope you can forgive me.”
“Of course,” I assured her, squeezing her hand.
“We’re sisters! Nothing will come between us.”
“Whatever you have to do is fine with me.”
She smiled, teary-eyed, so greatly relieved,
and ordered a crème brulee French toast.
I sipped my mimosa
and knew that I was going to have to
shoot that Denis down.

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