Falling Four Ways: 1 and 2
(Read 3 and 4 next Friday, October 26, 2012)
Falling (Story 1 of 4)
“Are you okay? You sound strange.” Tammy’s mom asked.
Tammy moved the telephone receiver to her left ear and stretched the curls in the cord as she walked from the kitchen to her hallway bathroom. She approached the mirror, and it occurred to her that the curls on her head could use straightening as well. She wrapped a section of her hair around her right index finger and pulled.
“I’m fine Ma.” Tammy answered.
“You don’t sound like yourself. Should I worry?”
“You shouldn’t worry. But you will anyway.” Tammy did sound strange, even to her own ears. There was something in her voice she had never heard before. What was it?
“Well, I’ll let you go. You’ll be late for your first class.” Tammy mouthed the words silently as her mom spoke.
This was their daily ritual. Tammy’s mom called every morning as Tammy got ready for work – tangling her in phone cords and caprices.
“Actually . . . I’m ditching.” These words came from Tammy’s mouth. They traveled from her mind, vibrated past her vocal folds, and were shaped with her tongue and lips. Yet, she couldn’t believe the words were hers; couldn’t believe the voice was hers.
“YOU’RE WHAT! That’s it. I’m coming over.” Her mother said.
“Ma, you live five hundred miles away. I’m just taking a personal day.”
“What, you’ve got a doctor’s appointment? Oh God, what is it; what’s wrong? Is it that mole on your back? Professor Tamara Jayne Terry, how many times have I told you to get that looked at?”
“Why do you do that? Why do you call me “professor” when you’re scolding me?” Tammy asked.
“What? I’m proud. But, let’s face it; they don’t offer college degrees in ‘common sense.’ Just look at your father.” Her mother answered. “So, nothing’s wrong? You swear to me?”
“I swear. I’m fine. It’s just . . .” Tammy didn’t know how to finish this thought, and it rattled her. At thirty-seven years old, she was the first and only tenured female professor in her department. She quoted Frost, Whitman, Rumi, Pushkin, and Dylan from memory. Why was this so difficult?
“Oh, God. Please, just tell me.” Her mother suffered.
“Yesterday, I was reading Kipling’s ‘The Lovers’ Litany’ to my Studies in Poetry class. I . . . I think they could tell. I think I was blushing. “Tammy said.
“Blushing? Were you faint? What are you trying not to say to me Tamara?”
“Ma, I’ve got to go.”
“Oh, no. You’re ditching, remember? What is going on?”
“Ma. I met someone.” Tammy’s words rang like the overtones from a Tibetan singing bowl.
“I knew you sounded strange to me. Honey, you’re in love? You are; you’re in love. Finally, God has heard my prayers.”
“How can you possibly know that? You just found out about him three seconds ago. You don’t even know his name.”
“A mother knows.”
“Really. How is that Ma?”
Tammy knew her mother was right. That was the mysterious something in her voice these past few days. That was why she blushed in class. Old, familiar words that were once disconnected patches were stitched together with a coo like the heart and feather pattern of a quilt.
Falling (Story 2 of 4)
Here’s the thing about October weddings your comprehensive planning checklist won’t mention:
- When staging an outdoor wedding, be sure you and your betrothed do not exchange vows underneath a black walnut tree. Those freaking things hurt!
Am I, the recently hyphenated Patty Gish-Shaw, speaking from personal experience? Well, I’m not just making it up off the top of my concussed head.
Here’s yet another tip the, oh so accurate Mizzz Stewart omitted from any of the magazines I’ve ever read:
- When choosing an officiant, be sure to ask if he or she is scheduled to receive a wisdom tooth extraction the day before your nuptials.
All I’m saying is that I’m not sure if I took Joshua to be my “lawfully wedded husband” or my “awfully wetted Hush band.”
And I find it strange that wedding etiquette experts have failed to include this important principal on the “Big Day” list of commandments:
- When purchasing a dress for your future mother-in-law, remove the “size 14” tag from within. An already timorous relationship can rapidly get pushed into menacing waters.
I love you Mama Shaw!
But here’s the large, unfortunate truth I feel I must tell you – because no one making a living selling you this fairy tale bag of goods ever will. (And I feel you can handle it):
- When planning your special day, rest assured an entirely original and unexpected set of problems will arrive to greet you. So, choose wisely.
Choose the person who will make it all better the moment you look at them. Choose the person who will help you laugh through it. Choose the person who helps you keep this perspective. . . .
. . . It’s only a wedding. It’s the marriage that matters – and that’s going to have its screw ups too.
The Cottingley fairies were just a hoax anyway.
– Anita, Noted in Nashville