JUST LEENovember 4, 2005 at 10:07 PM | Posted in Journal | 4 Comments
Tags: 1980s, friends, my marriage
He was living in the town next to the one we grew up in, a bigger town, and I lived in St. Louis, an hour and a half away. When I went to go see him, he was living with some girl. He had already been in the Army and given a general discharge. Not honorable. Not dishonorable, either, because it has become unconstitutional to tell someone the truth, apparently. Pee dirty a few too many times, and you are out.
Some girl–some woman. Some bizarre, controlling nut-freak creature with more emotional baggage than the small mobile home they were renting could hold. To be fair, maybe she knew what HE was like, and that’s why she was the way she was. I mean, he was my friend, but I’m not going to make excuses for him. He very possibly might be a loser.
Now, I did only meet her the one time, but that combined with what I picked up about her later gave me a pretty insightful look (I thought) into her character. She was a possessive, jealous, moody, vindictive, hard-to-please bitch. Since he was getting laid on a semi-regular basis he could overlook these few small foibles. I brought my fiancé with me to see him, ask him, and give the invitation. Since I did not know that he had a girlfriend, the invitation that I had carefully made out in advance obviously neglected to contain the name of Lee’s current true love. Linda, my fiancé, said, well of course you are invited, please do come!
I thought the matter was settled, but like Mexican food, it came back to haunt me with a vengeance at only the most critical time. When the time came to get suited for tuxedos, he came into town without her (she was working) and I sported him the money for the tuxedo. Mine was paid for with a certain size wedding party, after all, so it was no problem to cover him.
I never actually had a bachelor party, which was okay, and Lee was not in the financial position to provide that type of support. Not that it would have taken much, but he was dead broke, not working, and living off the girlfriend. I had hoped he would have shown up the night before the wedding, which was the rehearsal and so forth, but such was not the case.
The day of the wedding, and several thousand things going on, which was when I realized that having the wedding at noon was one of the top fifteen stupidest things I have ever done. Everyone and everything was pressed for time. Early in the morning, I called Lee. No answer. Being ever the optimist, I took it as a good sign. Obviously they were on their way.
At the church, family and friends assembled. Eleven o’clock. No Lee. My dad says, I need to consider alternatives. This, I mused in later years, is why there is such a large wedding party. Besides the bride and groom, there is best man, maid of honor, four groomsmen, four bridesmaids, ring bearer, flower girl, and maybe a few that I forgot.
So I have several groomsmen to choose from: my brother, my cousin, my soon-to-be son, and a young Vietnamese guy that rented a room from us. All that was missing was elephants and a trapeze.
11:15. Just as my dad was about to insist again that I need to pick a stand-in, Lee shows up. Plenty of time? No, we had to go get his tux. The church was by the interstate, and so was the tux place, so it was about a ten minute round trip. No sweat. We bolted.
On the way, Lee told me what had happened. His girlfriend–and honest, I cannot re- member her name–got exceptionally pissy that she was not named specifically on the invitation. She took this as a personal affront to her dignity and her fine name and also,
apparently, as the last straw. Lee didn’t care, I didn’t care, nobody, obviously, cared. She was hell-bent on the destruction of any and all of Lee’s life that did not rise and set on her and her over-priced piece of ass.
Never mind that she was going to ruin a wedding.
This was about her. She wasn’t going.
"Will you take me and drop me off, then?" Under normal circumstances, for a guy, a perfectly logical question. The next step is the last straw, when you are out of options. So to reach that point, you HAVE to explore all those options.
Obviously, the wrong question to ask a woman scorned. He left hurriedly, and walked three miles to the truck stop, and his sad story eventually got him a ride to this exit, over forty miles. Then he walked to the church.
He says, as he finishes his tale and we are walking into the tuxedo rental store, "It’s a real bitch not having a car." That pretty much sums it up.
We get the tux, get him dressed, and get back, and its 11:40. No sweat. I worked in pizza delivery, with a 30 minute time limit over my head constantly. We had made it with time to spare. Meanwhile, it’s lucky there is no history of heat disease in my family, otherwise my dad would have had a coronary. Others thought I had left for good and was not coming back–and were very reluctant to explain this to my fiancé. In fact, she did not know all of this happened until about six months later.
The music starts, Lee and I are getting last minute touch ups on the tuxes by my dad, who shakes his head in disbelieve that I put all my chips on this bet, and actually won. His parting advice before he takes his seat, “You used up all of your luck. Now you have nothing.”
As Lee and I take our places in front, scarcely anyone noticed, because they were all looking behind them, at the main doors, for us. We slipped in through the side door. The reverend stopped sweating.
One of my groomsmen, my cousin Kevin says to me quietly, "Are you going to be late to your funeral, too?"
"I certainly hope so."
Post script to the story: I had scarcely seen Lee after the wedding, either. He stayed at our house for a day, and then we took him home on the way out of town for a brief getaway that my wife refuses to call a honeymoon. I heard that he stole a bunch of tools and things from his dad, whom he had lived with, sold them, and went to southern Missouri to live with his mom. Really don’t know what happened after that. His younger sister got a degree and got married, she was always very bright. His older brother Charles was my friend also, he stayed in the army. He may even be retired now, I should look him up. Their dad is one of the absolute smartest people I know. I have no theories on how that affects child-rearing.