Teaser 314: And, Of Course, the Wedding Aftermath
The toasts, the cake cutting, the bride and groom dancing, all had to wait for the musical entertainment to arrive. Tambien Valdez and his entire ensemble arrived after one in the morning and they all meandered around the ballroom while their crew set up the stage for them. What a character! Tambien possessed about zero English ability, far less than Serena, but what little he did possess was right inside the demeanor for the whole event. “You crazy man!” Tambien exclaimed as his way of introducing himself to me. “Four wives!?” He rolled his eyes and stammered around like he was in a diseased fit. “I married three times!” He pounded his chest three times really hard. “One, then next, then last! I barely stand one, but four!? You crazy man!!” Everyone let him say it, even the wives, and laughed at his theatrics, all completely understandable. Tambien's last wife had just reached an equitable settlement on her part and it's why he was out on the circuit. She had drained him and Serena knew all about it. Serena and Tambien's third wife were old friends, though Serena still held a high regard for his music and Tambien never let his romantic disasters affect his personal or professional relationships. As he stammered to tell me later, “Not Serena's fault I marry crazy woman. No one's fault but mine!”
It was somewhere around this time when the group with whom Rebekka rode reached me and had my attention. “Where's Rebekka?” I asked Jan. “I don't remember seeing her.”
“She's already at the hotel, Al-Barrak. She never got out at the chapel. She asked the driver to take her to the hotel and he helped her with her luggage and watched her check in.”
It was the only somber moment the whole night. Jan wore an expression of extreme disappointment. This development obviously pained him. I wrapped my arms around Jan and squeezed him tightly. “This is a night for celebration, Jan, and even in times of celebration, things can happen out of our control. You have to get past it, rise above it. Don't let it pull everything else down with it. I congratulate you for your Oscar, my friend, because you deserved it. Without you and your talents, Jan, the whole presentation, the movie, would have been very lacking and left zero impression. Celebrate tonight with me and let Rebekka deal with what she needs to deal with.”
Jan did his best. He smiled a lot throughout the evening and early morning but I knew Rebekka would be at the back of his mind. I would only learn later his true feelings, for he had always held an admiration and longing for Rebekka, an admiration and longing he kept to himself since it was never returned by Rebekka, something he honestly considered never would be. Still, when you have those feelings for someone, they almost never dissipate. There's your unfulfilled desire, the pain which never goes away. It only diminishes over time immemorial.
I couldn't remember when our booking at the ballroom concluded, but we knew they needed it at six in the morning so they could begin preparation for the next reservation. Most were still going strong as six approached, there was hardly any food left but plenty of drinks, and the next crew was already arriving. They all took it in stride and we welcomed them to mingle before they started their work and they all did. Before six I grabbed a mike and announced we would have to vacate the ballroom and check in at our various hotels. “I've enjoyed the entire evening and morning with all of you. Let's respect the people who work here and let them get on with their jobs so the next group can enjoy themselves.”
Tambien and most of his ensemble were still partying strong, though his crew had long ago removed all their equipment. With Serena next to me, he asked through her if I always threw parties like this. I told him I probably get married more than most, but every one of them gets better because everyone pitches in, all my beloveds.
“You crazy man!” Tambien exclaimed once again, since he said it to me something close to a hundred times. “Come see me any time!”
The big hotel holding our group reservations was instructed most would be checking in very late for their Saturday reservation over two days, more like early Sunday morning. This was Vegas. It was routine. When something like three hundred people arrived to literally swamp the lobby and the entrance to the hotel after sunrise, the clerks at the desk rang for every employee anywhere in the hotel to help check. Within ten minutes we had ten separate desk clerks each checking in guests. The bell boys and girls hustled in a very impressive manner and each was well rewarded for one's efforts.
Tanya was wiped and before I checked us in for our bridal suite she was already asleep on a sofa in the lobby, her head lying on the back. When it was our turn, since we were last, two of the bell boys rolled the luggage cart to the sofa where Tanya was sleeping, I gently awakened her, and we had the luggage arranged in a way where she could sit on the luggage with her head propped against a pillow which was propped against one of the bags, and all three of us rolled her to the elevator, out the elevator and to the bridal suite, while she gingerly kept the hem of her wedding gown closed. One of the boys opened the door, I helped Tanya to stand, and she delicately bent her body so I could hold her upright with my left arm against her back and I lifted her at her knees and carried her into the room to the bed. Before we reached the bed, since I was straining mightily, I said, “Please don't tell me how much you weigh. I am staggering but I'm sure I can get there.” I didn't drop Tanya but my left arm, the weaker one, was tortured and Tanya was laughing as her head was merely inches from the floor. I did lay her, somewhat, on the bed, tipped the boys handsomely, once they emptied the luggage cart, and collapsed on the bed next to my bride. That was the highlight of Tanya's wedding. She never forgot it and made every effort to tell everyone, through the rest of our stay in Vegas and forever after: I carried her across the threshold all the way to the bed, which was fifty feet or more, and didn't drop her. When everyone looks at me in awe, I reply, “I will never recover from this hernia. Even surgery will fail.”
- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-Nine “Deflection” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021
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