Monday, January 30, 2012

Friends of Alexandra


       The beach balls bounced unattended on the cement ground.  All of her friends had rushed indoors for the ‘suggestion-box-contents’ readings.  Two or three of them sat cross-legged around the coffee table on the plush carpet.  Four or five of them sat down on one of the comfortable chairs and finally Alexandra sat in the middle of everything with her three-ring binder and pens in hand.  The big momentous wedding occasion was to take place in three months time and all of Alexandra’s girlfriends had put in their last-minute suggestions into a big plain pink box.
     Coming from different backgrounds, their common bond was that they all volunteered at the local orphanage.  Kessa and Keosha were sisters who were from a mixed Hispanic and Black culture.  Their parents were originally from South America.  Keosha was a women’s literature author and her friendship with Alexandra went beyond the boundaries of the halls of the orphanage because they both enjoyed writing and would critique each other’s work well into most nights.  Her other close friend from the group was Lizette, who was born of French parents and was brought up in their native language.  She had actually known Alexandra since they were very little.  The five other girls were friends of the more guarded inner circle of members composed of course of Kessa, Keosha, Lizette and Alexandra……
     One of the suggestions was to have the words, Thank you for attending…..right next to each name on the place cards.  The last few months the girls had glued fabric and lace onto ‘mini-scrapbook-souvenirs’ for each of the 300 guests.  Their insides were all identical.  They contained pictures of the happy couple as children, then as teenagers and finally as a happily engaged couple.  Towards the back of each of the mini-scrapbooks were the business cards of the stores where the bridesmaid dresses were from, the flower shop and the caterer’s as well.
     Alexandra’s wedding dress, which only she and her mom had seen so far, afforded a lavish profile of her exquisite figure.  It had a lace bottom and the beadwork was more focused on the bodice, with the highest amount of concentration along the dipping waistline.
     The table cloths were going to be a very pale yellow, marked with light pink and bright pink wedding bells.  The napkins were going to alternate between the colors of light pink and fuchsia.  The different segments to the bridal reception were going to be highlighted by the ringing of digital wedding bells.  They were going to introduce each segment of the wedding reception. 
     Alexandra, with her translucent skin and brunette hair was a prominent member of the Women’s Fiction Writing Group.  She often reminded people of one of the characters she wrote about.  Her green eyes focused intently on the details of the suggestions given by her girlfriends.  Finally she made a mental list of the ones that she would probably use.
     They snacked on wedding cake samples from the bakery while Alexandra told them which suggestions she agreed with.  A copy of her new book of short stories for each guest, she felt would be okay, but she also wanted a couple of her girlfriends to read one or two of the stories during a slide show presentation of pictures of her and George.  She and George had known each other since Freshman college and she had begun planning their wedding that day when they first met.
     Planned for the reception lunch, she really wanted to have a lot of pictures of George and her shown on the projector screen while the hip sounds of 80’s music played in the background.  The different segments to their relationship would fillow a timeline highlighted by their weekends spent watching movies at the cinema and generally just walking around, holding hands and taking in the town in.
     The bridesmaids dresses were going to be pastel green because green was Alexandra’s mother’s favorite color and Alexandra knew that she couldn’t have come this far, without her mother’s financial support.  The skirt bottom to these dresses were going to be cut along the bias so that their white high heeled pumps were going to peek through as they walked, and also so that the hem would slightly touch the ground as it trailed off in the back.
     Alexandra liked the idea of having the centerpiece vases of each of the 30 tables to be interspersed with small and medium-sized pink balloons tied to them.  Written on the balloons were going to be the couple’s names Alexandra and George.
     She also liked the idea of having a wedding picture of her and George adorning the front of their thank you cards.  The framing trim of the thank you envelopes will mimic the look of intricately embroidered stamped pink butterflies.  These were but a few of the suggestions she wholeheartedly agreed with!
     All the other suggestions she explained to her girlfriends, she would try to incorporate into the wedding plans as best as she could…
     The only formal gathering after this luncheon of hers, was the rehearsal night for the entire bridal party at the church and the rehearsal dinner following it.  After that, the big day would arrive…
* * * * * * *
     “…Time to go sweetie,” Alexandra’s mother said as she rapped on her daughter’s door.
     “I’ll be right there mom…” Alexandra said nervously.
     The church was only two block away, but Alexandra was almost in danger of being late for her own wedding.
     The guests as they arrived at the church had that elated-yet-confused look because they didn’t know where to be seated.  The ushers eventually helped everybody to their seats.
     The bridal party was ready to make their entrance through the double doors leading into the main church and to ready the way for the blushing bride, Alexandra….
     The processional music started on cue and everyone in the pews were in appreciation of the beginning procession of the bridal party as bridesmaid after bridesmaid, paired with a groomsman paved the way for the bride, who was on her father’s arm.
     Before that, Alexandra fidgeted with her long white gloves that tapered off with lace trim to her elbows and she slowed her breathing and inhaled deeply two or three times.
     “Alexandra, you’re not about to run a marathon….just let yourself breathe normally.  Don’t worry so much, you and George will make it through the ceremony just fine,” her father told her with a knowing wink.
     “…I couldn’t sleep all of last night dad, and I’m trying to keep myself looking like a poised and polished young lady despite the sleep deprivation…” Alexandra vented.
     “…You have the right to be nervous, just remember that we all love and support you on your big day…” her father said with a grin.
     Then the double doors closed again…..and the wedding march was played….
     Alexandra’s bouquet of long-stemmed cascading white roses was the perfect touch to the vision that she was, as she started her march down the aisle on the arm of her loving father.
     Everything’s cheery and happy she wanted to say.  However those were currently the specific moments where being proper and demure were the two characteristics people noticed right away as one made your way to the altar.  Will everyone stand up and give me a cheery hooray - for making it through the wedding ceremony in tac, thus far....most likely not.  She was glad for her self-regulating reality check thoughts…
     She then walked past her mother, who seemed to say to Alexandra …this is a moment of extreme solemnity….sweetie….with her eyes….please focus!
     Thus….went the ceremony and the reception followed and everyone was in good spirits, especially the bride’s father, who only that morning, spent a half an hour looking for his trusty shoehorn.
     For every momentous occasion in his daughter’s life, Cesar had spent half an hour looking for his shoehorn, but after it was found, the rest of the day would play itself out beautifully.
     The weather was ominous and the reception hall was partly Oceanside, overlooking miles of gorgeous beaches.  Everyone was safe inside after making their way from the church three miles away.  There had been tremors across the globe, and the high winds and backlash of the waves were nothing new to that time of the year.  However Alexandra’s dad Cesar kept wishing that everyone could be safely seeing themselves home soon.
     Then, came the fair warning from the local authorities about possible tidal waves hitting the local shores and as each guest made their way out of the hall, Alexandra and George bid each of them farewell.  Alexandra’s only regret was that she didn’t give her speech to properly thank her mother and father for everything that day….
     Somehow though, everyone knew as she shone brightly that day, that Alexandra was grateful and thankful for the both of them…

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cookie Cutter Wednesdays


      There was a clatter of cookie cutter shapes in varied forms and sizes as they hit her kitchen island countertop.  The granite surface shone brilliantly in the morning sunlight and Sally’s weekly mission to do her therapeutic baking was now at hand.  Today, regardless of what happens, at this moment in time, I am happy!
     The sugar cookie mix was her favorite and they only sold it around Christmastime.  In the box, was contained six bags of cookie dough mix and she bought as many of these boxes every year.  She added the melted butter and the egg to her mixture and since she was going to roll it out flat, she added two tablespoons of flour to stiffen it a little.
     She recalled her conversation with Bradley a few months earlier…
     “Why are you pouting?” he had asked.
     I had then answered, “Because the dog ran away with my young neice’s  rag doll and halfway buried it next to the thorny rose bushes.  Guess who they’ve asked to help dig it out?  That’s right, yours truly…Also, because there was a hurricane in the midwest and now guess whose plane trip to pick up a shipment of antiques for the store, has been waylayed?  You guessed right, if you guessed me.  Plus because my bank account is nearing nil, my last day at the Antique Shop is tomorrow and I have no immediate job prospects.”
     Bradley then said, “I see that you’re having a pity-party, you’re just feeling sorry for yourself.  First off, you have a lot of responsibilities that need tending to, and you know that keeping yourself busy always does you good.  Now go get cleaned up and wipe the tears off so we can take a walk around the park.  How’s that?”
     During our walk around the park, he had then asked, “Why did you buy that pink scarf, when you said that you had to buy a gift for you mom?  Let me guess, you lost sight of your shopping goals and now you’re panicking because your mother’s birthday is tomorrow.  If you hurry, you can buy her something from the store still, they don’t close for another hour…and don’t forget to get a birthday card for her too.  Now, what has happened to your finances?  Time doesn’t stand still for too long you know, eventually you’re going to have to pay off your credit card balances….That makeup you’ve got on, was just too bright for earlier.  You should apply those colors for when we go out to dinner tomorrow night.
     Rolling out the cookie dough with her favorite rolling pin, she even recalled the conversation they had a year prior on her twenty-ninth birthday….
     “Why are you pouting?” asked had Bradley.
     I had then answered, “They needed to make some cut-backs in the budget at the office, and I’ve been asked to leave….  I somehow have lost the drive to work full-time and I’m afraid that you’ll no longer see me as the go-getter that I used to be.  Plus, I don’t have a resume ready to submit to potential employers at the job faire.
     Bradley had then advised…
     “You should re-group and take an over-all look at where your life is heading.  I think that it’s going pretty well, in a pretty decent direction.  However it’s up to you, to create an environment for yourself that will be self-supportive.  Only when you can truly take care of your self financially, can you really truly feel independent about yourself, and you have it in you to do just that.”
     I was jaded about the world around me….and Bradley was concerned and had asked….
     “What has become of world politics, that’s got you avoiding it like the plague?  It’s not meant to be a soap opera, it’s not supposed to be an exciting event all the time, but you should care about what’s going on, regardless.  When was the last time that you went to the gym for some exercise, because according to my calendar, it’s been about a year.  You and world politics obviously don’t mix.  People are talking about world events as they happen, and you…well, it takes you about two to three weeks to read about the same things, because that’s when you’ll do your research.  You seem to feel like current events should be left alone to stew while you get used to what’s just happened, a sort of siesta out of life….that goes on for weeks at a time.
     Since those days, Bradley and Sally, have become a happily married couple, yet just this morning he asked, “Why are you pouting?”
     “….because I ordered the wrong lipstick, and now it’s too late to order the right one because not only has it sold out, but it has also been discontinued.  Plus, I got orange marker on a new top, and I’m just hoping that because the marker was the washable kind, that it’ll just wash off.
     Sally was jarred back to reality.  She rolled out the cookie dough some more and went to work busying herself.  This was Wednesday after all!
     Her collection of cookie cutters could rival that of any baker’s in town.  She had cookie cutters that were shaped like hearts, bunnies, rainbows…you name the shape and if it was a cute one she probably had it.  Her heart sang as she continued to roll out the cookie dough to its proper thickness. 
Sally then used the cookie cutters to create the adorably-cutely-shaped cookies.
     Bradley then entered the kitchen for a cup of coffee….
     “What’s really got you worried, what do you want to address?”
     “Bottom line, I’m not exercising…”
     Sally was wearing her fluffy pink and purple sweater, with her red tee shirt underneath for extra warmth.  Bradley thought she was in good shape.  He gave her a kiss on the cheek…
     “Gotta go…”
     Sally knew exactly what it was that was bothering her.  Bradley’s boss’ wife had been asking her and Bradley to double-check all the preparations she was making for an upcoming party and it was simply eroding into her time!
     Upon arriving at work, Bradley had a pile of reports he had to sift through.  He called upstairs to the information desk and asked for the year-to-date number of reports that had been sent to his office since January.
     “52 sir,” was the answer and how many remained on his desk currently?  This he could answer himself – 13 reports.   Bradley was compiling facts and figures for a forecasting report that he would turn over to his boss Clyde.
       A little while later….
     “I’ll be at Silver’s Athena,” he said.
     “Okay, Bradley,” Athena replied.
     Silver’s Dry Cleaners was just down the block and Bradley knew his 15-minute break would be stretched a little bit in going there, but he had accidentally picked up the wrong suit the other day.  Bradley stopped off at the trunk of his car, took out the suit to be returned and then went on the eight minute walk to Silver’s.
     At the Dry Cleaner’s…
     “Hello Mr. Silvers,…..I’m returning this one for my own suit.”
     “Oh yes, Bradley, I meant to call your secretary and tell her about the mix-up…..I’m so glad you noticed it on your own!” Max Silvers said.
     “….it was an honest mistake Max…”
     “Here’s the correct one Bradley….thanks for your patience,” Max said gratefully.
     “See you next time….,” with that Bradley double-timed it back to his building garage, while carrying his suit over his shoulder.
     As soon as he had his suit in his car, he took the stairs two at a time back to his office, and was just rounding off his break in 20 minutes flat.
     His boss Clyde looked in his door and couldn’t help himself, “….five minutes too late…..Bradley?”
     “Ah…..h..h.…actually I’m working through lunch today Mr. Roberts,” Bradley concluded.
     “I was just kidding Bradley…..” Clyde could be such a busybody sometimes.
     At the catering facility, Cathy was busy tallying up a customer’s order when Bradley called in.  Clyde’s wife Elaine had asked Bradley to double-check her tracks – mainly to make sure she had correctly planned her and Clyde’s silver wedding anniversary celebration.
     This had been their conversation earlier that morning…..
     “Bradley, I called the caterer’s and asked them to have the ice sculpture of the name ‘Roberts’ to be done in calligraphic letters, would you please double-check that I put in the request correctly?”
     “Of course, Mrs. Roberts…”
     “Please call me Elaine…..also the floral arrangements must have little ribbons tied to the stems of every other pink rose.  Could you double check that I made that request properly, as well?” Elaine had asked.
     “Of course…” Bradley said as he jotted down all the particulars.
     “…one last thing Bradley, the champagne….you know that I myself am a teetotaler….could you make sure it’s Dom all around?  Every table should have a bottle…with a spare,” Mrs. Roberts instructed.
     “Dom Perignon it is ma’m….”
     “…and the after-mints, make sure they’re the chocolate kind…” Elaine requested.
     “Yes ma’m….”
     “I’ll be in touch with soon to make sure everything else gets double-checked….bye for now Bradley,” with that Mrs. Roberts hung up.
     Bradley hadn’t known Clyde and Elaine Roberts that long, but he knew that they were his two favorite people.  Clyde had hired him recently and was always ribbing with him.  Plus Elaine trusted him and Sally to keep things running smoothly with her social gatherings and humanitarian projects.  He immediately called Sally to hand off Elaine’s list of requests to her.
     Sally was on her way out the door, headed for the market, when Bradley’s call came in to ask her for help with Elaine’s preparations…
     “You know that I love both Clyde and Elaine dearly, as if they were my own parents, but I can’t always drop everything for their sake,” Sally pleaded with Bradley.
    “It’ll just be till their party dear…that’s all!”
     A week went by and it suddenly became the norm once again to bake cut-out sugar cookies for herself.  In previous years it had been a het and miss, but that day was the fifth Wednesday in a row she had done this for herself, and she began calling them, Cookie Cutter Wednesdays.
     Elaine’s list had to be double and sometimes triple-checked, yet it somehow all got accomplished!
     It was the night of the big gala gathering to celebrate Clyde and Elaine’s 25th Silver Wedding Anniversary and everything was beautiful!
     Elaine had fashioned a hand-made scrapbook for the happy couple to store their anniversary memories.  In the card, inserted in photographic corners were four different business cards of professional even planners. 
     The note read, “In Case You Can’t Get A Hold Of Bradley Or Myself, Don’t Hesitate To Call Any One Of These People….”
     Sally valued time to herself, yet she dearly loved Clyde and Elaine.  Her mother didn’t raise her to be rude, so her note to Elaine was her way of standing up for herself….yet doing so in a proper manner.  Cookie Cutter Wednesdays had that way of giving her clarity….