FROM HERE TO MATERNITY
Tenny and I understand the appeal of a beach day, lounging with a drink in hand and paddling in the sea. But just occasionally the process of getting there can take an uncomfortable turn toward moral failure, like the time we boarded a tender for the 10-minute trip over to Grand Cayman.
A beautiful young woman dressed in a wedding gown boarded after us, and we smiled, thinking of our own starry-eyed wedding day. She sat across from me while her husband-to-bed, dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and sandals, sat next to her, and a young boy sat next to him. We beamed at them, happy for the joyous union that would take place on the island that afternoon.
The bride did not share our joy. In fact, she looked awful. Pale, sweaty, nauseous, she sat with her head in her hand, looking more like a girl who had stayed up far too late and drank far too much than a woman about to commit herself for life to the man she loved.
“Don’t worry about her,” The groom idly scratched at a thick tuft of hair curling out from the bottom of his T-shirt. “She had her Bachelorette party last night and she’s got a hang-over.”
This did not come as good news to me considering I was well within the ‘splash zone’ and tenders bob in a stomach-rolling way. Her un-bride-like moans of distress did nothing to alleviate my suffering. Her discomfort was self-induced, but what had I done to deserve this?
“Shut up!” she snapped. “You can hardly call it a Bachelorette party if no one shows up.”
“At least you made friends with the bartender,” he shot back.
They didn’t appear as blissful as most couples on their wedding day, so I tried to distract her until we were safely docked. “Are you getting married on the island?”
Had she replied with “No, I always dress like this,” I would have deserved it.
Instead, she said, “Yeah. That’s the real problem. God, I’m so nervous! I can’t believe I’m going through with this. But everyone’s here. There’s nothing I can do about it now. I’m just so f**king nervous!”
Her fiancée heard every word, but instead of reassuring her or being offended at the knowledge she was positively awash in regret, he laughed. “Don’t worry, in another few months you’ll be knocked up, if you aren’t already, and you can get down to the business of washing my underwear and making my meals, like a good little wifey.”
Now, this was bold on his part. Not only because every woman within earshot wanted to kill him outright, but also because he was no catch. There he was, on his wedding day, wearing an outfit less formal than anything Tenny would wear to mow the lawn.
“Are you going to change into a suit on the island?” I asked, hoping for one shred of decency.
“Hell, no! It’s not as if this is the first time I ever got married. This here one is number four.” Helpmate Harry jabbed his thumb at his betrothed. “It’s her first time, so I let her play dress-up.”
We’re firm believers that every person is worthy of love and companionship, but they do have to make at least the minimum effort at being a decent human being. This over-inflated ego machine was no Prince Charming, and he had to—HAD to!—know he was getting a trophy wife, at least in the looks department.
He should have been treating her like a queen. Instead, he kept up the abusive banter, every word of it heard by the young boy sitting next to him. The boy who would be his step-son by the end of the day.
I should have said, “Honey, it’s not set in stone until you say those vows and sign that paper. Run!” But I was afraid it would be the final gut-punch that would put her over the edge, not so much from Here to Eternity as From Here to Maternity.
Instead I said, “Everyone’s nervous on their wedding day. But think of the beautiful ceremony you have planned! Do you have a lot of family with you? Is the wedding going to be on the beach? Did you organize it through the ship?” I was rambling, I knew it, but I couldn’t stop. I wanted her to talk about the fun part so she would stop moaning and thinking about the colossal mistake she was about to make.
She made it over to the island without soiling my shoes or her dress, but it was of little comfort. There she was, a young, stupid girl who suddenly had the smarts to realise she was plunging head-first into a pit of despair and regret. But no one took her hand and led her and her son off that tender, helping them find their way back to a future that might hold joy and a good man who would love them.
I felt pangs of remorse for being a lousy friend to her in her moment of need. But I justified it by thinking a girl who can throw herself a Bachelorette party on the eve of her wedding and slug back four or five stiff martinis wasn’t going to listen to some stranger wearing a sundress and a poorly disguised look of fear.
Besides, she’d probably heard it from her mother since the day she brought him home, a thought that made me feel even worse. Perhaps she had learned by example and I was just one more in a guilty line of women who had failed her.
But the feeling passed once we parted company. Against the backdrop of sultry Grand Cayman, we took each other’s hand and soaked up our own little slice of paradise in a place best enjoyed by lovers.
Treadwell & Tenny