__________________ ____________________  

The big day


I really hated the sound of that alarm clock, that piercing, irritating
repeated beeping. After a second or two I slowly started realizing that
it was not just another day, it was the day.
     I felt the movement in the bed as she reached for the clock and
then the beeping stopped allowing me to slip back towards tranquillity
"Love you," I whispered.
"Excuse me, you were saying?" she said sarcastically.
"You heard me," I said a little louder yet trying not to strain my tired
"I didn't say I didn't fucking hear you, I asked you what you said.
Repeat it, louder. And try opening your eyes this time."
After a moment of contemplating the situation I forced myself to make an
effort and sat up, looking at her. Everything about her was beautiful
even in the morning. The way that curly almost black hair just touched
her shoulders. The casual pose she held sitting on the edge of the bed
in that worn Lakers T-shirt. I took her hand and pulled her a little
closer admiring her mischievous smile. She wanted to say something but
she waited for me to speak first. I kissed her hand repeatedly and
looking into her dark brown eyes I said slowly overenunciating each
Her smile got wider as she replied.
"You better. Don't you dare flake on me now."
She lay down beside me and kissed me gently wrapping her arms around me.
I slid my hands inside her T-shirt running them up and down her back and
I said:
"We really don't have time for this."
"Absolutely not. How about the shower?"
And the shower it was, taking far too much of the time we did not have.
     I stood shaving when she asked from the bedroom:
"Denny's or Jack in the box?"
"Which one is the most romantic?"
"Breakfast in bed!"
"OK, you got me. How about Big Bob's in Burbank?"
"You call Big Bob's romantic?"
"We're not making love there, we're eating."
"It's a drive, I'm hungry. I wanna eat now."
I looked at my reflection in  the mirror, undergoing one of those mini
crises wondering if it was really me standing there. Was that really
what I looked like, who I was? That was my face, my body, and I would
spend the rest of my life confined within it. Even though I was quite
familiar with my own image, he seemed a little like a stranger. 
"Well?" she said, and I suddenly snapped back into the present.
"Er, is Jack in the box drive-through fine?"
"Perfect," I thought. "Were we perfect together, she and I? Did we have
to be perfect together? Was everyone else?" Sometimes she felt like a
stranger too. I wondered what that meant, what it implied. Maybe it was
because we were not meant to be, maybe it was all wrong and I was just
fooling myself. Could it be that I was stupid to even think that the two
of us were a good idea in the first place? I had never thought about
that before. Not in that way. Not until now.
"You got any more stuff to pack?"
I heard her say it but I did not think about what she was saying. I was
questioning the fact that she was even talking to me. Maybe she was
saying it to someone else.
"Hey, what are you doing out there? Are you listening to me?"
I could not think of a good answer since I had not thought about what
she was saying to begin with. But in my mind I knew that I had to
produce an answer, because it was the second time she was asking
me...something. Out of obligation I automatically answered:
"Yeah, sure."
"Does that mean you're listening to me or that you've got some more
stuff you wanna pack, before we leave?
I went in to the bedroom and saw her standing there about to zip up the
suitcase and she was as charming as ever. She was certainly no stranger
and neither was I. Having cleared that in my mind I felt at ease and I
smiled while just watching her. She had obviously taken notice of my
rather strange behavior and gave me an inquisitive and somewhat
surprised look.
"Are you OK, honey?"
I smiled even wider."
"Never better, sweetcheeks. Never better."
     As she pulled out the driveway from the garage she said:
"You know I think I changed my mind."
"About what?"
"Let's go to Big Bob's."
"Fine by me."
"From there we can just swing out on Glendale Freeway."
I was almost startled when she said Glendale Freeway. I was not thinking
that we would take the Glendale Freeway when I had pictured this day in
my mind. I had thought we would take the Hollywood Freeway. Come to
think of it, it was not the most strategic choice, but that did not
matter. It still conflicted with my expectations.
"I would prefer we took the Cahuenga Pass."
"Well, I would prefer we didn't voluntarily subject ourselves to a
bumper to bumper traffic jam."
She was right about that. On my feet I could not think of a good answer.
The first time I ever saw the San Fernando Valley I was coming over the
Cahuenga Pass from Hollywood where I lived at the time. The Valley had
seemed so huge to me then. There was always a special feeling about
coming over the hill in either direction.
"The Cahuenga Pass is a little special to me."
"OK, we'll go to Big Bob's, we'll order whatever you wanna order and
then we'll take the Hollywood fucking Freeway. Are you satisfied?"
"No need to use that patronizing tone on me."
"Don't start on me, man. Don't even start on me."
"What did I say?
"I won't even go there. I'm not gonna hear it so just back off!"
I hated fighting with her. I hated seeing her angry because of me. I
gently stroke her arm as I asked:
"Are you having second thoughts?"
"About going to Big Bob's? Hell yeah!"
"You know exactly what I'm talking about."
She shrugged and rolled her eyes, conveying that she was not even
interested in answering, which made me give up.
"I hate fighting with you, sweetheart you know that."
"Honestly I don't enjoy it myself."
     We remained quiet until she pulled into the parking lot at Big
Bob's. After having turned the engine off, she looked at me and I felt
that she had laid it on me to break the silence.
"You know what just struck me?"
I enjoyed her eagerness to know what I was going to say. I just looked
at her and waited for her to ask me again.
"We never even got engaged."
After a split second of thinking she grabbed my hand.
"Will you marry me?"
"I'm supposed to say that."
"I'm not gonna ask you again!"
"Damn right I'll marry you!"
"I think that qualifies for being properly engaged. Now, let's have
breakfast, so we can get our asses to Vegas."


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