Like A Dream, You Are Not What You Seem
I learned a lot from reading Jaws in my early teens. Daria, Todd and I went to visit Dad at his house in Toothless, Virginia where television reception was sketchy and programming was downright terrifying. In a way, it was a relief that Dad's nearest neighbors were cattle because at that time the movies in the nearest town's theater were three years old and kids got married at 14 for lack of anything else to do but each other. Dad told us not to leave the house when he went to work but there was little temptation to leave, no place to go and Dad's Playboy and Penthouse collections to study. The summer I read Jaws we'd set up a long jumping pit in the driveway, a calisthenics circuit and an archery range. Though long jumping into gravel and the subsequent abrasions held great appeal, amateur icthyology was pretty keen, too. Mr. Benchley knew lots of things I, a landlocked teen reading "I never thought this would happen to me" letters, did not know. He'd read the Bible, for instance and introduced to me the idea that I could and might read it myself one day. He knew that if you're switching wines you should use a different glass or rinse out the one you're using or expect flatulence. He also mentioned that if you fuck your police chief friend's wife you can't expect a shark cage to keep out the Wrath of God. This seemed like an important point that summer, when I read Jaws 27 times. That is not hyperbole. And canst thou catch Leviathan on a hook?
Nope. When Auntie InExcelsisDeo said, "Save the date. Monday is getting married Friday, 23 June 2006 in Frederick, MD and you will be there," I could see a giant set of teeth swimming toward me armed with crab puffs and squinty-eyed suspicion. When I said, "I love you dearly but I'm not going to any bridal showers," Auntie laughed and issued as sincere and loving a death threat above 110 decibels as I have ever received. So I went. And as much as I tried to say, "I'm not rocketing the length of the Jersey Turnpike, blinking in Delaware and staring myself comatose across the unchanging asphalt and trees of Maryland so I can sweat in the most uncomfortable clothes I own and shove an envelope full of bills down the sticky back of my cousin's wedding dress after she and her Twenty-Something friends inexplicably dance to Taking Care of Business" my refusal somehow didn't stick, those teeth got perilously close and I called up my ex-boyfriend Paulie Gonzalez.
Tata: Dude, like, dude...!
Paulie: What's the matter?
Tata: Monday's getting married, death threats, formal wear.
Paulie: I've got new truck without a complete paint job. We're going!
Even so, a Friday evening wedding is tricky business. Gifts must be sent in advance. Outfits must be assembled and packed with care. Maps must be obtained and studied. Family phone numbers must be carefully coordinated. Homes must be secured. Pets must be cared for. Children become a common responsibility. Monday's wedding invitation gave us the name of one hotel, one set of directions and Auntie I. said, "I want my family around me." In the weeks leading up to the wedding, when my resolve against crossing state lines crumbled, I found the appointed hotel full. Another hotel in the same complex was full but a third was not. Since the hotels' front desks were less than five hundred yards apart, it didn't make any difference where I threw my pajamas on the floor so long as the floor wasn't a parking lot and the room around it wasn't also a parking lot, Auntie I. would have to settle for a more generous family orbit.
That theme music is starting to sound a little...fishy...