Parental postmortems on the rehearsal, and dread for a snowy dawn

About midnight that night, the Levys and O’Mearas each lay in their hotel rooms in Old City. Each husband and wife stared into the darkness as they reviewed the busy evening. The rehearsal dinner pasta had been tasty, the veal delectable, the nostalgic video charming; the weather had thwarted some guests, but the room had still bubbled with good feeling.

Part 4 of 10

MIDNIGHT, DEC. 27

The story so far:  The O’Meara and Levy families have gathered on Christmas weekend in Philadelphia for the marriage of Aaron and Rachel, with the threat of a major blizzard hanging over the proceedings.  

About midnight that night, the Levys and O’Mearas each lay in their hotel rooms in Old City. Each husband and wife stared into the darkness as they reviewed the busy evening.   The rehearsal dinner pasta had been tasty, the veal delectable, the nostalgic video charming; the weather had thwarted some guests, but the room had still bubbled with good feeling.

Outside, the heavy snow that had begun about 5 p.m. continued to swirl, then settle on the sidewalks and holiday decorations of Old City Philadelphia.

The TV weathermen had just finished their latest bout of hyperventilation.   On Channel 6, they were already calling it The Storm of the Century. A young century, but still … Over on 10, it was the Blizzard of ’10. On Fox 29, it was Whiteout Christmas.

Inside the O’Mearas hotel room, it was Anxiety Central.

“How about the Gallaghers?” Molly O’Meara asked Mike. She was having him run down, guest by guest, status reports on how various farflung parties were doing in making their way to Philadelphia amid a storm that was pelting most of the Eastern Seaboard.

“Decided to drive in, once their flight was cancelled. Planned on making it to somewhere around Harrisburg tonight.   Bob said they’d make it here by hook or by crook.   ‘I coached that boy from T-ball through American Legion. We’re not missing this.’ That’s what he said, Mol. And you know Bob.”

“We have some great friends, Mickey.”

“Yes, Mol, we do.”

Molly being Molly

“I just wish we weren’t putting them through all this …”

“Don’t start, Mol. It all went fine tonight, snow and all.”

“Yes. The great aunts Duffy seemed to have a wonderful time. And Suzanne was wonderful to make such a fuss over them. She’s really a very nice person, Suzanne.”

“Yes, she is, Mol, she is.”

“Which is why I’m working so hard not to kill her for the idiocy of having this wedding in the dead of winter on Christmas weekend.”

“Mol ….”

“Kidding, Mickey, kidding.” Molly let loose with a laugh. “Saints preserve us, do you have any idea what Peter was trying to get at with that story he told about Aaron and the deer and the fire escape and the dorm?”

“I went over it with Pete at the bar afterward and I still don’t get it. I asked Aaron and he just rolled his eyes and said, ‘Don’t ask why. It’s just the Peteness of Pete.'”

Molly began to giggle uncontrollably: “Did you see Grandma Peskin over there, cupping her hand to her ear, staring at Peter with this look of perfect confusion on her face as he went on about venison and freshman girls and who knows what? Oh, dear Lord in heaven, it was priceless ….”

“It’s good to hear you laugh, Mol.   Everything went well tonight. So maybe now you can relax and enjoy the proceedings?”

“Not until I know how our guests are doing, mister, and what we can do to help them make it here.   We’re supposed to have 30 for brunch tomorrow; God knows how many will make it, so first thing when we wake up at 6, here’s what I need you to do ….”

The sigh Mike O’Meara emitted into the darkness was deep, long-suffering and full of love …

A rabbi at the ready

A few doors down the fifth-floor corridor, Suzanne Levy’s blood pressure was matching Molly’s.

“Seth, is it still snowing?”

“Suze, you know it is. Don’t ask me to get up again and check.”

“Oh, God, what if half the guest list can’t make it tomorrow? Did we make a mistake picking this date? I’ll never live it down.”

“Suze, it’s a crapshoot. The kids wanted to get married soon; they didn’t want to wait for spring. We could have picked any Sunday in January, February, even March and this could have happened. No point in blaming ourselves. Just figure things out as we go; adjust.   You’re good at that.”

“Did you talk to Rabbi Meyerson? Did you offer her a hotel room? Will she be able to make it?”

“I did and she declined.   Here’s what she told me, ‘I know people who know people who have Hummers. I’ll get there, come frogs or locusts. I did that little girl’s bat mitzvah and I’ll do her wedding and I’ve made space on my calendar for 2012 to do her first-born’s naming ceremony.’   You don’t have to worry about Julie. She’ll get in.”

“Can I make a confession?”

“As long as it doesn’t involve me having to get out of bed and go to the window again, sure.”

“I actually like Molly. She’s a big personality and she takes up a lot of space, but, end of the day, she’s a good heart with a good head on her shoulders. I think we’ll be OK; I think we’ll get along. I wasn’t always sure of that.   Pretty sure Rachel will have some learning to do to figure out how to handle her. But she’s OK. She’s OK.   And, Aaron, what a sweetie. Did you see how he looked at Rach all night long?”

“Boy’s in love. That’s for sure. And why shouldn’t he be? We did OK with our girl, Suze, I think. We didn’t screw up too badly as parents, did we?”

“Not too badly, not too badly at all.”

Part 5 – “Rachel in love, with a frosty beverage in hand” – will appear on Newsworks.org tomorrow morning. To see earlier parts, go to the Whiteout Christmas archive page.

Radio play: Listen to a dramatization of “Whiteout Christmas” on WHYY-FM this holiday weekend. The radio play, with Tony Auth, Chris Satullo and WHYY staffers acting up a storm, will air on 90.9 FM at 8 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Christmas Day.

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