Rachel in love, with a frosty beverage in hand

A few blocks away from the Omni hotel, Aaron O’Meara continued to gaze at Rachel Levy with lovestruck eyes, as she downed a very smooth IPA inside a nearly deserted National Mechanics bar. Christmas lights twinkled all around the mirrors behind the bar; sprigs of plastic holly hung from the beer taps.

Part 5 of 10

12:30 a.m., Dec. 27

The story so far:  The O’Meara and Levy clans have gathered in Old City Philadelphia on Christmas weekend 2010 for the wedding of Aaron and Rachel.  But the blizzard has begun, scrambling the travel plans of many guests and ramping up anxiety for the parents of the bride and groom.  But the kids are having fun!

A few blocks away from the Omni hotel, Aaron O’Meara continued to gaze at Rachel Levy with lovestruck eyes, as she downed a very smooth IPA inside a nearly deserted National Mechanics bar. Christmas lights twinkled all around the mirrors behind the bar; sprigs of plastic holly hung from the beer taps.

Snow poured down outside, and the place would have closed early but for an invasion by the wedding party and assorted friends.

Rachel had changed out of her rehearsal dinner dress; she wore long black boots, blue jeans, a ribbed red turtleneck, with her long black hair pulled into a pony-tail.

“Jesus, she is so gorgeous,” Aaron said to himself as Rachel chatted excitedly with Meredith, her maid of honor, who was as blonde as Rachel was raven-haired, as big-boned (as the diplomatic put it) as Rachel was petite.

“OK, Patti’s coming to the room to start doing all our hair at around 10; she’s already at the hotel, so that’ll work,” Meredith said, ticking crisply down a mental list. “I’ve got everyone’s order for room service for lunch, so that’s good.   I’ve got the steamer for your dress already in the closet at the room. Your mom said the flowers are due to arrive at noon, and the florist is just a block away so they should make it.”

“Thank you, General Detweiler,” Rachel held her beer to her forehead in a mock salute. “So when do we hit Omaha Beach? 0600 hours?”

“Rach, somebody’s gotta help your Mom keep everything moving. You just go on making goo-goo eyes at Aaron; that’s your job tonight … apparently. And I’ll do what I can to keep that Pete from flyin’ off the end of the earth. That boy can’t keep a thought straight for 10 seconds. And that disgusting story tonight at the rehearsal dinner about the deer! … You sure he’s a genius?”

“Total, utter and complete. Social situations like this just flip him out a bit.”

“By the way, that movie your Mom showed tonight with all the old photos was a trip; those were some ugly braces you were rocking when you were 11, girl.”

“Watch it, Detweiler. It’s not too late for me to find another maid of honor somewhere in this bar. … God, look at Aaron talking to Gator over there. Isn’t he just killer handsome?”

“Rach, I can’t wait for you to get married, so you get over this gaga phase and start complaining again about how he leaves his toenail clippings laying about.”

“Yeah, but they’re really, really handsome toenail clippings. Hey, maid of honor, make yourself useful. Get me another of these IPAs.”

Part 6 – “Wedding morning: The world wears white; the boys play some street ball” – will appear on Newsworks.org Wednesday afternoon. 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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