Countdown to ‘huppah’: The best man seeks a comeback

“Sorry, Molly, the airport’s closed. We’re heartsick about it, but we had to give up and head home. Give Aaron a hug for me.”

“Can’t seem to get out of this damn town, Mikey. Turnpike is closed; so sorry. Still trying. Save that Jameson for me.”

Part 8 of 10

4:30 p.m. Dec. 27

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The Story So Far:  The Christmas weekend wedding of Aaron O’Meara and Rachel Levy is having a rough time. A blizzard. Stranded guests.  A wardrobe malfunction. Missing rings. But now it’s almost time for the ceremony.

“Sorry, Molly, the airport’s closed. We’re heartsick about it, but we had to give up and head home. Give Aaron a hug for me.”

“Can’t seem to get out of this damn town, Mikey. Turnpike is closed; so sorry. Still trying. Save that Jameson for me.”

The texts, e-mails and voicemails poured frustration and apology into the buzzing phones of Seth Levy and Mike O’Meara as they shared drinks from a bottle of Scotch they’d spirited into an anteroom of the Downtown Club in Old City. The ceremony was 30 minutes away.

Across the nation’s eastern half, the Christmas blizzard had frozen solid the arteries that usually circulate Americans on their daily missions of work, love and adventure.

Ice on the runways in Charlotte.   The turnpike closed between Harrisburg and Philly.   Two feet of drifting snow blocking the long, winding driveway from a Chester County farmhouse.

So the explanations went.   Technology could make the bad news travel swiftly, but it could not turn it into better news.

The glass half-full

Suzanne was still in the bride’s room, fussing over her daughter’s gown.   Molly was … well, Mike was not sure exactly where his wife was.

“Well, Seth, we’ve got 11 guests on our side who aren’t going to make it, by my count. What’s your tally?

“Looks like seven, maybe nine. That still means more than 140 people are going to find a way to get here, which is pretty impressive if you ask me.”

“Agreed, but you think the women will see it that way?”

“Not a chance.”

“No, Molly will focus on the sheep that have been lost, not the ones in the fold. That’s for sure.”

Just then, Molly swept into the little room off the foyer. “C’mon, Mickey, time to get over to the room with Aaron and the boys for this tish thing. Seth, I have to say my other sons and Aaron’s friends think this is a super Jewish tradition, getting to mock the heck out of him right before he walks out there. Thanks for telling us about it.”

“Glad to be of service; I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from the razzing I took when I married Suze.”

“Molly, about the missing guests …” Michael began.

“No time to worry about that now. Our son is getting married! Whoever gets here, we’ll just be grateful they’re here. C’mon, O’Meara, polish off that drink and get a move on.” Molly swept back out, with her trailing hand flicking a summoning index finger at her husband.

Michael crinkled his forehead, gave Seth the universal palms-up gesture of bewilderment, then followed her out.

A calming trend

Seth headed across the foyer to the bridal room, where he entered to see his wife cupping her hands over the cheeks of their only daughter, her eyes brimming with tears.

“You’ve never looked more beautiful, and you’ve always been my beautiful girl,” Suzanne said.

“I love you, Mom,” Rachel said, “but if you make me cry right now, I’ll freak out.   This makeup took forever.” She took a deep breath and shook her hands out at her sides. “Oh boy, oh boy, let’s do this, let’s do this. I just need to see him. I need to see Aaron. … Oh, Daddy, there you are. Is it almost time?

Seth looked at his quality digital timepiece.   “Ten minutes until we go to sign the contract.”

“It may take a moment or two more,” Suzanne said with an air of mystery. “Some things have needed to be set up.”

“What?” Seth asked.

Suzanne just smiled and put an index finger to her lips: “Now, let’s just take one last look at this veil.”

An insult before you go

Over in the groom’s room, the mocking of Aaron had begun, as the O’Mearas tried gamely but cluelessly to observe the Jewish tradition of the tish.   In lieu of a reading from Talmud – which Aaron had barely heard of, let alone read – he’d decided to read the traditional Irish blessing, amid catcalls from his grinning groomsmen:

“May the road rise up to meet you …” Aaron began

“May the chili fries rise up to repeat on you …” Sean chimed in.

“May you trip on your shoelaces and knock over that that canopy thing …” Tony said.

The blessing done, Aaron’s head was on a swivel.

“Hey, where’s Pete? Where’s my best man?”

Just at that moment, Pete burst into the room, face flushed, tie askew, one pant leg hiked up high onto his calf.

“Did I miss the insulting?” he blurted. “Darn. Oh well. Hey, Aaron, you can relax now. I got ’em; here they are.” He held the black box with the two wedding bands out triumphantly in front of him.

“Where have you been, dude?” Aaron asked.

“Doin’ best man stuff,” Pete said, giving a wink to Molly, who theatrically winked back.  

“What the heck …” Aaron began, but at just that minute Rabbi Meyerson ducked her head into the door.

“Young man, are you ready to sign the ketubah?” she asked.

“So totally ready, Rabbi Meyerson.”

“Well, let’s go then.   We need to gather up the witnesses.”

“I’m with you all the way, Rabbi Meyerson.”

Part 9 – “The wedding: ‘The Cloud’ to the rescue” – will appear on 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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