The wedding: ‘The Cloud’ to the rescue

A dozen minutes behind schedule, Aaron O’Meara, flanked by his beaming parents, entered the main ballroom at Philadelphia’s Downtown Club to pledge himself for life to the only woman he had ever really loved.

His heart was pounding, but in his mind he felt a deep, silvery joy. The first thing he noticed as he entered the room was Pete, a few steps ahead of him, half-turning to give him a thumbs up and a mischievous grin.

Part 9 of 10

5:12 P.M. DEC. 27

The Story So Far:  Having survived interfamily tensions, brotherly squabbles, a series of blunders by the best man and a whiteout blizzard, the wedding ceremony of Aaron O’Meara and Rachel Levy is ready to begin.

A dozen minutes behind schedule, Aaron O’Meara, flanked by his beaming parents, entered the main ballroom at Philadelphia’s Downtown Club to pledge himself for life to the only woman he had ever really loved.

His heart was pounding, but in his mind he felt a deep, silvery joy.  The first thing he noticed as he entered the room was Pete, a few steps ahead of him, half-turning to give him a thumbs up and a mischievous grin.

The second were the lights of Philadelphia through the far windows, twinkling above the canopy of snow on Center City rooftops.

The third thing he saw as he headed down the main aisle toward the huppah was a sight he’d not expected and at first could not figure out. No wonder, since it might never have been seen before in any wedding ceremony since ancient man first took a woman to be his lawfully wedded wife.

On either side of the aisle, a dozen or so mildly distorted visages beamed at him from glowing screens. From behind and around the screens, other flesh-and-blood faces grinned at him – cousins, former teammates, one of his great-aunts, Sister Maureen Duffy.

Best man stuff

What in the world!?!?!? he thought.

He slowed his stride a second; his eyes darted from left to right.

Laptops. People are holding up laptops at my wedding. What the …!?

He was up to the front row of seats now. This row was pulled into a semicircle around the huppah.   His parents deposited him beneath the canopy; he got a strong whiff of his father’s aftershave during their awkward hug, Mike’s voice husky in his ear as he said something Aaron could not quite decipher. His mother’s embrace lasted a few emotive seconds, as he had known it would.

His parents did not go to the semicircle; they went to the next empty row behind and stood; his mother blew him a kiss.

He threw back his shoulders and clasped his hands at his cummerbund to savor this moment he’d anticipated for so long: Rachel, his Rachel, walking down the long aisle in a white dress, to marry him. A miracle.

Now, the bridesmaids had begun to enter.  

Aaron finally was starting to grasp what was going on. Every guest with a seat on the aisle in the first 10 rows had in his or her hands an impossibly slim laptop – Could those all be MacBook Airs? – and was pointing it at the young women in their purple dresses as they walked ceremonially towards him.

Skype! They’re Skyping the wedding!

The looming, digitized faces he’d seen grinning at him as he walked down the aisle were those of the missing wedding guests, following the doings courtesy of The Cloud.

Aaron could feel Pete jiggling up and down next to him. He gestured with his head at the phalanx of laptops.

“You?” he whispered.

Pete grinned: “Told ya … best man stuff.”

“Chen, you are something else.”

A screen gem 

Meredith was now making her way slowly down the aisle, milking the moment.

Then … Rachel.

Aaron O’Meara thought he’d experienced some peak moments in his young life.   Making the winning shot in the league title game back in high school. That touchdown pass against Delaware. The phone call from Baltimore, telling him he had the job.

Pebbles. Minnows. Those milestones were trifles compared to the instant when he saw Rachel Levy begin to walk slowly but eagerly toward him, in a dress as white as the snow that mantled the darkened city — walking toward him, ready to walk beside him for the rest of his days.

Rachel reached the huppah, kissed her parents, turned to face him and clasp his hands. Aaron readied himself to trace the first of the seven circles around each other that they’d practiced, giggling, in her tiny living room in Manayunk.

But Rabbi Meyerson, smiling, was holding up a finger: Wait!

A glow darted and danced through the dimly lit ballroom; swiftly, quietly, people were walking up the central aisle, MacBooks in hand, and depositing them on the semicircle of chairs around the huppah.

Snowed in, iced out, thwarted, frustrated and defeated – the missing guests now had digital front-row seats to the soon-to-be-legendary, blizzard-beset, Christmas weekend wedding of Aaron O’Meara and Rachel Levy.

Slowly, with solemn smiles and eyes ablaze, bride and groom began to circle each other, one time, two, three, four, five, six and, finally, seven.

Part 10 – “The best man gets hugged; the bride gets kissed” – will appear on Newsworks.org Friday 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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