Wedding Preparations in Oysterback


Although Hagar Jump twisted and craned her neck, it was HTC almost impossible for her to look in the mirror and see what Doreen Redmond was doing to Hagar's hair. The mirror at Doreen's station at the Salon de Beaute was nearly covered with snaps of Doreen, her husband Junie, their three children, several generations of black labs and Doreen's Honorable Mention in the Mid-Atlantic Stylist's Conference Competition for Cellophaning. "Mind what you do to my bangs," Hagar said. "Last time, you left me looking like Mamie Eisenhower."

"So that's why you didn't get your hair cut before the wedding," Doreen said, shifting a wad of Nicorette from one side of her jaw to the other. "If you wouldn't take a nail scissors to 'em between cuts, they wouldn't look so bad, Hagar. Anyway, I still think that strawberries floating in champagne punch is tacky. And those matchbooks that said 'Lisa and Billy -- A Perfect Match' were tacky, too." She was trying to give up three packs of Kools a day.

"Carlotta told me she saw the recipe in Southern Living, and it called for melon balls. Can you see melon balls floating in Carlotta's good Heisey punchbowl?" Miss Nettie Leery, her hair half rolled into styrofoam curlers, turned to look over her shoulder at Doreen.

"Mom, if you don't hold on still, I'll never get you rolled up, and I've got an eleven o'clock," Jeanne Swann told Miss Nettie around a mouth full of hairpins. "I couldn't get past Miss Carlotta's Mother of the Bride outfit. Desiree said Mr. Hack took Billy Chinaberry aside about a month before the wedding and offered him all the wedding money to elope. Bill would've taken it, too, if Lisa hadn't thrown a fit and called them both cheap."

"That's men for you," Hagar Jump said darkly.

"Ain't that the truth, girl! I thought I would die of embarrassment when Junie wanted to play the spoons at the reception," Doreen sighed with the air of someone whose spouse can no longer surprise her.

"Well, did you see poor Betty Chinaberry? Where in the world did she get that mother-of-the-groom dress? The tablecloth department at McCrory's? I know Lisa's bridesmaids' dresses came from Sears, the boxes were shipped right through the post office," Hagar said.

Jeanne Swann gave a whoop. "Weren't they just awful? Apple green taffeta is what it said in the paper, but it made them all look as if they'd been eating green apples, if you ask me. Billy Chinaberry's sister Crystal's too big to wear all of those big skirts and sleeves and bows, she looked just like a crocheted doll that you put on top of a toilet paper roll in that outfit. Close your eyes, Mom, I'm going to spray you now."

"I almost married Frank Chinaberry," Miss Nettie said dreamily. "He did all right with those chicken houses. He gave Billy and Lisa their own trailer to live in, right on the property."

"Me, I like a man to have a chin, thanks," Doreen said glumly. "Tell you what I think -- I think Miss Carlotta picked out those bridesmaids' dresses, on purpose like, so that the other girls would look just awful. That way, when Billy seen Lisa comin' down the aisle followed by that crew, he'd know he made the right choice."

Doreen popped another Nicorette into her mouth. "I'm dying for a cigarette," she moaned. "It's been five hours!"

"Hang in there, gal, you can do it," Miss Nettie admonished her, wagging a finger. "Tell you what I like to die of embarrassment from was when my son-in-law started to snore in the middle of the vows."

"That was allergies, Mom!" Jeanne hissed fiercely. "And him over to her house right now, cuttin' her grass. Shame on you!"

"But he shore woke up when Lisa started to twirl those fire batons right there in the church!" Doreen laughed.

"I never heard that poor little organist, Miss Buck, play 'Close to You' so up-tempo in my life," Jeanne laughed. "She just couldn't keep up with those fire batons."

"Doesn't Desiree Grinch own a dress? I couldn't believe that outfit she wore -- looked like a cowgirl, all that white leather fringe and glitter," Miss Nettie shook her head. "Don't pull my hair, Jeanne Leery! You're not too big to spank!"

"Try it, Mom," Jeanne said cheerfully, "And your hair will have such a blue rinse on it that folks will say you glow in the dark." Desiree was Jeanne's best friend. "Desiree got that outfit from the same man that made alla Elvis' jumpsuits."

"And did you see Lisa's silver pattern? There's so much junk on it, flowers and fruit and so forth, that the butterknife weighs about six pounds," Doreen cracked her Nicorette and shifted from foot to foot in her Nursemates. "Wait till she has to polish that stuff."

"The pattern's called Colonial Medici," Hagar said. She knew about such things.

Miss Nettie sighed. "I always cry at weddings," she said.

Helen Chappell is an Eastern Shore novelist and chronicler of Oysterback.

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