Rating K+ for coarse language and minor adult situations
“Ellowyne! Get up already!” Prudence, the maid of honor and Ellowyne’s best friend, shouted. “I’ve been up since six and I did cardio and Pilates. I begged you to come with me but you didn’t. Now you’re groggy and not even close to being ready for your own wedding!”
Ellowyne moaned. “It’s not until four this afternoon. Ugggh. I had a hard time sleeping last night so let me be!”
“You have to get up so we can get our makeup, nails, and hair done. We’ll stop by Starbucks and get you a vendi mocha. With extra whipped cream,” said Lizette.
Ellowyne rolled her eyes and then rolled out of bed. “Fine. I’m up.” In spite of going to bed earlier than her friends, Ellowyne had a hard time getting to sleep. She tossed, turned, fidgeted with her cell phone, and tried to read a little but to no avail. After she had gone to bed, she overheard a conversation between her three girlfriends not meant for her ears and she could not get it out of her mind.
On the way to the salon, Amber noticed Ellowyne’s somber mood. “Today is your wedding day. But you look so worried and sad.”
Pru said, “You do seem a little reluctant, Ello. What’s wrong? Cold feet?”
Lizette agreed with Pru. “Every bride gets cold feet. It’s normal.”
However, Amber disagreed. “OMG, Ellowyne! Don’t tell me you’re letting ennui spoil your wedding day.”
Ellowyne shrugged. Maybe it is ennui, she thought. She loved Penn, didn’t she? And she thought she wanted to marry him but could not care less about planning the wedding. Picking out the dress, sampling wedding cakes, hiring a band and caterer for the wedding—none of it was even remotely enjoyable. Then there was that nagging, gnawing feeling deep in her heart warning her that she was just settling for Penn. She once read a magazine article in one of her mother’s old Cosmopolitan magazines. The author made a case for settling, to stop looking for Mr. Right and pair up with Mr. Not-So-Bad. Penn was a nice enough guy but Ellowyne didn’t feel like she was really was in love with him. She didn’t feel a toe-tingling, pulse-racing, butterflies in the stomach when she was with Penn. She had felt that way once, but it was too late to cancel the wedding. Her father paid all the wedding expenses and she didn’t want to see his money go to waste.
Moreover, she had a couple of nagging reservations about Penn. Sometimes he seemed angry and frustrated when she need to change plans because she was simply too tired or melancholy. But if she didn’t marry Penn, who would want her? Of course there was Rufus, but, since he agreed to be Penn’s best man, she assumed he was no longer interested. Marrying Penn was the most logical choice she could make. And if she was dispassionate about wedding planning, it had to be ennui ruining her life again.
Or was it something else?
Ellowyne and her friends arrived at the stylist’s salon. She stared into her mocha—the third cup of the day—and played with the whipped cream while her favorite hairstylist coaxed her hair into thick, beachy curls. Her thoughts went back to Rufus. Why did he come back? Pasadena, where he was doing graduate work at Cal State, was nearly a six-hour drive one way. He didn’t come home very often because he was immersed in his studies. She could not remember which one of her friends —Pru, Lizette, or Amber—brought up that Rufus had been in love with Ellowyne. Why didn’t one of them tell her? It didn’t matter. She was marrying Penn that afternoon. She wondered if she would have accepted Penn’s proposal if she had known how Rufus felt.
Meanwhile, Penn and Rufus, who stayed overnight in the hotel where the reception was going to be, were feeling the effects of an alcohol fueled bachelor party. “Dude, why did you let me drink so much?” Penn asked.
Rufus, who was nursing a headache, shook his head. “Shush, shush, shush. Don’t talk so loud.”
Penn ignored him. “You promised the most epic bachelor party ever. And you did it!”
Rufus groaned. “Thanks, I guess.”
Penn wondered how Ellowyne’s bachelorette party went. Prudence would have taken her friends to a hot yoga studio, and Lizette would’ve insisted on dinner at a fine restaurant, maybe one that served Cajun or Creole food. And Amber. Oh, Amber. She would have dragged everyone to a bar, maybe even one with male strippers. He could never understand why Ellowyne, Pru, and Lizette even hung out with Amber, since she was so rowdy. Then again, Penn, Rufus, and the other groomsmen had gotten rather rambunctious themselves.
Rufus looked at the alarm on the clock radio. Suddenly he was awake and shouted, “Dude! It’s almost noon! You’ve got to get sober before the wedding!” Rufus threw Penn in the shower and turned the water as cold as possible. He called room service to bring up some espresso and then he called a nearby Thai restaurant to get a couple of orders of drunken noodles, his favorite dish when hung over.
When Penn and Rufus arrived at the church, they bore no signs of the previous night’s debauchery. Indeed, they looked dapper in their tuxedos. Rufus made sure he had Ellowyne’s wedding ring in his pocket. He took a sharp breath. Maybe agreeing to be Penn’s best man wasn’t such a great idea. It was meant to bring him closure but he wasn’t over Ellowyne at all. He could hardly wait until the festivities were over and he could return home to his studies—the only thing that made him stop thinking about her.
The wedding could not be more splendid. Orchids and white roses decorated the altar and were carried by the bridesmaids. The groomsmen and Penn wore white rose boutonnières. Before he escorted Ellowyne down the aisle, her father noted how miserable she looked. “Are you okay, Honey?” He said, “I know you have trouble being happy but you look so sad. At least you should be a little happy on your wedding day.”
The string quartet played Pachelbel’s Canon in D as Ellowyne and her father walked down the aisle. She thought about her deceased mother and how overjoyed she and Father looked in their wedding pictures. Maybe I’m never going to be happy, she thought. She looked at Penn, who beamed seeing her in her wedding gown. She sighed and wished she could be as elated as he. She looked at her bridesmaids, who looked beautiful and radiant. She then looked at Rufus, who stood stiffly. He refused to look at her, and his usual smile was replaced by a cold, stony countenance.
The wedding ceremony went by in a blur. Penn’s smile was broad and his eyes sparkled as he recited his vows. And suddenly it was time for her to recite her. Looking into Penn’s eyes, she said, “I, Ellowyne, take you, Rufus—“
Everyone at the church gasped, especially Rufus, who was so shocked that his mouth gaped open, his eyes nearly popped, and his cheeks burned.
Penn’s face reddened with anger. He pulled away from her and asked, “What the hell, Ellowyne?”
“I’m sorry, Penn. You are a wonderful man but I don’t think we’re meant to be together. Especially when I think I might have feelings for Rufus.”
“Are you serious? You think you have FEELINGS for him? When did you figure that out?”
“This morning, I guess. Last night, after I went to bed, I overheard Liz, Pru, and Amber talking about how Rufus has been in love with me for years. I’m sorry, Penn, but I can’t marry you because I’m not in love with you. I love you but as a friend, not as a fiancé. I think I might be in love with Rufus.”
“YOU MIGHT BE IN LOVE WITH HIM?”
Penn shook his head and glared at Rufus. “Is that why you came back? You son of a bitch. Ellowyne would never have known if you stayed away.”
“Dude, I’m sorry—“
“Sorry isn’t good enough!!”
“Penn, he has nothing to apologize for. This is all on me,” Ellowyne said softly. “I am so sorry that I have hurt you. I guess I thought the reason I was so half-hearted in planning the wedding was ennui. But now I realize that ennui had nothing to do with my disinterest. I really can’t marry you when I think I might want to be with Rufus.”
Penn raged at Ellowyne. “So you might want to be with another man. Fine. Whatever you want. You know what? I’m glad to be rid of you. You and your damned ennui. You don’t want to go to a baseball game because you think it’s boring. You can’t go to a new restaurant because you live on whipped cream and nasturtium. You don’t want to go dancing because you’re too tired. I can’t spend the rest of my life with you and your issues.”
Rufus took her wedding ring out of his pocket and Ellowyne removed her engagement ring. As they gave the rings back to Penn, he sneered and said, “Good luck, Rutter. You’re going to need it. You know, I think the two of you deserve each other.” Penn stormed out of the church and shouted, “I hope you’re both HAPPY together.”
Ellowyne’s father ushered the guests out of the church and invited them to the reception, where a sumptuous buffet awaited them. When everyone had left, her father approached Ellowyne and Rufus, who were sitting on the altar stairs. “Honey, you did what you had to do. Ennui didn’t ruin your wedding. It was your heart, telling you that, deep down inside, you didn’t really want to marry Penn. He’s a nice enough fellow but I don’t think he was the right man for you.”
As her father walked away, Ellowyne turned to Rufus. She felt her toes tingle, her pulse racing, and butterflies in her stomach. Then she smiled.