The divan in the posh fitting room wasn’t the place to have a good cry, though the even posher attendants were used to brides, mothers-of-the-grooms, funeral attendees, and such like having them there. But there was no comfortable place to lie down, as the divan itself was hard and contemporary in design, not like a bed or couch. And there was no tissue dispenser, and after Katie had used up all her own tissues from her purse, she was reduced to wiping tears and snot on the inner sleeve of her coat. Nor, obviously, was there ice cream to eat from the carton, as was the time-honored custom among her friends. Lastly, on a darker note, there was no friendly male neighbor, the interior designer Bartleson Barnes, to bring over some weed, soothe her into another form of oblivion, and listen. She hadn’t known him that long, but to Katie, this was real friendship, though she knew he was too well-heeled for it really to matter to him.
The attendant, in the process of helping the seamstress pin up Katie’s dress for the wedding, had in fact gotten very sniffy and left her to her own devices when she’d exclaimed,
“Just stop buzzing around me like a hive of bees, can’t you? I don’t like this dress, and I don’t want it, and what’s more, I don’t think I want to be married. So, why should I keep being annoyed with this, that, and the other bit of stuff that you want to fit on me? Trousseau! Who does that anymore? I’d like to just hop a bus for the beach and get tanned and have drinks with umbrellas in them for a honeymoon! Only his mother would insist on all this fuss!”
Of course, Adelai adored his mother, thought that rainbows came out of her asshole, and until Katie could get him off by himself and rearrange things, she had no hopes of a happy marriage anyway. She sucked snot up her nasal passages and wiped her face off again. Did she really love Adelai?
It had seemed so simple when it was a matter of an office flirtation, and then of casual lunches, and then of the romantic dinners, oh, yes, those dinners, at the places Adelai could afford to take her. She’d had to insist to him that he not take her to the finest ones, as she said because they were too, just too pricey, and he should be saving his money, but really because she just didn’t feel comfortable with multiple waiters hovering around her, and multiple bottles of wine being brought, and multiple courses, one right after the next, being presented. It was always a matter of multiples, it seemed to her.
On an impulse, she picked up her phone and called Bartleson, the neighbor with the weed. To her gratification, he answered right away. She moaned into the phone, acquainting him with her problem.
“Oh, Katie, honey, you know I told you this was going to happen! That mother! That son! Maybe you’re better off without either of them. No, I’ll apologize, you’re a girl in love. I shouldn’t have said that. Well, just take a break. What would you rather be doing? Think of that…do you want me to come down and get you?”
“Oh, could you, Bart? That would be so wonderful!”
“Where are you, exactly?”
When she told him, he said, “Yes, I know that place. Very frou-frou. It figures. Not your type of place at all. I’ll be there in a shake. And you said you’re in the dressing room?”
“Yes, but I don’t think they’ll let a man in.”
“Oh, Katie, they’ll let me in. I bring them lots of customers.”
“You do? I mean, how? I thought you were in interior design.”
“In this town, all the designers know each other, Katie. I’ll be right down, shall I?”
And from that point on, things had somehow been magically smoothed out. Not only had Bart made her feel better (he had even sneaked in a couple of weed gummies for her to nosh on, and a chocolate croissant, without a single objection from the dressers and fitters, who fluttered more around him than they had around Katie); he had also magically gotten her attendants in line and made all the fitting problems go away. Now Katie was happy with Adelai again, even felt she might be able to tolerate his mother at a reasonable amount of distance and had most of her trousseau all planned out and fitted. She almost wished she could marry Bart, she was so happy, though she knew women weren’t for him.
“Get dressed, and we’ll go for a quick bite at our café round the corner, Katie. Let me go and see Ruth, the owner. I’ve done work for her in the past.”
She acquiesced and put things on over her underclothes again. She was so eager to thank Bart, and she picked up her things and got to the door of the dressing area in no time. He had his back to her, as did Ruth, and they were laughing in a certain way that didn’t seem like the Bart she knew.
“Well, yes, not quite quite, I know, a little of a hometown girl. But her fiancé has already spoken to me about the estate, in Downings, and you just know, I mean! No problems with getting her to go along, right?” And they laughed together again, in warm complicity.
Katie couldn’t cry now. She ducked back into the dressing room for a second, made a quick reevaluation of her feeling for Adelai, his mother, Bart—whom she now realized she hadn’t known well at all—and the whole situation, aided, she suspected, by the gummies she’d just ingested. After a minute, she felt a little wobbly, but all right; better than ever. She waited until Bart and Ruth were at the other end of the store and then dashed out, looking up schedules on her phone. There was a bus to Altamont Beach at 3:30; she made quick tracks down the sidewalk towards the cab stand at the corner; that beachfront was one celebration she wasn’t going to miss.