Thursday, March 06, 2008
Here's the second part fo the story. Thanks for reading!
When we walk in the side entrance of the church, I don't recognize anyone. Decorated with leftover Christmas bulbs spray-painted gold and little green bows, the room appears to be victim to an arts and crafts project gone awry, the work of a maniac with a glue gun. We stand awkwardly, like girls waiting for someone to ask them to dance, a pose that suggests a need for rescuing, a hand on the back leading you to the floor.
"Do you think we could have found someone else's rehearsal?" I ask.
"This has to be it," Jeff says, looking around.
After some whispered deliberation, we choose a back table, and I spot Krista. We haven't seen her much since she moved three years ago to attend graduate school at the University of North Texas to study music. That part of the plan didn't work out so well because, while being really good by most standards, she wasn't at all prepared for the rigors of a school that competes with Juilliard for students. Now she's marrying a music education major named Leland that she met there. I lived in Texas for three years when I was a teenager and don't remember meeting one Leland. What I do remember is this: my mother went through a phase where she froze rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and scorpions and used them to make paperweights. Every time I would get something out of the freezer, it would be lined with jars of these creatures. The small ones died quickly, but the larger snakes were put in the deep freeze and could hibernate indefinitely. You never knew what might still be moving around in there.
As for what happened to Krista, it's anybody's guess. Less than two years ago, she was, by her own estimation, sleeping with almost everybody at the Kerrville Folk Festival and out of her mind on any number of mind-altering drugs. Now she plays piano for the church where Leland works as both the choir director and youth minister. Whenever people talk about the impossibility of changing, I think about Krista and wonder how long her new lifestyle will last. This is the same woman who walked into our dorm living room area after spending the night in a new boyfriend's room and announced, "I had me a virgin last night."
I've seen her once since she's moved back. A week before Christmas she invited me and Jeff over to meet Leland and her new cat Eggroll, and we watched Eggroll's big trick, which was drinking Mountain Dew out of a coffee cup. We spent more time trying to keep the other cats off the Christmas tree and watching Eggroll perform than we did getting to know Leland, who wasn't much of a talker. The whole situation was uncomfortable. We didn't have that much in common anymore, and Leland, while not the most perceptive person I've ever met, instinctively sensed that Jeff had been more than a friend to Krista and sort of hated him for it. For her part, Krista seemed not to recall any of her past -- it reminded me of that terrible movie where Goldie Hawn plays a rich woman who suffers from amnesia and a guy who works for her tells her she's really his wife and convinces her to take care of his children and clean his house. When Jeff asked for a beer and Krista mumbled something about not drinking anymore, we made a quick escape.
After a few awkward minutes pass, Krista sees us and walks over to our table.
"Look at you two. So sophisticated." We're both overdressed for the casual buffet that rehearsal dinner turned out to be. Most people are wearing jeans and sweaters, some with reindeers, snowflakes. I loathe decorated sweaters. They seem inherently sad, the province of children and old people.
"So how's the bride?" Jeff asks.
"Fat. I've been doing nothing but eating at these showers and dinners. Tell me I haven't gained any weight. Please."
"You're positively beautiful. Bony, I would say." He pokes her in the side. "You could stand to put on a few pounds."
She does look quite beautiful with her curly red hair and porcelain complexion. She's one of those short, extremely voluptuous women who make me feel like some sort of deranged praying mantis. Jeff claims she's one of the few hedonists he knows. I don't know if that's true, but she is one of the very few women with whom he's slept who still speaks to him. I give her credit. Jeff does not end things well.
"Do you guys have everything you need? Are you mixing?" Krista asks, picking a piece of lint off her black velvet pantsuit.
"Go gorgeous. Do the bride thing."
"Thanks for keeping this one company," she says.
"He's nothing but trouble."
"I know," she says in a way that means she most certainly does.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The sun doesn't forgive/ It looks and keeps going." Margaret Atwood
Drinking music suggestion: Discipline Janet Jackson
Benedictions and Maledictions