Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 62byrpsuch©
"You're doing it," Sandy said.
I was lapsing into my Katherine Hepburn voice again. It was getting easier as the evening progressed.
I used to handle these things effortlessly. I was playing a role and it was just another acting gig. Collect information from the other participants which I could use when appropriate.
Tonight I was in a leading role and I hadn't taken the time to prepare for it.
The shower was being given by a gaggle of women somehow associated with my father or mother or his business interests. I didn't know them and could barely remember their names. Sandy was helping me, feeding me names as women came up to me, like a brilliant aide to an unctuous politician.
The irony was: this was a skill I would need to master to succeed in my hoped-for business. It was bad business not to "remember" who somebody was or who they were related to or what they did or what they espoused. I didn't have to agree, but it was essential that I remember.
There was another amusing irony. There was one politician whose skills in these areas were legendary and those skills were an important part of what made him so charismatic: William Jefferson Clinton. Jeff wasn't named for him, but nobody could keep a straight face when they heard William Jefferson Goldberg for the first time.
Sandy was ostensibly taking down names and gifts associated with them so I could write thank-you notes. I couldn't begin to imagine how long that would take. She was also taking down information about the people so I could play my role more effectively.
I had a spare moment to unwind, but I couldn't manage it.
"Sandy, let me ask you a philosophical question."
She had a curious yet amused look. She was really getting to know the new me.
"What does one do with twenty-seven water pitchers, the least expensive of which costs about the same as a laptop computer?"
She almost broke into a snort, but it wasn't at my question.
"Whatever one wants."
I followed that with a snort laugh.
"Not all that helpful," I said.
"I don't have any experience with that."
"I caught the tail end of that," said Jen. "Didn't you have a registry? How do you get twenty-seven water pitchers?"
"Well, that may not be the exact count, but twenty-seven captures the essence of the situation. And the way you get that many pitchers is you fill out your registry on the assumption that no more than three hundred fifty people will be coming to your wedding; not the entire village."
"Even if you could return twenty-two or twenty-three, which ones do you keep?" asked Jen. "You need to have the pitchers you got from people who may come over your house. How do you explain you returned their lovely gift because you ran out of attic space to store it against the possibility they might visit?
"And do you have any idea how long it would take to return twenty-some pitchers?"
"Now there's an entrepreneurial opportunity," I joked. "Start a firm that returns shower, wedding and baby gifts for people so inundated it's beyond their capacity to do it themselves."
"Is that a hint?" asked Jen.
"No, she says she's not even close to considering children," said Sandy.
"That's going to be an entertaining conversation with Jeff," said Sunny who had just joined us.
"I'm glad you're all having fun with this," I said. "Does anybody else want to weigh in on this?"
That was when I saw my mother walking my way. My entourage followed my gaze and started to giggle.
Sandy said, "That's why I try never to say it can't get any worse."
"I didn't say that."
"But you were thinking it."
"How did you become so wise all of a sudden?" I asked.
"If you hang around my family enough something's bound to rub off."
"Ashley, I have someone I'd like you to meet," said my mother.
Sandy followed us so she could continue to take notes.
"This sucks," I said quietly to Sandy.
"Mrs. Fine, could I have just a minute with Ashley?" she asked.
"Just a minute," my mother answered.
"What!?" I said to Sandy.
"Do something about it," she said quietly.
"What am I supposed to do?"
"I don't know. But then, I'm not Ashley Fine. If I were, the whole thing would be handled by now."
That arrogant, presumptuous… young lady was spot on. Whoever I was now, the Ashley Fine I used to be would have decided what she wanted and made it happen.
"Come Grasshopper, we have work to do." I learned it from Jeff. I figured if he knew, she would also. She didn't question it.
Jen had a more normal upbringing than I did, but that wasn't saying much. Sandy was on my side, but she was so seriously lacking in experience she couldn't possibly have the judgment to help.
Sunny was my best choice.
On the surface it was an odd choice. She had grown up as a hippie. She had matured as an academic. In her personal life she didn't appear to make decisions about how much to compromise. She felt no need to play by social rules. She would tell you how she felt and explain why it was okay. She showed no disapproval of your way or think any less of you for it. It was just how she was and she was sorry to make it difficult for you.
She had to play those games in her career so she not only had that experience, but understood the rules. Despite removing herself from those situations as much as she could, she seemed to have a good understanding of how to navigate them.
It wasn't like I had a large group of people to choose from, but I would probably get good advice from Sunny. I took her aside as the shower was winding down.
"I'm not sure what I want or how I feel. I am sure about some of the things I don't want. I'd like some help figuring out what I want and how to get it."
"If that's all you're asking it shouldn't be a problem," said Sunny.
I spent a fraction of a second deciding whether she was serious. She wasn't.
I told Sunny about my meeting with Dr. Lloyd so she would understand I was willing to take a practical approach when appropriate. Beyond that she realized I had little more experience than Jeff.
"I'm really bothered that everything is being arranged without any consideration for what I want or would like. Most girls spend a lot of time planning and trying to make everything perfect for their wedding. I don't feel I'm getting so much as to pick one from column A and two from column B. It's like it isn't even about me.
"I talk with my mother about it, but it's like she doesn't even hear me. All she knows how to do is carry out my father's instructions.
"I understand the concept of inviting friends of the family and some key business associates, but this is so heavily tilted towards business I don't think the IRS would have a second thought about my dad deducting the entire thing.
"I wanted a wedding; not a convention."
"Why don't you express your feelings to your mother?"
"I have. She doesn't listen to me."
"You've weighed in on specific items. You've told her what you would like about this and that. You haven't told her how you feel about this situation and that you want to have a say, have you?"
"Any time I've ever said anything like that to either one of them they know best. They just tell me how to feel and what I should, no, must do."
"Joanne and I have been having regular discussions and I think she's starting to change her thinking. She was really impressed when I explained how Jeff took control over the head nurse and Louis' doctor. And she was amazed that a part-time employee had the influence to call his CEO and get things done.
"She's been talking about standing up to your father on some of the wedding plans. The problem is she doesn't know which things are most important to you. She's afraid to bring it up with you because you two haven't been very close. She's worried if it doesn't go right she might lose you forever."
"I never imagined." I could scarcely believe it. Did my mother actually love me?
"I can set up a meeting between the two of you and I could mediate if it would be helpful."
I started to laugh.
"You can do it on your own. I don't have to be involved," said Sunny.
"It isn't that. It sounds almost like you're setting up a negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians and, of course, there has to be a mediator. As ridiculous as it sounds I'm not sure that's too far off."
"When you figure out what you need, I can set up a secret meeting over a weekend. I'm sure we can keep it hidden from the press while we iron out the key details," Sunny said. "Who knows, I might even be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize if I can pull this off."
Sunny thought she was joking. I wasn't so sure.