Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 76byrpsuch©
Jeff was always thinking. It wasn't limited to his work or the things he read. He was always analyzing something in his spare time like when he brushed his teeth or took a shower. There were so many times he would come out of the shower and say, "I just had an interesting idea." He used the word interesting because he didn't want characterize his thoughts as amazing. But often they were.
To my regret, I had not picked up the thinking habit.
He told me about his bachelor party with less detail than had been supplied by Jen.
"I still think your father had something to do with this. Those two clods couldn't come up with an original idea."
I waited for him to finish the thought with if their life depended on it, until I realized he had come up with an original way to express their ineptitude by not qualifying it.
"Would you just give it a rest, Jeff? All you've got are the vaguest suppositions about what might be going on. There is nothing even remotely concrete. If there is something there, we'll deal with it."
"I'll have to remember to tell the Boy Scouts their motto is bullshit. Why be prepared when you can just react and hope for the best?"
I later realized I was back to doing what Jen had yelled at me about and about which I had apologized to Jeff.
We did not communicate very well the next few days and it was my fault. If we could make it through Sunday afternoon we would be fine.
I'm not sure of the origin of the wedding rehearsal dinner. I'm pretty sure Jeff could give me the history, but I suspect I would want to scream before he got done.
We don't have a rehearsal. After that, we have the rehearsal dinner. I can't explain it; that's just how it is.
Jeff's parents invited all of his family, all of my family and everyone in the wedding party. Jeff said they should have invited a few armed guards. He thought he was being amusing. I did not.
Sunny told me what would be happening at the dinner and when I seemed confused, she explained.
"There are two main reasons to have the dinner and you can fashion it to accomplish either or both.
"There are guests coming in from out of town. They may not be familiar with the area. They may have no idea where to go or what to do while they are in town. One of the purposes of the dinner is to thank them for traveling to be with us. It also avoids the need for them to find someplace to go for dinner that night.
"Many of them are family. Some are friends. They probably have not met the other side of the family to be. This offers them the opportunity to meet under comfortable circumstances to get to know a little about each other.
"The second purpose of the dinner is to bring in the wedding party and acknowledge their contributions and relationships to the couple. Some of them may be from out of town as well.
"We decided to bring both groups together.
"We're having hors d'oeuvres to start so people will have a chance to mix and meet those they don't know. After that opportunity we'll have a buffet so people can choose with whom they would like to sit. That also makes it easier to sit at more than one table over the duration of the event so they can pursue those new relationships or simply visit with those with whom they are comfortable.
"That's why Louis and I decided to do it this way."
She also explained that, since the groom's parents hosted the event, typically the groom's father would offer a toast or say some words. The bride's father would have his opportunity at the wedding, at which her parents were the hosts. The bride or groom might respond at the dinner, but at the wedding were customarily limited to, "Thank you for coming."
"Is there a handbook?" I asked.
"Of course, there is. In fact, many places you might choose to host the event have their own handbooks," Sunny said.
The evening did not play out the way Sunny anticipated.
The dinner was held on Friday night instead of Saturday to give us some extra time to relax and prepare for the wedding.
The hors d'oeuvres and cocktails did give everyone the opportunity to mix and meet. Jeff's family went out of their way to try to establish some rapport with mine with not much success. It was as if my family knew they were better and didn't need to be bothered to get to know anybody else.
There were some exceptions, but it was like being back in high school with everybody divided up into cliques which could intersect only briefly when they met on some common ground.
My focus was moving away from being annoyed with Jeff to feeling sorry for myself to be related to these people.
My spirits were buoyed by getting to spend time with Hari and Sam and with Sunny and Louis. I enjoyed talking with Jen and Rich as well. I had been growing increasingly fond of Rich independent of how happy he made Jen.
But it was absolutely impossible to remain in a funk around the irrepressible Sandy. Her energy and enthusiasm could have powered the entire city of Philadelphia. She was just barely shy of giddy.
I talked with my family as well, but tried to get through it as quickly as I possible so I could remain cheerful.
Unsurprisingly, the food was good. Quite surprisingly, the atmosphere and the food combined to put almost everyone in a good mood, including my family.
I hadn't seen Sabrina, which was strange because she was not accustomed to letting her presence go unnoticed.
After the buffet started I found myself seated at a table with Jeff, Jen, Rich, Sandy and Barb, Barbie and Naomi from my twenty-first birthday intoxication party.
Cousins Tyler and Malcolm stood nearby almost salivating over the unattached women at our table.
"So, Rich, does this give you any ideas?" asked Jeff.
"Jeff!" I scolded.
Everybody else at the table just laughed.
"Yes, it does," said Rich.
He rose from his seat and got down on one knee. Jen's eyes bulged with shock.
"Jen, would you do me the honor of helping me figure out how to make these cocktail franks come out so perfect?"
The reaction at our table was enough to draw the attention of most of the room.
Jen smacked Rich's arm.
He pointed at Jeff and said, "It was his idea."
"I just innocently wondered aloud what would happen if …"
What was most important about this to me was that Jeff was playful. That meant we were no longer arguing or fighting or out of synch or whatever.
Later in the evening, Louis got up to speak.
"We want to thank you all for coming here tonight. It's a delight to look out and see so many happy faces. I'm guessing there is going to be a pretty sizeable bar tab.
"It is my understanding that spending this kind of money entitles me to bore you with a few words.
"Children can be a source of great pride and satisfaction. Children can also suck the life out of you and make you regret that you failed to use contraception. Jeff was a child that made you realize that loving him meant never having to say you were sorry."
As I looked around I wasn't the only one finding this strange, though I thought Louis was probably having fun with us.
"I remember his first parent-teacher conference in first grade. Miss Grant asked us who was the man behind the screen. She said there was no way a six year old could know that much or speak that way.
"That was a pattern throughout his school career. But what made us proudest was when a teacher told us how politely he corrected his or her errors. There was no ego to it; he just wanted to be helpful.
"Jeff has never gotten in trouble. That's not because he just followed rules blindly. Jeff was always willing to violate a rule when he worked out it didn't make sense.
"What I'm trying to say is that if I had been able to pick anyone in the world for a son, it would be Jeff.
"I've known many women in my life."
He hesitated and got a confused look and shook his head.
"No, that must have been somebody else." That drew pretty good laughter.
"But I have met enough to know that when Jeff brought Ashley home to meet us he continued his tradition of making stellar choices. I could not design a better daughter-in-law and friend to the whole family. She shows her love and generosity every time we see her.
"So I toast the continued happiness and my appreciation of Jeff and Ashley."
People were raising their glasses and joining in the toast.
"Especially Ashley," said Louis.
Then Sandy stood up to speak.
"Following our time-honored tradition, of either ignoring traditions we don't like or making up new ones we do like, in my official capacity as sister of the groom, I, too, would like to wish them both every happiness.
"Especially Ashley, in my official capacity of unofficial sister of the bride to be, who has treated me far better than any sibling I've ever heard of, except Jeff. They're quite a special pair." And she lifted her glass.
The evening was suffused with heartfelt expressions of affection and good will.
When people started to leave I was still floating.
When I left the room to go to the ladies room I saw Sabrina. She looked morose; almost in shock. I walked over to her and asked, "Where have you been?"
"I couldn't decide whether to come."
"You're kind of late," I said.
Neither of us said anything for a while.
"I have to tell you. I'm so ashamed. I finally decided you had to know."
She was reluctant to continue, so I asked, "Know what?"
"Monday, after dinner, when you were with the family I was upstairs. I flirted with Jeff, just like I did a bunch of times before; just playing around; nothing serious. But this time Jeff kept pressing, and I, well, I let him seduce me.
"I felt terrible afterwards, but, God, does he know what he's doing."
She wouldn't meet my eyes while she was telling me except when she raved about how good he was.
"I'm so sorry, Ashley. I'm so damn competitive I guess I let myself get carried away." She started to cry.
When she regained her composure she said, "I didn't know whether to tell you. I talked to your father last night and he said it was up to me, but he thought you needed to know before you made a big mistake. I finally got the courage to come here and tell you."
This was what I thought I would be getting into if I had settled for Pietro Cohen or Etienne Roth. Wasn't there any guy who could keep it in his pants?
Just then, my father came out into the hall headed towards the men's room. His casual demeanor changed when he saw me with Sabrina. He headed our way.
"I assume you've told her," he said to Sabrina.
"Ashley, I'm so sorry. I always had a bad feeling about that boy. That first time we met at our house I talked to him in study he strongly implied he could be bribed into find a way to end it with you for a substantial sum. He casually mentioned a million dollars.
"You may have heard us yelling through the door. I was incensed and threatened to tell you, but I didn't want you hurt so I didn't say anything. I'm sorry now that I didn't. I could have saved you a lot more pain if I had acted then."
He put his arms around me and uttered vague, reassuring phrases.
What do I do? Has this whole thing with Jeff been a lie? Has he kept this up, done all this to get close to my inheritance? I was nauseous.
All that talk of how wonderful I was, how it had always been there just waiting to come out was total bullshit. I would have been much better off maintaining my life of colorless contentment rather than building up my hopes for boundless happiness only to have them dashed so callously.
I saw Jeff heading our way looking oh so cool.
"Ashley, are you coming back in? People have been looking for you to say goodbye."
"You asshole! How could you do this to me? I can't believe I trusted you."
I had to hand it to him. He was turning into a consummate actor himself. He displayed a look of utter bewilderment.
He didn't look at Sabrina or my father, as if he had no idea what they had to do with this. He was so smooth.
"Aside from the fact that's a hell of a way to talk to me, what the hell are you talking about?"
"As if you didn't know."
"Don't you say a word to me, asshole!"
His facial expression changed to a level of anger I had never seen from him. It was frightening. He turned and headed for the exit.
"Where are you going?" I asked in an angry voice.
"Do you care?" he asked in a tone of voice that said he did not believe I did. Then he said, "I'm going somewhere to think. And don't you mean where are you going, and I quote, asshole?"
He turned and continued toward the door.
"Jeff," I said sharply.
He turned and walked out the door without looking back.