I managed a groan and let my head hit the table. It seemed too much effort to hold it up, especially if we were going to rehash the events of yesterday. I supposed I could have said I minded, but when my mother has something on her mind, five phone messages are only the beginning.
The phone woke me the morning after my cousin Brenda’s wedding. I ignored the first five messages from my mother and a pointedly shrill message from my aunt, but when the phone rang yet again, I grabbed it just so my head wouldn’t explode.
I managed to mumble something like “Hi, Mom,” while I tried to decide if it was better or worse to not remember the evening. I had a pretty good idea what happened because Mom left that graphic series of messages on my answering machine. She started out with motherly concern, wanting to know if I felt quite all right, but then asked if I’d meant to yell at the band, kiss the groom’s father, argue with the caterers, and push Aunt Julia into the hors d’oeuvres while trying to catch the bouquet before being evicted from the wedding by Aunt Brenda. Not the Brenda who got married, not even the mother of the Brenda who got married, but actually the sister of Julia who landed in the hors d’oeuvres.
I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. Apparently I’d actually gotten drunk enough to bust up a wedding, not remember it, and still be standing the next morning–sort of. It wasn’t possible; it just wasn’t physically possible.
Aunt Julia’s message was more direct. She felt I owed her for the catering bill, the musicians’ bill, the florist’s bill, and an emergency room bill. Apparently I caught the bouquet and then destroyed it. Oh, and she was never speaking to me again. Aunt Julia, mother of Brenda-the-bride, was appalled, outraged, livid, and a few other adjectives she couldn’t bring herself to say and then did.
I wasn’t tracking very well. Champagne chasers will do that to you. So when my mother called again, all I could think to ask her was why my aunts weren’t more creative with names.
“I’m sorry, dear,” my mother said. “What was that again?” My mother looks like she sounds, dainty and sweet, like she’s ready to serve tea at a moment’s notice. She’s not dumb though, just deceptively childlike in a Miss Marple kind of way.
“Why did Aunt Brenda and Aunt Julia name their daughters after each other? It’s confusing. Nobody could think of other names? Katie, Katherine, Jennifer, Brittney?” I would have gone on grousing, but my head hurt, and the aspirin didn’t seem to be kicking in.
“Well, you’re named after me, dear.” Mom soothed as if talking to a small child, but at that moment, I didn’t mind. I was too tired and aching. “We’re both Megan O’Malley.”
“Well, that makes sense,” I mumbled, trying to get some coffee down. “You’re my mother. We’re supposed to have something in common.”
“Dear, do you mind talking about the wedding for just a minute? We really need to discuss this.”
I wasn’t convinced we needed to discuss anything, but since my memory was still cloudy, I was left scrambling for a reason why not. It would have been easier without the pounding headache or blurry vision. My stomach churned, and there was an acid taste in my mouth.
As if she could hear me protest, my mother started again. “I’m just concerned, dear. You don’t seem yourself.”
I pushed my head up off the kitchen table. “That was me, Mom. I go out and party all the time. I’m a fun gal. I like a good time.”
“Yes, dear, but not like that. You usually enjoy a party, not destroy it. Julia’s been on my phone all morning, complaining about your tearing up the decorations and the food and I don’t know what all. She says you deliberately pushed her to catch the bouquet?” My mother’s voice rose to a quizzical note.
“Hang on,” I protested. “I didn’t try to catch the bouquet.” I sat up straighter, if not exactly vertical, as a memory drifted up out of the morass of my mind.
“I didn’t push Aunt Julia. Aunt Julia grabbed my elbow and tried to march me out of the room like I was five!” The anger I’d felt surged through me again. Aunt Julia had smirked in pseudo-sympathy as she pinched the fleshy part of my arm and told her friends that I needed a breath of fresh air. “If anything, she fell when the damn thing came flying. I know I ducked!”
“Well, that makes more sense.” My mother sounded relieved. “I thought you were having fun with your friends. I didn’t think you cared about the wedding.”
“I don’t. I mean, I didn’t. It was Brenda’s wedding, not mine. Why would I care? I was just . . .” I stopped, wincing as I remembered a furious look on a handsome face. Oh God, I remembered the wedding now. I remembered sitting surrounded by the women I worked with, all of us laughing and carrying on, until I pinched the bandleader’s ass.