A good Catholic wedding always comes with a generous gap between the wedding mass and the formal reception — one that can be filled with — oh, any number of things that come in a glass or a bottle. And sure as the Pope wears red shoes — there’s no shortage of cheap talk to go with whatever you’re havin’.
“I’ll tell you,” she says, “some women can be a little aggressive —”
“What are you talking about mom?”
“Well, I’m talking to this woman last night when she motions across the bar at your dad and says, ‘wow, is he good looking — I wonder who he is’ —”
“Oh this is gonna be good,” I think, leaning in with an interested “yeah — soooo?”—
“Well, it’s not like it’s never happened before, but really —”
“Yeah — so?”
“So, I told’er—
“He’s mine — and —
“You’re not gettin’ him!”
Well — ok then.
This is a side of my mother I’ve not seen before. I mean, you’d think 50 years of marriage might entitle a woman to some sort of competitive “immunity” — but —
It appears the stakes are even higher in the over 70 crowd.
Of course! The competition fueled by male mortality rates alone is reason enough for a razor sharp manicure —
But a 72-year-old woman — one without a gym and surgery habit — and a “good looking husband” of 50 years —
Now that’s advanced play.
This I gotta see!
Fast forward three hours or so to the Chicago History Museum and the dinner dance when I’m introduced to a nice group of women. One of them suddenly makes a connection and belts out —
“Your father is very good looking — I mean, he is soooo —”
“Please don’t say ‘hot’,” I say to myself and smile a polite but suspicious little smile.
“Does he have any single friends that — you know — look like him?”
Ooooooh—-I’m feeling protective now and begin nervously scanning the room to locate my mother. It’s just that — well —
This is suddenly becoming very personal and although I’d put my money on my mom in any race any day — this is no longer —
Just 15 minutes ago she had half the family tree turning the dining room inside out looking for her missing purse —
The one she left back in her hotel room.
And she knows she’s forgetting more and more. And she’s starting to doubt herself — question her worth —
And in the process —
Her humorous edge — and biting wit — have dropped a few notches.
I’m trying not to think about what happens when coyotes (her name for older single women) smell blood, when I remember —
My dad and —
And at that moment, my eyes find my mother out on the dance floor struttin’ her stuff. My dad seated in a chair with a clear line of sight. Watching her. Then in an instant she stops dead. Takes the Tina Fey shot gun pose. Aims. Makes eye contact with my dad and finishes it off with a come hither that gets him on his feet. He takes her in his arms and —
His 6′ 4″ frame towering above her five-foot-four-inches of — confidence she will never forget.
And I make a point that night not to forget it myself —
As she stands on her toes and tips her head back so he can lean down to give her the kiss that shows everyone —
They meant it when they said til death do us part. How rare. How refreshing. Inspiring.