It Takes Two or more to Tango

Sophie wasn’t having a wedding like her sister, Phyllis. Oh, no. 

Phyllis stood there in the family room offering to “help”. No way. She’d just take over. So Sophie shut her out. 

“What can you possibly have in common with me? You don’t even know me. And there’s no way I’m having a stiff, formal, snooty wedding like you had.  We aren’t even in the same generation. Da!”

Phyllis sat down on the sofa beside her sister. She glanced out the sliding glass doors to the garden and took a deep breath. 

“Sophie, dear, don’t you want your big sister helping you with some of these wedding decisions?”


“Oh, be reasonable. There’s a lot to having a wedding and you’re only 16. And eight years difference in our ages is not so far apart. You are marrying someone ten years older than you. Really, I’m right in the middle–don’t you see? I can help you. I want to help.” Phyllis reasoned.

“Leave Eddie out of this. He’s 26, so what? He’s nice to me. I’m moving into his place–our place and we’ll do cool things and I can quit school. And best of all, I won’t have to put up with this family anymore. It’s settled.”

“Sophie, there’s where you are wrong. Unlike you, Ed”

“Eddie,” Sophie corrected. 

“Um, unlike you, Eddie,”  Phyllis cleared her throat. “Eddie likes our family. He’s your brother’s best friend–well, used to be, until this marriage thing.” 

Phyllis paused and continued. “ Charles is upset but he’ll get over it and when he does, it will be as it’s always been. Ed, I mean Eddie, vacationing with us, holidays with us. And Father’s not giving up Ed’s” 

“Eddie,” Sophie scowled. 

“Um,  Eddie’s season ticket to the football games. He’s already part of the family–has been since we were in middle school. And so if you are marrying to escape the family, you’ve picked the wrong guy.” 

“No, you’re wrong. You’ll see. And if  Mom put you up to this, you can just go back and tell her that I’m doing things my way, and that’s that,” Sophie reached for her iPhone.

“No, Mother didn’t ask me to help. If fact, I don’t understand Mother and Father agreeing to let you marry in the first place. What are they thinking?”

“They are thinking that I have a mind of my own and know what I want. They are thinking that Eddie and I are perfect, I guess. Anyway, I’m doing this and doing it my way.” Sophie turned on her phone. 

“Well, if you are bound and determined to get married, Eddie is the best choice,” Phyllis sighed, thinking, but not saying, that Ed would be able to keep Sophie in line if anyone could. After all, hadn’t she, herself had a crush on Ed when they were teens–Ed the charmer, the polite one, always helpful? 

“Are you finished? Because  I’m busy, so can you leave?” Sophie flicked through some screens on her phone–the conversation was over.  

Sophie was not having the white brides dress, no way. Black was her favorite color and it would show off her tattoos, a spider weaving a web–on her left shoulder. The web extended across her back to her right shoulder, where a fly was entrapped in one of the spider’s silk threads. Both tattoos were a secret from her parents. They would be unveiled at the wedding ceremony–ha! 

The bridesmaids were her Besties, Ashley, and Jessica. And they could wear anything they liked. Too bad her friend, Tyler wasn’t speaking to her. He would have totally been her man-of-honor.  

Thinking of Tyler, she sent him a quick text,  “Call me.” 

He didn’t. 

In the end, the wedding ceremony and reception were at the country club. The barn that Jessica suggested wasn’t available. The farmer didn’t have an alternate place for the livestock. And the country band, Ashley suggested, (She’d just seen A Star is Born) lost their lead singer who was temporarily in jail for a DWI. No one was hurt in the crash.

There were flowers, all black as per Sophie’s instructions: tulips queen of night, black bacara roses and calla lilies black star. But the chef at the country club refused most of Sophie’s requests: pigs in a blanket,  bagel bites, mac-n-cheese and came up with substitutions which only slightly resembled the suggested and highly offensive foods.  

“Oh, whatever,” Sophie had caved in. It was either give in or postpone the wedding until a barn could be leased and a caterer secured, who would be willing to risk their reputation. The family was not unknown in social circles, after all, and there would be press.

In the end, the champagne, linens and even the black flowers gave the hall an acceptable wedding look. The only thing that looked out of place was the bride in her black leather gown, gothic makeup and her bridesmaids–dressed in short bubble-skirts and sneakers. Eddie wore a tuxedo, as did Charles, his best man. 

After the ceremony and a photo session, Phyllis followed Charles into the banquet hall. Charles pointed to the dance floor. “Phyllis, what’s that machine next to the dance floor?’ 

“That’s a fog machine,” Phyllis explained. “Another one of Sophie’s demands. Look in the ceiling, why don’t you.” Phyllis tilted her head back and glanced up.

“So we’ll have strobe lights? That’ll give the old folks a stroke or something. Are you kidding?”  Charles scoffed.

“Let’s get a drink. I need some fortification. I can’t believe, Ed actually went through with this. I can’t forgive him for this,” Charles shook his head. 

“He has his reasons, I think. We should be thankful, actually. Sophie is headed for trouble. Maybe he can,” 

Charles interrupted, “What? Do what exactly.”

Phyllis reached for two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter’s tray. “Help her.”

“You know if I had a gun, I think I might have shot him right there at the ceremony when the officiant asked if anyone objected, to speak up now.”  Charles drained the glass and then reached in his pocket and drew out a flask only to discover it was empty. 

“You’ve drunk all that today?  It’s only 11 o’clock in the morning, Charles,” Phyllis frowned.

“Like I said, I need the fortification.”  And with that, Charles dropped into a chair. He leaned forward, staring at the dance floor. “Why is Ed dancing with Mother?” 

Phyllis turned in her chair to look. “Oh, that. It’s customary that when the father dances with his daughter, the groom dances with his mother and since Ed is an orphan, Mother is stepping in.” 

“Will you look at him. He has the nerve to smile at Father while he’s dancing with our Mother” Charles fumed. 

“Look, Father is having trouble. He’s stepping on Sophie’s ridiculous train on that horrid dress.” Phyllis frowned and glanced over at Charles. 

“Charles, stop glaring at Ed. Someone will notice. Phyllis sat a glass of water in front of him.  “Here, drink this.”

“Water? I need a scotch–a double.”

“Wait until the dance is over. A waiter can bring you one.” 

“I can’t believe you didn’t talk Sophie out of this. You’re her big sister after all. Look at him now. Is he about to kiss Mother? I think he’s smelling her hair. He is. He’s touching her hair. I’m going to put a stop to this, right now.” 

“George, you sit down this instant or I’ll get someone to drag you out of here. You know I will–stop this immediately. And yes, I did try to speak to Sophie. She shut me out.  Besides, our sister’s a weird duck. Who gets married at 16 anyway?”

“Bastard, ” George grumbled. “He seduces our mother and then marries our baby sister. How do we even know that Sophie’s not his daughter? Maybe he’s the father. She looks like him.” 

“George, what are you talking about? No one has seduced anyone. Don’t even think such a thing. Ed just admires Mother, that’s all. You’re speculating.”

“Oh come on Phyllis, is more than speculation. He as much as told me so–mooning over Mother–the minute he laid eyes on her.”

“Well, he may have wanted to, George, but you don’t know that he succeeded. You need to think more of our Mother and her morals. Aw, here’s a waiter, we’ll get you a drink. God, I need one, too.”

~ ~ ~

A lady in purple crepe sat down beside Phyllis.  “Hello dear, it’s about time for this affair to wrap up, don’t you think? It’s getting on in the day.”

“Oh hello, Mrs. Larrimore. Yes, it seems this day will never end. The dancing has been going on for a while. 

“And why aren’t you dancing Phyllis. Where’s your dashing husband?

“I sent him outside with Charles. Charles needed some air.”  Phyllis took a sip of her drink.

“Your new brother-in-law has a way with words, don’t you think?” 

“Hmm? What do you mean?” Phyllis slurred her words a little and looked Mrs. Larrimore in the eye. 

“Charles seemed a little disconcerted today–not at all like himself. It’s probably big brother syndrome–letting go of little sister–and all that.”

“Hmm,  could be.” Phyllis drained her glass. 

“The groom came to Charles’ rescue during the toast. He had us all laughing, well, all except Charles who looked like he was about to burst.”

“Ed’s a poet, Mrs. Larrimore.”  She paused searching for words. “It’s easy for him. Women fall in love with him, his words actually. His looks, not so much.” 

“Oh, I think he’s charming–dark hair, a mysterious air about him. He favors your family actually–a little like Sophie, don’t you think?”

“Hmm, if you say so. I think I need another drink,” Phyllis waved at a waiter.

“Really Phyllis, maybe a soda water would be best this time around.”

“Excuse me, waiter, would you bring me a scotch, please. Straight up. Thank you.” 

“And a club soda, as well.  Don’t you think, Phyllis?” Mrs. Larrimore interjected.

“Sure, a club soda and a scotch—a double.” Phyllis smiled at the waiter.

“Aw, here’s the mother of the bride. Isn’t she just lovely? Almost as pretty as the bride.” Mrs. Larrimore rose from her chair.

“Ella, you look lovely. I was just telling Phyllis that you’re as pretty as the bride.”

“My goodness, your mother has so much energy. The groom too. He just whisked your mother away in a flash. Look, he’s quite the dancer, as is your mother. I wonder, where is the bride?”

“Who knows. She’s only 16. She probably off somewhere, texting her man-of-honor who didn’t show.”

“Well, Ed’s keeping the party going. Goodness, they’re doing the tango. They are terrific! I had lessons once but my husband’s not very good–you know–two left feet. Your mother, she is so striking. Oh, look. There’s Charles. What’s he doing? I’ve never seen anyone cut-in on a tango.” 

“Excuse me, Mrs. Larrimore. I’m needed on the dance floor.”

(c) Glenda Kotchish September 2019

Leave a Reply