It was a simple task. Maybe it wasn’t really that simple since there was already a task in the queue. She would call them “errands.” She had no idea what he would call them.
The goal was a simple wedding, and, as far as weddings go it was. The time frame between “will you marry me” through “I do” was a week shy of three months. They conned a priest into marrying them in a church and selected the #2 readings with full mass. Honestly the only criteria for the service was to avoid the “submit to thy husband” reading. Any of the other Old or New Testament love readings would be fine. A box checked.
There was a maid of honor and a best man, no additional maids or bearers. She told the maid to pick out a dress that would be appropriate to the best man’s tuxedo. And any color. Except white. There were many compliments to the bride over the maid’s sartorial selection.
She bought her own dress off the rack from the fancier department store. It was left over from prom. She had a choice among four or five white or near white frocks. She was very happy with the one she bought. And it was on sale, too.
The reception would be in his huge group house where there had been many large parties with multiple keg runs. He had a roommate who had access to wholesale booze, and they found a caterer that would bring food and a cake and wouldn’t charge for the champagne flutes even though they were only pouring and not supplying the bubbles.
Her sole requirement for the catering was that they show up. She didn’t care what the food tasted like as long as it was there before the guests. When the caterer mentioned a bakery he worked with, she enthusiastically said “Yes!” even before he could sell her on the the airy, buttery cake with raspberries spread between the layers. Her only request was that the bride and groom at the top of the cake was a man and a woman. Done and done!
The week of the wedding was pretty busy. There was family and friends coming from across the country–at least one, and perhaps as many as six, said that they had to witness him say, “I do.” There was a house that they closed on two days before the wedding. And there were two separate households to move into the freshly mortgaged cottage.
He and his best man were heading off to pick up the three tuxedos, one for the father of the bride, too. This is where the simple task came in. She realized that there were no decent finger towels for the bathroom.
“When you guys are out, can you pick up some hand towels for the bathroom? Pink, please. And if they don’t have pink, white would be fine.”
The time to the rehearsal began to close in like the trash compactor in Star Wars. There were amazing wedding elves moving furniture about, sweeping and mopping, and artfully hanging these ridiculous white paper bells and twists of gray and pink crepe paper, but the list of things to do was still daunting. She was becoming overwhelmed. He knew. She didn’t know, so much.
She needed to get her clothes and check into the hotel, then change, then to the church for rehearsal, then the dinner, then back to the hotel. She kept going over her list around and around like that stupid zipper ride at the fair. The one where you go up one side and down the other in these cars that swing around and upside down and the people riding throw up. The elves checked in and she distributed more tasks.
The soon-to-be groom and his best man came back with the tuxedos. He handed her dad’s suit to her so she could bring it to the hotel. He wasn’t going to the hotel.
She looked at him.
“Did you forget the towels?” Her voice went sharp and a half octave higher from the strain of being calm. She was approaching the peak of the zipper ride.
“We got them. We didn’t know where to go so we went to the drugstore. They didn’t have many towels but we found these.” His brother showed a shopping bag. He pulled out four towels. They were more like kitchen towels, which would be okay, but they were not pink. They were orange.
She did not handle the color substitution well. Her disappointment was of volume. It was such that the women who would be her sisters-in-law the next day flanked her, grabbed her by the elbows and led her out of the house to work through her zipper list. She wasn’t sure, but it seemed that everyone who remained in the house was relieved when the squad removed the ticking bomb.
Anyway, The Spouse brought up those orange towels today. “Well at least it’s not as bad as when I got those pink towels!” (Yes, he still clings to his improper claim that they were pink. I kept the evidence for about twelve years.)
Why bring it up? It’s been decades of errands and lists and stress and explosions and near misses since that day. I guess the towels are an expression of something the priest read at our supersized wedding:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
—1 Corinthians* 13:4-8
So when he reminded me of his abject towel failure, I asked him why with a crooked grin then a chuckle and then a belly laugh. Because I know exactly why he said it.
* for those keeping track at home, that’s pronounced First Corinthians.