Tyrone’s wedding day- a day we did not believe would ever happen. Tyrone was a six-foot four, 400-pound black man who looked like Buddha and though in fact a devout Buddhist, still managed to intimidate a lot of people by the sheer mass of his presence. But those of us who called him friend knew his gentle personality made him more suited to wear a pink tutu than a studded motorcycle jacket.
His ‘Best Man’ Jenny described his bride Mary as “a potato with red hair”. Mary was about five feet tall and white but only her family thought that should matter. Despite the fact that Tyrone treated them with respect and provided for Mary, he was black and in their mind that meant she could do better. In our mind, he was too good for her.
Not only was he running late that morning but when we asked him about his boutonniere, he stared at us with a blank expression.
“Well, does she at least have a bouquet? No flowers? For Christ’s sake!” I said.
We sped to the local Jewel grocery store in my teal-blue Geo Metro, affectionately christened ‘Gimpy’. Its manual transmission meant that I had to drive though Jenny would have been the more capable one in Chicago traffic. She sat next to me in the front passenger seat. Tyrone filled the back seat, nervous and singing, ‘Hold on (I’m coming)’ by Sam and Dave.
In the grocery store, we found the weak shouldered florist with the snotty attitude and asked for help. He did not have much interest in doing his job so Jenny took matters into her own hands, grabbing sprigs of this and that until she came up with a respectable bridal bouquet and carnation boutonniere. We left the house in such haste that none of us had eaten breakfast. The groom-to-be was too nervous to eat anything. We bought cherry turnovers layered with greasy shortening from the in-store bakery and bottles of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino.
We piled back into my small car, her struts complaining under the weight, and tore down the streets of Chicago toward city hall. My eyes were fixed on the road as I wove through traffic and smashed cherry turnover into my mouth. Jenny handed me a bottle of the cold sticky coffee drink. The chocolate always settles in the bottom of those jars so I instinctively shook it up. I did not realize she had already done this and removed the cap.
It was difficult to see through a windshield streaked with Mocha Frappuccino but we managed to arrive merely ten minutes late, find parking, run past the Picasso, and abruptly stop in the waiting room behind at least fifteen other wedding parties.
Some were dressed in full white bridal dresses and tuxedos. Some couples were elderly while others were quite pregnant. Still others teamed with children of previous relationships mixed together, playing, and smiling with joy and tension.
Tyrone wore his cowboy boots, dark blue jeans, leather vest, and tight bleach blonde afro. Mary wore dirty sneakers, brown stirrup pants, an overlarge beige blouse, and no makeup. Jenny and I were dressed in coffee colored rayon but we didn’t start out that way. When the happy couple finally said “I DO!”, Tyrone stooped over Mary like a man getting ready to change a flat tire.
They kissed gently. His smile was quiet and shy. His eyes were soft and distant. No matter what any of us in that room thought the future held for these strange bedfellows, in that moment he simply loved her and beheld her more precious than all other women.
-Copyright C.M. Mounts, March 2014