Then the Circus Ran Away And Joined Me

More than sixty years ago, political disagreements in Honduras often ended at the cemetary. One day, the famous Dr. Gonzalez was playing cards in a hotel and there was a political discussion where the debate included eight bullets. Dr. Gonzalez did not win the argument. His widow, the improbable-in-the-1920s other Dr. Gonzalez, died of a broken heart. Two little girls – princesses, really – were sent into exile in convent school in Guatemala City. Through a series of almost inexplicably weird investment failures, murders and untimely deaths during the passage of those sixty-plus years, we join our princesses in formalwear at the equally inexplicable wedding of Paulie Gonzalez’s sister Nicole to Jimmy, whose mother is from the Phillipines. And though no one speaks Spanish but the abuelas, all hell breaks loose every time someone says, “Tia! Tia!”

On Thursday, Paulie was working late when his cell phone rang.

Nicole: Are you here?
Paulie: Where?
Nicole: The rehearsal. You’re supposed to be here at the rehearsal!
Paulie: I forgot! I’m sorry!
Nicole: What’s that noise in the background? You’re in a bar, aren’t you?
Paulie: It’s a going-away party! For work!
Nicole: I’m gonna tell!

Ooooh! He’s gonna get it!

My Mechanical Nemesis has an unnerving new quirk. During the 1.2 mile drive to work last Tuesday, I shut off the radio to listen. A bell rang at a familiar interval. I knew I’d heard this sound before, but when? Why? As I parked my car, it dawned on me: that’s the car-on-door-open-seatbelt-off noise, for no reason I could determine. It happened again the next morning, and the next. In a fit of startling stupidity, I didn’t think to ask Paulie for a ride to the wedding. Nope. Yesterday, when I should have said, “I will ride with you and heckle the pre-wedding photos,” I said, “That’s okay, I’ll drive myself.” Then, when he called me every hour to report hilarious developments –

Paulie is dispatched to the rental place because Nicole is aggravated and the enormous groomsman from Pennsylvania is too gigantic for his vest. Behind the desk is an attractive young woman with impressive, undeniable cleavage. Paulie says, “I’m here to pick up a breast – VEST! I’m here to pick up a vest!”

– I didn’t come to my senses and ask if he could pick me up. too. He was so frantic by mid-afternoon he wasn’t really hearing a word I said, anyway.

Paulie: I’m trying to drive and put on my plastic shoes and talk to you.
Tata: Martini. Cigarettes. Scallops. Cravat.
Paulie: My tux has no collar!
Tata: If I get a ride down there, can you bring me back?
Paulie: What? Sure. These are the embarrassing tuxes they hide in the back and hope nobody finds.
Tata: So you’re saying Jimmy had a map. I’m excited that you think he can read.

Almost the moment he was unavailable it finally became obvious – even to me – that I didn’t have the greatest confidence My Mechanic Nemesis would complete the trip to Exit 8, so I did what any modern, mature woman would do: I called my mommy! This phone call was filled with the nervous laughter of the slighty hysterical.

Tata: I’ve called to ask an absurd question.
Mom: How absurd? Really absurd?
Tata: It’s so absurd I’m not sure I can ask it.
Mom: This is getting more and more absurd!
Tata: So I drive to work and my car starts ringing and because I’m a genius three days later I figure out the seatbelt noise has nothing to do with the seatbelt and maybe it’s the door-open noise but the door’s not open while I’m driving and I know this because even though my seatbelt is fastened I’m still not driving around dangling over the road yodelling “whooooooaaaaaaaaaa!” all the way to work every morning. Do you think I should drive on the Turnpike?
Mom: It is utterly absurd to ask me automotive advice.
Tata: Yes, but if I don’t I have to ask you to drive your car on the Turnpike.
Mom: What does Paulie say about this absurdity?
Tata: He’s discovered that his absurd tux has no collar so he’s not really listening when I talk.
Mom: I’ll skip the post office, the chiropractor, the hardware store and bump my dinner plans. Can you drive as far as my house?
Tata: I can. And when I get there I’ll be chanting, “Third Floor! Ladies’ lingerie!”

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