Posted on 2012-07-24
"I thought that you'd want to choose the flowers."
Lizzy stopped sawing at her steak for a moment and gave him the stinkeye. "And why would you think that?" She popped the piece of steak in her mouth and chewed it vigorously.
"Well, you're the woman." As soon as the words came out of his mouth, he knew they were a big, big mistake.
She swallowed and gesticulated, knife in one hand and fork in the other. He had urged her to order the steak, but now he wasn't sure that had been a good idea. "William, do you know me at all? Have we met? I don't give a flying fig about flowers." Her hands stilled and she smiled sweetly. "Hey, that's some nice alliteration--I don't give a flying fig about flowers." She put the last piece of steak in her mouth. "Mmm, like butter."
To buy some time, he took a gulp of the wine that until just a moment ago he had thought was pretty good. He swallowed and cleared his throat. "I didn't …I just thought that, like most women, you might have some…um…ideas about what you wanted the wedding to be like."
"Wait a minute. I'm not like most women. That's what you love about me, or at least that's what you always say. Do I
seriously strike you as the kind of woman who has been dreaming of a white wedding and a big poofy dress her whole life?" She waved her fork around at her fleece and cargo shorts like a magic wand. Maybe next time he would suggest soup if she asked for his opinion about the menu.
"OK, no, you don't, but..."
"Look, I love you, you know that. I'd marry you tomorrow. Actually, I'd marry you today. We could take a taxi down to City Hall right now. Let's go." She put down her utensils, stood up and started to look for the waiter.
He didn't move. "I'm pretty sure that City Hall is closed at 8 o'clock at night. And anyway, don't you think…wouldn't you want your family to be there?"
"Um, would you want my family to be there?" she asked incredulously, sitting back down. "Don't answer that."
"Look, I just think it might be nice to have some flowers, don't you?"
"I told you, I don't give a damn about flowers. What is this all about?"
She looked at him curiously as he shifted a little uncomfortably in his seat. She tried to get a better look at his face in the dim light of the restaurant. "And…? What else? What is it that you really want, Will? You've never been interested in flowers before."
He looked at the little metal vase of pink, purple, and blue wildflowers sitting on the edge of the table, farthest away from where he and Lizzy sat side-by-side on the corner. The flowers looked delicate, but he knew from experience that they could grow just about anywhere, in any conditions. Something about the darker blue ones kind of reminded him of Lizzy's eyes, or at least Lizzy's eyes when they weren't a little ticked off like right now.
"Well, flowers smell nice. And they look…pretty. And, it would be nice to have our families there, and close friends, too, of course." He was really warming up. "And business associates, and...some of my parents' old friends. Maybe some college and law school classmates, too. I'm sure you have a lot of friends you'd like to invite, too."
"Uh huh. And where would you like to do this?"
"Maybe in the garden at Pemberley. And do you remember that Japanese-French fusion restaurant where we had that demi-cuit lobster sashimi? That was great. Maybe they could cater it. We could have a string quartet, and also a swing band for after dinner." He was excited now.
"Oho! William Darcy, you have a dream. How sweet!" She tilted her head to look up at him and petted his gesturing arm.
"Yeah, I guess so. I guess I do have some ideas." He put his arm down and looked down at his hand laid on the table.
She waited for more. He always looked down when there was more.
"What?" she asked.
"Well, I have these ideas, but I don't know how to make it happen. That's why I need you to pick out the flowers. And the other stuff."
"Excuse me?" she goggled at him. "Do you see what you did there? You've just single-handedly decided we are going to have a 300-guest wedding and said 'take it away, sweetheart.' Were you not listening to what I said before? This is your fantasy, not mine."
"Why are you so against it?" He was getting really frustrated now. What did she have against flowers, anyway? How could anybody not like flowers?
She sighed. "It's because I lived through the hell leading up to Jane and Charlie's wedding. There are five million decisions to make about the color of this and the shape of that and the number of these, and I don't give a damn about a single one of them. It's not who I am, what I am all about. I think flowers are nice--it's this 'have a perfect wedding or you're not a real woman' garbage that I can't stand."
"OK, so…we'll get a wedding planner to deal with all that stuff."
"Jane and Charlie had a wedding planner. Someone still has to make all those stupid, stupid decisions. I'm telling you, I will not be sucked into the black hole that is the Wedding Industrial Complex."*
He knew that tone of voice. She really was not going to be sucked into the black hole that is the Wedding Industrial Complex. He felt suddenly bereft. "I just…I want to see you walking down the aisle, and flowers everywhere…" he said trailing off wistfully, looking at their hands, almost touching on the table.
"I…" She counted backwards from ten and took a deep breath. "Will, this seems really important to you. Clearly you have been thinking about this for a while. But it's your dream. You can't just ask me to do it for you. I would hate it. I would make your life miserable if I had to do it. And anyway, I couldn't make it turn out the way you want it."
They sat in silence for a moment. He took her hand. "So… what are you suggesting? That I should plan our wedding? I don't know the first thing about centerpieces or any of that stuff."
"And you think I do?" He could tell she was starting to get worked up again.
Plus, she was right. He thought back to what her old apartment had been like, before she had moved into his place. It
was…spartan. The only decoration in her living room had been a framed photo she'd taken on a trek in the Himalayas. It had fallen when she slammed the front door during an argument, and so the frame was all wonky and hung crooked. And since she didn't give a damn about flowers, what exactly would she come up with if he did leave it to her? Pine cones spray-painted white, or, worse, daisies? No, there would be no daisies at his wedding. Roses. Freesias, maybe. Possibly there were some other great flowers he didn't even know about yet.
"Um, OK, I see your point."
She reached out and touched the wildflowers. "They really are pretty, Will. I just can't do that stuff." She scrunched
up her nose and for a second he thought she might cry. She never cried.
"I know." He touched a flower petal, too, and let his finger run down hers. "It's my thing, I'll take care of it." He looked right at her and leaned over to give her a quick kiss. She kissed him back harder than he expected. He rested his forehead on hers for a quiet moment. Then the moment was over. She sat up straight again.
"How about this, babe. I'll text Jane and get you her wedding planner's number. You can give her a call. She'll help you work it all out, help you unleash your inner bridegroom. Groomzilla. William's Dream Wedding." She snickered and punched his shoulder. "Now let's get some dessert. That chocolate volcano cake they're eating"--she pointed at the
table next to them--"looks really good."
And that was how, much to his surprise, William Darcy ended up totally and completely in charge of planning his
wedding to Elizabeth Bennet.
He went through two wedding planners fast. The first one, Jane's planner, Sylvia, offered him only French country frou-frou and seemed obsessed with ornate table settings and tiny net bags of white Jordan almonds. No. This would not do. Sleeker, more modern, that was the thing. Sylvia recommended he try Franz. Franz reminded him too much of the guys from Sprockets, and he stopped the interview cold when Franz told him he worked exclusively in black orchids and calla lilies. As if.
Finally someone in the office suggested Isabella, who had a reputation for being really good with flowers. Her website photos were closer to what he envisioned, the images that danced in his head at night when he was curled up around Lizzy. Anemones opening. Rosebuds unfurling. Hyacinths blooming.
He met Isabella at her house, a brownstone on East 75th. She let him into the entryway and asked, "Where's your bride?"
"Oh, she had, uh, a work thing she couldn't get out of."
"Aha. Do you want to meet another day? Can't do much without the bride, can we, dear?" She winked at him.
"Oh, no, we can go ahead. Actually, she's, um…well, I guess I'll probably be picking out the flowers and stuff,
Isabella's eyebrows hit her hairline. He could almost hear the collision.
He followed her into her living room, which was jammed full of every white bridal gizmo in the whole world. When he sat down at the little table covered in a white tablecloth embroidered with hearts, his knees came up to his ears. He couldn't get his index finger through the handle on the dainty teacup, so he had to hold it with his whole hand. It burned his palm.
Later that night, he lay in bed next to Lizzy fretting, staring at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep.
She snuggled up against his side and stroked his chest through his t-shirt. "What's wrong, sweetheart?"
She smirked. "I wish I could have been there to see your face when she handed you the 'Queen for a Day' gift bag at the end."
"Yeah, I had to go lift weights and do some manly stuff for a while after that to get that picture out of my head."
He thought about it for a while, stroking the soft skin at her waist. It felt velvety soft under his rough fingertips, like a tulip petal.
"You know, she's OK, but she's just not getting my vision."
She laughed. "Yeah, probably not. Especially when you can't say exactly what it is. "
"Yeah, OK…" He was miffed now.
"What do you have going on in there?" she said, tapping his temple.
His head was full of blooms, delicate purple irises with their speckled throats opened wide, and pink lilies throwing their soft petals out like arms to welcome him into their embrace, and full, round, luscious peonies.
"Oh, I don't know."
"Well, you let me know when you figure it all out." She kissed him on the lips, a sweet, soft kiss, and for a moment he thought he did have it all figured out, but then it slipped away. She rolled over and spooned up against his belly. He put his hand under her t-shirt and cupped her the way he always did to go to sleep. He dreamed of ranunculus and dahlias.
The next day, Darcy broke up with Isabella over coffee. He said, "Isabella, I don't think this is going to work out between us. We're just not on the same page here. It's not you, it's me."
Isabella wasn't offended. "You're right, dear. Let me put you in touch with my friend Steve. He has a lot of experience working with grooms. But, he's awfully busy--he's just been swamped since the--what's it called?--marriage something act?"
That evening after work, he and Lizzy headed to a gigantic rock-climbing wall at a gym down in an old Chelsea warehouse. He watched her shoot right up to the top, her dark purple shirt and the green climbing ropes making him think of clematis winding its way up a trellis. He wondered if he could get clematis at this time of year.
Later, Lizzy was ribbing him about a particularly epic failure he'd had on the wall as they walked through the door of the apartment, still a little sweaty. She dumped her gym bag on the floor and looked up at him in that off-kilter way she had, and he thought his heart would stop.
She seemed to be feeling it, too, because all of a sudden she jumped him, and he staggered, holding her tight, down the hall to the bedroom where they made athletic love for half the night. The other half of the night, he dreamed of dewy, glittering, coral-colored orchids undulating in a humid tropical breeze. He woke up briefly, breathing hard, just as the sun was rising. From the bedside table he grabbed a pen and the small notebook where he'd been jotting down his wedding ideas. In huge block letters, he wrote NO PINK ORCHIDS with a big black slash underneath. Then he fell back asleep by picturing dogwood petals falling, one by one, to the ground.
A few days later, Darcy met with Steve at a café downtown. Darcy loped in with his binder under his arm and plonked it down on the table next to Steve's. Darcy's was jammed with scribbles and ideas and pictures of things he liked from magazines, and Steve's with photos from his recent jobs.
After he sat down, Darcy cleared his throat. "Um, I don't know how much Isabella told you about me and my fiancée. I mean, I know that our case is a little unconventional, and, uh, outside your business model. Are you willing to take on a couple...like us?"
Steve smiled wryly at him. "Are you asking whether I would have trouble planning a wedding for a straight couple?"
"Not at all. I'm very open-minded. Two brides, two grooms, a bride and a groom, six parents of the groom, four best men, three kids, a dog, whatever you want to throw at me is fine. This is just how families are today, you know, all different shapes and sizes."
The knots in Darcy's stomach relaxed a little bit.
Steve paused. "Actually, hold on a minute. You're not thinking about some kind of, I don't know, hockey theme, or bucking broncos, or some macho thing, are you?"
"God, no." Darcy paused. "Well, I do have some pretty strong opinions about what I want. But I don't know, um, exactly how to say what that is. Is that OK with you?"
"William, on a daily basis I deal with alpha male couples who can't agree on color schemes, and I get them to 'yes' eventually. I think I can handle it."
"OK. Well, here's what I'm thinking, sort of." He pointed to a magazine clipping in his binder. "But more. I want…a flower explosion."
"A flower explosion! Wow, that's a great concept. Hmmm. Let's take a look here at some of my other weddings…."
Darcy liked Steve. He kind of reminded him of Lizzy, but stubblier.
Darcy was very pleased, maybe even a little smug, about how it turned out in the end. Steve and his staff actually did everything, so Darcy wasn't too stressed out, and he even found time to head to the spa the day before the wedding with Richard and Charlie. He got a manicure. He sort of liked it, so he thought maybe he might do it again sometime if Lizzy didn't give him a hard time about it.
While he stood on the lawn under the bower of exploding flowers, he heard Lizzy's mother in the front row whispering fast and loud about the décor to her sister.
"Well, yes, the flowers are nice, but a little masculine, don't you think? Too much color. A wedding really needs some big bows, or some garlands, maybe, to make a girl feel like a princess. Don't you think it would be nice to have some of those big ribbon and lace treatments here at the end of the aisle? And some white doves! I love doves." She went on, but he stopped listening. It didn't matter. Everything was just the way he had dreamed it would be.
It turned out to be Lizzy's dream wedding, too. All she had to do was show up at the appointed hour wearing the sleek dress Jane had picked out for her during their one afternoon of shopping. Holding a small bouquet of wildflowers, she walked down the aisle with her father toward her handsome groom, who was grinning at her like a maniac, surrounded by lilies and roses, hydrangea and freesias, anemones and lilacs and purple orchids and tulips and ranunculus.
Later they headed to the dance floor set out under a tent on the lawn, and right there in front of everyone she gave him a big, passionate kiss, her lips opening under his like a rosebud blooming, soft, velvety, and sweet. He held her close, gently, to make sure that he didn't crush any petals or break any stems.
She broke away and looked up into his misty eyes. "It's a fantastic party. Great flowers, babe."
"Yeah...they are." He pulled her close and hoped he could get his hands on those peonies again soon.The End