I am one of the fortunate ones in life to lay claim to a lifelong friend. Sherri and I have known each other literally, our entire time on this great earth. Our dads caused major havoc together in art classes and in Sunday school since they were seven. We have been sharing family vacations and holidays ever since we were infants. In my family filled with testosterone, Sherri was my source of “all that is girl.” She still nabs me poolside on spring break to complete the annual toenail painting of her non-primping friend. She serves this up with a side of “I have tweezers and I know how to use them!” and “How can you go so long without shaving?”
It was with great pleasure that I began the preparations for her couple’s bridal shower. I prayed that things would go smoothly especially since Sherri was marrying a wonderful man who, never the less, fell outside the proverbial “box.” Sherri is, as we women of height like to say, 5”12”, and Donnie is well, not. He is also a person of color. I knew my little family would welcome their new uncle with open arms, but would the rest of the world?
The big evening arrived. Crisp white linens (with all the stains strategically hidden with scattered rose petals) were draped over my card tables to cover the remnants of finger paint and glitter glue. I hung so many twinkle lights in the backyard that a small plane could make a landing. It may not have been a perfect “Martha Moment,” but things were looking pretty darn good.
My first indication that things would head south was with the arrival of the cake. The bakery tried, but did not succeed, in playing up the “shower” theme by putting what were to look like dainty rain drops made of sugar on the cake. Unfortunately, the affect made it look like dried contact lenses were sticking out of the frosting. Nan, Sherri’s Mom, who is always the voice of calm in a crisis of any proportion, dealt with the issue at hand. Meanwhile, Uncle Todd decided after one too many glasses of champagne, to darken the plastic groom that stood on top of the confectionary nightmare, with a black Sharpie to make things more believable.
It was then that my dear friend whispered in my ear ten minutes before the guests were to arrive, that her parents and the mother of her future husband had never met. I said calmly, “NEVER, AS IN NEVER?” and immediately joined Uncle Todd at the champagne table.
Guests and beautifully wrapped packages that put my crumpled, used gift bag to shame arrived. I barely had time to take a sip of bubbly, when a wind that could have blown Dorothy back to Oz began to sweep across my Martha-wanna-be backyard haven. We all worked together to bring what we could indoors before the lightning started its impressive display giving my twinkle lights some hefty competition.
Having 40 guests now crammed inside should have been the end of the unexpected, at least so I thought. Gram always said, “If you want to give God a good laugh, tell Him your plans!” Sure enough, a large flash in the sky followed by a thunderous boom, found us in the dark. In those brief moments my mind was racing. Even though somewhere, my deceased perfectionist Grandmother Scheib was shaking her head in disbelief, I realized that the evening was indeed PERFECT. Nothing like a little electrical storm to solidify in forty people’s minds what we already knew. Equality is an electrical outage away. We didn’t need a flashlight to see the immense love of two people who were meant to share one life.
Mary Helen Darah has been in marketing and development for nonprofit organizations for the past six years, but her greatest role is being a mom to three amazing and diverse young women. Mary Helen has an innate ability to find humor in her trials, and hopes her writing will give others comic relief and insight through the challenges of parenthood. Mary Helen can be reached c/o