My Life A Bit South of Normal

Monday, April 30, 2018

White Tulle, Pale Yellow Linen, and Beŕnerd's Creation

The activity at Ivy Lane was akin to a hive of bees. By the time Mike and Bunny arrived everything was in place. Bunny was truly amazed at what she and Mike found. The first thing they came to as they walked around the house was a lovely trellis that provided a gateway to the front lawn. Lavenia had decorated it with green ivy, fragrant yellow jasmine, and small light green hydrangea blooms.

Walking onto the front lawn they saw there were lights strung throughout each of the huge old oaks ready to cast a romantic glow after dusk. Scattered across the lawn were round tables, covered with pale yellow linen cloths, surrounded by chairs for the guests. Several food stations were positioned under various oaks trees serving everything from Bar-B-Que to chilled peel and eat shrimp to steam ship round to an array of fresh fruit and vegetables with various dips.

A full bar was set up at one end of the front porch. Ike and an additional bartender were preparing to serve the guests a wide variety of their favorite libations. At the other end of the porch, a band was setting up to entertain the guests. A wooden floor had been placed on the lawn in front of the porch for anyone who wanted to dance.

There was white tulle draped from the railing across the front porch secured with wide white ribbons. The serving stations also had tulle draped around them. Candelabras provided light on all the serving tables with dozens of votives on each dining table.

Lavenia had beautiful arrangements in 2 foot glass vases on each of the serving tables as well as low arrangements of white and deep yellow roses on each table where guests would be sitting. The scene was just perfect.

Bunny went to find Lavenia to thank her for her wonderful work. It was then that she saw the pes de la resistance. Sitting on a round table by itself was a wedding cake, the likes of which Bunny had never seen.  It was 5 tiers of cream, the pale palest pink, and gold fondant icing, rising about 4 feet above the tall cake stand it sat on. Each layer was decorated in a different color and elaborate design. There were 2 very large peonies, also made of fondant icing, on the top and side of the impressive patisserie. 

As Bunny stood there trying to take in this work of art, Lue Ellen walked up. "What do you think?"

"Oh, Lue Ellen, it's incredible. I had no idea this was what you were going to make. We only expected a 'regular' wedding cake.


Lue Ellen laughed, "I only wish I could take credit. I didn't make that."

"Who did?"

"That, my dear, is one of La Petit Maison de Délice famous wedding cakes. Beŕnerd himself made it. In fact he personally delivered it, of course with 3 other assistants, to set it up correctly according to his standards."

"Bernard?"

"No, Beŕnerd, from New Orleans."

"Oh," said Bunny, yet to take her eyes off the cake. "I've never heard of him."

"Well, let's just say you are looking at, most likely, a $5000 pastry creation."

"Is that real gold?"

Lue Ellen laughed, "Could be. Seriously Beŕnerd is an internationally known pastry chef whose specialty is wedding cakes."

"So I see, but how did it get here. Did you order it? or Kathleen? I know I didn't."

"Well, that's the thing, Dixie ordered it."

"Dixie, I thought she was not even aware of this reception until today."

"She wasn't. This was the cake she ordered as soon as Kathleen got engaged. This was for the grand wedding Dixie had planned."

"So she brought it?"

"No, not hardly. When Harrell learned that Kathleen and Jeb were having their reception here, he called Beŕnerd and told him the cake needed to be delivered here."

"Wow!" Then Bunny turned to look at Lou Ellen. "But you were going to make the cake."

"Harrell called me to tell me what was going on, so I did not make a second one."

"Oh, Lou Ellen, I'm sorry. Everyone was so looking forward to your cake."

"Well, I took the liberty of making a few cupcakes."

"Oh, bless you." Bunny thought, then commented, "Only a few?"

Lou Ellen blushed, "Well, 5 dozen."

"Thank you," Bunny said as she gave Lue Ellen a big hug.

Bunny excused herself and went in the house. It finally hit her, she was tired. Even though she only had 30 minutes or so before guests would arrive, she just wanted 10 minutes to sit and rest. She had just  kicked off her shoes and settled on the sofa in the living room when Bootsy came running into the room and jumped into her lap.

"Hey girl, you want believe what happened today." Bunny proceeded to explain to her toy poodle all about Mike's proposal and then the wedding, including a description of her wedding dress, meeting Pops, Mike's background that she knew nothing about, and everything else she could think of. "And, now we are going to have a big party right here." She stroked Bootsy's head. "I'll tell you all about it tonight."

Several minutes later, Bunny realized she needed to get up. She had no business in the house. No doubt there was some detail she needed to handled outside. Slipping on her shoes, she carefully put Bootsy on the floor. "I'll be back. Actually, we'll be back. Mike is going to live with us now. That's exciting, isn't it."

Bunny may have thought all those details mattered to Bootsy. Actually all the pup cared about was that there was something going on outside and she was going to have stay in the house. As Bunny walked toward the door Bootsy started whining. 

"Oh, Bootsy, you can't go. I'm sorry." But the pup continued whining. Bunny gave in. "OK, OK. But you need to be dressed up." Bunny went to the kitchen and pulled open a drawer. She pulled out a wide yellow ribbon. "Here we go. This is just what you need."

Bunny tied the ribbon around Bootsy's neck in a wide bow. When she was satisfied with the look, she walked out of the front door with Bootsy just a foot or so behind her. Ike spoke to Bootsy as they stepped on the porch. "Well, well, Miss Bootsy, you sure are dressed up."

Bunny laughed and made her way down the steps of the porch and around the lawn making last minute checks on everything, with Bootsy following her. Almost everyone acknowledged Bootsy and complimented her yellow bow. When Bunny got to the table with the vegetables on it, the young man serving, unlike every other server, was not wearing a chef's hat. The chief server, who was stationed with the steam ship round, was very upset. Bunny stepped in and assured the chief server that she thought it was OK.

That issue was just resolved when she heard Lue Ellen scream, "Help! Bunny! I need you over here."

Bunny could tell the sound was coming from the area by the wedding cake but she could not see Lue Ellen. She quickly made her way across the lawn. Thank goodness her mother had selected flats for her outfit, stilettos she would no doubt other wise be wearing, would have her stuck in the thick lawn. She reached the cake to find Lue Ellen crouched behind the table. 

"I don't know what to do."

"Are you hurt?" asked Bunny.

"No, but . . ." Lou Ellen turned around and revealed Bootsy, yellow bow and all - with her face covered in icing.

"What the hell?" Bunny looked up at the cake. A good part of the back of the bottom layer was missing. "How did she do that?"

"How doesn't matter how!"

"Well at least it is on the back."

"You take Bootsy and I'll cut the back off of the cake."

"Someone will see it, won't they?"

"I'll put something behind it."

"OK," Bunny picked up Bootsy, holding her arms length away to keep any of the icing that covered the pup's face from getting on her pink linen dress. As she made her way across the lawn, she hoped no one would see her. She was about to the front steps when she heard Kathleen call her name.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

This Might Work Out After All

Mike went and found Sheriff Quitman who was was entertaining a few folks with some of his wild tales. "Sheriff, I need you for a moment."

"Sure Mike." He turned to his small captive audience, "If you'll excuse me."

As soon as they were out of ear shot, the Sheriff asked, "What's up?"

"Tula is here."

"Tula Wells? Why would she show up here?"

"That I don't know, but she came over and upset Vivian. She also said some catty things to Haynes' date Colleen."

"You want me to arrest her? Here?"

"Why not? You've done it in worse places." Mike was serious. He added, "We can call the State Troopers to come do it. They can take her away, handle the paper work, and you can pick her up tomorrow."

"OK, it's your wedding. I'll call them right now."

Mike thanked him. He left to find Vivian to give her a heads up. The Sheriff called to him, Mike turned around. "And, Mike, congratulations. You 2 may a great couple."

Mike smiled,"Thanks Sheriff."

Mike returned to the group with champagne for everyone. Guests continued to come over and congratulate Bunny and him.

The wedding cake was a lovely 3 tier butter cream iced confection covered with fondant flowers and ribbon. Mike and Bunny cut the cake. Following that, Mike, Della, and Mike's Grandfather made some very humorous and sweet toasts.

It wasn't 10 minutes later, when 2 State Troopers walked onto the patio. The Sheriff was waiting for them. He pointed out Tula. The 2 troopers approached her. Tula was furious. But went with the officers quietly. She realized her only other option was handcuffs, a perp walk, and even more humiliation than she was experiencing as it was.

There was a murmur across the crowd. Thankfully, the Sheriff got everyones attention. "Folks, there is nothing here to cause any alarm. These officers just needed to speak with Ms. Latrelle. No need to interrupt Bunny and Mike's lovely affair." The Sheriff turned toward Mike and Bunny and raised his glass, "A toast to the wonderful couple." There was a round of "To Mike and Bunny" from the crowd. After that everyone seemed to return to what they were doing.

Mike walked over to Vivian to explain what had happened. She spoke first, "Certainly, you didn't have her arrested for being rude."

"No, not even we could do that."

"Too bad."

"There was an outstanding warrant for her arrest."

"I remember you telling me that earlier, but exactly for what?"

"Embezzlement, Transporting an adult against his will, and Elder abuse." 

"Really?" said Vivian shocked. "I didn't see that coming, even for her."

"We can discuss the details later. Meanwhile, let me give you a bit of advice. Don't let Tula make you feel guilty or convince you that you need to help her. She's not above using anyone."

"You don't have to worry about that Mike. There is no love loss there,"

Bunny walked up, "Honey, we need to get back to Ivy Lane and make sure everything is ready for Kathleen and Jeb.

Mike looked at his watch. "Yep, it's about that time. This has been so much fun I hate to leave."

"Oh, Mike I could stay all night, but . . ."

"I know." Mike took Bunny's hand. They went to find his Grandfather to tell him they would be leaving. They found Pops talking to Anna Belle on the far side of the terrace.

"Mr. Pace," said Bunny, with tears in her eyes,"this is the nicest wedding I have ever had."

Mike gave her a funny look. She caught herself. "I mean this was such a wonderful wedding. I could not have asked for more. Thank you so much. I'm so happy. I love Mike."

"Darling, it was great to finally meet you. However, from now on, I'm not Mr. Pace, I'm Pops to you, if that suits?"

"Oh, it does," said Bunny as she gave him a hug and a kiss. She turned and thanked her mother. "I'm so happy."

"Sweetheart, we need to go," said Mike.

Anna Belle smiled, "You 2 make a lovely couple. I'll see you at Ivy Lane."

Bunny stopped, "Mr., I mean Pops, please come to Ivy Lane this afternoon for another wedding reception."

Walter smiled, "I wouldn't miss it. Your mother and I were just discussing it."

Mike and Bunny made their into the Chateau to change. It never dawned on Bunny, until she walked into the Bride's room, that the only thing she had to change into were the clothes she arrived in. After spending hours in her elegant wedding gown, she just could not imagine putting those clothes back on, at least now. However, when she opened the door to the room, hanging on the armour was a lovely pink linen dress with leather flats to match. There was even a small matching purse.

Bunny was thrilled. As she started to change, Della and Vivian came in to help her. They all chatted about the wedding and the reception. They gossiped about some things they learned. Bunny thanked them again for all they did. Of course they would all be reunited in a matter of hours at Ivy Lane.

Bunny and Mike walked out of the front door of the Chateau to a crowd of guests waiting to send them off. Someone handed Bunny a bouquet of white roses as they made their way through the throng of well wishers. Mike and Bunny both waved as they made their way to car. It seemed like only minutes to Bunny that they had been driving up to the Chateau. And, now they were driving down the long drive from the Chateau back to the main road.

"Oh, Mike I love you so. What a wonderful wedding. How many girls get engaged, married, and host another wedding reception the same day."

"Only you Brunilda, only you." Mike laughed. "You realize I had everything planned long before Kathleen and Jeb set their date. And Kathleen asked you about having the reception at Ivy Lane before she knew about our wedding. She wanted to change her date and I told her I would never speak to her again if she did."

Bunny laughed. "I'm so glad you 2 worked it out. Although I tell you, I would have been a nervous wreck if I had known."

"That's one reason you didn't!"

"I love your Grandfather." She paused. "And, that's another thing, why didn't you tell me about your family?"

"You never asked?" Mike said with a wicked smile. "Seriously, there was no need to." Mike looked over at Bunny. "Would it have mattered?"

"Of course not."

"Do you think Kathleen would be upset if I wore my wedding dress this afternoon?"

"At her wedding reception?"

Disappointed, Bunny replied, "Well, when you put it that way, guess not. I just felt like a princess for once in my life."

Mike put his hand on her leg, "You'll always be my princess."

Bunny just smiled. 

"I love you Mrs. Pace."

"Mrs. Pace? Oh my God, I just got married. I have a new name!"

"Is that a problem?"

"No, I just hadn't thought of it in that way."

"And, what way had you thought of it? Remember saying 'I do'?"

Bunny looked at Mike,"Of course I remember that. It just all happened so fast in hasn't all sunk in. Do want to move into Ivy Lane? Do I need to change my name on my driver's license?"

Mike shook his head and laughed, "Yes and yes. And, we are also going on a honey moon. But first we need to enjoy Kathleen and Jeb's reception."

"Oh, Mike, I can't do that?"

"Enjoy the reception? I told you everything is taken care of."

"No, go on a honey moon."

Bewildered Mike just asked, "Why not?"

"I don't have enough vacation time."

"Bunny, I think Wade will give you time off for your honey moon. He thinks of you as his daughter. When I first told him about the wedding, the first thing he asked was if he could walk you down the aisle?"

"Really?"

"Yes, really."

Bunny was quiet for a while. Then she spoke. "Mike, this might all work out after all."

"You think?"

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Butttered Biscuit, Tula, and a Familiar Face

Walter, who was talking with 'Miss' Ella, Rayanne, Mercer and Iris, turned to see what the ruckus was. When he heard Dixie's pronouncement about the 'Mobile Elite', he just stood there. To no one in-particular, he asked, "Who are the 'Mobile Elite' she is speaking of?"

'Miss' Ella and Rayanne started giggling. Mercer spoke up, "You, ol' boy. Walter you are 'Mobile Elite'."

Before Walter could say anything, Ella put her hand on his arm. "Walter, it is a long story. And, Dixie Quinton has had quite enough to drink."

Kathleen stared across the patio toward the Chateau, watching her poor father trying to navigate Dixie through the doors. "I'm just mortified" she said to Jeb.

If Kathleen thought the situation was bad, it was about to get worse. She turned to see Bunny standing behind her. "Bunny, please just ignore what my Mama was saying. She is so drunk she can hardly stand up."

"Oh, Kathleen, I have heard much worse. I did find it humorous that she was confusing me with my mother! Mama would die to think someone mistook me for her."

"Well she had no business accusing you of prostitution."

"No", Bunny laughed. "I'm not a prostitute." She paused. Having had several glasses of champagne, Bunny added, "But Mama has 6 who work for her."

Over Bunny's shoulder, across the patio, Kathleen noticed Anna Belle standing there in conversation with several people. Certainly someone that poised, proper, and well liked by everyone could not be a prostitute. Kathleen just dismissed it. "Oh, Bunny, we all have 'quirky' southern mothers."

.Pivoting, Kathleen, in a very excited voice, asked Bunny,  "How surprised were you when Mike proposed this morning."

"Surprised? You could have buttered my butt and call me a biscuit. I had no idea. I'm still in shock."

Kathleen laughed. Bunny continued, "And then when Mike dropped to his knee, all I could think of was good God, he's fallen out.  I don't have time to take him to the ER. I've got to get back to Ivy Lane for Kathleen and Jeb's reception."

Jeb laughed, "It's nice to know you had your priorities in order." Then he put his arms around Kathleen. Referring to the scene with Dixie, he said, "I'm sorry you had to go through that."

"I'm not. Personally I am glad that is behind me. Now I can enjoy our wedding day, the way we always wanted to." She looked over at Bunny. "And share it with Mike and Bunny."

"I wouldn't worry about Dixie will showing up at Ivy Lane and making a scene."

"Don't count her our yet."

Just then Kathleen's cell phone rang. "Hey, is everything OK?" She paused. "We're fine Daddy, I'm just disappointed we had to go through that." She paused again. "I know, I love you too. Will we see you later?" She paused. "Great. I love you." She rang off.

"Dixie's not going to be a problem. She passed out in the car as soon as they left. Daddy says he is going home to put her to bed. He'll see us at Ivy Lane."

"See I told you so." Jeb smiled.

Haynes and Colleen joined them and congratulated the couple.

Terse and Vivian walked up. Terse gave Bunny a big hug. "You are a beautiful bride. Vivian and I are so happy for the 2 of you."

Bunny thanked them and commented about how surprised she was.

As, Bunny talked, Vivian looked over Bunny's shoulder. "Dear God, what is Tula doing here?"

"Um, I don't know," said Mike also seeing Tula for the first time. "I'm pretty sure she wasn't on the guest list. At least I didn't invite her." Then he added under his breath, "I'm surprised she is showing her face around here, given there is an outstanding warrant for her arrest."

Bunny trying to lighten the situation. "Well, I can assure you she wasn't on my list." Everyone laughed.

Just then they saw Tula make her way across the patio toward them. Shaking his head, Haynes said,"You never know with Tula."

"Oh, I do. She is pure evil," said Vivian as she watched her mother approach the group.

Haynes looked at Colleen. "I doubt you have met Tula yet. I'll warn you now, we never know what she is going to say."

Vivian added, still watching her mother, "She always has an agenda."

Tula walked up to Bunny and gave her an air kiss on each cheek. "Bunny, what a beautiful bride."

"I think so," said Mike.

"And, Haynes, who is this beauty with you."

"Tula, this is my date, Colleen Cantrell."

Tula stood there a moment before she said anything, "It's so nice to meet you."

Vivian spoke up, "Tula, what are you doing here."

"I was invited."

Vivian looked at Mike.

"Oh, not by the bride and groom," she said giving Mike a scorning look. "Johnson Baxter." She indicated a nice looking gentleman across the patio from where she came. "Johnson asked me as his guest."

She turned to Colleen. Then to Haynes, she asked, "And where did you find this lovely lady?"

"At the Tea Room, where else would you expect?" Everyone laughed. Haynes continued, "Thankfully, she was willing to go out with me."

Haynes introduced the 2 women. Trying not to be nervous, Colleen said, "Nice to meet you."

Tula looked Colleen over, head to toe. "Do I know you? You look very familiar."

"I don't think so."

At that moment Cordelia approached the group, trying to intervene before the situation got ugly. She walked over to Bunny and took the bride's hands in her own. "Bunny, my dear, what a lovely bride. Mike is very lucky."

"I agree", said Mike with a broad smile.

"I haven't seen your grandfather this happy in a long while."

"You know Mr. Pace?" asked Bunny.

"Sweet heart, Walter and I have been good friends, since childhood. I also was good friends with Mike's parents." She paused. "Such dear people."

"So you knew all about Mike and his background?" asked Bunny.

"Of course I did."

"But, you never said anything."

"That wasn't my place." Cordelia smiled and turned to Tula. "And what brings you here?"

"Johnson Baxter."

"I always found him to be very charitable."

Ignoring Cordelia's comment, Tula said,"I was just telling Colleen here, that I feel like I know her from somewhere."

"Isn't she a dear, just another asset to Gallagher."

"You know her?"

"Yes, Tula I do." She looked straight at Tula. "Colleen is smart and fun. And," she said turning to look at Colleen. "She dresses like she just stepped out a band box." Cordelia paused, "She has such good taste."

"I can see." Tula said. "Now, Colleen I'll warn you, Mr. Duiese here can be be quite randy. Watch out."

Colleen, hoping not to sound sound nervous, laughed and looked at Haynes,"I haven't seen that." She paused, "Yet."

"Oh, I doubt you have," responded Tula sarcastically. "I doubt you have." She took a sip of her champagne and continued before she could be interrupted. "Cordelia, I agree. Colleen here is quite lovely. Amazing how a fancy wardrobe and some make-up can change someone."

Vivian had had enough. "Tula, why do you have to be so rude?"

"Honey, I'm not trying to be rude. I'm just complimenting Colleen." She looked at Colleen,"I'm just saying, I know Colleen from somewhere, but now she has a total different look."

"That's it Tula, you can leave us now."

Tula turned to leave, but not before launching one more barb. "Ms. Cantrell, it was so good seeing you," she paused, "again."

Vivian looked at Colleen and apologized, "I am so sorry she acted like that. But she can be an ass."

Cordelia spoke up,"Colleen, I wouldn't be bothered. Tula is always like that. She just decided to pick on you today." She laughed, "Probably envious of your beauty, and wardrobe."

To change the subject, Mike asked,"Who needs champagne?"

Most of the group indicated they did. "I'll go get it."

Terse laughed, "I don't think that is necessary. Look at the number of staff you are paying to serve everyone. I'll just catch one of their eyes."

"Don't bother. I'll be right back." Mike smiled and added, "With champagne."

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It has to be at some place wonderfullll!

"Mama, we got married at the Church of the Seven Wells and Three Stones, and we are having our reception at Ivy Lane later today."

"You can't have a wedding at some church. It has be some place wonderfullllll," Her speech was getting worse. "Like this place," Dixie said as she turned quickly and almost fell down.

Again, in a loud voice, Dixie started,"I cannot believe you would do that to your own mother. I missed the wedding, after all the work I did for you."

By this time Jeb and Harrell had gathered around Kathleen and Dixie. Trying to mitigate the situation Harrell put his hands on Dixie's shoulders. "Honey, it is OK. They are happy and isn't that all that matters?"

"All that matters! I have all the elite of Mobile invited. This is very important to Kathleen."

"No, Dixie. This is very important to you."

Dixie was quiet for moment, then she asked in a loud voice,"The cake? What about Bryson? What about Bernie? He has made that grand cake for you."

"Mama, you can take Beŕnerd and his 'grand' cake and do whatever you want to with it!"

"But no one will see that cake. I wanted everyone," she paused to find some words. "Everyone in the whole wide world," with that Dixie spread her arms wide, as if to encompass the whole world, "to see the cake." She paused again and tried to take another sip from her champagne flute, which was empty. Dixie looked down at the flute, wondering what happened to her champagne. "And a reception, if you can call it that, at Ivy Lane. Pray tell what you will have, Spam sandwiches and pink punch?" Dixie smirked, "Whatever, but you won't have a fancy cake will you?"

"Mama, I don't want to hear another thing about that damn cake. If you do not calm down," Kathleen said in a very quiet voice, "you will also miss our wedding reception."

Harrell spoke up, "What's wrong with Spam sandwiches?"

"A lot," Dixie turned back to Kathleen. "Did you know, "she slurred her words, "that her mother runs a bordello. Ms Bunny . .  Ms whoever is a prostitute." Dixie was quiet a moment while she tried to maintain her balance. No doubt she was seeing 2 Kathleens standing in front of her. "You are going to have your wedding reception at the home of a prostitute?"

"Mama!" Kathleen said quietly, "Why don't you tell the world?"

Dixie turned to face the crowd, "Did y'all know my daughter is having her reception at the home of a prostitute." The fact that Dixie was confusing Bunny and Anna Belle was bad enough. But calling them prostitutes was beyond the pale.

Some people turned to see what Dixie was saying. Harrell smiled at the guests who were now paying attention, "She is just excited." Then quietly he told Dixie, "That's it. We need to leave."

"Are we going to that place, you know . . . that prostitute's house?"

Not willing to take any more, Kathleen looked at her mother. "Bunny is not a prostitute. She is one of the sweetest people I know. How dare you say things like that."

Jeb just shook his head. They all knew this would not be pretty. What they didn't count on were the many flutes of champagne Dixie had consumed. He looked at Kathleen. "Do we need to leave?"

"No, Jeb, we do not need to leave. Dixie is the only one leaving now." Kathleen looked at her father for help. Harrell put his arm around Dixie and guided her to the doors of the Chateau  - so, hopefully, they could leave without attracting any more attention.

Looking at his bride, Jeb pulled her closer to him. "Well, at least that is over. It could have been worse."

"How much worse than having a drunk mother yelling at me about prostitutes in the middle of Bunny's reception?"

"Your mother being sober and yelling at prostitutes in the middle of Bunny's reception."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I Told You We Were Late

Bunny felt like she was in a dream as she followed Vivian and Della from the Bride's room. Buzz was standing at the bottom of the steps watching her descend. "Bunny, you are the most beautiful bride I have ever seen." He gave her a warm hug. Della and Vivian also hugged Bunny. "I am so excited for you and Mike," said Vivian. She and Della left Bunny and walked toward the patio.

For the first time, Bunny noticed Wade standing there. He took a few steps toward her. "Bunny, you make a beautiful bride." He offered his arm, "It would be my pleasure if you would give me the honor of giving you away."

Unable to speak, Bunny just smiled.

Anna Belle gave her daughter a kiss on her cheek. "You know I love you." 

Still in a fog, Bunny could only nod her head.

"Let's get you seated," Buzz said as he offered Anna Belle his arm. He smiled as his mother took his arm. The 2 of them then walked through the hall onto the patio. 

As Bunny and Wade walked out onto the patio, it was empty. Then she saw everyone seated on the lawn in rows of white chairs. Suddenly Bunny stopped walking. She looked at Wade and in a hushed voice said, "Oh gosh, Wade, I can't get married today. Not now."

"Why not?" asked Wade. "Everyone's here. And I think Mike is going to pop wide open if I don't get you down this aisle."

"Wade, you don't understand. Kathleen and Jeb's reception is being held this afternoon at Ivy Lane. I've got to get back."

With a big smile, Wade looked at her, "Bunny, trust me. Kathleen and Jeb will understand." Bunny was still hesitant. "Bunny, do you trust me?"

"Of course."

"Then let's go." With that the music started. They made their way down the staircase to the lawn. There was a sudden swish of clothes and chairs, as the guest stood and turned to see the bride. It was then she saw Mike standing up front waiting for her. He, too, had changed and was wearing a sharp tuxedo. However, she was more surprised to see a third bridesmaid. Kathleen was standing with Della and Vivian in a matching purple dress.

Considering Bunny wasn't sure what to do, all went well and in a few minutes Mr. and Mrs. Michael Pace walked back down the aisle. As guests gathered around Bunny on the patio, she kept an eye out for Kathleen. Finally both Kathleen and Jeb walked up.

"What a beautiful bride." Kathleen said as both she and Jeb gave Bunny a hug.

"But, I'm not supposed to be the bride, you are."

"I am the bride and it is wonderful." Bunny was confused. Then Kathleen held out her hand. On her ring finger was a golden band along with her engagement ring.

"Where, when? What about your reception?" Nothing was making sense to Bunny.

Mike walked up and put his arm around Bunny's waist. He looked at Kathleen and Jeb. "They got married at the the church this morning."

"We're still going to have our reception at Ivy Lane," said Kathleen in a very excited voice. "Later this afternoon, just like we planned it." Kathleen paused, "That is, if it still suits you."

"But . . ." Bunny was totally addled.

Mike assured her it was all taken care of. "So, just enjoy this. Don't worry. "Mike kissed her lightly on the forward.

All Bunny could say was, "I'm so lucky to have you."

Across the patio, Dixie was trying to find Kathleen. "Harrell, I have to find her. It is time for us to leave."

Harrell just stood there and watched his wife work herself into a stew. Finally, Dixie saw Kathleen talking with some friends.

"Kathleen! We need to go."

Kathleen was very irritated now. Not only was she totally embarrassed by her mother at times like this, Dixie being three sheets to wind after many flutes of champagne, made it worse. She excused herself from the group and walked over to Dixie. "No, Mama, we do not need to go."

"Do you know what time it is? You're supposed to be at The Columns in an hour to get ready."

"Mama, I'm not going to The Columns to get married."

"But, it's your wedding day. Now you don't want to marry, get married?" Dixie was having some problems with her speech."To him, "she paused and pointed toward Jeb, "Jeff, Joe, or whatever his name is."

This was the moment Kathleen had been waiting for all day. "Mama, Jeb and I got married this morning before we came here."

Dixie started to say something, but stopped. "Married? Your, oh what's it called? wedding, your wedding is this afternoon."

"No, Mama, that is your wedding. The one you have planned for years is supposed to be at The Columns this afternoon."

"Did you get married there?" Dixie looked for Harrell, "What time is it any way?" Dixie paused, then she yelled, "Harrell we missed the wedding! We are late. I told you we were late."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

You Can Discuss That Later

Just then Bunny saw her mother step forward. Anna Belle was up dressed in a nice but conservative gown. "Sweat heart, welcome to your wedding?" She gave Bunny a warm hug, one that was authentic. "But you don't have time to visit now, you need to go with Ms. Harbuck."

"Why . . .?" Bunny stuttered. "I thought it was the chairman's grandson's wedding." Anna Belle looked at Mike and they both laughed

Mike came up behind her. "It is. Walter Pace is my grandfather."

"But . . ." Bunny was totally addled.

Mike assured her it was all taken care of. "So, just enjoy this. Don't worry. "Mike kissed her lightly.

They heard a gentleman's voice behind them. "Mike was right, you are a beautiful bride."

Bunny turned to see a distinguished older man standing there. He offered his hand to Mike, who shook it. Mike turned to Bunny, "Bunny, this is Walter Pace, my grandfather." Bunny smiled. Mike continued,"Granddaddy basically raised me after my parents died."

"In Gallagher?"

Before Mike could answer, 'Miss' Ella and Rayanne walked up to congratulate the couple. Mike introduced them to his grandfather. Ella offered her hand, "Walter, it is so good to see you."

Now Bunny was even more baffled. Before she could ask, 'Miss' Ella turned to her. "Mike's family is from Mobile. His mother was a Loeffler."

Rayanne interjected, "She grew up on Government Street."

This was all lost on Bunny. She knew nothing about the names and streets in Mobile. But, since 'Miss' Ella said it, she knew it was true. Mike's mother must have been someone fancy. They were interrupted by more friends who wanted to congratulate them. It seemed to Bunny, everyone she knew was there.  Aunt Cordelia, Clark Butler and his wife, Mercer Magill and Iris, and Hollis and Colleen, among many. Even Ike was there, dressed in  nice conservative grey suit with a baby blue tie.

 "Mike, how did you do this? I'm still in shock."

"Well Pops insisted we have the wedding here. That eliminated a lot of issues on my end. I had no idea whether to have roses or daisies, hamburgers or steam ship round. That was where Ms. Harbuck was indispensable." He smiled, "Of course your total preoccupation with Kathleen and Jeb's reception helped - a lot."

Bunny gave him a quick kiss, "I'm so lucky to have you."

"You can discuss that later," Ms Harbuck said as she looked at Bunny's attire. "Certainly you don't want to get married in",  she caught herself. "What I am trying to say is that all brides should wear an appropriate gown. Follow me." Bunny and her mother followed Ms. Harbuck back into the grand hall and up the large stairway.  Ms. Harbuck opened a door and motioned for Bunny to enter. "This is our Bride's room."

The room was, what looked like a large bedroom, furnished with plush sofas and comfortable chairs. The back wall was mainly windows. The light from the morning sun lit up the room. Hanging on a large amour was a beautiful wedding gown. On the floor were a pair of silk covered heels. Bunny was still in shock. She looked at Anna Belle, "For me?" Bunny looked  back at the dress then asked, "Are you sure it will fit?"

"It should, it's your size." Anna Belle said as she stepped forward, "I hope you like it. I had some help choosing it."

"Mike?"

"No, we helped your mother." Bunny recognized the voice. She turned to see Della and Vivian as they walked into the room.

"And, these, my dear, are your bridesmaids," Anna Belle said looking at Della and Vivian. Bunny saw that her best friends were wearing matching purple dresses.

"My favorite color," Bunny said almost squealing.

"Oh, girls, we can talk later. Let's get this bride ready." With that all the ladies started buzzing around. The Chateau's hair dresser came in to fix Bunny's hair and her makeup. The dress was a perfect fit.

Meanwhile outside on the patio, Dixie was having a fit. "Kathleen, I cannot believe you are here. And, dressed in that hideous purple dress."

"Why, Mama, doesn't this fit into your wedding 'palette'?" Kathleen said sarcastically. 

"This is your day. Why are you not home getting prepared for your wedding?" She shook her head in disgust. "Honestly, the idea that Bunny would plan her wedding on your day."

"Mama, just stop it. I'm fine and you will be also. Remember Bunny did not even know about her wedding until 10 minutes or so ago. I think Mike did an incredible job planning the wedding."

Harrell handed Dixie a glass of champagne - her third since they arrived. "Dear, you know even though Kathleen is my princess and her wedding day should be one of the best days of her life, I think she can share in someone elses happiness. I don't recall a voice coming from the heavens declaring, 'No other shall get married on Kathleen's day.'"

Kathleen gave her father a quick kiss, "I know Daddy, and I am so happy for Mike and Bunny." She took a sip of her champagne. "Mama, I must admit this is a beautiful venue. I can understand why you thought it would be great for my reception."

Dixie stopped drinking. "I know, it is beautiful. It just wasn't to be. "In fact", she smirked, "I'm surprised they were able to have their wedding here. The big wedding must be this afternoon."

Jeb looked at Dixie, "What 'big' wedding?"

"I told you, the only reason Kathleen could not have her wedding here was because the Chairman of the Board had reserved it for his granddaughter."

Kathleen looked at her mama,"I think you mean 'Grandson'. You realize who Mr. Pace's grandson is?"

Dixie ignored her daughter, as if she didn't hear what she was saying.

"Mike is Mr. Pace's grandson."

"Whatever," Dixie dismissed the comment. Suddenly, she looked shocked, then mad. "Wait, you are saying Mike is Mr. Pace's grandson?"

"The same."

"But, that cannot be. His only son married a Loeffler, one of Mobile's most prominent family."

"Yes, Mama. Mike's mother was a Loeffler."

Harrell could not resist adding, "Therefore, Mike's grandfather is Walter Pace."

Dixie was incensed. "And, his grandson is only a deputy sheriff?"

"Yes, a happy deputy sheriff,"Jeb laughed.

"Who would want to be a deputy sheriff?"

"Dixie, if you would get your nose out of the clouds, you would understand that some people are happy with their occupation - no matter what it is. Happiness is worth a lot."

"I guess so, if that is all you are capable of." Dixie took another sip of her champagne. "No wonder he is so happy with Bunny."

"You know," said Harrell, very irritated with his wife, "I think Bunny did fairly well. If Mike ever decides to give up his job, he has other things to fall on."

"Sure, his family's money or, better yet, his bride's money. The money she only has because a lonely man needed company then she lucked up when he died before he came to his senses."

"Seriously?" Kathleen looked at Jeb, "Sweetheart, there are some other people I would rather to visit with. Let's go find them."

With that, Kathleen turned on her heels and walked away. Before he followed, Jeb added, "If Mike were unhappy he could take advantage of his law degree or his PhD in history."  Jeb, then, turned and left to find Kathleen.

Before Dixie could say anything else, Harrell looked at her. "Don't say another word. I would like to know who died and made you a Vanderbilt." He, too, turned and walked away.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Story Continues

Mike and Bunny could see people mingling on the patio where the music was coming from. "Look", said Bunny, "It looks like a wedding." She paused. "This is the kind of place I figured Kathleen and Jeb would get married."

"Maybe they are," Mike said with a smile.

"Oh, I hope not. If it is, I won't be back in time for the reception at Ivy Lane."

"Bunny, I was just kidding. They are getting married at the church."

"Wait," Bunny stopped walking. "Kathleen told me her mother had planned the wedding at some fancy place. I can't remember the name. Maybe it is here?" Bunny was very serious.

Mike put his arm through Bunny's. "You are way too worked up about Kathleen's wedding. Remember, there are folks at Ivy Lane taking care of everything. I'm sure we'll be back well before the reception." He paused, "Besides this is our time to celebrate."

Bunny was still concerned. Mike continued, "Sweetheart, I promise. I think you care more for Kathleen's reception than our engagement." Mike gave her a hurt look.

"Of course I'm excited about being engaged to you." She looked at the ring on her finger. "I'm just being silly. I know we'll be back in time."

"Now that's more like it." Together they walked up the wide stone staircase. Bunny had never seen such doors. They had to be, at least, 10 feet tall. Each one was intricately carved from dark wood and had a large stain glass window in it.   As they reached the stoop, the giant doors opened. Standing in the threshold, was a woman dressed in a very conservative suit.

"Mike, so glad to have you back." She turned to Bunny. "You must be Bunny. Welcome." With that, Margaret Harbuck stood aside so they could enter.

Bunny was so taken aback with grand hall that, 3 feet after she walked in, she couldn't move. She had never been in such a room. The grand hall was round with a double staircase facing the front door from across the room. Both sets of stairs gently curved as they followed the side of the wall. A 2nd story balcony encircled the room opening at the top of the stairs. Hanging down from the 35-40 foot ceiling, in the middle of the room, was the largest crystal chandelier Bunny had ever seen. She turned to Mike and whispered,"I bet that's real crystal, not just glass."

Mike replied in a whisper,"Probably so."

"And these look like real pictures, "Bunny said as she looked at the eclectic collection of art work on the walls.

"I would imagine, so."

Turning toward the patio, Bunny saw people all dressed up and walking around. She turned to Ms. Harbuck, "Oh, that looks so beautiful. Is it wedding?"

"It is," replied Ms. Harbuck with a smile.

"Who is getting married?" said Bunny still looking through the windows in large French doors.

" 'Mr.' Walter's grandson." Knowing that meant nothing to Bunny, she added,"Walter Pace is the Chairman of our Board of Trustees."

"Oh," was all Bunny could say as she and Mike followed Ms. Harbuck to one of the large French doors that opened to the patio. Ms. Harbuck swung the door open. Bunny walked up to the door to get a closer look at the event. Just then  . . .

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Bathing Costume

Today, I digress from Gallagher and Bunny. This describes the pain (and reality) of yesterday. Full disclosure, this was orginally posted several years ago, however the experience unfortunately has not changed.
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The good news is that I am packing for a trip to Caymen. The bad news is that I have to once again face my nemesis - the bathing suit. Ah, the bathing suit, aka swimsuit aka bathing costume aka two piece; that cruel piece of clothing that causes middle age women like me to seek huge quantities of adult beverages and/or counseling.

I stood there yesterday staring at my two swimming costumes (another word according the thesaurus) hating my genes. Why was I not born to age like Christie Brinkley, who at the age of 60, is still courted by Sports Illustrated for their annual swimsuit issue? No, I was destined, or rather doomed, to age like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Ten years ago I set my mind to lose weight. And after several years managed to drop 80 something pounds and 12 dress sizes -18P down to 6P. (Isn't the size 18 petite an oxymoron? But I digress.) One of my daily thoughts during that long struggle of slowly losing pound by pound, was that at the end I was going to be able to play beach blanket bingo while proudly wearing a bathing suit for the first time with pride.

But not so fast. No one bothered to tell me that even losing that much weight and suffering years of denial of the good stuff would still not help me over come my battle with that piece of clothing. Oh, the cruel injustice.

So once again I stood there looking at pieces of cloth. I knew someone could do a better job designing one that made middle age women feel better when they donned it. Lands End does a good job, letting the shopper pick and choose from a myriad of different tops and bottoms to create a unique suit that the shopper feels best suits (no pun intended) her needs. Still that falls short.

Perhaps nothing short of something created by J.K. Rowling that doesn't change the suit itself, but creates an illusion in the mind of the wearer whom she, too, looks like Christie Brinkley when she dons the suit. In this case, I really think ignorance is bliss. I'm game. Perhaps the Empress can have new clothes after all.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Finally, The Day of the Wedding

The weather Saturday morning was perfect and the forecast promised the warm sun to continue into the afternoon.  So, the day of the wedding had finally arrived. Bunny was very nervous about the final details for the reception since it was at Ivy Lane. Mike walked around the house from the driveway.  She looked up, "Oh, thank God you are here. I am so scared that something will go wrong."

"What can go wrong? Lavinia is handling the flowers, Lue Ellen is making the cake, and the food is being catered by Hattie and the Tea Room."

"I guess it will all be OK."

"It will, I promise."

Bunny looked at Mike, "I am so excited."

"About what?"

"The wedding, I just love weddings." She laughed, "Of course those other than mine."

Mike just smiled. He could only imagine her as a bride.

"But we're not going there. Thank God that is behind me."

Mike just laughed. One never knew what Bunny would say. Then he got a bit serious. "You never told me exactly why you are hosting Kathleen and Jeb's reception."

As they walked across the lawn, Bunny shared the story of Kathleen's nightmare, going into details of some of the issues Kathleen had had with Dixie.

"Since the reception will not be until 4 this afternoon, let's go to brunch."

Bunny protested, "I can't leave this place. What if something happens?"

"Didn't we just discuss Lavinia, Hattie, and Lue Ellen handling the details? After all what can go wrong? We'll be back well before the reception."

"Do I need to change clothes?" Bunny asked looking down at her black "Galloping Gallagher Goats" sweat shirt and leopard leggings. And her hair was a mess."

Before she could protest, Mike took her hand, "Let's go. You don't want to be late getting back."

Bunny shook her head,"I guess it will be OK. Let me check with everyone here to see if they need me."

Everyone assured Bunny that the preparations were in order and she had nothing to worry about. Mike opened the passenger door of Bunny's Mercedes for her. Then he got behind the wheel and they drove down the long drive and turned right on the county road.

"So where are we going? What's the secret?"

Mike kept his eyes on the road, "No secret, it's just a great place for brunch." He looked at her, "When was the last time we had brunch out of town."

"Out of town? Mike you know I have to be back for the reception, and look at how I am dressed. You could have at least given me time to change my top. I just bought a great little black beaded one just to wear with these pants."

Mike had to laugh to himself. 'Pants?' He thought. 'More like something spray painted on. But, that was Bunny and that was one reason he loved her so much.'

The drive was shorter than Bunny feared. She was relieved since they could eat and she could be back in plenty of time. Mike turned off the  main road through large wrought iron gates that led to a tree lined drive.

"What is this?"

"Where we are having brunch - Chateau Belmont."

"I've never been here."

"Well, it's a special place to me. I spent a bunch of time here when I was growing up."

Suddenly Bunny was speechless. Before them was this beautiful castle. It looked like the pictures she remembered in her childhood fairy tale books.

Mike drove the car up to front entrance. A valet was quickly at Bunny's door, opening it for her. Mike spoke a few friendly words to the young man as he handed him the keys to the Mercedes.

Mike put his arm around Bunny's waist as she turned around to look at the landscaped grounds, then back at the castle. She turned to say something to Mike, but he was on one knee, holding a velvet box.

"Brunilda Vontese, will you marry me?"

Bunny was shocked. This was the last thing she expected. She didn't say a word.

"Bunny?" Mike asked, for the first time fearful that this was not a good idea.

"Oh, Mike, yes, yes, yes." Mike should have known his fears were totally unfounded. Then Bunny was so shocked, she was almost speechless.  However, the silence didn't last very long as Bunny started rattling. "Oh, a wedding! I get to plan a wedding. I want to get married in the fall, and at Ivy Lane. Ivy Lane is prettiest in the fall." She paused, "Oh, I know everyone thinks the spring is better . . ."

He put the ring on Bunny's finger. It was a lovely stone in an old fashion setting. She looked at it and thought, 'This is so much more beautiful that all the jewelry I have at home'.

Mike smiled, "Sweetheart, there is enough time to plan." Before she could get her feelings hurt, he added, "Besides, I'm hungry. Let's get brunch. Remember, you have Kathleen's reception this afternoon."

Suddenly Bunny remembered the reception at Ivy Lane. "How could I forget? We need to eat and get back."

Music floated from a large patio. Both Mike and Bunny turned and their eyes followed the music. 'This place is so romantic,' thought Bunny.