Ansel and Cecile Blankenship had the most beautiful daughter upon which one could feast his eyes. She is five feet seven inches tall, thin as a rake with the brightest blue eyes you have ever seen, offset by ruby red lips, thick and glossy, and natural blond hair that rests on her gorgeous shoulders, fanning out and shining like spun gold.
Harriet Blankenship is about to become Mrs. Harold P. Shaw. Hal Shaw is a quintessential perfectly portly portrait of a high school, pen in pocket protector… greasy haired nerd. Hal is thirty two, balding, and overweight by fifty pounds. His feet toe out when he walks, and he has thick glasses manufactured by a far sighted Oriental circus knife thrower.
Harriet and I met in high school. When I say met, I do not mean in a romantic way; I dropped my book bag, and she helped me pick up the scattered papers. She smiled. I was unable to speak; I was more nervous than Mickey Rooney on his first wedding night. I turned four shades of red and stammered like a first year drama student at a dress rehearsal.
We often met walking the corridors at high school, and after a while we developed a friendship. She told me; she had plans to become a doctor. She said she was going to marry a doctor and have three children. I told her, I wanted to do a lot of things first, like sky diving, riding a donkey down into the Grand Canyon, and my favorite fantasy, a trip to Alaska to hunt Elk.
Even though, I was dying inside, knowing her intention to marry a doctor did trump being married to a jerk like me. I told her, I would dance at her wedding. She smiled…however; I did not think It would be to Harold Shaw.
I know her marriage to Hal, who, by the way, is not a doctor, is not out of love, but a means to an end. Halâs father has money, and his mother comes from a wealthy family. I am sure they will both prosper, they have ambitions that far exceed eitherâs love for one another. Hal will take over his fatherâs business, and Harriet will become Dr Harriet Shaw M D.
For the last twenty years, I have wanted to ask Harriet out on a date, but I am too shy, and now it is too late.
Driving over to my Uncle Tomâs house in Portland, I anticipated he would have an answer for me. If anyone understood females, it was Uncle Tom…married four times and separated from his fifth wife, and he is only fifty two. His house is in a quiet middle class neighborhood in the North end of town. The small Cape is in need of paint and a new front porch, but it will not get done in his lifetime…too many ex-wives, too much alimony.
âCome in Amos, sit down,â he said. âYou will have to excuse the furnishings, had to sell half my furniture…the other half…the loan company repossessed. Iâve had a run of bad luck these last few months. But, then you did not come all the way into Portland to hear the hard luck stories of your favorite uncle.â Tom was my only uncle; Father was an only child and Mother had one brother, Thomas, and one sister, Madeline who died as a teenager of Meningitis.
I sat on an old orange crate that hardly bore my medium build. I was five feet eight and weighed one forty two. Uncle Tom, by comparison, was a large man, six feet one inch, two fifty with an odd handlebar mustache on his upper lip that curled up on the ends.
âThanks Uncle Tom,â I said. âI came to ask you a question.â
âYou could have dialed my number, saved on gas Amos. I do have a phone you know…one thing they have not taken away from me…yet.â
âI enjoy the ride…only thirty miles, and the coast is beautiful this time of the year,â I said.
â I am glad you came nephew… I am sorry you have to see what a little bad luck can do to a man of my… Oh well…what is it, you wanted to ask me?â
âYou remember…Harriet Blankenship?â
âThat cute blond you been wantinâ to date? You showed me her class picture when you graduated high school. Sure I do, who could forget a doll that pretty. You ask her out yet?â
âNo… thatâs just it, sheâs going to marry somebody else. I canât stand to think of her tied down to that… that moron.â As soon as I said it, I was ashamed of myself. Hal was not a moron…actually quite the opposite…more like a genius.
âI can still see his picture, the kid…er…guy with the thick glasses, and shoulder peaks on his homemade knitted wool sweater…the cardigan.â
âYes,â I said. âYes, that same person, Uncle Tom.â
âAnd you say he is the moron?â
âListen, Harriet is no moron…donât you call her that…Iâve got a good mind to…â
âWait Kid, I was only kidding. Your dame is a sweetheart… If I were only thirt…ten years younger.â
âI am sorry, but I love that woman so much… breaks my heart to see her… you know…â
âDonât worry, she is wonât marry that…clod. She will come around…wait and see.â
âYou really think so, Uncle Tom?â I wanted to believe him…he had always been right on before…the family seer so to speak.
âIâm positive Amos, go home and wait it out.â I should listen to a man who could not hold four wives, let alone one happy woman. I prayed he was right.
I went home and waited. When you are young you try new and intriguing things that fascinate you, like metal telepathy. You sit with your eyes closed and think of something or someone, and suddenly that person or object appears. I was trying to make Harriet Blankenship appear, to throw her arms around me and kiss me tenderly. It did not happen; instead Saturday June twenty third at ten in the morning I got up, dressed and got ready to attend the wedding of Harold P. Shaw to Harriet Elaine Blankenship at the Bickford Community Church.
âDearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join…â Pastor Windham began. With every word my breath threatened to abandon my lungs, and my head spun like a two dollar top. Before the I dos were said, I became ill, more from lack of food and water… I had not eaten for three days, nor had I had anything to drink… couldnât, I was extremely upset as the wedding day drew nearer and nearer. Suddenly everything was dark, and I could neither see nor hear. I fainted.
I could hear voices in the distance; the sounds reminded me of someone calling from inside a hollow pickle barrel…or a tunnel. âAmos…â It sounded like Harrietâs sweet, silky voice.
I looked up into the eyes of Harriet Blankenship Shaw as she stood over me, a handkerchief to her lips. âIs he… is he…dead?â Concern for me was apparent though a little too late, the woman I love just got married. I didnât see any harm in emoting a little for the people gathered around me. I groaned, moved my head slowly from side to side opening my eyes just enough to see my fair Harriet.
âNo Harriet.â It was Mr Blankenship. âHe just fainted thatâs all.â
âDaddy…wonder if he…well, if he hurt himself when he fell,â she said.
I moaned louder and coughed for effect. âWhere am I?â I asked, as if I didnât know.
âYou are in the church, Amos,â Harriet said. âAre you all right?â
âI… I donât… know.â I grabbed my chest and groaned, for show.â Harriet kneeled down and held up my head, cradling it in her lilly white hands. The first thing I noticed is something I did not notice… I mean something that should have been there, but was not, the ring.
âHarriet, is that you?â I asked, feigning memory loss.
âYes… yes dear it is me.â Her father scowled, her mother sat down and fanned herself with the wedding brochure.
âDid you call him dear?â Her father asked.
âYes she did,â Harrietâs mother said her fan racing at the speed of sound, I imagined keeping pace with her heart beat.
âWhat about Harold, he is up there waiting for you to say I do for crying out loud.â Her father was angry. He never liked me, thought his daughter should marry someone with a brain. âWhy donât you use your head for something besides a hat rack?â He used to say to me when I had occasion to talk to him. Come on Ansel, get a life, your daughter is thirty years old… able to make up her own mind, I thought but did not express.
âDaddy… I can not go through with this. I do not love Harold… oh, he is a wonderful man, but he is… he is not the one I have always loved. He is not Amos Field.â She squeezed my hand, bent lower and before she had a chance to kiss me on the cheek, fell over on top of me. She giggled… kissed me on the lips, and there proclaimed her undying love for me.
The wedding was called off; the attendees sent home, and Harriet Elaine Blankenship and Amos Lunt Field were officially engaged the following day.
Ansel and Cecile Blankenship got ready to give their daughter to another, yours truly, Amos Lunt Field. It was not a church wedding, although Pastor Windham did perform the service. It was held on the back lawn of my house on Main Street on Saturday the fifteenth, one week after her near marriage to Harold P. Shaw. And, as promised, I danced at Harrietâs wedding just as I told her, in high school, I would.