14. When It Rains, It Pours
“Honey, I don’t think you want the drag queen version of Cher stripping on stage at ‘Lips’ singing ’If I Could Turn Back Time,” Leila told Jared before wincing. “Wait, yeah- you probably would.”
“No, sweetcheeks, I wouldn’t,” Jared told his friend with a frown. “The type of gay man that dresses up like Reba or Tina Turner and sings ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ isn’t usually tucking away a lot of sausage beneath his unitard.”
“Nor would they be likely to have a six-pack or ass cheeks you could crack a stone with,” Sharon offered up.
“Too true,” Jared said, glad someone else in their group wasn’t as gung-ho about having a bachelorette party at a drag-queen dinner theater instead of a strip club featuring a ‘tackle out’ option.
“My mother is coming,” Violet defended, not that she needed to.
“Honey, your mother would be the first one on the train if we were heading to a place called ‘Beefcakes’ instead of a glorified drag show,” Jared told her.
Violet’s nose twitched as she thought of a good comeback for that.
“Well, my mother is coming and she hasn’t seen a dick or a pair of abs since not long after I was born,” Leila reminded him.
With the mention of Leila’s mother and her sexless, loveless marriage, it brought the conversation to a halt.
“Well, I guess a proud black man with a fright wig and killer gams singing ‘Proud Mary’ could be fun as well,” Jared said, shrugging his shoulders.
“That’s the spirit, you dickless wonder,” Leila told him as she continued to write names neatly on blank business cards and adding them to small picture frames. Names on the front, table placement on the back so people would know where to sit at the reception dinner after the wedding.
“Freak of the week,” Jared spat at Leila, narrowing his eyes.
“Queer of the year!” she grunted back at him, trying to stuff another business card into the small frame.
“I’d like to thank the academy for that award,” Jared told her, smiling dizzily. Figured he would find that insult as something noteworthy and prideful.
“Someone turn on the music that gets him off the stage,” Violet sighed. “Pretty soon he’ll be thanking the ’mo who gave him his first blowjob in the backseat of a car at the age of 8.”
“I didn’t pull my dick out of my pants for anyone until I was 15,” Jared claimed, voice starting to get shrill.
“Oh yeah,” Leila said as if struggling to remember the details. “Was it for that chick with a dick or just your neighbor’s benefit when you caught his son fucking the pool boy.”
“I didn’t know Mr. Carmichael was watching!”
“It’s actually kind of lucky he did,” Leila said, smiling down at her task. “His little angel of a son was able to keep fucking his little pool boy every Wednesday at noon all summer because of you wanking it while listening to New Direction.”
“See? Masturbation saves lives!” Jared stated proudly. “He would have gone homicidal on little Josh if he had found them in the shed in the backyard that day.”
“Whatever happened to Josh?” Leila asked.
“Last time I heard, he joined the priesthood,” Jared said, examining his nails for inkspots that he was sure would remain tattooed on his skin until after the wedding.
“You’re Leila’s plus one, right?” Violet asked, trying to diffuse what could turn out to be a touchy subject about gay priests and confessional booths.
“Yes,” Jared sighed, obviously miffed at the prospect.
“Hey!” Leila called out, irritated with her friend. “Coming to a wedding as my plus one is a privilege, not a hardship. Besides, Mickey’s out of town on business and you can’t bring your other reliable date with you. It’s attached to your wrist.”
“Quiet, bitch,” Jared’s eyes slitted at her.
“Make me cock-whore.”
The week may have dragged on for the bride and groom, but for Leila, it didn’t seem that there were enough hours in the day. Thursday night was the bachelorette and bachelor parties and both Carl and Violet had decided not to overdo it too much with strippers, hookers or any other unsavory, yet cliche, celebrations.
While the ladies went out to dinner at ‘Lips’ to watch drag queens lipsync to songs made famous by whichever diva they were portraying, the men decided to go gambling and headed to Graton Casino for the night.
The next day would be the wedding rehearsal dinner and Leila was not looking forward to it. Both her mother and father would be there and she was sure that her father would probably flirt shamelessly with any female within twenty years of his age. Brides-to-be and married women notwithstanding. The man had no fucking shame.
The wedding planner was also emceeing the rehearsal and was a middle-aged female that was miraculously unmarried herself. She loved the institution of marriage, but it seemed as if she had set her husband goals so high that no one could attain them. If she was looking for her Prince Charming, she was searching the wrong century. She needed the gallantry of medieval courting and knights in shining arming to get her motor running apparently.
The wedding rehearsal seemed to go off without a hitch thanks to Gina, the wedding planner. Had the woman been in charge of the Nazi regime, the U.S. would have been speaking German and goose stepping in lederhosen.
Though Gina was invited the dinner after the rehearsal, she said there was still too much to do for the wedding and opted for an early night. That meant the rest of the night was up to Leila and Elliott as best man and maid of honor.
For a month up until the rehearsal, Elliott and Leila were in constant contact, making decisions or just irritating the hell out of each other. Or rather Leila made the decisions for the both and Elliott just gave his seal of approval from across the continental U.S. He wasn’t picky and was thanking God he was all the way in New York and not on the west coast. His own nuptials had been taxing enough even though Diana had decided to be her own wedding planner. She was a Type A personality and knew she would just clash with anyone who didn’t share her particular vision of her special day.
Violet was the opposite and was not very picky. Gina asked her opinion on everything from serviettes to the wedding cake, quickly shooting down anything crazy and agreeing heartily with anything she liked. Since Carl and Harry were splitting the cost, it was carte blanche and anything Violet said, went, as far as they were concerned. They both spoiled her lavishly.
It was Leila’s job to reign in the crazy when things went south. She was like Diana- totally Type A and reveled in the task even though she was quick to state that it was aging her prematurely.
Among the guests, beside the bridal party and families, Leila’s mother and father were there as was Anthony’s parents. They too were close friends with the Charleses and had known them for over a decade.
The rehearsal dinner was at the Limewood Bar and Restaurant since the wedding was taking place at the auspicious and extravagant Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. It was the same place that Violet and Carl had celebrated their first Valentine’s Day together. The first, they hoped, of many.
Leila sighed in relief as they all got seated at the private dining room in the hotel and settled in for wine, beer, and scotch.
Laughter and liquor ran aplenty, and Leila looked over as her father took the time to flirt with anyone with tits. The female servers were the hardest hit and they were professional in their responses, though Leila could tell at least one of them was extremely uncomfortable.
After his third scotch, though, Leila was ready to cut him off.
Poor Sharon. No matter how many times she rebuffed the man gently, Stephen Winters kept placing his body closer to her and trying to flirt. The girl was almost half his age and the watery look in Angelica Winter’s eyes was enough to make Leila see red.
Pulling her father aside, Leila spoke in hushed tones, though the bite in them spoke loudly enough.
“Dad, what the hell are you doing?” she hissed out at him, looking over at the table. It was loud and raucous enough that most people were clearly involved in their own little conversations. Nate, however, was looking over toward her and her father, an indecipherable expression on his face. Leila wondered if he had witnessed the blatant displays of drunken flirting her father was putting on. She hoped not. It was honestly too embarrassing for words.
“Relax, I’m just having a bit of fun for fuck’s sake,” the man slurred out. “You’re just like your fucking mother.”
Oh, Dad... you say that like it’s a bad thing you sauced old shit.
“I thought your ‘bit of fun’ was your secretary, not the bridal party,” Leila told him, lips flattening on her face with unconcealed anger.
Christ. The man couldn’t even pronounce his own secretary/lover’s name correctly. Leila wondered if he had had something to drink even before they had arrived at the restaurant. “The bitch wanted more so we broke up.”
Leila didn’t think her father realized that he was admitting to an affair in front of her. Though he didn’t do much to hide his infidelity, he was never candid with either her or her mother on who he was seeing. The Winters woman usually got their intel from the country club grapevine.
“Why don’t you just leave Mom if you’re going to be screwing around on her?” Leila asked, voice tight and barely controlled. “Just take the fucking decision out of her hands and you can manwhore to your heart’s content.”
“No! Your mother’s mine and she always will be,” Stephen told her and burped. “Plus, I’d have to pay alimony and shit. Too much of a fucking hassle.”
“How would you feel if she was the one stepping out on you?” Leila asked, cutting him with a look.
“Why?” Stephen was suddenly and instantly much more sober. “What have you heard? Who’s she sleeping around on me with?”
“Shit! No one, you ass!” Leila told him. “And she won’t as long as you are married to her. She actually holds the sanctity of marriage in high regard, unlike you.”
“Good,” Stephen said. “What’s that pretty little number’s name again? Karen?”
“Sharon, and leave her alone!” Leila cried.
“Fuck it, I’m gonna go see if she’ll give me her number,” Stephen said, stumbling for a moment before righting himself and ambling over to the table again.
Leila gave up. She couldn’t convince either of her parents to give up on their sham of a marriage, though why her father wouldn’t let her mother go was beyond her. It was obvious he wasn’t in love with her anymore. Leila chalked it up to some proprietary caveman trait that men had inherited from their ancestors. Maybe it had something to do with that missing link in the evolutionary chain.
Leila’s father walked away mumbling about what a ‘tight ass’ that ‘Karen’ chick had and Leila turned around, unable- or unwilling- to watch her father make an ass out of himself any further that night. He was on his own. She could only hope he wouldn’t take anyone down with him.
Running her hands through her fiery locks, she walked over to the open-air balcony hoping a good stiff breeze would whisk her away and off the building so she could at least die quickly instead of horror-stricken and fire-engine red in the face.
“Anything I can help with?” a voice asked, making Leila flinch.
“Nate? No... no thanks,” Leila said, sighing and looking back out toward the west. “That is unless you can slip my dad a roofie before he can slip one to Sharon.”
Patting his front and back pockets, Nate gave a small crooked smile and shook his head.
“I’m afraid I left all my date rape drugs in my other pants pocket,” he told her before laughing quietly.
Leila grunted and closed her eyes.
“That was my ass, you ass!” a voice cried out from the table.
“Dear Baby Jesus, tell me that wasn’t Sharon yelling at my father for touching her ass,” Leila groaned as her head met with the thick wooden balustrade of the balcony.
“Okay, it wasn’t,” Nate said matter-of-factly.
“Was that a lie?”
Leila groaned again and the two stood silently as Sharon was escorted from the room. It sounded like she was seconds away from landing a nice hard fist to the man’s face and Harry was speaking in his London drawl to the inebriated man, telling him to ‘have some proprietyh’ or something like that.
“I need about 8 shots of liquor after tonight,” Leila mumbled to herself.
“Well, we’re at a bar so that’s a good start,” Nate told her, a hint of a smile in his voice.
Leila agreed with a nod of her head. She was going to get wasted, possibly pass out drunk, just as soon as everyone left. Though she had her car parked in the parking lot of the hotel, she honestly couldn’t care less if it got towed overnight. Maybe since they were having the wedding at the hotel, they wouldn’t mind if she kept it there for the duration. Carl and Harry had paid through the nose for the venue. One little old sedan parking overnight should be almost complimentary.
“Wh... what’s up with dear old Dad?” Nate asked.
If he had said it with sass, Leila would have bit back with just as much vigor, but Nate sounded conciliatory, concerned and Leila figured it wouldn’t hurt to let him in on a little secret.
Okay- a big secret.
Maybe the two cocktails with dinner had something to do with her loose lips as well.
“My father doesn’t know how to keep his dick in his pants,” Leila said, almost wincing at the calousness of her own words.
“Excuse me?” Nate sounded shocked at her confession.
“You’ve known Carl a few years, right?” she asked, looking over at him with tired, muzzy green eyes.
“Yeah, for a while now,” Nate admitted.
“Take the manwhore Carl of say... 5 years ago, add a devoted wife, mix two cups arrogance with a dash of Viagra and a slew of sexy secretaries who can’t seem to get off his cock, and you have my father,” she told him. She could feel her face getting red. Anger. Embarrassment. Humiliation. Any one of them suited her right now.
“I... I see,” he said.
And he did. He got it. He even thought he understood now why Leila was the way she was. Having grown up with the man, of course, she would have very little faith in a monogamous relationship.
Leila’s eyes scrunched up and she looked over at him, looking dejected.
“Listen, I know you think- or at least thought- of me as some kind of dick-crazy slut with-”
“I didn’t,” he said, cutting her off. “It was just... well, I don’t know what it was, but it was something I spouted off without thinking. Word vomit if you will.”
“Yeah, well right now I’d like to drink until I really vomit, so I’m gonna hit the bar,” she told him.
Looking back at the table, she saw everyone had left and wondered if Carl and Harry had fought over the bill. If there was one thing the two couldn’t agree on, it was who would pay for what and when.
Handing her card over the 20-something, bald bartender, she looked him in the face.
“Listen Kojak,” she told the man who opened his eyes wide in surprise. “Keep a tab running. If I stumble out of here and forget to pay, put it on that card and leave it at the front desk. Give yourself 20% tip while you’re at it. I’ll come and get the plastic tomorrow.” If I remember.
“Need company?” Nate asked. He had followed her to the bar.
“Not particularly,” she said with a sigh. “Whoever coined the phrase ‘misery loves company’ was a fucking fool. I love to wallow in my own misery like I enjoy a hot bath. Alone, eyes closed, and with a nice glass of something alcoholic in my hands. The stronger, the better.”
“Well, that’s too bad,” Nate told her and took a seat next to her. “’Cause if you’re going to drink yourself into a stupor, I would prefer if you had a bit of company while doing so.”
“A babysitter?” Leila asked, raising a brow.
Nate shook his head.
“Just a designated driver of sorts, keeping you out of trouble,” he told her, waving to the bartender.
“A Macallan with lime,” he told the man. “Separate check from hers.”
“Wait, if you’re babysitting, I should pay you,” Leila told him, her lips curling into a small smile before leveling baldy bartender with a look. “It’s on me, Michael Chiklis.”