Wedding Cake House
It all began rather innocently and generously, but the outcome, Bob Harper would easily agree was quite the reverse. You see, Bob and his wife Gail Harper (nee’ Doubling)…had before they knew it, the glorious burden of a rambling Victorian, actually a picturesque Queen Anne, with lots of rooms, porches, stairwells and obscure passages in what they liked to call their “wedding cake house.”
“It’s way too big for us,” Gail complained but as if overheard…friends and relatives seemed to appear like some force of nature to fill the nostalgic spaces with a maddening fury.
Gail found herself all too frequently trapped and overwhelmed in the kitchen, and there she was preparing an immense beef stew dinner; meanwhile Bob had several artists and writers in retreat in a beautiful turret room on the second floor; and they were discussing the horrors of the business of hawking new books and canvases.
On the wide porch a nephew of Gail’s, one Kramer Spitz was weeping post graduate separation tears over an amore lost…while the children of these variously married adults screamed bloody murder tearing about the fascinating spaces of this old wooden castle: those wonderful narrow stairs to the third floor…the dumb waiter plunging up and down, herky jerky…and the echoic shouting down the laundry chute to the basement. Kramer was sobbing on the porch, and Gail saw her neighbor Kim kiss her husband goodbye and then saw seconds later, Bob’s artist pal Carlos sneak through the hedge and enter her house from the rear, so to speak.
With this plotline in barged her father and mother, both higher than kites, dragging along Aunt Kate and Uncle Douglas, heavy drinkers, loud, occasionally obscene as sailors on leave…
“How the hell are ya, Gail,” Uncle Douglas cries and grabs her round the waist, one hand brushing her breast (always the tit man, her aunt declared one drunken night)–
–and just then the kids burst down and up from everywhere and exploded like confetti in the big kitchen…and Gail seeing purple dancing spots slung the meat platter, a white bone heirloom, across the room like a giant ghostly prehistoric Frisbee…and the beef, sizeable given the demands of company on hand, skipped then rolled into the corner by the push pedal trash can–filthy–while the great heirloom continued its horrifying trajectory past Aunt Kate’s bristly hair and smashed solidly through the pantry glass doors and shattered glass followed the hallowed hoary plate to the floor and thence in a fantastic display of three dimensional chaos theory invaded the space beneath the kitchen table.
The crash and subsequent Munch-like, blood-curdling scream from Gail brought the entire tribe to absolute silence to the kitchen…
Gail was succored, patted, cooed to and hustled into a kitchen chair.
“Let’s eat out,” Bob said to kith and kin alike. “How ’bout Chinese?”
There was a shout of joy! And off they went, tumbling into three different cars, vans and SUVs, and Gail still sobbing between retellings, and laughing hysterically…
Gail finally laughed in a human-like manner; she had Uncle Douglas pick up Carlos, now distracted from the house next door by the bedlam spinning in the driveway…and off they went.
Later, after a big meal the cavalcade stopped at the city’s central park…and the kids and then adults waded in the giant duck pool and Uncle Douglas fell down and got soaked, Kramer the lovelorn was comforted, confessing his deep loss (mostly lust he later admitted), and then somebody screamed “water snake!” which cleared the pool and brought them home again to the wedding cake Queen Anne…which later that night Gail told Bob they must sell without delay or she’d have to leave him…and he stared at her like she’d lost her mind and said softly, “Okay, hon.”
Then Gail smiled and said with a feverish glint to her green eyes, “Over my dead body.”