Now that I have this one posted, and the next eight about ready to go, I’m hoping to press on to the end. At one post a week, we’ll reach The End in May or maybe June.
Saturday, February 15, 2020
…swiftly fly the days.
Discontent with the junta has become more vocal in the wake of the flu pandemic. If this wasn’t The Big One that public health officials were warning us about since the turn of the century, I’d hate to see it. This one was bad enough. As happens so often, the junta’s attempts to suppress info — or downplay the situation — drove millions of the formerly incurious (or fearful) to start listening to what Sammy has to say. And take it seriously. And to start asking the obvious question: if the junta’s lying about something this important, what else are they lying about?
We all survived it at FAR Manor, thank God — it completely passed over Daughter Dearest, and her fiance got a flu shot in Pacifica that worked for him — but it was touch and go with Kim and Maria for a while. Christina may have saved them, and a lot of other people besides; she finally realized what that hydration/electrolyte drink needed, and made it easier to make and improved its effectivity. We got word back to Sammy, and those who had ears to hear (or eyes to read) benefitted. The junta stole the recipe and claimed that some doctors at Walter Reed came up with it, but everyone knows it as “the CC drink.”
Christina, in fact, about hurt herself trying to care for the two people she loves most. Kim did his best to stay hydrated, so she could either tend to her mom or rest. Guillermo and I had to force her to take breaks; she had the flu too and wasn’t giving herself a chance to recuperate. It reminded me of how Mrs. Fetched and her mom used to nearly kill themselves working at the chicken houses and doing a bunch of other stuff besides. (Both her parents passed on a couple years ago… Mrs. Fetched took it hard, but held up pretty well in the end.)
Kim and Maria had plenty of time to talk… ironic that he knew Spanish better than anyone of my family, and they never tried talking before. That could have saved a lot of the friction in the manor, but that’s (finally) all behind us. Maria talked to Guillermo, they talked to Mrs. Fetched and me, and we talked to Kim while they talked to Christina. Then we all got together. We couldn’t give them a government-sanctioned wedding, given that Christina and her family are still officially fugitives, but some things don’t need a piece of paper to make them real. They’re still awfully young (17 and 18), but when it’s time it’s time. Rene and Serena stood as their wedding party, and everyone insisted that I officiate. Mrs. Fetched took video (and I transcribed the following spiel from that). We cobbled up a ceremony in the living room: Christina entered from the kitchen (my right), Kim from the hall. As I did at my mom’s second wedding, so many years ago, I started whistling the Wedding March… and as happened then, everyone else took it up with a grin.
“Dearly beloved…” I started, then shook my head. “Yes, you two — all of you here — are dearly beloved, of me and of each other. No doubt.
“Back when I was your age, though, it was unusual for people to get married so young. But times have changed, mostly — but not completely — for the worse. We’ve watched you grow together — and I’m sure you know how closely we watched you for the last five years!” They laughed.
“But all of us have discussed this, and we all agree that it’s time to take the next step — if you’re ready. You’re about to enter into a commitment that — if you both honor it — lasts a lifetime. So if either of you aren’t ready to take that step, or if any of us here have second thoughts, this is the time to speak. Let any who have doubts, speak now, without fear of reproach.” I waited; nobody spoke but Maria twirled her hand in a “get moving” gesture. I was kind of surprised; in a matter of days she’s gone from the most fearful to the most supportive about this relationship.
“Kim, Christina,” I said, “Look at each other.” They did. “Now look at me. Are you ready to make a lifetime commitment, both to each other and the respective families? It’s not just two people that are married — your families are joined together as well. Think a moment before you answer.”
Christina, that brilliant and eccentric star, barely gave it a second before saying “Sí,” loud and clear. A moment later, Kim nodded and smiled. They joined hands before I had a chance to tell them to.
“OK,” I said. “Christina: do you promise to take Kim as your husband, to love and honor, to recognize temptation but not yield, for the rest of your lives together?”
She surprised me. “Before God and our families, I do.”
Kim’s turn: “Kim, do you likewise promise to take Christina as your wife, to love and honor, to recognize temptation but not yield, and to try to understand her, knowing you never will?”
Guillermo and Dean (DD’s beau) chuckled, and Daughter Dearest snorted, as Kim fumbled to follow Christina’s response. “Before God and our families, I do.”
I motioned for Mrs. Fetched, Guillermo, and Maria to join us. Mrs. Fetched handed off the camera to Daughter Dearest, who looked puzzled but figured I wasn’t going to be silly… for a change. “Kim and Christina have pledged to each other and to us, and now it’s our turn,” I said. “I wasn’t just saying words about commitment to the families. This is for us as much as it is for them — they swore their love to each other years ago.
“Guillermo, Maria: do you promise to take Kim into your family, to treat him equally and fairly, and above all to set an example for their married life through your own?” They looked at each other for a moment, then nodded as one. “Sí,” said Maria; “We will,” Guillermo added.
“Mrs. Fetched: will you join me in making the same pledge? To take Christina into our family, to treat her equally and fairly, and above all to set an example for their married life through our own?” She said, “I will,” and I responded, “And so do I.
“Kim, Christina, we’ve watched the two of you grow up together, and we recognize the depth of your love for each other. And as you have pledged yourselves to each other before God and your families — and your families have pledged to support and guide you — as ‘lord’ of FAR Manor, I pronounce you husband and wife. But if there ever comes a time when you can repeat your vows in public, I expect you to do it… OK, I’ve made you wait long enough. So kiss already!”
After a minute or two, I started whistling randomly until they got the message.
The newlyweds scored the following haul. From me: two large boxes of condoms and an admonishment to hold off having kids for a few years. From Guillermo: a bottle of tequila he’d been saving all this time for a “special occasion.” From Daughter Dearest: her studio for a week. (“I’m sure you won’t have any problem keeping warm!” she laughed.)
We are going to have to come up with some new sleeping arrangements, now that there’s three couples in the manor. Dean gets to move into Kim’s old bed, until he and DD get hitched… then they say they’ll move out. I guess it’s time; the kids are as ready as they’ll ever be to take the HSG (High School Graduate, the old GED) exam.