Amid a sea of guests in chiffons and florals and discreetly tailored suits, the secret service men, in their black suits, white shirts, and dark ties stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. Kelly Bak was not actually upset by this, since how many weddings have guests so important that government security is an issue?
Pat Nixon and Julie, one in a tasteful yellow layered chiffon with a beaded bodice, and the other in a pastel floral sundress, circulated among the guests as if oblivious to the dark buzzards that hovered about them or stood on the perimeter of the garden, their suspicious eyes alert for the most minor of disturbances. Thank heavens, Mrs Bak thought, that Richard was “unable” to attend, because the scandals were enough, and any more buzzards would have upset the balanced, cheerful celebration that she had worked so very hard to make perfect. For her daughter, of course, only for Kimberly.
She’d caused a fright, to be sure, being over half an hour late to the church. But in the end she floated down the aisle, arm in arm with her father, in her deep blue silk dress like an angel from heaven, to gasps and sighs from everyone in attendance. Even Harrison, stood tall and broad-shouldered at the end of the aisle, lost his assured grin for a few seconds, as the bride lifted her head and looked into his eyes. He faltered, Mrs Bak thought, from awe and pride. And so he should. There was never a more beautiful, striking, and graceful bride than Kimberly. Mrs Bak could tell, just looking at all the faces. The ceremony would be talked about. And the reception would be perfect too.
George’s brother-in-law had too much champagne and fell to his knees on the dance floor, causing two secret servicemen to pounce on him, which made things worse as he loudly protested. But there was always one drunken uncle at a wedding reception, Mrs Bak thought. The little glitches helped to illuminate the perfection of every other element. Like the flowers! Cascading lilac flown in from Washington state, the white roses planted around the marquee, in fragrant, full bloom. And the photographers’ flash bulbs flared for the duration of the reception, giving the festivities an air of celebrity.
“Darling,” Mrs Bak said to her daughter, as soon as they had a moment alone, in the downstairs powder room, their glasses of non-alcoholic punch set on the tile counter. “Why ever were you so late to the ceremony? I’m sure Harrison was distraught.”
“We exchanged gifts last night,” said Kimberly.
“Oh! and how did he like his watch?”
“Loved it, he said.”
“Darling, what did he get for you?” Mrs Bak pushed Kimberly’s chestnut hair away from her neck. No necklace there, except the one Mrs Bak had lent to her, the diamond encrusted butterfly on a silver chain.
“He gave me a person,” said Kimberly. She took a sip of her drink, and winced. “I am going to start on the red wine.”
“Not just yet. What do you mean, ‘a person’?”
“A person! ‘Here is Madison, she is yours’.” Kimberly threw the punch glass into the wastebasket, which was full of lipstick-stained kleenex. “Mama, he gave me a servant, a girl, trained to wait on me or something. He ‘picked her out’ himself; he didn’t just call an agency, as if that makes it all right.”
“It is fine to have a personal maid, Kimmy, I think it was thoughtful of Harrison.”
“It was creepy and horrible,” said Kimberly.
“Now you sound like a child,” said her mother. “You are a grown, married woman now, with responsibilities and a reputation to uphold.”
“Blah, blah, blah,” said Kimberly.
“Where is she?”
“Upstairs in my room, presumably, waiting to attend to whatever whim catches my fancy.”
“I’ll go have a chat with her. Meanwhile, keep in mind Harrison was just trying to be kind, or something like that. Thoughtful, too. He loves you. Go out and dance some more with him. Did you say hello to Julie?”
So Kimberly took her blue-silked body back out into the garden, found her new husband, put her hand on his wrist and whispered in his ear. They strolled to the wooden parquet dance floor, and danced a waltz while the cameras flashed.