by Penny Brandt Jackson
Setting: A wedding planner’s office on the upper east side of Manhattan.
Character: Nell “Montana” Sloan, 23 years old, very attractive blonde with
expensively placed caramel highlights, dressed like Grace Kelly
in a cashmere sweater, pearls, and a tweed skirt
Nell sits in a chair —she speaks to the wedding planner.
Don’t ever get stoned with your Mom. Just not cool. She’s going to start telling you things you really don’t want to know. How she’s not sure, but you could be the love child of Mick Jagger. Or Keith Richards. But she was too stoned at the time. SURPRISE!! God, I just hate hippies. What’s worse—rich hippies. My Mom grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and went to Miss Porter’s School for Girls. That’s the place where Jackie O went too. I would have killed to have gone to Miss Porter’s School for Girls. But this was the Sixties and my Mom had to get kicked out for—guess what?—smoking dope with the townies. And headed out to San Francisco, Summer of Love, which ended up in Altamont, Summer of Hell. See, I know all this hippie history. That was actually my major in college. History that is, but focusing on the era. My senior thesis was called “The Sixties: Cultural Revolution or Just One Bad Trip?” Don’t think I was born in pearls and cashmere. This took a lot of hard work.
My Mom sent me to a Waldorf school. Waldorf. Not like the fancy hotel, which, by the way, would be a perfect place to get married, but mixed up, like a Waldorf salad, which is really a crazy salad filled with all these things like celery and apples and walnuts and grapes and way too much mayo. I mean a salad should be simple—just lettuce, a few tomatoes, and maybe some oil and vinegar. And this Waldorf School was filled with too many things too—walls painted in crazy colors, bad kid crayon drawings everywhere you looked, tambourines, guitars, squashy foam furniture. Our teachers were named either Meadow or Summer or Wolf. No one was ever Miss or Mr. or even just plain George. Oh yes, the Waldorf School system was founded by Rudolf Steiner, Herr Steiner, a German—need I say more? I learned everything at the Waldorf School except how to read and write and add and subtract. I mean I still have trouble confusing the plus signs with the minuses. My childhood was a waste. A hippy dippy trip with too many of my Mom’s friends breaking down and sleeping on our couch, in our bathtub, or, once or twice, even sharing my room. I couldn’t even see most of the time because of the thick cloud of pot that hung in the air—a permanent curtain. Only once did I try pot, and that was when my Mom begged me to on her birthday, and I think you know what I thought about that experience. So maybe I am the love child of Mick Jagger. Maybe I have all that sixties rock and roll genes in me. But I’m not my mother or my father, whoever he might be. Look at me. Just look at me. Don’t I look like I’m the one who should be from Greenwich, Connecticut and not Greenwich Village?
My grandparents love me. They appreciate my values. They are the ones who bought me these pearls, this cashmere sweater, my BMW. They are the ones who paid for my tuition at Mount Holyoke, and they are the ones paying for this wedding. So I think after this little conversation you have a sense of just what kind of wedding I want. No barefoot groom or bride. No vows with quotations from The Sanskrit or Joni Mitchell. I mean, if my wedding were a shirt, it would be so starched that it wouldn’t blow away in the wind. If my wedding were a politician, it would be oh …. George Bush. Newt Gingrinch. Not Obama. You know what I mean. You’re a wedding planner. You’ve done these kinds of weddings before. Nantucket. Dallas. Charleston. Tuxedoes for the men and bridesmaid dresses that look like they belong on a wedding cake. And guess what? No vegetables. No, my Mom and her friends are going to have to eat dripping red steaks. No smoking either. No pot or even clove cigarettes. Except for cigars. Yeah. Men with Southern accents smoking big fat cigars. That will just make my Mom crazy. Can we do it, please? Please?
copyright © 2010 Penny Brandt Jackson. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Penny Brandt Jackson’s short stories have appeared in The Edinburgh Review, The Ontario Review, StoryQuarterly, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her novel Becoming the Butlers was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the New York Public Library. Her last two short plays were presented by FACT Theatre in New York City, and her full-length play was developed at Primary Stages.