A Note of Caution

In last week’s column, I mentioned the aphorism about necessity being the mother of invention. This week, I was reminded that we should be careful of that for which we wish. I have to laugh because it brings to mind a true story from some years back. I should also add that every now and then, some weirdness ensues that reminds me exactly why I don’t believe in coincidence. This was one of those times when Mother Nature well and truly schooled me on the sometimes untoward consequences of poorly framed wishes. She did it in rather dramatic fashion. The aftermath was that I arrived home at my condo complex to find assorted neighbors gathered in the courtyard as construction worker types scurried in and out of the basement and the balconies were lit by whirling amber emergency truck lights. Particularly ugly summer storms had struck my town. The power was out. The sump pumps had failed and there was now several feet of water in the basement. The phone lines were waterlogged and completely kaput. The water needed to be purged before the electric and phone lines could be dried out and repaired. Clearly, this was not going to be a short process. Rather than arrive home to some peace and quiet, I had no alternative but to decamp to my parent’s house a few towns away, well and truly chastened to be very, very careful what I wished for in the future.

How on earth did this cautionary tale begin? In a pretty ordinary way, actually. I had a classmate from high school who was getting married. (Yes, this is the part where I state the disclaimer that identities have been changed to protect the… ummm… innocent.) The engagement itself was a long anticipated event, and the cause of a great deal of tears and melodrama. Or maybe even just plain drama. It should be no surprise, then, that the bride-to-be was fast transitioning from worried, nervous, and completely OCD about the details into a full blown episode of Bridezilla. Mind you, this was before some bright spark in reality TV decided all the wedding hullabaloo would make for “must see TV.”

The idea of a “June Bride” is an idealized, overrated vision. I can’t imagine who coined that term. After all, there isn’t really anything lovely about a young woman wilting in several pounds of couturier confection, her blushing complexion a harbinger of impending heat stroke and her glow a more polite way of indicating she was sweating like a bear. An extension of all that heat means that in most of the U.S., summer is also a time for storms of pretty spectacular proportions. Witness the fireworks of an afternoon thunderstorm, the wildness of hail and wind, or even the tendency of these storms to form violent tornadoes. Oh yes indeedy, as the big day grew closer, intensive weather scrutiny began, because that overrated vision called for perfect temperatures, sunny skies, light breezes, cooing turtledoves.Blah, blah, blah.Got that image?

Turns out that the ten-day forecast wasn’t looking so halcyon. By five days out, the weather watch was at such a fever pitch you’d have thought we were bracing for a monster hurricane of the proportions of the recent “superstorm” Sandy. In truth, it was nothing so extreme. There were predictions of a gloomy day with unseasonably cool temperatures. And, of course, rain.

It came as no surprise to me when the phone call arrived, complete with woe-is-me handwringing. By the time I managed to extricate myself from the call as gracefully as a bridesmaid could, I was good and ready for a little chat with Mother Nature. I half-flung the wireless handset onto my bed, and sat down with a huff. Then I started my little one-way conversation. Really. It was totally one-way and I was not messing around:

“So, listen up Universe. I don’t care who or what is out there listening to me. But here’s a news flash, there is not going to be one, single, drop–not one–of rain on the day of this Godforsaken wedding. D’ya hear me?” By now I was wagging a finger (not that finger) toward the skies like a frustrated parent scolding a naughty child. “I’m not saying no rain at all. Let’s be reasonable. It can drizzle in the morning. It can do whatever the hell it wants in the evening. But! Hear me on this! Until this ceremony is over, the pictures are done, and the entire wedding party complete with guests is indoors and dry for the reception there will be no puddles to wreck bridal trains, no mist to dampen dresses and undo up-dos. Zilch! Nada! Got it?”

Little did I know that I’d really cooked my own goose at that point. The morning of the big day was in fact gloomy, breezy enough to impart a chill, but mercifully dry. By early afternoon, the frenzied indoor preparations were reaching a fever pitch, but the rain had yet to arrive. I confess I wasn’t giving this a lot of thought after my mid-week rant. I had my own set of worries and bridesmaidish things to occupy my mind.

We left for the ceremony. Still no rain. The breeze had calmed so that it made trailing satin and chiffon flutter daintily, rather than whipping about. The sky stayed a steady shade of pale gray. Still, no rain. “Huh,” I thought, “that’s interesting. Home stretch now. Let’s see what happens by the time this church business is over. Keep up the good work.” Ha! I still should have known better.

It wasn’t raining as the ceremony drew to a close, the shutters clicked and whirred, and the bride and bridesmaids twittered like birds as we piled into the waiting cars. The actual birds were oddly quiet. I, like everyone else, was too busy swilling champagne to pay that much mind. We were well on our way. I’d feel profoundly relieved if this would just hold off a teensy bit more to get us to that reception without incident.

It misted for just a few moments on the highway, but not to worry. Before long we had swept into the long driveway and were processing in elegant splendor inside. I practically sashayed up the wide steps, and under the portico with an inaudible sigh of relief. I took just a moment to extend a gratefully thank you skyward. And that was that

Or was it?

The evening went on as planned. Eventually the party wound down and the diehards retired to party on into the night in the hotel rooms and bridal suite. As you may notice from my bio, I’m a nurse. Seven o’clock shifts mean six AM is wake up time. By ten PM or so, my pizzazz is more piss-assed, and I’m fading fast. Even as a twenty-something, it was rare for me to manage to stay awake past midnight. Pre-wedding jitters and a whole lot of champagne took their toll. I was not among the late night warriors.

That is that, right? Wrong! Oh so very, very wrong. I woke the next morning and joined everyone in the dining room for breakfast as planned. It was, in fact, another gloomy day, with persistent rain showers. It was not, however, long before I heard that the morning rain was nothing compared to the previous night’s show. There had, it seemed, been some pretty spectacular storms during the reception, complete with lightning, wind, and… oh yes, you betcha… tornado warnings. Oh, my.

After all the excitement winds down and the newlyweds head for the airport, there’s nothing an exhausted bridesmaid wants more than to kick off those godforsaken heels, put up her feet, and sigh with relief over a nice cup of tea. Well, as the advertising schtick goes, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” To this day I think two, three, maybe a dozen times before I articulate a wish, no matter how inconsequential it seems at the time.

Kathleen Ronan is a writer and a nurse, specializing in meditation for medical applications. She’s also a harpist, a bookworm, and a renaissance woman.

3 thoughts on “A Note of Caution

  1. If you’d asked me, I would have raised a big red flag. Been there. Made my own wishes. Then wished I hadn’t. (sigh). Great story, though.

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