Sunday, June 25, 2006


Singing in the rain
Originally uploaded by neloqua.

Last night at the wedding I worked, it rained so hard and so long that one of my co-workers wondered if it was the end of the world.

Water streamed down the brick walkway and into the door whenever anyone opened it; and the tent, which is usually pretty impervious to the weather, sprung some small leaks.

The bride arrived early, looking dismayed and tense. She'd planned everything so carefully. She hadn't envisioned buckets or towels on the floor amid the flowers. She'd been hoping to take photographs on the beach.

I wanted to hug her and tell her that once the wedding began, those things wouldn't matter. I wanted to tell her that marriage is all about the unexpected.

But waitresses aren't allowed to say things like that. I told her not to worry; we'd get the buckets out of there before the guests arrived. I told her the rain looked like it was letting up.

It wasn't and didn't. The buckets remained.

The father of the bride got up and read a poem about true love by Robert Louis Stevenson. The poem said that love makes the day clear and blue. As he read the rain grew defiantly stronger; it clattered on the roof of the tent like a hundred wild horses.

The wild horses said that true love is all about the unexpected.

The band arrived, and they, too, were anxious. There was a leak just over the area where they were setting up. One of them thought he saw lightning over the water.

We brought them some strong drinks from the bar.

But once the music began, everything changed. The bride relaxed into her beauty. The poem suddenly made perfect sense. The musicians forgot to worry about lightning. Everyone danced.

The rain was no longer an intrusion; it was simply part of the music. And like the best music, it was all about the unexpected.

For more meditations on music: Sunday Scribblings.


Darius said...

I can tell you're a writer. Good description. Played in local bands when I was younger, went to who knows how many weddings!

chuck said...



Kristine said...

Isn't it something how music transforms a mood...
Great story.

paris parfait said...

I love this hopeful story of how music can soothe one's fears; of how the unexpected music is often the best! Beautifully-written piece.

Kay Cooke said...

Wonderful writing ... so insightful - who there at that wedding would think the waitress was thinking such whimsical and perceptive thoughts? Who even noticed the waitress? (Sometims tho it's good not to be noticed - then you're free to observe!) Thanks for a lovely read.

Anonymous said...

. . . oh what a lovely image to start the week to . . . thank you . . . and Happy monday! :)

rdl said...

what no dancing by the waitress? :D
nice one!!

Anonymous said...

Oh how I can relate to the tension. My son and his fiance are planning their outdoor wedding for this October. I just want everything to be so perfect for them.. but you are right. We should expect the unexpected.

Sustenance Scout said...

Patry, you're a gem.

Patry Francis said...

darius: Thanks for your visit and your kind words. I hope you come again!

chuck: Thanks for the poem--and the wave!

kristine: So true. When I begin a novel or short story, the first thing I have to do is find the right music.

paris: Appreciate the comment--and your presence here.

chiefbiscuit: In many ways, it's the perfect job for a writer: an opportunity to observe unseen. Thanks for your comment.

kate: A happy Monday it is! And wishing you the same!

coll: I'm sure your son's wedding will be better than perfect!

sustenance: So happy to see you here--and dressed for the occasion, too! Thank you for the kind words...

Rebekah said...

Your writing took me right into the tension of the moment, the mess, the menacing clatter, all threatening to capsize the whole thing. But what a beautiful transition into the magic of music. Great story. Just perfect.


Kerstin said...

Trust you, Patry, to come up with such a beautiful and simple story about music and hope and love. Music does this to you, doesn't it?

robin andrea said...

A wonderful story, Patry.

Anonymous said...

First off, I think I am totally enamored with you! I love that you stopped by my cheesy little post but I'm much more interested in the fact that you are a wrtier and a waitress...that incarnation is familiar to me!
Email me & we'll chat!

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Lovely! I like the sense of wisdom you display, not only in knowing that life is about the unexpected, but also in knowing that we each have to figure that out for ourselves.

After a week of 90+ degrees (in Arizona) leading up to it, it rained on our outdoor desert wedding. Everyone laughed, danced, and assured us that it was a sign of good luck. Guess they were right - after 15+ years, we're still going strong.

Cate said...

This piece changed me. You remind me of how important it is to let go of worrying about things that aren't controllable. Your ability to tell a story is a gift; the words that you choose are amazing and perfect. Everytime I read something that you've written, I just want more. Thank you!

Patry Francis said...

Rebekah: Your words "threatening to capsize the whole thing" were perfect for the deluge of that night.

Kerstin: It does...and thank you for your lovely words.

Robin: The only thing missing was anything by Steve Earle...Don't hear him much at weddings.

Felicity: Another waitress/writer! Yes! Would love to hear more. And oh my god, thank you for the "enamored". I went around all day saying, "I made someone enamored..."

sharon: Thanks for sharing your wonderful wedding story. I could almost feel that desert rain after all those days of heat. Yes, clearly good luck.

Oh Cate: I can't imagine a nicer compliment. Thank you! (Now if only I could change myself...)

Anonymous said...

Funny, it's dumping buckets way down here too and has been for several days. All I've been able to think of is all the weddings getting washed out and how anyone can ever manage to have a wedding outside (I did) knowing this COULD happen. Maybe weddings are on my mind because my anniversary is the 29th and my son is getting married on July 8th. Indoors!

Patry Francis said...

colleen: Happy anniversary, and congratulations on becoming a mother-in-law! (Is it Josh, the Asheville potter?) (Am I talking to the right Colleen?)

Anonymous said...

A lovely post, Patry.

Mary said...

It's so inspiring the way you've used your waitress job to write these stories. I can practically hear the rain ... and the music

Anonymous said...
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Zhoen said...

At our reception (seven years after the wedding, the party the friends missed at the minimal mandatory ceremonial capitulation) the owner, three waiters, and the bellydancer at the Lebanese restaurant, came up to D and I to tell us how lovely all of our friends were. We treasure those thoughful comments, unsought, from folks who know what people can be like.

We've never assumed that waiters were anything other than intelligent and insightful souls.