SPONTANEITY: A LOVE STORY by Corinne Copnick*
Peter and Noriko couldn’t bear to part. And that was about to happen. Noriko had come to the end of her student visa, already extended to the limit. After several years in the U.S.—the last year romantically involved with Peter— she would have to return to Japan. Peter is a very successful chiropractor, and Noriko is a certified massage therapist. You might say that initially they had healthcare in common. Soon their feelings progressed to caring about one another, a sentiment they expressed vigorously in all its forms. Like great sex. Peter is a small man, a dirty-blondish Caucasian, and a petite, accomplished Asian lady seemed made-to-order like a tailored suit.
A marriage made in heaven, you ask? No, indeed. There were obstacles to carrying their relationship further, to living together, for example, or even to that old-fashioned goal –marriage, which didn’t fit into their world view. Any questions of morality had been decided decades ago in the sixties.
“I believe in spontaneity,” Peter would assert in retro 1960’s spirit.
“Yes, yes, in living life for the moment,” Noriko would echo.
As for living life together, well, Noriko kept seven cats in her apartment, and even the fact that Peter is allergic to cats didn’t convince her there was any reason to give them up. They simply made love in his apartment.
Then there was the fact that Peter had enjoyed a longish previous affair with the office manager for his business. Although it was over (“I need my freedom,” he had told her), he was afraid that she would quit if she found out that he had dumped her for a girlfriend he wanted to marry. Peter loved Noriko dearly, but he needed the manager’s business competence, at least till after the Christmas rush.
Since there are inevitably three reasons for anything, the question of a mixed race relationship also came into play. Simply put, as Noriko explained, “My family in Japan would have a fit if they knew I was in love with a white man, let alone thinking of marrying him!”
Peter would shudder when he considered what his family’s reaction might be. “I don’t even want to think about their mid-west mentality,” he shrugged. “We’ve already seen that movie, Shakespeare in Love, Peter added. Obviously, neither Noriko nor Peter wanted a 21st century reprise of Romeo and Juliet.
All these obstacles did not portend well for their combined future. As December approached, they couldn’t help thinking about how Noriko had to leave the U.S. by the end of the year. Their days continued to darken even as holiday lights brightened the skies.
As the countdown began until Noriko’s departure, they both went into a blue funk. I don’t know why funks are always blue, but there you are. I have it on the best authority that they are blue. Peter’s eyes are deep blue and Noriko couldn’t stop gazing into them with her own dark brown orbs. You might say they were glued together. Deeply bluely. Or perhaps brownly darkly with thick lashes.
Since they didn’t know what else to do and couldn’t think of anything more to say, they went to a movie. In Hollywood, of course. Here, in the dark, no one could see how blue their combined funks were, and they could sit unobserved with their arms around each other dripping tears into each other’s ears and occasionally down Peter’s back. (In their youthful un-innocence, they had never heard the old song that goes, “I get tears in my ears from lying on my back crying over you.”) The movie was called, Love, Actually, one of those feel good, boy-meets-girl comedies where the stories are interwoven, but all the young people are afraid of that big C-word.
“Commitment is past tense today,” Peter would assert firmly.
“The trick, you see, is to float,” Noriko would say, releasing a delicious tickle of laughter.
However, in this movie, most of the boys and girls get into a “what are we waiting for?” mood and decide to get married. Just like that. Spontaneity, right?
When Peter and Noriko left the movie, they were really floating. Literally. Well, not exactly literally, but you know what I mean. They would get married, too. Just like the couples in the movie. No more obstacles, no planning, just get hitched. Who cares about cats and office managers and xenophobic parents?
They decided to be SPONTANEOUS. They would simply drive to Las Vegas, go to a drive-in chapel – that’s right a drive-in chapel – and get married. No fuss, no muss, they would both wear jeans and live for the moment. They would do it, do it, do it that very weekend, just a couple of days away.
The only catch was that, on Friday, the very day before the Saturday wedding, they began to succumb a little to traditional misgivings. Maybe Peter should have a best man, and Noriko a maid of honor—just for moral support, no big deal. So they phoned a married couple they knew who also believed in spontaneity (after all, he was a rock musician, and she was an interior designer – you know, “with it” people who both had long hair).
“Hey, how about coming to a drive-in wedding?” Peter asked them. There was a long pause at the other end. “It’s ours, actually,” he explained. “I’ll drive.”
After only a moment’s hesitation, the married couple, let’s call them Ernie and Susie, agreed. “Shall we take my turquoise convertible?” Ernie asked.
“No, it’s Las Vegas. Sun. The ozone layer, remember?” Noriko replied hastily in her best environmentally-conscious voice.
“We’ll take my Prius,” Peter suggested.
“A little get away,” enthused Susie. “Just what Ernie and I need. But first we have to find a baby sitter for our two little kids who’ve been driving us crazy.” She quickly made lots of phone calls. No luck. Finally, after packing up half their household – the playpen, the stroller, the blow-up trundle bed, the bottles, the diapers, the all-weather clothing, the toys—in a multitude of suitcases and assorted packages sticking out the windows of the hybrid, Ernie and Susie dropped the kids off with close relatives.
Susie even packed the satin and lace gown she had worn at her own wedding for Noriko to try in case she wanted more than jeans at the last minute, but unfortunately Noriko is a size six while luscious redhead Susie is built—L.A. style. At least the veil fit.
“This spontaneity is killing me,” Susie muttered as they finally all set off for Nevada (six hours away) at four in the morning so that they could arrive on time in Las Vegas for the wedding. The appointment at the drive-in chapel was scheduled for two in the afternoon. Ernie and Susie, already fagged out, were trying to get a little shut-eye in the car when Noriko started musing aloud, “Maybe I should have brought a white dress, at least a white blouse, for the wedding. It would go with the veil.”
Abruptly, the decision was made. Susie and Noriko would go shopping in the remaining morning hours for a bridal gown right after they checked into the hotel in Las Vegas. Peter would get the marriage license at City Hall while Ernie would do the spadework for Peter in locating wedding rings—something simple, of course, matching bands, perhaps—at the jewelry stores. Although you can plan to be spontaneous, certain requirements do pop up.
Susie and Noriko shopped for three hours at the best shopping mall in Vegas but couldn’t find a wedding gown to fit Noriko without extensive alterations. No time. In desperation they called Peter on the cell phone.
“Get something white,” he barked. “It’s a wedding. It took two hours to get the license.”
Five minutes later, Susie and Noriko finally found a gorgeous, embroidered white jacket with a faux fur collar. A little pricey to wear with her jeans? Another call to Peter.
“Get it,” he groaned. “Get anything. I’m getting a migraine.”
Meanwhile as two o’clock approached, Ernie had not yet tracked down suitable rings. Peter phoned the chapel and fortunately was able to postpone the wedding by two hours. Now four o’clock was the target as Peter joined Ernie in the perfect ring hunt.
“Well, it’s something she’ll wear for a long time,” Peter rationalized as he handed over six thousand dollars to the clerk for a one-carat diamond solitaire for Noriko. Still, it was simple. He picked out a matching ring for himself and wrote another check. Peter doesn’t like to do things half way. Now he had a migraine headache on two sides of his head.
“I’ve got to lie down,” he gasped.
“You could postpone the wedding until tomorrow morning,” Ernie suggested.
“No!” he said through gritted teeth. “It has to be today, Saturday. We planned it that way.”
“Yeah, I know,” replied Ernie. “Spontaneous-like.”
“Maybe I should rent a tux?” Paul queried.
Ernie sighed and handed him the cell phone.
So the wedding ceremony was postponed once again till eight o’clock that evening, and everybody took a quick nap in the hotel room with great relief. Then, refreshed and suitably decked out in newfound wedding attire, the quartet arrived promptly at the chapel at the appointed time.
“You’ll have to wait about twenty minutes,” the receptionist said with a smile. “There were so many changes. Another couple is driving through. Would you like to look at our photography and floral packages while you’re waiting?”
“The actual ceremony was kind of touching,” Susie said later. “My eyes misted up. The Minister asked Ernie and me to get out of the car and stand beside him as he conducted the ceremony in a mellifluous voice through the car window. Noriko looked beautiful in her white jacket and veil – you couldn’t see the jeans, because she was sitting in the car as the photographer took pictures – and Peter looked so handsome in his tux. There were beautiful flowers. And they exchanged traditional vows.”
“I was really happy when they finally gave each other those rings,” sighed Ernie. “Actually, it was kinda cool.”
In a way, it was love, actually.
After a splendid six-course wedding feast, they all retired to the hotel where they spent the wedding night in separate rooms, naturally. No Peter and Noriko and Ernie and Susie here. After a blissful Sunday – Peter and Noriko now so relaxed – they re-entered the car for the trip back to Los Angeles.
“Ernie and I have to pick up the children,” said Susie ruefully.
“Peter and I both have to work tomorrow,” sighed Noriko.
“We have to keep the wedding secret,” Peter cautioned. “I can’t tell my office manager yet.”
“And we’ll have to keep on living separately for a while,” Noriko added. “I have to figure out what to do about the cats.” “What about your parents?” Susie inquired. “Are you going to tell them?”
“How do you say oy vey in Japanese?” asked Ernie.
After a heated four-way conversation that continued all the way home, Peter and Noriko decided that they would repeat their wedding vows in a traditional ceremony in a year’s time. They would invite the parents from Japan and from the mid-west and all their friends and relatives to a big reception. Noriko would have a white gown, not just a jacket. And no one would try to sell them tacky add-ons to the ceremony. They would have lots of time for planning. And Noriko could stay in America.
Spontaneity has its place, but it’s a lot of work.
*copyright by Corinne Copnick, Los Angeles, 2008. All rights reserved. This story will appear in Tales of Laughter and Inspiration, a work in progress by Corinne Heather Copnick. Only interested literary agents and publishers need apply.