The only ones we can identify from our point of view -- third-person plural, I suppose you could call it -- are Salvatore, the illegal Mexican immigrant who assisted Howard in attaching lightning rods to church crosses; and Covfefe, who accidentally backed over Howard's pet gerbil Seymour in his brand new school-bus yellow Ford F-350 Platinum Crew-Cab with 4-Wheel Drive and 6.7-liter V8 4-Valve Power Stroke engine, a gift from his parents after Covfefe completed an entire semester without making a "D."
And there is Maurice, Howard's French ami from stir, and Liam, the Belgian who Howard wrongfully assumed was choking on his mussels (moules, as the natives call them) and therefore hammered him brutally on the back with an umbrella before learning Liam was merely simulating death by choking.
Over by the men's room is the legendary abductor and abduction scholar Jedidiah Eiensatzgruppe, and next to him, wearing a Bill Belichickean hoodie is Mr. Z, Howard's boss back at good ol' Medford School where the groom enjoyed a two-day teaching career, helping mold young minds for a life of "kissing up to the Man till retirement."
Howard and Tally's special plan for the ceremony was to have their guests sit quietly Quaker-style (Tally's late maternal grandmother, an illegal alien from Liberia, was a Quaker) for 12 minutes before anyone sang or promised anything.
Some closed their eyes out of respect for That Which Is but Cannot Be Named, others gazed thoughtfully at the concrete floor of a failed video-rental store's adult-movie section, the only space Howard could afford to rent.
In the corner closest to the exit lay a well-used DVD case that had once housed the classic film No That's Just Right. Most of the guests pretended not to notice the trampled container -- an obvious oversight on the part of the illegal Swedish immigrants Howard paid to clean the joint -- and only a few succumbed to the temptation to imagine, only briefly, the sordid narrative and lurid imagery such a classic film would offer.
Once the guests' brief obligatory meditation ended, the DJ spun songs selected by Tally, but, just to "shake things up a little," the officiant, Reverend Frederick "Sloppy" Chipson had his trusty ASL signer Grace'fl Belcher sign the "Turning Japanese" lyrics without musical accompaniment while she danced as if the music were playing.
Most of the guests later openly admitted that they had never seen such a performance, at a wedding or elsewhere. Mr. Z, on the other hand, missed Grace'fl's graceful movements, his gaze still fixed upon the No That's Just Right case.
Sadly, due to the space restrictions of blog posts and the limited attention span of the Smart Phone Generation, we cannot fulfill our promise to deliver Reverend "Sloppy's" sermon in its entirety. Here is a synopsis:
He began his message by reminding the guests of the difference between a homily and a sermon. "Homily," he said, "is smashed corn you can use to make grits," then, as comedians always do, paused briefly to allow his audience to appreciate his jocular play on the almost homophonic "hominy," but only silence followed -- except for the soft scraping sound of a DVD case being removed from the floor by one Mr. Z -- and we can only assume the guests took the definition seriously while awaiting the reverend's elucidation of "sermon."
Only momentarily stunned, "Sloppy" used his own marital bliss to lead up to the subject at hand, recalling his first meeting with Darlene Marie while on a mission trip to Oregon (known throughout Christendom as a haven for atheists), their common love of "PTL Hosted by Jim and Tammy Faye" reruns and the bowdlerized, sanitized, expurgated version of "Orange Is the New Black," and finishing off this segment with Darlene Marie's stunning achievement of being the only 5'5," 302-pound woman ever to complete the Boston Marathon, at least to "Sloppy's" knowledge.
|Jim and Tammy Faye in happier times|
After succinctly telling the wedding flock that, according to the Braxton-Hicks translation,* the word "thief" in Jesus' declaration that he "would come like a thief in the night," should actually be "abductor," meaning Howard himself was in many ways a Christ figure, he spent the next 90 minutes using the rhetorical acumen he acquired from Bailey's Online College for Preachers and Car Salespersons to persuade the wedding guests to accept Jesus as their personal savior.
His hortatory exhortation, his argumentum, fell on deaf ears, however, even though Mr. Z, shaken by "Sloppy's" numerous descriptions of hell's eternal fires, quietly put No That's Just Right's casing back on the cold concrete floor.
"Now, friends and family of the bride and groom, and my brothers and sisters in Christ," a sweating "Sloppy" and a damp Darlene, announced in harmony, "please turn your attention to the velvet curtains behind you for the wedding party processional."
The curtains opened dramatically, and the aghast guests gasped, not at the bride's divine beauty, but at the sight of nothing, two nothings technically, standing side by side.
Nuther words, Howard and Tally were long gone. But to where?
*"Sloppy" received this scholarly tidbit from Howard himself.