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Privilege- Chapter Two: Weddings are a Family Affair

Everything had gone wrong leading up to the big day. However, with every hiccup, there was a singular solution which was Mr. Madison's credit card for a quick recuse. One moment there was trouble, the next it was perfectly in order. This had become the pattern. Addy was amazed that her family was suddenly so helpful and reassuring. Even the quiet Frances had been pulling extra hours putting things together for the big day. Addy had found it odd that when the summer was over Frances had not returned to school. When she went to ask her about it over breakfast Alice had shushed her. Later in private, Alice gave her daughter the impression that Frances had left school due to a mental health issue and Addy made a point not to bring it up again in the future. Frances was such a delicate person, Addy would muse as she watched Frances in her domestic capacity busying herself with simplistic tasks. Addy assumed that it was Frances's way of coping with her lack of social experience or grace. Frances seemed to altogether lose the ability to lift her head to show her face as the wedding neared. Even the disengaged Emmet asked about Frances during the rehearsal dinner, to which Addy gave him an intentionally vague answer fearing he would see it as a familial blight if he knew how low-functioning Frances was.

It all struck Addy as very hush-hush as to what was going on with Frances. Out of happenstance the night before the wedding Addy stopped by Frances's room to invite her to the bachelorette party her friends from school were throwing. Oddly the room was full of campus logo merchandise. She even had pictures of herself in the dorms with what looked like many friends sprawled out by her bed. Addy lingered there as it intrigued her to be in the secretive realm of a person who was always in the shadows of the household. In every image she saw, Frances was all smiles, as if she loved college more than anything she had ever loved during her insignificant existence. Frances had been doing so well there, that Addy wondered why she had left the one place where she seemed to excel. Turning to leave Addy found schedules for the upcoming semester on Frances's desk along with a crumpled-up Dean's List award. It was as if even Frances did not want to let go of her school life, but she was shunning it anyway by staying with her parents. Addy walked out of the room making sure not to disturb any of its contents. As she walked out the door she caught Frances from the corner of her eye sobbing while she polished the family's cutlery in the darkened dining room. This repulsed Addy who had a flashing thought of Frances being unstable among her social group, some of which were new high society acquaintances she had netted through Emmet. Addy lightened her step and left making sure that Frances did not see her go.

The women Addy went to meet were all more than thrilled to have a night out. They began their evening with drinks at a wine tasting. The male review at the strip club on the outskirts of town was too undignified for Addy to admit she would have preferred. There the older and more prudish of the women chatted with Addy about Emmet because he was their mutual connection. It was obvious that Emmet had specifically spoken to his former office manager with noticeable filler, Meryl about Addy in great length. This surprised Addy who found Emmet to be a rock when it came to conversation. His attitude with her was like that of a white-knuckled clenched fist, never relaxing. Addy politely sipped her pinot noir while Meryl detailed how surprised she was that Emmet would have been interested in someone like Addy since his first wife whom he "loved to death" looked nothing like her but rather was known for her intellectual nature. Addy looked to her sorority sister Jen to interrupt Meryl before she continued to imply that she was inferior to Emmet's ex. Jen was busy giggling with friends over something age-appropriate, instead of bitter divorcee friendships that bled into the next relationship. Addy sat there feeling the insults from the tipsy Meryl about Emmet's "undeniable" midlife crisis for marrying her, she realized there was so much Emmet had not told her, like that he was older than he let on or that he hadn't just been married before but that he had been in head-over-heels in love with his former homely wife. If Addy's feelings weren't so hurt by Meryl's rude insinuations about herself it would have occurred to her to manipulate Meryl's talkative state for more information about the man she was just now noticing she didn't know at all.

By the end of the wine tasting, Addy was exhausted from dealing with Meryl. The younger girls made excuses and sent Emmet's family and friends home in cabs before they went to a dance club for one last hoorah. There over the loud music, Addy confided in Jen that she thought Meryl was awful. Jen with raised eyebrows informed Addy that she overheard Meryl saying that her family was "batting above their class" when she was waiting at the restaurant for Addy to arrive. This hurt Addy deeply, her father was using every dollar he had for the wedding despite the much higher earner, Emmet ignoring all of their polite attempts to get him to pitch in. Jen could read Addy's expression, to console her pal she joked, "Emmet should be grateful, the man is like sixty and looks like a dehydrated snug." At that, they both laughed together because it was partially true. Addy snorted as she laughed into her drink. "Have you ever met his ex-wife anyway? Maybe she knows how to deal with his drama, right?" Jen questioned openly. "No, he gets weird when I bring it up. I don't know, it seems like he is still raw about it," Addy replied, realizing how strange it was that she didn't know if the woman was even living in the area anymore. "You don't think Emmet has a secret life or anything like that?" Addy said as she began to feel anxiety welling up in her chest thinking about all the things she didn't know about Emmet. "Oh God no! Emmet is so dull he probably bored his ex until she ran away with the pool boy or something. I bet you'll do the same in a few years too. The guy is a prick." Jen retorted in all sincerity. Addy could tell that Jen meant to think and not say her last comment, but it did confirm what everyone was thinking, including her. They decided to call it a night before anyone said anything else that was too honest.

Addy awoke the next morning with a throbbing headache from one too many apple martinis. Jen had slept next to her at the Madison's house. Frances came in with coffee for the two as they giggled in bed. Soon the other members of the bridal party began to assemble at the house. The women enjoyed the bridal shower while the caters and wedding planners did all the work at the venue. By brunch, Alice and Frances were nowhere to be found while Addy mentally readied herself for her big moment walking down the aisle. A flustered call for Addy came in from a salon staff member that she had booked to come to the house to do all of the bridesmaid's hair took her by surprise. Emmet's secretary had relieved them of their obligation. Addy was confused and went to call Emmet about the issue, but before she could finish dialing his cellphone, she heard a knock at the front door. Four make-up artists and hairstylists were there from a much more contemporary salon that Addy had told Emmet she thought was too untraditional to use weeks before. Realizing he had trumped her, she let them in without complaint. Just when they finished her hair, in the same fashion that Emmet had dictated, her dress arrived from the boutique. Not wanting to whimper because her hair and makeup looked like a slicked-back 90s model in a perfume ad, Addy distracted herself by running toward the dress. Only it was another letdown. The dress had been altered massively. The satin flowers and delicate lace overlay had been removed. It was now a simple silk bodice with a satin skirt. Addy was crushed. She broke down crying as the seamstress explained that the alterations were made at the groom's request by a woman who called just after her final fitting, for which he paid handsomely. Addy for weeks had envisioned herself walking down the aisle matching her whimsical theme, now she would not match at all since her styling was that of a deconstructed post-modern look. Addy knew Emmet had done this on purpose so she would have no time to undo what he had done. The bridesmaids all looked at one another not sure how to console the upset Addy, who was shaking in tears. Even the hired helpers were a little taken aback by their part in this wedding highjacking.

Someone had the sense to call Alice who took Addy outside to talk to her before Addy returned for her make-up to be touched up once more. When she was as ready as she could be Addy, still visibly upset, sat unmoved in her chair. As if putting on that reconstructed dress was the last bit of autonomy she could not let go of, Addy stared at it with hatred. Jen putting her arm around her firmly, said "I think you should back out now. Seriously." Addy sniffled a moment before she processed what Jen had meant. Then looked back at her and whispered "No, wait" in disbelief. Jen leaning upright from where Addy was pouting said "Addy this is as creepy as it is controlling. Do you want to be married to a guy who does this to you? I mean he completely sabotaged your wedding with his money. These are his true colors. Run now before you're in with a few kids too deep." Jen's tone had gone from comforting to annoyed. "How could you say that to me? On my wedding day!" Addy got up, collecting herself she stepped back from Jen now with conviction in her voice calling out to Jen saying "I knew that you were jealous because I'm marrying a prominent person. Of course, he had to do this, I'm trashy and he was too polite to explain it to me because I wouldn't have understood! You'd never get what is going on because all you do is sleep around with drunk frat bros who are going nowhere. Just like you!" Jen's eyes widened and her face turned red with embarrassment."What are you talking about? The guy is a loon and if you stay with him you are doing this to yourself. I'm trying to help you." Jen said angry. Addy was now stone-faced when she replied "Just go away. This isn't about you. I know you just want attention." Even though Addy was on the other side of the room by now, Jen stumbled back as if Addy had pushed her with her words. "Fine you're on your own, don't say I didn't warn you. I'm not going to watch you make the biggest mistake of your life," Jen gasped as she grabbed her purse, and marched to the door with foam curlers still in her hair. Addy coolly watched her go.

For Addy, this was reaffirming her love by choosing Emmet over Jen. Without knowing it, Jen had taken the focus off of Emmet as the villain and put it on herself. Addy was so entranced by her sudden falling out with her long-time buddy that she didn't notice the wedding theme that she had planned had been completely eradicated by Emmet behind her back. Addy's lavender and silver wedding colors were now dark bronze and metallic black. The flower arrangements for the tables were changed from the mason jars filled with marble topped with a sparkling candle to ice sculptures of naked Greek Gods and Goddesses in proactive poses. The band had been replaced by a DJ too. None of that mattered to Addy anymore, she couldn't take her mind off of Jen, something Alice hyped up more whenever she was in Addy's ear. All of the other bridesmaids kept their mouths shut and their chins down for fear of getting into a confrontation with Addy as Jen had. After the ceremony many quietly went home, each making individual excuses as soon as the cake was cut. The majority of the night Emmet was off with his colleagues, leaving Addy with Frances who was surprisingly upbeat. Addy had assumed that Frances would have acted attention-starved that night since she had probably never had a boyfriend before despite being nearly twenty. In an attempt to strike up a casual conversation with Frances, Addy commented "You look happy, that's good." Frances gleefully burst out with "I know right? While you are getting ready, Emmet said he would do some work on me to help me out." Not sure how to respond to her new husband offering plastic surgery on her younger sibling Addy answered "Oh, how nice." Before she excused herself to go greet guests elsewhere. In the back of Addy's mind, she hoped that Emmet had just been making small talk with Frances since the concept was a bit awkward to have him "fix" her. Then Addy mentally noted that it would probably be of some benefit to Frances who was in her eyes quite the ugly duckling.

The night ended with Addy saying goodbye to her parents. All but one of her friends from the sorority hadn't snuck out hours earlier, like bugs tucking away before a storm hit, knowing trouble was in the air. Alice whispered to Addy that she did the right thing by not backing out when they embraced to say their goodbyes. Addy could tell that her mother likely only cared that Emmet was wildly rich. Addy patted Frances's arm, never wanting to hug the dismal girl as if she were afraid her aura of failure would rub off onto her. As they drove away in Emmet's Maserati Addy leaned out of the window to throw her bouquet without looking back. Had she bothered to see who caught it, Addy would have seen it land squarely on top of the crossed arm Frances's head. With all eyes on the bouquet, it was only Tom Madison who frowned when he witnessed Emmet point at Frances in his rearview mirror and wink with a smile on his face. However, with Addy off on her honeymoon to Thailand for a full thirteen days and her plan to live with Emmet in the city after, Tom decided to keep his thoughts to himself.


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